Sylvester Idowu reports that the All Progressives Congress Presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and the party’s gubernatorial candidate in the state, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, have given the Peoples Democratic Party in the state a run for their money as they stormed different communities to campaign in the oil rich state
Delta State has been a traditional stronghold of the PDP since 1999 and usually produced bloc votes for whoever is presented as it’s candidate. Until now, all elections from the national to the local government levels have always been won by the PDP.
That appears to be changing with recent flag off of the presidential and gubernatorial campaigns of the All Progressive Congress Party (APC) Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Ovie Omo-Agege at the Warri Township Stadium.
A few days to the flag off and apparently manifesting the jittery of the ruling PDP in the state, Chairman of Warri South local government area, Dr. Michael Tidi, issued a statement ordering closure of some roads leading to the venue of the event under the guise of slating them for repairs.
It took a fierce resistance by the opposition All Progressive Congress Party (APC) and the clout of it’s gubernatorial candidate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege before the council boss released a rejoinder denying it was intended to scuttle the event.
That not withstanding, the flag off eventually held recording an unprecedented mammoth crowd ever recorded in the history of opposition campaign in the state.
THISDAY investigation revealed that aside members and sympathisers of APC, those in the ruling PDP in the state also thronged the venue of the event in angst with happenings in the ruling party, especially the emergence of Hon. Sheriff Oborovweri, Speaker of Delta State House of Assembly as gubernatorial candidate of the party, whom most see as being imposed on them.
Addressing the crowd, Asiwaju Tinubu descended on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for failing to develop Delta State despite the huge resources accruing to the state accusing the opposition party of abandoning infrastructural development in the state and leaving the state to rot away.
According to him: “Delta is among Nigeria’s largest oil and gas producing states. Revenue from oil and gas has historically been the backbone of government revenue and foreign exchange earnings. As such your state and other oil producers have made a one-of-a-kind financial contribution to the building of modern Nigeria. The nation is thankful to you.
“Delta has all it takes to be great and help lead the nation forward. Yet, for the past 23 years, those governing your state have taken you for a hard and long ride by selling you short. They have not done the things they should have and could have done for you.
“The infrastructure in the state was better 30 years ago than it is now. The state has recorded historic debts run up by the incumbent, yet the infrastructure and other things still remain lacking because of under-investment and neglect.
“But Delta State is not an ATM for migratory politicians. It is a place where good and hardworking people reside and work to create decent and peaceful lives for themselves and their families”, he declared.
On his plans for Delta State, which he described as another home to him, Tinubu promised to re-activate the gas revolution industrial park while also seeing to the cleaning of the whole Niger-Delta region to ensure that the host communities do not suffer for building the nation’s economy through their oil.
“Our government will further re-activate the Multi-Billion Dollar Gas Revolution Industrial Park Project. President Buhari’s administration has made great strides in revisiting this project. We will complete it.
“Gas will become a national priority. I envision fertilizer and petrochemical plants, aluminium smelters, and methanol plants, all creating jobs for the unemployed while producing goods that bolster farming, construction and other industries.
“We will step up and clean up the operations of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the Ministry of the Niger Delta. The NDDC will be improved. Greater cooperation with communities, which have suffered environmental degradation will be my policy.
“I am saddened by the environmental cost, that the oil and gas industry has exacted. Our moral and economic duty calls us to clean the region and to create new opportunities for young Deltans to build better lives for themselves,” he added.
On infrastructure development in the state, which he affirmed had been in a sorry state, Tinubu said, “We will help develop the infrastructure of your state. The deep sea port project and the Omadino – Escravos Road project will be revisited. We will rehabilitate Warri, Koko, Sapele and Burutu ports, creating yet more jobs in the State.”
He also promised to make the state safe for all, noting that no business can thrive in an unsafe environment.
Also addressing the rally, the Delta APC Governorship candidate, Senator Omo-Agege, lamented that the Governor of the State and Vice Presidential Candidate of the opposition PDP, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, had failed the state and should step down.
Okowa also came under criticism from the former governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who accused him of under-developing the state.
Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan paid glowing tributes to both Asíwájú Tinubu and Senator Omo-Agege, who he described as an eminent son of the State.
On her part, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, a daughter of the soil, addressed the people in her Itsekiri language, urging them to vote for APC so they could have one of their own in the corridor of power.
Eminent personalities that accompanied Asiwaju Tinubu to the Warri rally included Senate President, Ahmed Lawan; APC Deputy National, South, Barrister Emma Enekwu, representing National Chairman Abdullahi Adamu; the Vice Presidential candidate, Senator Kashim Shettima and his wife, Nana Shettima, and Senator Oluremi Tinubu, wife of the presidential candidate and daughter of Itsekiriland.
Also in attendance were Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinnma, Governor of Plateau State and Director-General of the campaigns, Hon. Simon Lalong, Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, who is also Delta State governorship candidate of the party, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Idris Wase, members of the APC National Working Committee, Ministers including Youth and Sports, Chief Sunday Akin Dare, and Labour and Employment (State), Festus Keyamo, SAN, and former governor of Edo State and Edo North APC Senatorial Candidate, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
Not satisfied with the outcome of the Warri Central Stadium rally, the duo of APC presidential and Delta Gubernatorial candidates within a few days again paid a surprised visit to former leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND), High Chief Government Ekpemupolo alias Tompolo at Oporoza, Gbaramatu Kingdom in Warri South West local government area in their search for Delta votes.
