By Fred Latimore Oghenesivbe, Esq.
I looked around and still cannot find any political leader in the Niger Delta region and by extension, Nigeria, who have been unjustly victimized like the national leader of South-South politics and former governor of Delta state, Chief James Onanefe Ibori, the Odidigborigbo of Africa.
Odidigborigboism is a political movement with strong spiritual connections traced to the most high, suggestive of the fact that no mortal-being can wage war against the Almighty God and succeed. The political family success is rooted in the power of God. The indefatigable leader of the political movement, James Ibori, commands an unexplainable positive aura that is magnetic, and at the same time superlative, which is why his political dynasty keep expanding by the day and waxing stronger than when it all started in 1998. He is a good man, a highly detribalised leader and his political exploits cut across the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria, till date.
Chief James Ibori is created with divine wax and colourful gems. His foundation was well laid from his mother’s womb by the most high God, and blessed to be a great leader, hence any force or forces of mere mortals cannot stop him from fulfilling his colourful destiny, no matter how hard they try. It is divine and so be it.
Ibori is dark in completion, handsome, intelligent and exceptionally a man of few words. He is tactful, courageous and goal oriented. Ibori is regarded as the socioeconomic and political emancipator of the people of South-South geopolitical zone, due largely to his visionary leadership and for spearheading the struggle for economic empowerment and development of the oil rich Niger Delta region under the auspices of the South-South Governors Forum, SSGF, during his eight years tenure as Executive Governor of Delta State, the Big Heart of the Nation.
Ibori is loved and cherished by his political associates, supporters and party faithfuls because of his large heart for uncommon philanthropic initiatives, spread of dividends of democracy and for pioneering strategic efforts for rotation of power between majority and minority groups on a senatorial basis in Delta state. He was and still a father figure for millions of politicians who saw in him the genuine efforts towards the struggle for adequate share of the national cake for oil producing states in Nigeria.
Many years after his tenure as governor of Delta state, his country home in Oghara, Ethiope West Local Government Area of Delta State, remained the political capital of the Niger Delta region, where most strategic and critical meetings are held to decide socioeconomic and political direction for the region. This arrangement will continue for a long time to come, notwithstanding the laughable and failed media onslaughts against a man who championed a genuine course of regional economic benefits for the Niger Delta, which later became his strange ordeals sponsored by enemies of oil producing states, till date.
Ibori was hunted, arrested, prosecuted and sadly jailed for being a liberator, a bold and visionary wealthy politician who fought for the fair share of oil funds for oil producing states and communities in Nigeria. His wealth and political sagacity became a major threat to certain power blocks, and the cabal is still pressing forward to undo Chief Ibori, several years after his tenure as governor of Delta State; doing whatever it takes to dent the good image of a quintessential leader who pointed the way forward for present generation of politicians in Delta state and in the South-South geopolitical zone.
He greatly facilitated socioeconomic and political emancipation for the oil producing states, the economic base of the nation. Ibori, it was, who looked into the fearful eyes of dreaded and powerful political leaders in Aso Rock and elsewhere, to demand for a fare share of the national cake for oil producing states. His proactive advocacy for resource control is the reason why oil producing states/communities are being paid 13% derivation funds, till date. His efforts no doubt deserved commendation, but the powers that be decided to give him a bad name so as to hang him. The question is, who is afraid of Chief Ibori political sagacity? Your guess is as good as mine.
In other states and geopolitical zones, the people always defend their leaders whenever they are politically victimized and South people must learn to do same. Ibori is a great man, and Niger Delta people irrespective of political affiliations should be very proud that such a highly respected and influential great politician is from that part of the country. They should learn from the Northern region, the South West and the South East geopolitical zones. I am very proud that Chief Ibori and Gov Okowa are great national political figures from Delta State and South-South geopolitical zone. Their inestimable achievements in national politics is worthy of emulation and deserves the support of all well meaning Niger Deltans.
His major ordeal started when as governor of Delta State, mobilized other South-South Governors to press for resource control, an essential component of federalism which Nigerians across board are agitating for at the moment, as the only panacea for economic independent and genuine development without undue competition among state governments, meaning every should develop at individual pace. It is common knowledge that the resources of the region was used and still being used to develop other States of the federation including the federal capital territory, Abuja.
The vexed issue has been that the Niger Delta which is the Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs is to a large extent abandoned and heavily short changed for the prosperity and development of non oil producing states or regions. In order to perfect this injustice, a cabal decided to use Chief James Ibori, the leading voice of resource control for the region, as a scape goat. They crafted corruption charges that have lingered on for almost two decades to silence his voice and to deliberately prevent him from speaking for the people of the region. This deliberate and carefully planned strategy is alleged to have been backed by well funded long term media propaganda against Chief Ibori. It is glaring.
