Okowa rattled as gale of defections rocks Delta PDP

With barely forty-five days to the much-talked-about presidential election, this is not the best of times for the Peoples Democratic Party in Delta State, judging by the gale of defections of the party bigwigs to other parties, notably the All Progressives Congress.

Among the latest decampees are family members and kinsmen of the Managing Director of the Delta Oil Producing Areas Development Commission, Bashorun Askia Ogieh, led by Mr Goodluck Obrogor, the only brother of Bashorun Askia, who was at the forefront of 177 defectors who denounced the PDP and pledged loyalty to APC last Saturday at Uzere, the hometown of the notable PDP power broker, amidst the APC ward-to-ward campaign in the community.

Mr Goodluck Obrogor was the cynosure of all eyes at that APC rally as he dumped the PDP and declared that Uzere people are in the bondage of oppression and intimidation under the ruling PDP government in the state.

He pleaded passionately with the Deputy President of the Senate and governorship candidate of the APC in Delta State, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, to help the community.

“Obarisi, please see this place as your own home and come and set us free from the shackles of slavery imposed on us by the PDP,” Mr. Obrogor stated.

Other notable PDP leaders who defected to the APC at the rally included James Miller, former personal assistant to the Delta State House of Assembly’s majority leader; Olotu Ode, Uzere community youth leader; Fred Uye, Edafe Agbaka, and other members of the Uzere youth movement.

Others were Okpokoro Precious, Azinoh Urieh, Adaka Frank, Ewomazino Ojabekie, Obi Endurance, Endurance Oluku, and Ezekiel Urete.

James Igbi, the former deputy governorship candidate of the ADC, led a cross section of party leaders and elders in Uzere to decamp to the APC.

Earlier in the week, Governor Okowa’s former Commissioner for Urban Renewal, Dr. Karo Ilolo, and two-time chairman of Ethiope East LGA, Chief Faith Majemite dumped the PDP, declaring publicly their support for the APC.

Speaking during the APC ward-to-ward campaign at Uzere, Ilolo said “The PDP umbrella is torn. We are totally committed to the cause of the APC, and we shall win.”

Also speaking, Majemite dismissed the PDP as a party of ‘thieves.’ She said that in seven and a half years, the PDP under Governor Okowa has received N4.2 trillion but the state is still undeveloped and dirt poor.

“They are all thieves. If PDP comes here to campaign, ask them, ‘Where’s our money?’ Until they answer your question, don’t listen to them,” the erstwhile chairman of Ethiope East LGA said.

In Aviara, former members of the PDP led by Ureghe John-Mark, an Aviara ward executive member, tore PDP cards and also decamped to the APC.

According to John-Mark, “The Aviara people have been used and dumped, and they are tired of the PDP and have decided to pitch tent with the APC.’’

In response to the wave of defections, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege stated that by the sincere decision of former Delta PDP leaders and supporters to abandon the party in favour of the APC, Bashorun Askia and Governor Okowa have passed judgement on themselves.

Omo-Agege said, “They should know that the time of political intimidation is over. They know me, and I know them. I can’t be intimidated.”

The APC governorship hopeful lamented that Uzere, the second place where oil was discovered in Nigeria, after Oloibiri, still looks decrepit after over N4.3tn in oil revenues generated from Uzere and other oil-producing communities in Delta accrued to the state.

“Is this Uzere, the oil-rich region? Did you offend Okowa? How could Askia be so comfortable with making Uzere people Internally Displaced Persons during floods? With the resources from Uzere you are not supposed to have problems with flooding. Instead of asking Askia to use his office to help his people, he chooses to intimidate them.

“Uzere does not look like an oil-producing community. By God’s grace, when I become governor, I will consult with illustrious indigenes to ask them what the incoming government should do for Uzere.”

Omo-Agege urged the people of Aviara to come out on Election Day, stare down the PDP and Okowa, and vote for all APC candidates. He assured supporters of adequate security on Election Day and urged them not to fear intimidation by the opposition.

Also, at the palace of the traditional ruler of Aviara, His Majesty Efadue Imo, Ebobo 1, the Ovie of Aviara, Omo-Agege assured that he would ensure that the Aviara community is fully linked to the national grid. He also promised to consult with the traditional ruler to address other challenges facing the community.

The defectors from the various communities were received by the Delta State APC Chairman, Elder Omeni Sobotie.

Worried by the implications of the defections on the February 25 and March 12 presidential and governorship elections in Delta State, the PDP hierarchy has reportedly set in motion renewed efforts at reconciling the aggrieved party members, the root cause of which has been traced to the crisis that erupted from the outcome of the party’s governorship primary election held on May 25, 2022.

That party primary, in which Sheriff Oborevwori emerged the winner, polarised the Delta PDP following the alleged marginalisation of many party leaders, particularly former governor James Ibori and his preferred candidate, David Edevbie, a former two-time Finance Commissioner and pioneer Economic Planning Commissioner.

To date, no feasible result has been recorded from the major reconciliation efforts brokered by the immediate former governor of the State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, as the Delta PDP appears to have hit a brick wall, as manifested in the lingering resignation of appointments of many party faithful who had been flocking into the APC in droves. Punch

Even though Chief James Ibori has kept mum over the unfolding development, Uduaghan has stated repeatedly that some party chieftains are working against the interests of the party.

Observers see the party’s raging defections as proof that the reconciliation efforts failed to achieve the desired results.

For instance, in her resignation letter addressed to the chairman of the PDP in the Ethiope East LGA but copied to the Ward 6 chairman and state chairman of the party, Chief Mrs. Majemite alleged that the party had “deviated from the known ethics, values, and ideological stand on inclusiveness envisioned by the party’s foundation members.”

Also, Chief Evance Ivwurie, an ex-lawmaker representing Ethiope East Constituency, similarly alleged deviations of the PDP from its ideals of inclusiveness, marginalisation, and the absence of good governance as reasons for his quitting the party.

The resignations of the two party chieftains in Ethiope East LGA came within twenty-four hours of each other.

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