The immediate past Governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa, has explained why he rejected the anointed candidate of former Governor James Ibori as his successor.
Okowa and Ibori have been at loggerheads since the Delta Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship primary election in 2022. While Ibori supported David Edevbie, a commissioner of finance in his administration in the primary, Okowa threw his weight behind Sheriff Oborevwori, former speaker of the state house of assembly. Okowa and Edevbie were commissioners in the Ibori administration.
Oborevwori eventually won the primary and the governorship election held in the state.
Opening up on why he rejected Edevbie, Okowa alleged that Ibori’s candidate tricked him into believing he would respect the Delta PDP zoning provision ahead of the governorship election in 2015.
He told reporters;
“I don’t like to talk about it but obviously there’s no doubt that we didn’t work together. We went into the primaries not agreeing on the same candidate, we talked about it but he (Ibori) did not want to shift grounds on his candidate. That’s the truth and I did not agree with that candidate for basic reasons which I made clear enough to him and also to his own candidate.
“I did not hide it. Till tomorrow, I speak about it in truth not because I thought I was a god that needed to install somebody. David Edevbie is my friend. We were with the former governor in his tenure together as commissioners, but in 2014, when it became obvious that it was the turn of the Delta North — Delta Central and Delta South had had their turns — I heard that David was going to run and he was indicating interest.
“I went from Abuja with three of my friends to visit him in Lagos — and I said ‘David, please, it’s only fair, I know that there are so many people competing but I’m coming to you as a friend. It will not be fair if you run. Governor James Ibori has been there, Governor Uduaghan has been there, it’s obviously the turn of the Delta North; why don’t you allow us to have our space so that we can all be said to be part of the state? Thereafter, we can all work for you to become governor’.
“And at the end, he said ‘I will not run anymore, I will support you’. I thanked him and left back to Abuja. And then suddenly, next thing we heard was that they had endorsed David but this same David had committed himself to me.
Though Okowa appointed Edevbie as a commissioner in his cabinet, he claimed that he still proceeded with his plans on how to become the next governor.
Okowa also noted that though the PDP zoning rule meant the governorship seat in 2023 would go to Delta Central, Edevbie’s zone, he kicked against him because he doesn’t want the former commissioner to benefit from it. The former Governor of Delta state said;
“In the second year, I started hearing that he was holding meetings in Lagos and other places where they were already prepping him to be governor without anybody discussing with me.
“In the first instance, he did not want the zoning to Delta North, so if the zoning was going to continue, he’s my friend but he shouldn’t be the one to benefit from the zoning he did not want.
“I’m careful in what I do so it will be difficult for me to support someone outside Delta Central but my only mindset is that somebody who did not believe in the zoning cannot be the one to benefit from it and I made it clear to the former governor.”
Okowa further revealed that when Ibori met with him a few days before the primary election to reach a compromise on a fresh candidate, it was already too late.
“I told him it would be difficult to withdraw support from my candidate. I don’t do things like that.”