In the light of the above, the cabal seem to be waxing strong in their evil scheming to underdevelop the oil producing states of the Niger Delta region. The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, and the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs which were created as a result of consistent advocacy for resource control and development of the region, have been overwhelmed by Aso Rock influence and control by the same cabal promoting Chief Ibori’s travails. They have been alleged to implement divide and rule system and high level corruption strategies to strangulate efforts to develop the region, while in the sane token blaming the underdevelopment of the region on regional leaders who go cap in hand to Aso Rock villa for funds. Series of allegations of lack of transparency in the declaration of crude oil sales proceeds between NNPC and governors of oil producing states also attests to the allegation of deliberate efforts to strangulate the Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs, the Niger Delta region. Billions of Naira looted from NDDC treasury under APC national government remained subject of debate on national media. Chief Ibori did not participate in the looting of NDDC and the looters are enjoying their loots in checked. All hail the cabal.
The beauty of federalism is that it guarantees proper harnessing of God given natural resources for wealth creation by each region. Chief Ibori and South-South governors believed and still trusting God for full blown resource control and economic independent of the region, wherein tax is paid to a weak central government while regions take full control of their resources.
To that extent, Ibori was spotted as a “Dark Horse” mobilizing leaders of the region to liberate the people of the cheated oil producing states. It is on record, even up till now that over 90% of oil blocks in the Niger Delta region were allocated to and still being allocated to some members of the powerful Northern oligarchy, a development which did not go down well with Chief Ibori and his progressive South-South governors during their stewardship from 1999 to 2007. Federalism and resource control connotes ownership of oil blocks restricted to investors within the region.
Another major factor was the alleged abortion of former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s third term bid wherein Chief Ibori was said to have mobilized other governors to truncate the unconstitutional move. This scenario became another sin alleged to have been committed by Chief Ibori and few other governors. The plot against Ibori and the uncompromising governors deepened and some Judas were recruited to betray Ibori, and are still castigating him via sponsored media propaganda in respect of the repatriated funds, a proceed from what Ibori’s camp referred to as legitimate investments in the United Kingdom before and after he became governor of Delta state.
Ibori was and still being unjustly hated secretly and openly by those who believed that the oil wealth of the Niger Delta region came to be as a result of the funds from the Northern region groundnuts pyramid. They claimed that the North is the legitimate owner of the oil wealth of the Niger Delta and if the nation. According to them, oil was allegedly discovered with the proceeds from groundnut pyramid of the Northern regions. Not too long ago, another powerful Northerner came up with that laughable claim, a misleading claim that the Niger Delta political leaders of the day could not rebuke sufficiently. They need to wake up from their unfortunate deep slumber in the name of “gentleman politics,” anchored on selfish and self centered individual or tiny groups political interests, and to the detriment of oil producing states and communities in the region.
Good enough, the South-South Governors Forum, SSGF, under the able leadership of Delta State Governor, Senator Dr Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, took major decisions recently regarding 10% Trust Fund for oil host communities in the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB. It is hoped that their recommendation will be adopted by NASS. The Forum is also tackling problems of insecurity, and has gone ahead to put modalities in place for the establishment of a security outfit for the region. The SSGF also added her voice to the agitation for federalism as panacea for resource control, regional police and decentralised security structures and management. The people of the region are impressed by steps taken by SSGF in recent times, kudos to governor Okowa and his colleagues.
Ibori must be very happy that SSGF has revived the struggle for federalism and resource control. It is on record that Ibori was a very successful businessman like some of his colleagues across the six geopolitical zones, before delving into the murky waters of politics and became governor of Delta State in 1999. Evidence available have shown that Ibori had huge investments in Engineering, oil and gas sectors and in real estate; genuinely registered as going concerns and personally funded his governorship campaign in 1999. Nobody at the time questioned his wealth and financial capabilities until he stepped on some powerful toes in high places as explained above.
Prior to 1999, Ibori had and still have business associates in Nigeria and overseas, helped the British Airways in 1998 to deepen their business interests which was acknowledged in an official letter by the airline’s regional office in Africa. He was not governor of Delta State at the time British Airways recognised him as a strategic partner. His company, MER Engineering operates as a responsible corporate citizen, earned genuine profits and some of which were invested in real estate and others in Nigeria and UK. He had substantial business interests and resources in Nigeria and overseas before he became governor in 1999. The UK authorities was alleged to have failed to acknowledge these facts.
ibori defense consistently stated the true position about the viability of his business conglomerate to no avail, and same explanation was contained in a recent press statement by Ibori’s kinsmen via Oghara Development Union, ODU. The UK authorities said their findings showed that Ibori and his associates could not prove his case beyond reasonable doubt and was subsequently jailed. He survived the ordeal and came back home, and was received as a hero by his teeming supporters and Nigerians from all walks of life; the low, and the mighty came out in droves to welcome Chief Ibori. It was indeed, a thunderous crowd like never before in history, and no other politician in Africa got that kind of heroic welcome till date.
