Ibori had intervened in the very acrimonious primary election to swing the outcome in favour of Okowa by reportedly directing his loyalists to vote for him. To Ibori, his word should be his bond and in order to honour that word reportedly given to Okowa in 2007 that he would succeed Uduaghan, he did not see why he should go back on it no matter the circumstance and blood relationship. Uduaghan was however left in the lurch to lick his political wound. Since then, the friendly relationship and brotherly love that had existed between the former close allies who have come a long way politically had waxed cold and had remained frosty though they try to pretend that all is well.
Ahead of uniting his political family
As a first step in restoring harmony and cohesion to his hitherto close-knit political family which is now in disarray due to his long absence, former Delta State governor, James Onanefe Ibori has initiated moves to rebuild his political structure by meeting with the two protagonists without whom the fence-mending exercise would be a mere wild-goose chase. An unimpeachable source hinted the magazine that for about three hours on Saturday (February 11) night, Ibori held what was believed to be a no holds barred reconciliation meeting with the state governor, Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa and his predecessor, Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan at his Oghara residence. Political watchers believe that all had not been well between the duo since the primary election which produced Okowa as the candidate, and then governor. Okowa defeated Tony Obuh and David Edevbie, both candidates propped up by Uduaghan at the primary election. It is believed that Okowa and his supporters have not forgiven Uduaghan for not supporting his candidature. The political weight of Ibori who pulled the strings from his prison cell in the United Kingdom, had turned the table against Uduaghan’s favoured candidates.
Ibori’s supporters trust that he will be able to redirect the PDP’s drifting political ship as their leader. Only a few days ago, Okowa urged for unity in the party in order to win coming elections. But party faithful believes that without a deliberate attempt to put their house in order as Ibori has started, this will be a tall dream. According to Ighoyota Amori, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, “Ibori’s political relevance is soaring every day. He is our national leader and his political family in Delta State will continue to accord him that respect”. He said with the return of Ibori, “the whole political environment has been electrified and very soon, all those who left will return and everything will fall in line”. Peter Nwaoboshi, former state chairman of the party and now serving senator representing Delta North senatorial district in the upper chamber of the National Assembly, said the massive turnout at Sunday’s thanksgiving service was a referendum on Ibori’s popularity and acceptability as a political heavyweight.
A source who should know told the magazine that the peace meeting held in Oghara would afford Ibori the opportunity to hear both parties out and mediate in the face-off. The source explained that “Ibori knows that without reconciling the two principal actors, it will not be possible to achieve total reconciliation in the family. The gulf is so wide that it will take Ibori’s political sagacity and deftness to mend the broken fence; things have gone so bad. it is not just about Uduaghan and Okowa. There are others too in the party who are not happy with the governor. They feel marginalized; they believe the governor seems to favour his kinsmen at the expense of other senatorial districts and Ibori also has to look into all that to see how this can be corrected if found to be correct”.