Omo-Agege will rejoin us in PDP after election – Oborevwori
Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori took the political stage in Delta State by storm in mid-2022 when he outsmarted several challenges and challengers to emerge the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP governorship candidate.
His emergence was, however, no fluke. He came tested having passed through the tutelage of the three governors who have superintended the state since the advent of the Fourth Republic.
In this interview Oborevwori who served as Special Assistant to Governor James Ibori, Special Adviser to Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan and now Speaker of the House of Assembly with Senator Ifeanyi Okowa as governor opens up on the mission and marks of his politics. Excerpts:
Why do you want to be Governor of Delta State?
To answer that question, I should begin by telling you about my mission in politics. It is really about the people. And I have come to understand quite early in life that the most important means of affecting the people for good is politics. When I was growing up, I saw a lot of deprivation and poverty in society and my biggest wish was to see how I could be of help to free people from lack and deprivation. As I went through primary and secondary schools the role of politics and government in making life better for the people was made central in our social studies, government and economics lessons and textbooks. We also got taught that the surest and legitimate way into government is politics. So from childhood I carried the burden of taking up the responsibility of making life better for the people.
After the general elections in 2019, my colleagues in the House of Assembly expressed a vote of confidence in me by returning me as Speaker for a second time, that gesture opened my eyes to new vistas of possibilities for me and Delta State. My return as Speaker was unprecedented in the history of Delta State. My colleagues said that they were returning me as Speaker because I am a Pan-Deltan and that I easily build consensus. They also said that I showed a deep understanding of the development challenges of Delta State and that for the State to develop without obstruction, I should continue to lead the legislative arm.
I took time to evaluate what my colleagues said and I realized that I have unconsciously promoted politics in the service of the people in the House of Assembly and by extension the State. I soon started receiving encouragement to take my peoples’ political ideology higher by seeking to be governor of Delta State. I am not one to run away from a challenge especially when it has to do with people. I thought seriously about it. I also prayed. As a political scientist who is in practical politics, I thought of so many possibilities.
Do you have what it takes to be governor of Delta State?
Yes, I have more than what it takes. Besides the basic points of being a Deltan and the age as well as the basic educational qualification, I am most qualified to be the Governor of Delta State. I am well educated in the art and science of politics having studied political science up to the postgraduate level. I also must point at my experience in politics. I have been a councillor at the local government level.
I was a special assistant, senior special assistant and special adviser handling very sensitive positions. I then crossed over to the legislature after winning an election.
I have been elected Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly twice and I am the only one to be so elected and the longest-serving Speaker in the history of Delta State. So far, I have worked with three governors since 2003 when I was appointed as a special assistant. I have both legislative and executive experience.
As Speaker, the entire state is one big constituency for me and apart from the incumbent Governor, His Excellency, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, no other politician has the kind of knowledge that I have about Delta State in terms of her development aspirations and challenges.
What about the controversy about your educational qualifications?
It is unfortunate that what was supposed to be a minor mistake arising from names used and names not used in the course of schooling was twisted to cause mischief in an attempt to undo me. Let the truth be told.
Many people who have three or more names have used them differently at one point or the other. This was my case. The names that my detractors pointed at are all mine. There is no doubt about them whatsoever. The schools I attended at different times have the records and they can verify that the names refer to one and the same person which is me.
I have never claimed that the schools I attended are no longer in existence. I can direct you to my schools from primary, and secondary to university. I am well educated. I might not have gone to school in quick succession due to my background, but I had the benefit of western education up to a postgraduate degree which is the Master of Science degree in political science that I obtained from Delta State University, Abraka. My schoolmates and many of my teachers at different stages of my education are alive. I affirm that my educational qualifications are solid and genuine.
What are your chances of becoming governor?
My chances are very bright. In fact I have the brightest of chances among all the governorship candidates. You know my emergence has a history. I was among the twelve governorship aspirants screened by the governorship screening committee of the DC-23 for four months. I was among the three shortlisted aspirants. Then we went for the PDP governorship primaries which I won by a very wide margin. I can assure you. The people see my governorship as their project which has been divinely endorsed.
What do you have to say about your opponents?
In truth and frankly speaking, I do not see them as my opponents. They are my friends, people that I know and once upon a time fellow PDP members especially the APC and the SDP candidates. They have their ideas about Delta State and I respect that. However, I believe that in the end when I would have emerged as Governor they will fold up their canopies and re-join the PDP which is one big family with a big enough umbrella to cover all of us.
What is your relationship with former Governor, Chief James Ibori and Chief David Edevbie?
I smell mischief in this question. But I must say it again that His Excellency, Chief James Onanefe Ibori, the former Governor of Delta State, is our leader and my leader. When I started this journey of becoming governor I went to consult him and he prayed for me. He remains my leader and he is supporting my ambition and all that I am doing. Chief David Edevbie is my brother. We contested against each other and we struggled for the ticket. He remains my brother and friend. There is a picture of the two of us shaking hands, embracing and laughing. That is the relationship between Chief Edevbie and I. People out there are saying a lot of things that are not true about us. Be rest assured that we have a good relationship.
What do you have to say about the allegation of you being a stooge of the incumbent governor and also about the massive borrowing and indebtedness of Delta State?
These are very unfair and unkind allegations. I am not a stooge and I have never been a stooge. I have been a grassroots politician all my life and somehow I know my way around in politics. The stories of borrowing and indebtedness in Delta State are also not true. They are exaggerated and manipulated by political enemies to make His Excellency, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa and the PDP to look bad and score cheap political points.
The State Government using the appropriate organ has come out with explanations and I urge the people of Delta State to believe the explanation. The opposition is using lies and propaganda to want to deceive the people. Do not believe their lies. We must remember that that was how the APC told lies against President Goodluck Jonathan in 2014 and they deceived Nigerians. Look at what the APC has done to Nigeria. They brought our country to ruins.
What are your final words?
I appeal to the good people of Delta State to vote for me and all PDP candidates all the way from the State to the national level. Delta State is on the momentum to greatness and we should not abort it. I have outlined a robust vision that will take our State work for the good of our people. This is possible and we can do it. Thank you.