By Lawrence Enyoghasu and Paul Osuyi
Delta State Commissioner of Information, Charles Aniagwu, has shed more light on the ongoing rumour about how Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa betrayed his colleague, Governor Nyesom Wike at the last Peoples Democratic Party (PDP’s) presidential primaries. In this interview, he stated that the problem in the Southeast could be quelled with one move among others.
What is Okowa planning after his tenure?
He wants to finish on a high note. He is going to stay on course with the promises and projects he has in hand. He is also very much interested in the party. He wants to help the leaders of the party. He wants to see how the party can indeed recover Nigeria from where we are at the moment; I don’t need to define where we are because to the best of my knowledge, you live in this country and you know the difference between 2015 and today. Along the line, whatever is good that would allow him to replicate what he has done in Delta to the larger Nigerian population, he will not say no to the opportunity.
There is this rumour that Okowa betrayed Wike’s presidential ambition?
Wike didn’t consult Delta. Wike was not in Delta, but they are friends. For whatever reason, he thought he could win it without Delta and we didn’t have a problem with that. It is politics and the voting was a secret ballot. We followed Atiku because he showed a proper blueprint of how this country could move forward. Wike remains Okowa’s friend despite the rumour. People only do extra interpretations of innuendo; they land at a place where they might not have the right answers. I have not seen them fighting. Individuals who think there is no love lost between these two may be progressing in error.
But there was a meeting here in Asaba to support a southerner winning the presidential election?
Wike had a good showing in the primaries but what you must understand is that even when the governors of the South converged in Asaba and said that they would wish the next president rises from the South, it was clear that based on the constitutional provision, it also means that northerners could also aspire for that position; it means that you only need to convince our brothers in the North and put things on the table. Any person who will emerge would emerge as a president of Nigeria and not as a regional president. It means you need the blessing of all and sundry; that being the case, the different contestants including Wike moved and approached the delegates but they didn’t look his way but looked in the way of Atiku but he has worked so hard for him to appear as runner up. So, the issue of betraying could not have risen because when the 16 governors of the South met, there were 19 governors in the North; if we have 19 in the North and 16 in the South, and there was no clear agreement yet, nobody could say exactly what would happen. The meeting was persuasive to secure the buy-in of the other party’s faithful. Wike tried which explains how he got the number he had but it was reaching enough to sway the minds of the delegates. He who fights and runs away lives to fight another day; meanwhile, age is on the side of our brother Wike. Perhaps, in the future, whatever will be, will be. Wike will have the opportunity of contesting and winning. He is a very wonderful party man.
What is the fight over the godfather between James Ibori and Okowa?
They have a very cordial relationship; Ibori became the governor of Delta in 1999 after some group of men chose him ahead of Okowa and others. Ibori then chose Okowa to work with him after considering his records. Before 1998, Okowa had worked as a secretary in the old Ika local before the return of democracy; he also became the chairman of the local So a man of his standard cannot be said to be a neophyte in politics. He had what he was bringing to the table. When Ibori had challenges, Okowa was right there for him because it was the right thing to do. We didn’t follow the bandwagon of criticizing Ibori because we know he laid the developmental foundation of this state that we have built on. They both indeed looked in different directions for Okowa’s successor and that is allowed in politics. They had different goals but what is important is that they maintained the relationship after the election. Okowa gave an order that nobody should attack Ibori.
In the primaries, some people felt Okowa’s body language and even spent state funds showing he supported a candidate?
It is a good thing that you said some people feel because it is a good thing to feel but I can’t recall Okowa going to the field to campaign for any of the contestants. I can’t recall that he gave money on behalf of anybody or interacted with the delegates. Sheriff Oborevwori just caught the fancy of the people. I wouldn’t know what people mean because Okowa never voted in that election since the law does not permit him. He had stated that anyone who emerges has his support. I must make certain things clear; delegates are, at the risk of sounding immodest, more like zombies, they listen to their leaders and not the ones who gave them money. The delegates are speaking for the people and the leader.
Do you think IPOB brouhaha in Anambra is helping Delta to grow?
For us in Delta, we believe there is a better way to approach this which is why we can’t wait for PDP to take over the country; there are issues that tend to have triggered the agitations in the southeast part of the country and largely to the best of my knowledge is the issue of alienation by the central and our brothers of the Southeast believe that they deserve a place in the country both in the governance and distribution of the wealth of the nation and as such, it gave way to the rise of agitations in the region. And now, arresting Nnamdi Kanu and detaining him for this length of time would not go down well with them. In the same way, those who believe in the ideals he stood for are very angry which is why they have come up with the fire blowing across the region. Particularly, the stay-at-home policy has not helped the economy of the region. We are not praying for Anambra to die for Delta to rise. We have a strategy to grow with neighbouring states. If we prayed for such, there is a tendency that the negative effect might come to Delta. We look for an Anambra that is peaceful and grows along with our state.