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The man best regarded as the oldest politician in Delta State, the patriarch of the Ijaw nation, Chief E. K Clark has added his voice to the raging Delta State gubernatorial zoning controversy. In a no holds bar interview with Vanguard reporter, the elder states man talked about, the zoning controversy, the Ibori- Okowa face-up, imposition of candidates and many other issues. Excerpt:

On zoning.
He said, “in Delta State zoning has not been the case with previous experience. For instance, the Urhobo ethnic nationality, politically known as Delta Central, has on various occasions violated the national principle stipulated by the PDP convention, by participating in every Gubernatorial elections in the State since 1999, including Chief Edevbie, who contested with Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa in 2015. He was sponsored by UPU and the then Governor of Delta State, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan.
In 1999, it was an all-commers primary contest including Prof Sam Oyovbiare, Joshua Elueme, and others. Chief Ibori won with our support. Because of the role I played, I was appointed the Chairman of Chief Ibori’s flag-off campaign in Oghara in 1999. I still have the invitation card with me. Thereafter, I continued my support for him, when he won the gubernatorial election against Engr. Moses Kragha.
I also remember in 2006, the Delta Southern Senatorial zone made up of the Itsekiris, Isokos and Ijaws formed an organization known as the 3 ‘I’s to produce a successor to Ibori.
The leaders of the three ethnic groups then were the Isokos headed by Chief James Otobo, the Itsekiris headed by Chief O. P. Edodo, and myself who headed the Ijaws. Prominent leaders of the three ethnic groups met at the PK Guest House in Government Reserved Area (GRA), Warri, where it was decided that the candidate will be declared in our next meeting and it will be followed by a mega rally to be held in Oleh, where I was the Principal Guest of Honour. But we were shocked when Governor James Ibori in abuse of his power, later organized a kangaroo primary election of the PDP at Ugwashi-uku and imposed his first-cousin, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, on the people of Delta State. Almost all the contestants were treated shabbily. They included Chief Ovie Omo-Agege, Olorogun Emerhor O’tega, Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi, Chief Ejaife Odebala, the late Chief Pius Ewerhido, Chief Charles Obule, Olorogun Oscar Ibru, Mr Sunny Onuesoke and Hon Napoleon Gbinije. Contestants from Delta North that year included Dr Cairo Ojougboh, Chief Godswill Obielum, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, Prof Fidelis Oditah, Chief Simon Ebonka and so on

In the 2015 gubernatorial election in Delta State, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan again wanted to impose his permanent secretary, Mr. Tony Obuh from Ika South on the people as his gubernatorial candidate against candidates like Chief Victor Ochei, Olorogun David Edevbie, Mrs Esther Uduehi, Dr Ngozi Olejeme, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi, Hon Clement Ufuani, Hon Ndudi Elumelu, Chief Paulinus Akpeki, Prof. Sylvester Monye, Chief Ovie Omo-Agege and Hon Godsdey Orubebe, from Delta South

On the alleged face-up between Ibori and Governor Okowa, Chief Clark said, ” I am indeed very surprised to hear about any face-up between Chief James Ibori and Dr Ifeanyi Okowa as to who would be the Governor of Delta State in 2023. But if this information is true, I regard it as a futile exercise, as both have no power or authority to impose a candidate on the PDP members of Delta State. I humbly submit that my good son Chief James Onanefe Ibori has no moral justification as to choose who will become the next Governor of Delta State. As for Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, he has no right to impose a candidate on us because he was not imposed on us by his predecessor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan.

On the rumoured pact between the Ijaws and Governor Okowa, he said, “it is not to my knowledge and I was never a party to an arrangement that Dr. Okowa should hand over to an Ijaw person at the end of his term and there was no working accord known to me, it was not a part of the arrangement when I decided to support Dr Ifeanyi Okowa in 2015. It was not a matter between the Aniomas and the Ijaws. It was not based on any condition other than competence, equity and, fair-play.
Having said that, I wish to emphasise that I do not think that the Ijaws are asking for a special favour, but that a level playing field should be provided for all, I believe, as free citizens of Nigeria and Delta State, the Ijaws and the Urhobos, like every other ethnic group in the country, are free to aspire to any position in Delta State including the Governorship of the State, in 2023 and beyond. However, I have watched with admiration and satisfaction that both ethnic groups are campaigning, and peacefully advocating their interest all over the State without rancour and bitterness, as it should be in any democracy. People who are interested, should, therefore, be allowed to contest the party primaries. The duty of our amiable Governor is to provide a level playing ground for all of them to contest and the best will emerge by God’s grace. His Excellency, who is a master in the art of conducting primaries, should allow them to do so. He is the acclaimed best returning officer so far, because of the free and fair PDP primary election he conducted at the 2018 historic PDP Presidential Election Primaries, which he conducted creditably in Port-Harcourt, where Alhaji Atiku Abubakar defeated about twelve other presidential aspirants from the North and none of the aspirants there after complained.”

