WARRI- Delta State governor Senator Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa is not naïve in politics, despite his simple mien and often seen disguised simplicity carried along with him, when it comes to matters of politics. He is a hard nut to crack. He has acquired a wide range of political tutelage from his many years’ experience from the ‘grand master’ of election manipulation and maverick politician, former governor Chief James Onanefe Ibori who served a four years jail term in United Kingdom and returned with a heroic grand party reception by his supporters.
Daily Watch can authoritatively reports that Senator Ifeanyi Okowa will not waste any chance in either hook or crook in grappling his second term victory come 2019 by preparing the ground structure right away in the various local government areas in the state. Even though, he (Okowa) has allegedly stockpiled so much billions of naira towards 2019 built-up general election, leaving many deplorable roads, key projects unattended as well as civil servants under local government administration in anguish while suffering and resume duty from Monday to Friday without salary for over ten months.
DSIEC OKowa’s alleged rigging machinery
As a prelude towards the built-up of 2019 general election, Governor Okowa recently appointed the Delta State Independent Electoral Commission (DSIEC) executive, headed by Chief Michael Ogbodu, an apologist of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from Ethiope East is a clear show of shame of the state governor’s desperation to rule Delta State come 2019 by setting the usual rigging machinery as was done in previous administration by PDP which swooped all the votes as against modern democratic practices.
The process called to question true democratic practice as it is obviously hand picking or selection which has been institutionalized by former governor James Ibori and Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan administrations in the state.
Other members include Messers, Fredrick Olakpa, Friday Seimode, James Umokoro, Greg Edeme, Mrs.Light Diden and Mrs Yvonne Wagbasoma as members of the commission.
The newly appointed DSIEC committee has been described by many respondents who spoke with Daily Watch as floppy as the governor selected carefully from only from alleged apologist of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with a simple instruction to declare all Okowa’s men under PDP as standard flag bearers as well as the general council poll as winners in the 25 Local Government areas who would in turn deliver him as winner come 2019.
From our findings, the new DSIEC appointees are having closed blood relation with top PDP political office holders in both the legislative and executive arms in Delta State. For example, Mr. Ejele Diden, a serving law maker of the Delta State House of Assembly whose wife was appointed as member of the current DSIEC, Mrs Light Diden, is questionable.
Daily Watch while speaking with a PDP leader, Chief Barr. Andy Osawota on the preparedness of PDP in the forthcoming council election. He spoke in anticipation of the secret plot of the party and boasted that Delta State belonged to PDP ‘‘That PDP will swoop both the councillors and 25 local Government chairmen in the coming council in the state’’
What many posers are asking is, how could persons exhibited loyalty to a political party or as alleged card carrying members from one political party would conduct a free, fair and credible election in Delta State forth coming local government election?
The opposition political parties in the state are miffed and grumbling over this development as they have seen the handwriting in the wall on how the forthcoming local Government election will swerve in favour of one political party.
‘DSIEC Board Members are PDP apologists- APC publicity secretary
The governor (middle) on red cap and members of the newly appointed DSIEC Board members
But Delta State publicity secretary of the All Progressive Congress) APC) Engr. Leonard Obibi while reacting on the new DSIEC Executive appointed by the State governor, said ‘‘ As per your inquiry, I have heard same insinuation that members of the new DSIEC board are either or dear apologists of PDP by their active affiliations. It is a tragedy of sorts that PDP continues to foist Governors on Delta State who cannot stand on a platform of merit, as they are only able to rule with ‘‘stooges’’
He continued ‘‘It will be a further confirmation that the executive governor of the state, Senator Arthur Ifeanyi Okowa removed the entire Board only because he (Okowa) wanted his party men and cronies to oversee the upcoming Local Government election and do whatever it thought would hive PDP advantage.
Okowa allegedly skewed DSIEC law in his favour
‘‘Deltans knew that Okowa removed board carried out a free and fair bye-election within some LGAs in 2016 and APC won that election. The unexpected loss by PDP has been Okowa’s nightmare. Okowa and his PDP team understood that the now removed board had a firm statutory tenure and that the only ‘‘legal’’ means was to forcefully dissolved the board and craftly remove its foundation, which in this case, was to repeal the previous DSIEC 2012 law.
‘‘ After all, the governor Senator Okowa could easily have proposed whatever amendments he (referring to Okowa) intended for DSIEC 2012 law while the board remained in service as usual with amendment to existing laws over Nigeria. Governor Okowa however, hatched his plans and got PDP ‘‘rubber stamp’’ House of Assembly to repeal the DSIEC law as an excuse to sack the entire Board. What Okowa is yet to realize what most Deltans are smart people, and they can see each move he makes, including his daily effort to hoodwink the people by his now dearly empty ‘‘SMART’’ agenda’’ he told Daily Watch.
