From Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Urhobo youths in Delta State on Tuesday urged politicians in the state to desist from making inflammatory statements capable of pitting Governor Ifeanyi Okowa against ex-Governor James Ibori on how the next governor in 2023 should emerge.
Insisting that there was no running battle between the political leaders, the youths, however, expressed worry that there were deliberate ploys to drive a wedge between them following scheming by politicians in Delta Central to take over from Okowa.
Addressing reporters in Ughelli, the youths under the aegis of Urhobo Youth Leaders Association (UYLA), stated that there were no plans by the governor to dismantle the 21-year old political structure of Ibori as has been speculated in some quarters.
The President of the group, Tony Ofoni, described Governor Okowa as a promise keeper who would hand over power to Delta Central based on the tacit agreement that it is the turn of the zone to produce the next governor.
Ofoni, who was flanked by the group’s Deputy President, Vincent Oyibode, Vice President Austin Atiti, and Publicity Secretary Oghotomo Samuel, deplored the approach by the nascent Urhobo lobby group, DC-23, in realising the dream of the Urhobo people producing the next governor.
He insisted that the approach adopted by DC-23 in designing a constitution, calling on aspirants to declare their intentions to them, and making public statements was putting the governor under pressure, adding that as a lobby group, the DC-23 was expected to work behind the scenes in consonance with the sitting governor.
‘A lobby group influences the policy of a government and is discreet in its covert operations without a loud outing with the tendency of not taking the shine off the incumbent governor,’ Ofoni stated.
‘They ought to work underground, lobbying others to buy the idea of power shift to Delta Central without beating war drums.
‘The combative stance of DC-23 cannot achieve the Delta Central dream for 2023 and to that extent, we wish the group tread with caution so as not to jeopardise the common interest of the people,’ Ofoni cautioned.
The youth leader said UYLA was particularly ‘concerned with the attacks and counterattacks by some elements within Delta Central who have been working hard to undo one another in order to be in the good book of the governor.
‘This is not the acceptable way of fighting the common course of the Urhobo people. Those characters who are fond of making noise in favour of one leader or the other, cannot be invested with the garb of patriots fighting for the cause of Delta Central.
‘All hands must be on deck and there is none who is not important in this struggle,’ he said.
Declaring support for the Okowa administration, Ofoni claimed that the governor had openly told the Ijaw people of Delta South that he never promised them the governorship in 2023, explaining that the state Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Kingsley Esiso, was yet to be faulted for saying that it was only fair for Delta Central to produce the next governor.
‘Governor Okowa’s remarks so far on 2023 do not in any way suggest betrayal as is being quoted. He has openly told the Ijaw nation he never promised them the governorship of Delta State in 2023.
‘The state Chairman of the party, Chief Kingsley Esiso, had in a statement during an occasion in 2020 stated that it was only fair for Delta Central to have the governorship in 2023, and that statement did not earn him any query from the governor as the leader of the party.
‘For the purpose of emphasis, our governor has no running battle with Chief James Ibori and his structures as is being claimed in some quarters by mischief makers who want to distort the unity we enjoy in the state with Governor Okowa as the driver of the progressive and highly performing party and government,’ he added.