From Ben Dunno, Warri
The All Progressives Congress (APC) on Saturday, November 19, 2022, picked battle against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). And it chose Warri, Delta State, as its battlefield.
That day, the APC held its presidential rally at the Warri City stadium. The rally may have come and gone but the shivers it sent down the spines of the ruling PDP in the state would not leave in a hurry.
APC state APC chairman, Elder Omeni Sobotie, fired the first shot. He reaffirmed the party’s preparedness to take over the state. He said Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s victory at next year’s election “is based on his past track records of achievements, especially in the transformation of Lagos and his political sagacity built over the years.
“A man who has achieved so much like Asiwaju deserves to be rewarded with massive votes from all Nigerians. It is the only way to appreciate him and bring him to power next year to serve them better in enhancing their living standards.”
Its governorship candidate and Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, practically took the PDP to the cleaners. His lamentation:
“Your Excellency, (referring to Tinubu) we drove together from the airport to the stadium. On our way, your can see the state of our deplorable roads. That goes to show you the level of our infrastructural decay all over the state under the present government.
“Also, you can see the number of commercial tricycles, popularly known as Keke, operating on our road as we were coming. This is what has become of our young men, as Okowa has failed to industrialise the state to create jobs for the teeming employable youths.
“It will interest you to know that as it stands today, Delta State is the second highest indebted state in the country. It is regrettable that we have found ourselves in that position despite the huge amount being received by the Okowa’s government from the federation account by virtue of being one of the largest oil and gas producing states in the country. It is in addition to the internally generated revenue (IGR), gotten on yearly basis.”
He described the PDP-led government as “the most corrupt, most insensitive to the plights of the people, especially those that contributed the large chunk to the state revenue due to the oil and gas exploration on their land. It is the most clueless in advancing the course of both human capital and infrastructural development of the state.”
Omo-Agege alleged that poverty level went up drastically in the last seven years under Okowa’s watch. He decried the situation where the people God has blessed with so much in terms of human and natural resources, mostly oil and gas, would be made to live in abject poverty in the midst of plenty.
He argued that if in his individual capacity as a Senator, he could touch the lives of people in every local government area within the Delta Central and beyond with some basic amenities such as transformers, street lights, portable water, drainages and roads, then the people should expect more from him when he steps in as the governor.
Former Edo State governor and ex-APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomole, tasked the people: “It’s time Deltans go to Asaba and hold Okowa accountable for the over N250 billion he has received from the 13 per cent derivation arrears.
From the little I have seen and heard about this state, the level of poverty and the obvious infrastructural decay everywhere, do not reflect a state that received so much money.
“Last time I was passing through Asaba, I saw old men and women you call pensioners, who had put in many years of service in the state and were retired, crying on the road over unpaid gratuities. I began to ask myself why would a man who claimed to be God fearing and with so much money in his hand would continue to subject these aged people to this kind of torture?
“It only goes to shows the wickedness in some of our leaders and it’s very sad to say the least. Let Deltans rise up now and begin to ask questions. Let them use their votes to push out bad leadership and vote in APC so that the state can begin to move forward.
“With Omo-Agege as your governor and Tinubu as president, then your state will begin to move forward and the living standards of the people would be better than what we have today.”
Presidential candidate of the party, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, said his government would re-activate the Gas Revolution Industrial Park project: “Gas will become a national priority. I envision fertiliser and petrochemical plants, aluminium smelters, methanol plants, all aimed at creating jobs, while producing goods that booster farming, construction and other industries.
“I will fulfil my promises to you. You are the future of this country.
Your dreams will be realised for a stable and united Nigeria.
“Our rivals do not have shame as they are busy fighting themselves in public. Tell me, how can they think of good governance?”
He said his presidency and Omo-Agege as governor would bring “hope, employment and development to Delta and Nigeria at large.”
Also at the rally were APC vice presidential candidate, Kashim Shettima; deputy governorship candidate, Friday Osanebi; senatorial candidates, Ede Dafinone; Thomas Joel-Onowakpo and Peter Nwaoboshi.
Others included Senate President Ahmad Lawan; Governor of Plateau State and Director-General, APC Presidential Campaign Council, Simon Lalong and Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State.
The Ijaw ethnic nationality, under Oboro Gbaraun 11 (Aketekpe Agadagba), the Pere of Gbaramatu kKngdom, bestowed on Tinubu, “Eyeilaowei” meaning “man of high esteem” and Omo-Agege, “Ebeikiowei” meaning “one who remembers Gbaramatu kingdom.” The conferment was done penultimate Friday at Oporoza, headquarters of Gbaramatu in Warri South West Local Government.
Shortly after the rally, Chief Economic Adviser to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, Dr Kingsley Emu, took on APC. He painted a different picture of the event: “There was nothing so spectacular in terms of the coordination and mobilisation that had made the day a huge success.
“Delta APC rally was a failed political subterfuge. It should be seen as an event that has more than anything else spelt the end of the road politically for the APC in Delta State and to a very large extent in Nigeria.”