The visit, which eventually turned into a rally, sent jitters down the spines of the leadership of the ruling party in the state. This is so because the winning votes usual come from the riverine communities and Tompolo has in the past eight years emerged as one of the God father’s of politics in the state.
Ekpemupolo played a prominent role in the emergence of the incumbent Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, especially with the refusal of his immediate predecessor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, to support him during the primaries and elections proper.
A sign that all was not well with Delta PDP manifested while awaiting the arrival of the APC presidential candidate Asiwaju Tinubu and his entourage with repeated announcements to the gathering by the Spokesman of Gbaramatu Kingdom, Chief Godspower Gbenekama, that the event was not political.
Also some members of the ruling party, who are from Ijaw ethnic nationality were seen moving around the venue of the event wearing long faces with some attendees murmuring that they were spies to witness what happens in Oporoza.
That notwithstanding, the event held with Presidential candidate of APC, Asiwaju Tinubu; Delta State Gubernatorial candidate, Omo-Agege; Minister of State, Labour, Festus Keyamo; Kano State Governor, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje; Yobe State Governor, Maila Buni and Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Timipriye Sylva conferred with Chieftaincy titles at a reception bu Pere of Gbaramatu Kingdom, Gbaraun 11.
Receiving Asíwájú Tinubu in his palace, the Pere of Gbaramatu showered praises on the APC candidate and prayed for his success in the presidential election.
The traditional ruler urged Tinubu to ensure the establishment of a deep sea port in Gbaramatu, industrial park in Ogidigben and good roads and bridges leading into the kingdom, if he emerges victorious in the 2023 presidential election.
Thereafter, the reception was moved to a mini stadium where Asiwaju Tinubu pushed for votes from the mammoth crowd that turned up to receive him.
Addressing the crowd and in his response to the Monarch’s requests, Asíwájú Tinubu promised to work to speed up the development of the region assuring that he would engage in regular consultations with the leaders to emplace initiatives and projects that would help the region.
“I’m one of you. My wife is a daughter of the Niger Delta. Your in-law is also your son. No be so?’ the APC presidential candidate asked in Pidgin English to which the mammoth crowd yelled, “Na so!”
He said what the people needed was a honest leader stressing “You need honesty. You need the man who knows the road. That man is me! adding “As promised, we will not be far away from you. We will carry you along. We will consult with you regularly. Our brothers here, we will embrace them for the development of the area, the community of Gbaramatu and other associated communities.
“I promise you economic development, progress, jobs for our youths, a promised tomorrow that is certain, and a renewed hope. Please, pay attention to the danger of destruction of pipelines, petroleum facilities. People are leaking gas. They are dangerous for our health, for the fishes you eat, everything you do.
“Let us see that improvement, that commitment and you will see what we will do with the savings. We will encourage you. We will keep our promises. We will be with you and carry you along. You mentioned the deep sea port, the roads, the bridge, the university, the industrial park at Ogidigben. These are the things that came to your mind”, he said.
Tinubu also took a swipe at the presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and that of Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi.
He said: “As I stand before you, there are few of us left running. One says he is Atiku. How many times has he been running? He is always on the run and this time, tell him to go and sit down. Enough is enough! The other one, he thinks na statistics we go chop. His line of arithmetic, no Indian can solve it. To mention his name is a disgrace to me. Wrong arithmetics, wrong statistics, that’s not what Nigeria needs.
“The man standing before you will implement whatever he promise. You need honesty, you need commitment to perform. I embody both. I know the road and I will carry the Niger Delta people along. We will consult your leaders for the development of Gbaramatu Kingdom and other associated communities”, Tinubu said.
He said he was aware that the Warri-Escravos/Gbaramatu Road had been awarded, pledging to ensure the completion of the road by getting the contractor involved to deliver on the project.
The former Lagos state governor also said if elected, the Ministry of Niger Delta and the Niger Delta Development Commission will serve the full purpose for which they were established.
Corroborating Tinubu’s claim, Delta State APC Gubernatorial candidate, Ovie Omo-Agege said he accompanied, to the palace, the presidential candidate who would make the difference in the lives of the people of the Niger Delta because “he is progress and development-oriented. He knows what to do because he had done it before. He is our hope to change the fortunes of the region”.
Tinubu was accompanied to the kingdom by the Deputy Senate President and APC governorship candidate in Delta State, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege; Governors Abdullahi Ganduje and Mai Mala Buni of Kano and Yobe states; Minister of State, Petroleum Resources Timiprey Sylva; Minister of State, Labour Festus Keyamo; and former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Dimeji Bankole.
Others on the entourage included former Governor-elect of Bayelsa State, David Lyon; former Minister of State, Niger Delta, Elder Orubebe; APC Chairman in Delta State, Elder Sobotie and a party chieftain in the state, Chief Ayiri Emami.
This development has no doubt cast a doubt over PDP’S chances of victory thus reducing its grip on the state since 2019.