As Okowa’s game plan to clinch victory, Daily Watch gathered from some aggrieved PDP leaders is that he is single-handedly sponsoring some of his core loyal men from different local Government areas across the state with Deltans money to impose them on the Peoples Democratic Party primaries that are otherwise called the governor’s anointed men as standard flag bearers during the party primaries as against the general interest of the party.
The rumour of imposition is creating a high tension almost tear the party apart. What aggrieved members are grumbling within the peoples Democratic Party in the state with various groups calling the state government to desist from the unholy act of imposition chairmanship or councillorship standard flag bearers. They argued that the governor and the party’s leadership should have allowed a level playing ground to allow all the aspirants at various levels to test their popularity. Many have threatened that if at the end of the PDP chairmanship primaries and the most popular aspirants do not emerge, they would be compelled to pull of PDP and decamp to another political party to join forces together against Okowa’s anointed candidates and Okowa himself come 2019.
A PDP leader in Warri, Chief Tunde Smooth had debunked rumour that people were trying to blackmail the state governor Senator Ifeanyi Okowa and his deputy Barr. Kingsley Otuaro by alleging that the duo have perfected plans to impose candidates on the party and the electorates towards the forthcoming council election.
Group wants EFCC to probe Okowa on Paris Club Refund N3billion
Meanwhile, Senator Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa is also facing another grave allegation of stock piling billions of nairas belonging to the state government in preparation for his 2019 second term election.
The National Coordinator of non-governmental organization, Centre for Peace and Environmental Justice, CEPEJ, Comrade Sheriff Mulade, made this allegation last week during an interview session with members of NUJ Warri Correspondents Chapel, in Warri, Delta state.
He said that the Governor was diverting monies released for a specific purpose because he wants to impose himself on the people in 2019 by any mean possible.
Specifically, he claimed that a part of the second tranche of the Paris Club Refund was allegedly diverted by the Delta State Government running into about N3billion naira for unfathomed reasons.
The activist claimed that the money was reportedly kept in an escrow account for the purpose of using same to prosecute the re-election of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta state.
Mr. Mulade therefore called on the Economic and financial crimes commission (EFCC) to probe the Paris Club refund money
Mulade also said that EFCC needs to ask Okowa-led administration to give account for the use of the 13 percent derivation funds in which 50 percent ought to wholly accrue to the State oil commission, christened, DESOPADEC.
While saying that the call was for the interest of the good people of the state, particularly the oil producing communities, Mulade asserted that since Okowa’s administration, DESOPADEC which use to be an interventionist agency has become a lame duck with abandoned projects across the communities.
Mulade, said that Okowa is not the only culprit on the Paris Club refund money diversion into their private coffers, he noted that all the 36 state governors have soiled their hands in this respect. He therefore called on the EFCC to beam their searchlight on the 36 state governments over the alleged misappropriation of the Paris Club Refund which some state governors reportedly diverted.
In Delta state, there is widespread general outcry of displeasure, pain and agony by people of Delta state against the style of Okowa’s administration. Especially Civil servants under the local Government administration are greatly hit as they are in great danger as many spokes to Daily Watch that they have not been paid over ten months and this had led to series of protests and peaceful demonstration against the state government. They said their children have stopped schooling as there was no money to pay their children school fees and take care of their family responsibility
CPS, Charles Aniagwu, says there will be a level playing ground for all political parties in the forthcoming council election
Although, Chief Press Secretary to the state governor, Mr. Charles Aniagwu painted a gory and pathetic picture of the state financial situation. According to him,the current problem of local Government workers who have been owed for long was due to sharp shortfall of federal monthly allocation and inability to undertake many infrastructural projects like previous administrations. He said Government only owes local Government workers and noted his boss worried about the situation. He also assured Deltans that there is going to be a free, fair and credible local Government election. He said has not diverted any parish club fund for personal use.
What surprises many Deltans in the midst of series of complain of low monthly revenue from the federation account, the state governor gathered almost all political office orders in the state, including all the members of Delta State legislative, executive arm and ministries to far away Ibadan in a show of opulence inter-state jamboree to receive an award in his Alumna University. It was said that the executive council approved millions of nairas for the expenses at the Ibadan show of opulence by the state governor. This is coming from a state governor who could not pay local government civil servants.
The major opposition party in the state, All Progressive Congress (APC) are bent on capturing political power from the People Democratic Party in the 2019 general election. How this will happen, is an interesting political game with all the strategies and financial muscle of Senator Ifeanyi Okowa has put in place against 2019 general election.