Further, Chief Clark said, “I recall that some time ago, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, accompanied by two of his commissioners including Hon. Solomon Funkekeme, Commissioner for Works, called on me few days to the PDP primary election, and pleaded with me to support Tony Obuh. But I refused. I told him that Tony Obuh, who had been a Permanent Secretary under him, will definitely be his frontman. Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan later adopted Chief David Edevbie in conjunction with Urhobo Progress Union (UPU). This brings me to the issue of what has generally come to be known as the “Uvwiamuge Declaration”, which was a declaration made by the Urhobos on 4th November, 2014. I reproduce an excerpt of that document:

Gentlemen of the Press, Distinguished Ladies and gentlemen, I welcome you all with great pleasure to this all important press conference in respect of the position of the Urhobo Nation as it affects the 2015 general elections in relation to the Delta State Governorship seat as well as the presidential election…. It would be recalled, that in March 2014, the entire Urhobo Nation, under the auspices of the Urhobo progess Union (UPU) took a position, and emphatically stated that all registered political parties including the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the ruling party in Delta State should pick their Governorship flag bearers/candidates from the Urhobo nation. This was duly condensed into the “UVWIAMUGE DECLARATION”. The Urhobo people have accordingly remained resolute on this and we remain so….

Consequent upon the above undisputed facts, the Urhobo people, resident within the shores of Delta State and beyond still insist on the Uvwiamuge Declaration that “we will vote for any political party that gives its governorship ticket to an Urhobo person”. This, we will do in the various elections, including the Presidential.

Let it be stated here without equivocation, that the assertion being made in some quarters that governorship seat in Delta State is zoned to Delta North Senatorial District is not true. Indeed, records abound to show that in all gubernatorial contests since the creation of Delta State and the current political dispensation which started in 1999, politicians from the three senatorial districts of the state, had always contested for the governorship position…. Repeat, the assertion being made by some persons in the Peoples democratic Party (PDP) that the governorship seat of Delta State is zoned to the Northern Senatorial District is a mere wish and at best a general conjecture by the propagators.
…. The present Exco of UPU met with the Governor to discuss its decision…, or gives, all parties a level playing group (sic).”

Continuing Clark said, “it is at this juncture that Government Ekpemupolo alias Tompolo, came to me in Abuja, where we decided to adopt the candidature of Dr Ifeanyi Okowa.
The arrangement for Dr Ifeanyi Okowa to become PDP gubernatorial candidate in Delta State with Barr. Kingsley Utuaro as his Deputy, was finally sealed in my house at a meeting attended by Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, Barr. Kingsley Utuaro, Senator James Manager, Government Ekpemupolo and myself.
The same Urhobos, are today, talking about zoning.Let us accept, for the purposes of argument, that the eight years of Chief James Ibori (1999-2007), the eight years of Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan (2007-2015), were regarded by the Urhobos of Delta Central Senatorial from Senatorial zone to Senatorial zone. But it was very clear in March 2014, that the same Urhobo leaders declared the Uvwiamuge Declaration, that there has been no Senatorial zoning in Delta State, that Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa’s candidature was not based on Senatorial zoning. Therefore, every Urhobo candidate was free to contest in 2015, because there was no zoning in Delta State. The UPU, went as far as mentioning my name in the last paragraph of the Declaration, that of Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, that of the national leadership of the PDP and President Goodluck Jonathan, to provide a level playing ground for all contestants in the PDP primaries in 2014. Hence, they sponsored David Edevbie in 2015.
I repeat, no Governor in Delta State has succeeded peacefully in choosing his successor.”

Q. Do you think Okowa is under pressure to be saying he is waiting on God to direct him on his successor. Many think their Governor has also turned to a prophet?

Clark. Yes, I am very sure that Dr Ifeanyi Okowa is, like almost all of his colleague Governors of other States, under pressure. He is a member of the Ibori’s political family. He will find it very difficult to oppose his master’s nominee. I understand that Chief James Onanefe Ibori is the driver of the vehicle of the Urhobo DC-23 crusade. And I learnt that his anointed candidate is Chief David Edevbie, who has been his friend and close ally since they were students in London. Chief Ibori appointed David Edevbie Commissioner for Finance in 1999. He also recommended him to be appointed Principal Secretary to the President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s government in 2007.
After David Edvbie keenly contested the PDP gubernatorial primaries with Dr Ifeanyi Okowa in 2015, and Dr Okowa eventually won, I understand Chief James Ibori also recommended him for Commissioner of Finance in Okowa’s government, and Dr Ifeanyi Okowa accepted.
But in spite of the closeness between them, I do not think Dr Ifeanyi Okowa would like Chief David Edevbie to succeed him as Governor of Delta State, for obvious reasons. And no one would force him, very few will fault him.

Q. It is the understanding of many that Ibori actually helped Okowa to power, but there is a school of thought that he supported David Edevbie in the 2014 primaries. Do you have reasons to think otherwise?

Clark. Thank you. But these are mere unhealthy speculations. I am surprised that our people do not sometimes follow the trends of events in our society, and can, therefore, conclude that Chief Ibori supported both David Edevbie and Dr Ifeanyi Okowa at the same time. How is that possible? The assertion is primitive, uncivilized, and incorrect and it is only unenlightened people who would believe such stories. I do not think that our intelligent Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa will believe such a rumour.
I am very confident and proud to repeat again that I contributed largely to Dr. Okowa becoming the Governor of Delta State.”
Q. Had Okowa ever discussed who he would not want to handover to with you and why?

Clark. No, Dr. Okowa never discussed who he would not want to handover to with me and in fact, it is unnecessary.

Q. The choice before Okowa appear to be discuss and agree with Ibori on your successor or go your own way and face the consequences. What is your suggestion to him?

Clark. I repeat here again that Chief James Onanefe Ibori, former Governor of Delta State has no moral justification to interfere with whatever arrangement Dr Ifeanyi Okowa may wish to make as regards his successor and the threat to go your own way and face the consequences does not arise because Dr Ifeanyi Okowa is the elected Governor of Delta State and he is only responsible to the electorate and not to an individual”. Chief E. K. Clark.

Culled from WaffiTV.


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