By Prof Haalim Uche
I must make a quick confession , I was one of those that held the notion that ahead of 2023, former Minister of State for Education and highest indigenous investor in Delta State, Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi, hit the road rather early on his mission to govern the oil-rich state.
I am sure many are with me in this conception, but last Thursday, October 3, at the Mosogar in Ethiope-West Local Government Area country home of one of the pillars of Urhobo politics, Senator Ighoyota Amori, where he went to consult Odidimadi, as many know Amori and his political family, it became palpable that it was a politically- shrewd calculation.
Urhobo leader and legal icon, Elegbete (Barrister) Moses Odibo, Chief Anthony Akpomiemie former House of Representatives member, Ethiope East and West, Hon Lovett Idisi, Commissioner Chris Onogba, Commissioner Joyce Overah, chair, Delta State School of Health Technology, Ofuoma, Dr. Chris Oharisi and Princess Philo Ededey were on ground to receive Olorogun Gbagi with their national leader.
Veteran politicians, who know the gradations of the game, collectively described his early start as a masterstroke for Delta Central Senatorial district (Urhobo). They all said it was it was vintage Gbagi.
Why I started early – Gbagi
Eldest politician from Ughelli South local government area, Chief D A Obofukoro, Chief Eddie Sorhue, Dr. Nelson Ejakpovi and former Ughelli South chair, Rev Matthew Akporayen accompanied Gbagi, a criminologist, lawyer and entrepreneur during the visit.
Also in the formidable team from across the three senatorial districts were Mr. Monday Ossai, Chief Thompson Ovwere, Chief Okiemute Oviri-Okwagbe, Dr Mrs Efe Oyibo, Princess Doris Ejinyere, Elder Solomon Ala, Chief Love Okoro, Chief David Uhawha, Mr Francis Obule and Hon Edjoghene Onoseme.
Explaining the reason for his visit, Gbagi said, “Our governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa has performed tremendously well and I came to consult you and your political family that I should be supported to take over from him to continue his good works from where he (Okowa) will stop in 2023.”
He indicated that it was not too early for him to start the 2023 race, as some people had insinuated. His reasons: “It was Abraham Lincoln that said ‘Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four hours sharpening the axe,’ which is what I have elected to do.”
“Also, like Bobby Knight, who said ‘I don’t believe in luck, I believe in preparation,’ I (Gbagi) don’t wait for luck, I am an entrepreneur, I prepare for and wait for things to happen, therefore, I am doing my homework,” he added.
Amori asked me to be gov over two decades ago
According to him, “So many years ago during the regime of former Head of State, late General Sani Abacha , you (Odidimadi) came to tell me that you want me to be the governor of Delta state. That statement had kept haunting me though I rejected the call at the time.”
“Indeed, I was bidding my time all these years, but today, I have come to tell you that the instruction, the call you made during the Abacha government, I have come to claim it, now is the time, I am ready for it,” he asserted.
He said that among the gladiators in Urhobo politics, he is better qualified and prepared to give the state a focused leadership, adding, “I know that some people are being paid to come out and vie just to cause distraction, but nobody will say this man (Gbagi) is a thief or a swindler.”
He emphasized that he was in the race not just to contest the primary but win the governorship race in 2023 and sought the support and prayers of Amori, his political family and Urhobos generally, as he continues with his consultations round the state.
It is true I lobbied him to be gov – Amori
Noting that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, governorship ticket for 2023 was already “signed, sealed and delivered” to Urhobo, Senator Amori said the end of one election marks the beginning of another election. He asserted that Gbagi helped the Urhobo ethnic nationality by starting early, as that would it loud and clear to others that Urhobo was ready and would not comprise its 2023 ticket.
Amori said, “A lot of people know of the personal relationship I have with Gbagi, he worked very hard and got rich very early and was also introduced to power and powerful people early in his life. He moved with military governors and I worked for military governors and men of power through him.”
Confirming Gbagi’s claim that he urged him to be governor in the past, he said: “It is true that when it was time for civilian rule, I actually told him to contest for governor, even before I mentioned it to any other person because he has all the qualities needed to be governor.”
You are a courageous man, says Odibo
Elegbete Odibo said the issue on ground was how prepared Urhobos were for 2023, saying, “It is the turn of Urhobo to produce the next governor in 2023, no Urhobo man contested with Governor Ifeanyi Okowa in 2019 on the understanding that it is our turn in 2023.”
“About a month ago, former governor of the state, Chief James Ibori called us and said we have to redeem the promise we made to our people that in 2023, the governor of Delta state will be an Urhobo.
“Today, we are doing the Mosogar Declaration on behalf of the Urhobo nation. We thank Olorogun Gbagi for starting at this stage, in spite of the little problem with the road, we are happy with the people that you came with across Delta state. You are a brave man, you are blazing the trail,” Odibo said.
Akpomiemie, Overah, Idisi, Oharisi say its Gbagi time
Chief Anthony Akpomiemie said that all the communities in Ethiope West would support Gbagi’s ambition.
On his part, Commissioner Joyce for Overah said the Almighty has clearly ordained that Gbagi’s turn to govern Delta has come and he was happy that he came to brainstorm with their leader, Amori. He said that he visited the industrialist while he was Minister of State for Education and he gave him a warm welcome.
Also testifying, Hon Loveth Idisi representing Ethiope East said with his zero tolerance to kidnapping and industrialization vision, he, no doubt, has the potential to be a good governor.
Olorogun Chris Oharisi said he led Amori Associates from Ughelli North to the meeting and at the appropriate time, their leader, Amori, would direct them on what to do.
The climax of the occasion was the traditional blessings and prayers by Chief Samuel Okoro, (the Ezomo of Jesse Kingdom), who entreated God to confirm Gbagi as the next governor of the state, saying, that those who did not want him to be governor should continue sleeping until he mounts the saddle.
Okowa doing well, Urhobo should support him
After consulting with Amori, the former Minister of State (Education), who had visited other Urhobo politicians, weekend, visited political big wigs of Udu at the country home of Chief Eddie Onosorhue. He told the political leaders that he had what it takes to industrialize the state, adding that if he achieved the much he had done with personal resources, he would far more what state resources.
He described Governor Okowa as a detribalized Deltan, who has reinvigorated his desire to develop the state, urging Udu and other Urbobo leaders to support the governor in his quest to build a stronger Delta.
Gbagi was also at the Sapele home of the state Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, chair, Chief (Barr), Kingsley Esiso, on Sunday, where he told the party leader that he has all the qualities of a governor and was ready to continue the excellent work Okowa was doing the state.
Prof Haalim Uche, a political analyst wrote in from Asaba