By Lawrence Igwebuike, Asaba
Leading Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, governorship aspirant in Delta and biggest private investor/employer in the state, Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi, was his typical frank self when he told members of his Gbagi Solidarity Movement, GSM, at a get-together in Oginibo, his country home in Ughelli South Local Government Area, early in the week, that eminent party leader and former governor, Chief James Ibori voiced to him that it was beyond question that he (Gbagi) would turn around the state, and so should emerge as next governor.
Confronting tricky situation headlong
Gbagi, an industrialist whose vicious circle with some fellow politicians in the state is his characteristic bluntness, asserted that he had met Ibori two times in the course of his consultations with leaders and citizens across the three senatorial districts, one at Oghara, Ibori’s hometown in Ethiope West local government area and the other at Abuja, the nation’s capital.
He claimed Ibori confirmed his (Gbagi) larger political visibility and aplomb in Delta state since he (Ibori) returned from custodial span in foreign parts.
His words: “We both had a robust discussion Ibori acknowledged my evident popularity since coming back to the country as the aspirant holding the best promise to “turn situation around positively for the state after the current administration.”
‘Take my word for it …I will tell the governor’
“After those good things he had told me, I said to Chief James Ibori, ‘Look, all these good things that you have told me, tell it to Governor Okowa too’. And he said to me, ‘Take my word for it, I will tell the governor that you are the governor or nothing else.’
“And, when I met Chief Ibori recently in Abuja, he said to me that many people think we are enemies because they do not understand,” the former Minister of State for Education explained.
Quite some gut
Gbagi, who is obviously the “man” among the “boys” from his Delta Central senatorial district strutting the podium for PDP 2023 governorship ticket has been daubed in debauched light, over the years, for political necessity by a political cabal in the state, which knows he is not what they concoct of him.
As an industrialist that has what it takes to industrialize the state, it has been phenomenal battling an invading political cabal that specializes in tarnishing his image every election period, this time, the gimmick is that Ibori was not in good terms with him.
The criminologist deflated suggestion that there was crack between him and Ibori due to purported political differences, saying contrary to the whispers, he relishes a blossoming relationship with him.
Demystifying ingrained speculation
The top aspirant punctured rife conjecture that and Ibori and his political clan in the state were plotting for another aspirant, also from Urhobo ethnic extraction in Delta Central senatorial district who, until recently, was a member of the Okowa’s executive council to take over from Governor Okowa.
Gbagi did not say so at Oginibo, but every Deltan is familiar with the aspirant in question, Olorogun David Edevbie, one of the political stooges of Ibori, who a jumbled former governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, disastrously used as a pawn to cut short Okowa’s ambition in 2014/2015. This time around, the nerve-wracking scheme is that Ibori wants to use him to continue his stranglehold on the state.
In his emblematic manner, Gbagi told GSM faithful that he would be amazed if Chief James Ibori controverts his testimony that he told him it is Gbagi for governor or nobody else.
National Chairman of Delta Central-2023 (DC-23), Chief Ighoyota Amori, who had since repudiated the buzz that Ibori is the big masquerade behind the Urhobo 2023 governorship lobby group and sworn that the collection was not formed to ‘anoint’ Olorogun Edevbie, undeniably, organized Gbagi’s visit to Ibori at Oghara and was an eyewitness to what Ibori told Gbagi. It was unclear if he was also in Abuja with them when Ibori and Gbagi met again.
It is, therefore, expected that Amori, who saw in Gbagi an industrialist and detribalized Deltan that than could revolutionize the state, ever before he went for Ibori in 1999 because the entrepreneur overruled his proposition at the time, will explicate what transpired. Except if when Gbagi departed, Ibori as a typical politician renounced all he swore to before his Oginibo kinsman.
Putting Ibori to task
However, what is perceptible is that Ibori who recognized what Delta was losing all these years by not giving an industrialist like Gbagi the break to govern the state, admitted the palpable and vowed to Gbagi that he would communicate his reevaluated latter-day position to Okowa.
A reliable source said Ibori actually reached Governor Okowa as guaranteed Gbagi, validating the latter’s credentials as the game changer. But the fine points of their discussions, which Okowa, earlier instructed by his father, Pa Arthur Okorie Okowa (now deceased) to go in company of Gbagi to Ibori for heart-to heart talks on Gbagi’s 2023 governorship, are not yet public knowledge.
Hitting the nail on the head
On the other hand, Gbagi, who believes that he could truly change the state if elected governor, has thrown the gauntlet to Ibori to make a clean breast on 2023 Delta governorship, as political contractors are reportedly hiding under the false notion of both of them being political enemies to manipulate gullible people in the senatorial district.
“If a governor (referring to Ibori during his time) can produce his own blood brother (former governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan) to take over from him, I see nothing wrong in letting God instruct Governor Okowa, who has put the Almighty first in everything he does in the state.”
“No one can stop what a governor who is determined to do the best for his state will do. Let the best candidate present himself, we will not shortfall in telling Deltans the truth. Okowa will handover to a governor from Urhobo come 2023,” he verbalized.
Gbagi stole the day in Oginibo when as a final point, he declared: “Those who are questionable will not go for Urhobo. If you have anything against Gbagi, say it out today. Gentlemen, I believe Okowa, will handover to me.”