Until recently, it was common knowledge that there was no love lost between incumbent Governor of Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa and his predecessor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan.
The main reason for the rift between one time political associates stemmed from the role played by former Governor Uduaghan in seeking to stop Okowa from succeeding him, which at a stage snowballed into each of the two political actors maintaining separate camps under the umbrella Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Once touted as political foes, because both men contested the PDP gubernatorial ticket in 2006, which ended in a stalemate, Okowa displayed rare political sagacity by stepping down for Uduaghan to become the party’s flagbearer in 2007.
Of course, Uduaghan reciprocated Okowa’s magnanimity by appointing him Secretary to the Delta State Government (SSG) soon after he was sworn in as governor, although former Governor James Onanefe Ibori was credited for brokering the deal hailed as a masterstroke by pundits and party faithful across the State.
Interestingly, it was Ibori who appointed Uduaghan and Okowa into his cabinet as commissioners, thereby setting the stage for the two men to rise politically. He is also credited for singularly making the duo governors.
But, it would seem as though Uduaghan, for some unexplained reason(s) was opposed to Okowa taking over from him as governor in 2015 as he reportedly instead threw his weight behind Mr Tony Obuh, a retired permanent secretary. He would later moderate his stand by giving the nod to David Edevbie, a former Private Secretary to late President Umaru Yar’Adua.
Tables however turned during the conduct of the PDP primaries as delegates and leaders of the party were reportedly instructed by Ibori, then in prison, to vote for Okowa.
Indeed, the Oghara born politician confounded everyone when he made Okowa governor from prison. No wonder, he is today referred to as the godfather of politics in Delta State.
However, a bitter war of attrition soon engulfed Okowa’s administration from the moment he assumed office as governor. The Ika born politician and his men openly took steps to remove all appointees of former Governor Uduaghan as well as a bitter campaign to run them out of town.
Okowa similarly blamed his actions and failure to properly articulate policies on Uduaghan whom he accused of emptying the treasury before leaving office.
Perhaps, it is in a bid to escape being accused of not keeping to the arrangement to deliver Uduaghan that Okowa opted for the use of a surrogate. And he chose Ejele, once known as one of the Uduaghan boys to do the dirty job, more so since he’s also Itsekiri like the former governor.
Already, most of those appointed into government through the lawmaker openly support the Senate ambition and campaign for him. Granted that some of them do not qualify to be delegates at the primary to determine the party’s candidate, their presence at rallies often give the impression of official endorsement.
Efforts to reach spokesmen of the Delta State Government were not successful at press time, even though an official explains that it is premature for anyone to be claiming endorsement by Governor Okowa.
Meanwhile, some of Uduaghan’s supporters are said to be in a quandary, lamenting that Okowa was trying to frustrate their candidate, who they insist spent huge sums of money to make him governor in 2015.
It is yet to be known whether Okowa’s alleged plot would succeed or whether Uduaghan would be able rein in Ejele, considered by many as an irritant. Eyes are also fixed on Ibori to call both men to order and allow peace to reign. Time will tell what the outcome of jigsaw puzzle would be.