Even As He Pines Away In London Prison, James Ibori Remains The Architect of Delta Politics

…Why The Ibori’s Dynasty Still Reigns Supreme In Delta

imageAlthough former Governor of Delta State, Chief James Onanefe Ibori, is cooling off in London prison, his influence over the affairs of Delta State cannot be wished away. As long as he lives, his influence has continued to dominate the affairs of the state. Almost all political bigwigs and power brokers in the state look up to Ibori for political blessings. And as it always turns to be, those who see him as demi-god have never gone home without the blessing being poured on them.

Even as he currently pines away in the prison, he is still being seen as the great man of Delta, hence, he is called the Odidigboigbo of Africa by his fans who are spread across the state and other parts of the country. No issue of significance has ever taken place in the state without his knowledge and possibly blessing before its commencement. Somehow, his signature is needed, perhaps by giving his consent to the said project, an issue which is easily understood by the ruling cabals.

As against the stigma that befalls people in prison for whatsoever cause, Ibori’s prison service has never deterred any one from paying homage to him in the United Kingdom. There is always an exodus of people to London on regular basis to pay homage and remind him of his good deed, despite serving jail term for those perceived good deeds. In 2007, he imposed Uduaghan on Deltans, hence the monumental failure of the Uduaghan’s government in the affairs of Deltans.

As the 2015 election was coming closer, London became the second home of those seeking for his blessing to emerge as governors. The incumbent Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, David Edevbie, Clement Ofuani, who is currently the Director General of Asaba Capital Development Authority and many others were alleged to have visited him for his blessing to clinch the governorship of the state. But Uduaghan had attempted to break the jinx but the cabals were greater than him.

It was learnt that Ibori actually anointed one of the aspirants then for the position but his decision somehow ran counter to Uduaghan’s choice, hence he decided to thwart the plan by pulling Tony Obuh from the office of Permanent Secretary to the governorship race. The entrance of Obuh into the race shook the over 20 aspirants as many believed that having been anointed by Uduaghan, there was no hope for others. But the turn of events thereafter proved them wrong.

The emergence of the immediate past governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan, in 2007, was known to everyone as the brainwork of Ibori in the state. Against all odds and outcry, he fought all he could to impose Uduaghan on Deltans which he succeeded, the result of which was the dilapidated state of infrastructure in the state. His imposition of Uduaghan on Deltans has been the bane of development in the state since 2007 till date. From 2007 till date, Deltans have never spoken good about Uduaghan because he failed to meet the needs of the people undermining the huge allocation coming to the state from the federation account.

From Delta South where he hails from to Delta Central to North, he has no good public relations before the people of the state. It has been sighing, hissing and cursing all over the state. The cursing and hissing grow when drivers and tricycle riders bump into potholes which could have been worked on and fully completed by his administration. Truly, Uduaghan disappointed the expectation of Deltans because considering his broad promises, he was expected to perform but lo and behold it was a woeful failure.

The present government of Ifeanyi Okowa is also a product of the Ibori’s dynasty in the state. It is a continuation of his influence over the affairs of the state. One thing that links Okowa with Ibori is that he was a beneficiary of Ibori’s government. Okowa was Commissioner for Agriculture and Health before he eventually emerged Secretary to the State Government, an office he was given to placate him following the political game played against his emergence as governor in 2007. Then, he was given the office with a promise from Ibori to wait for his turn after Uduaghan must have finished his eight year rule.

Ibori’s influence has continued to permeate every segment of the state. In June last year, he imposed his daughter, Erhiatake, on the people of his local government, Ethiope West Local Government Area, as member of the State House of Assembly. It was learnt that he made sure that every other person gave way to his daughter’s emergence as the candidate for his Ethiope West constituency. Though a certain group under the aegis of Concerned Indigenes of Oghara, protested the imposition of his daughter, Erhiatake still emerged as candidate for the constituency. Today, she is representing the constituency in the state house of assembly.

There are also underground insinuations that his daughter might emerge the substantive Speaker of the state assembly. The alleged plot is that the current Speaker, Monday Igbuya, is holding brief for her. It was learnt that the office of the Speaker will be given to his daughter as part of compensation for him as leader and father of Delta State politics.

It is believed in many quarters that there is no cause which Ibori would support in Delta that would not come to fruition as he is seen as a demi-god to the power brokers in the state. Even while in prison, his birthday was celebrated in the state. Also, former Commissioner for Transport, Benson Igbakpa, organized a prayer session for his release from London, a few months ago. In the celebration, dignitaries of Urhobo extraction were in attendance but the celebrant was conspicuously absent.

Even in the selection of Commissioners to head ministries in the state, Ibori is still consulted before decisions are taken on who should be appointed and his list is hardly turned down. Currently, Okowa has appointed only 12 commissioners whereas there are over 20 ministries in the state. A source close to the powers that be said the person to head the Ministry of Finance might likely come from abroad, making the point clear that Ibori will certainly be involved in the selection of these commissioners for the state.

One source said, “rather than being tempered by his years in detention, Ibori has remained the power behind the throne in the state; not only because the outgone governor is his brother, but the present administration is firmly in his control. There is a rumour now that the list of commissioners and other appointments being considered by Senator Okowa included 40 percent of names sent from London. The outgone governor only has about 10 percent. That is to tell you how powerful Ibori still is in this state.”

While the claim of the former governor getting 40 percent of the appointments seemed somewhat exaggerated, there is no doubt that the Ibori’s clique has bounced back strongly in the state. The list of those elected and currently running the government of the state and other appointments have certainly confirm this.

The present State House of Assembly also has a plethora of Ibori’s loyalists from the fourth term Hon Daniel Mayuku, Chairman House Committee on Appropriation to the Speaker, Hon Monday Igbuya, Talib Tebite and Tim Owhefere to greenhorns like Chief Michael Diden, a former Chairman of Warri North Local Government Council and DESOPADEC commissioner; Reuben Izeze, a former student activist, who got his first political appointment under the former governor; Mrs. Orezi Esievo, who was drafted from Shell Petroleum Development Company and appointed a commissioner by the former governor and Toju Abigor among others.

It is against the background of the above scenario that the fate ahead of Ibori and the outgone President is strikingly contrasting. Although he was tamed, the situation on ground in Delta State and with his key allies still occupying prominent positions in the two main political parties, APC and PDP, nobody who truly understands Nigerian politics would want to bet against Ibori getting the last laugh when he finally returns from the London jail.

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