2023: Omo-Agege, Delta Govt in Fierce War of Words
Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba
Barely three months to the commencement of the 2023 general election in Nigeria, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led Delta State Government has continued to trade words with members of the other parties, particularly the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Ovie Omo-Agege who has questioned the choice of Sheriff Oborevwori as the PDP candidate.
Unveiling his manifesto at a press conference in Asaba while flagging off his campaign, Senator Omo-Agege debunked claims in certain quarters that that the state APC was too divided to organise a successful campaign that would break PDP’s stranglehold on Delta or enable him realise his gubernatorial ambition next year.
He said that the PDP in the state that was far more divided than the APC in the state, saying that imposition of candidates, particularly the governorship, was at the root of the crisis now rocking the PDP.
The APC candidate, who is also the Deputy President of the Senate, alleged that the PDP Delta State had broken up into two distinct groups, which he termed, The Intellectual Group and The Agbero Group”, led by former governor James Ibori and Governor Okowa, respectively.
He claimed that about 70 per cent of the intellectuals in the state PDP had formed themselves into the intellectual group headed by Ibori as a result of disagreement over the choice of Hon Sheriff Oborevwori as the governorship candidate, which he claimed Governor Okowa was trying to use to secure a “third term” through the backdoor.
While insisting that the PDP candidate, as Speaker of the state legislature, was a stooge of the governor who Deltans could not entrust the government of the state, stressing that he represents the rescuer the people needed at this point in time to deliver a transparent and accountable government.
Omo-Agege, who reiterated that he had no regrets about the role he played as a member of a group of national lawmakers that stalled the impeachment move against President Muhammadu Buhari, Iambasted his PDP counterpart for claiming to be the longest-serving speaker in the Delta State House of Assembly.
He challenged Oborevwori to point to any visible project he had attracted to his Okpe community or Delta central senatorial district since he became speaker by the grace of the governor, saying he would perform woefully if elected governor.
While unfolding to journalists his 60-page Manifesto, summarised in the acronym ‘EDGE’, which he said was designed to “build a new Delta”, the APC candidate said it was unacceptable that Delta State currently occupied the second place in the list of indebtedness among the 36 states of the federation despite the huge revenue accruals, alleging that Governor Okowa had worsened matters by pumping billions of naira belonging to Delta State into the PDP presidential campaign in order to achieve his vice-presidential ambition.
According to him, “My aspiration is beyond the ordinary quest for power, rather, it is a movement to liberate, rebuild and reinvigorate our dear State, which ought to be the leading light of the Niger Delta region, and indeed, Nigeria. I am certainly concerned that our dear State has been left behind on key development indices despite the huge sums of money that flow into the State from the Federation Account and 13 per cent derivation along with internally generated revenue by way of the various taxes and rates that our hard-working people pay. By the records of the Debt Management Office, Delta State also has the second-highest debt portfolio in the country. This is certainly unacceptable.”
He said that he was not motivated in the race by desire for material acquisition but rather by a burning drive to tackle youth employment through human capital development and empowerment, infrastructure development, accountable governance and peace and security across the state.
Towards tackling insecurity in the state, Omo-Agege said that he would institute a security trust fund even as he made case for state police, if elected.
The governorship hopeful said, “If elected, our government will tackle the challenges of insecurity from day one. Our administration will create a security trust fund, facilitate, and equip community policing for every ward, village, and town in Delta State. We will create a system to build security awareness and confidence in our communities for intelligence gathering and sharing at various levels. There will be a revitalised and strengthened State Security Council that will assist in the coordination of law and order.
“To ensure security in our communities, our government will partner with traditional institutions and community-based youth organisations to ensure and promote communal conflict resolution. We believe that the development we desire for Delta State can only take place when there is peace and enduring security.”
Nonetheless, the state APC governorship candidate maintained that the Federal Government or the Buhari administration should not be held accountable for the failure of administration, infrastructure or security in Delta State, adding that the people of the state would be better off with an APC government in the state as well as at the federal level.
“We will be able to attract other federal projects and influence policies favorable to Delta State in an APC led federal government”, he said while stressing that an Omo-Agege government in Delta State will “build a vibrant, well governed, equitable, and prosperous Delta State that puts our people first,” Omo-Agege said.
Senator Omo-Agege’s campaign flag-off was attended by numerous party chieftains including the 2015 governorship candidate of the APC, Olorogun O’tega Emerhor, State APC Chairman, Elder Sobotie, state APC Secretary, Nick Ovuakpore
Paulinus Akpeki, Dr. Athonia Ashiedu, Chief of Staff to the Deputy President of the Senate, Dr. Otive Igbuzor and the candidate’s media director and former presidential media spokesman, Ima Niboro.
However, reacting to the Omo-Agege’s fierce criticism of, and allegations against the Okowa administration, Delta State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, said that baseless allegations and obvious lies were now in sync with the political character of the 2023 APC governorship candidate, urging him to stop wasting his time and energy as Delta State would remain a PDP state even after next year’s election.
“Omo-Agege is scared stiff of Oborevwori as the PDP governorship candidate; and, he is overwhelmed at the towering personality of Governor Okowa and, by the grace of God, the incoming vice-president of Nigeria. So, he has continued to feed the people with lies and baseless claims with the hope of swaying the people”, Aniagwu said.
While noting that claims by Omo-Agege that the Okowa administration had nothing on ground to justify the more than N2.8 trillion so far received from the Federation Account in over seven years of his government were fallacious and baseless, he advised him to tread another path, other than lying endlessly, because the landmark achievements of Governor Okowa were too visible and too known to Deltans and the world at large to warrant joining issues with the APC candidate about.
While highlighting infrastructural and other development projects of the Okowa government, Aniagwu said that it was a big shame that a man like Omo-Agege, who is seeking the highest political office in the state, has miserably little knowledge of the workings of government and even the geography of the state, because the deplorable roads mentioned during the press conference on Thursday were actually federal roads across the state, including the Warri-Sapele-Benin Road, Agbor-Obiaruku-Abraka Road as well as the Eku-Sapele Road and the Asaba-Illah Road.