The truth is that, majority of Nigerians are aware that Chief Ibori persecution is politically motivated. Reason being that there are other past governors in Nigeria who are billionaires today, a higher financial status majority of them never attained before becoming state governors. There are past governors who were under series of instigations for alleged looting of billions of Naira from government treasury but were left off the hook or softened investigations after defecting to the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, APC. The former national chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole, arrogantly and openly declared that “Once you defects to APC, your sins are forgiven.” If Ibori had defected to APC upon return to Nigeria, his alleged sins would have long been forgotten. He refused to join APC, and casted his precious votes for governor Okowa and PDP in 2019.
Evidence abound indicating that the APC national government treated investigation of some corrupt governors who defected to APC, with kids gloves. Some of the fingered corrupt past governors are now APC senators, Ministers and major players and cabinet members in President Mihammadu Buhari administration under the cover that they are yet to be convicted by courts of competent jurisdiction, whereas Chief Ibori is daily the focus of his detractors and those who vowed to silence his voice, never to speak again for the economic empowerment of the Niger Delta region. Their permutation sure have expiring date, and in due season Chief Ibori shall triumph and occupy the driver’s seat again, to take the people of the region and indeed the nation to the next level. It shall come to pass in this age and time.
Today, we are faced as a nation with huge corruption cases and allegations of billions of dollars mismanaged through arms procurements and billions of dollars sunk in the power sector without corresponding peace, security and power generation under APC national government. It has been alleged that the ongoing Railway projects have become one of the conduit pipes used for draining the nation’s huge resources and also landed Nigeria in huge debts via multifaceted loans from the Chinese government and elsewhere. Our sovereignty as a nation was alleged to have been threatened by certain terms and conditions tied to loans obtained by APC national government under president Buhari. Chief Ibori did not play any role in all of these mess Nigeria found herself in the past five years and still counting.
Today, Nigeria is backward economically more than ever before. Our nation is perpetually stagnant in the face of huge proceeds from sale of crude oil, huge sums of money in local.and foreign currencies alleged to have been recovered from Abacha loot and other sources under the APC national government. Our oil refineries are worst for it and power generation is at its lowest level. Poverty and unemployment climbed to high heavens and our teeming youths out of frustration and hopelessnese turned to Yahoo and Cyber crimes as alternative means of survival in a grossly mismanaged economy where a litre of fuel is sold for N170 as against N68 per litre in 2015.
Inflation is consistently on the rise and the government of the day cannot find solutions to our teething problems. Their only problem is Chief Ibori and blame games heaped on PDP. It is obvious that nothing good come from the party promised economic prosperity and social security for Nigerians in 2015. Five years gone with no sign, no hope and the nation is worst for it.
In 2019 general elections, the APC fielded some candidates facing prosecution over money laundry and other financial crimes and the Economic And Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC became helpless seeing that accused persons stood for elections as patriotic citizens. APC ratified candidate in Edo State was in court with EFCC over money laundry but the party which claimed to be fighting corruption went ahead to field him in 2019, and went further to described him, accused person, as the most credible candidate for governorship election in that state. However, Edo people knew the truth and voted against APC and their ratified candidate. PDP won the election in a landslide victory. The game is, defect to APC and your sins are forgiven.
Several examples abound to show that all is not well in Nigeria under the APC national government. The problems of Nigeria, was never caused by Chief Ibori but all you hear daily is Ibori is this, Ibori is that. It must be stated that the roads Ibori constructed across Delta state are still intact. The hosoitals he built are there for all to see. His track records in the educational sector cannot be faulted. Ibori’s projects in Delta State still speaks. He mobilized Delta youth to participate actively in politics and to support the stability of constitutional democracy in Nigeria.
Ibori leadership roles have been result oriented since 1999 till date, and still counting. There is no major political decision in the Niger Delta region today without the inputs and approval of Chief James Ibori. He is the national political leader of the South-South geopolitical zone. This is the bitter truth and his detractors are envious of his strength of character and leadership potentials.
There is nothing anybody or group of persons can do to rubbish the enviable reputation of our national political leader in the region, in the person of Chief Ibori. PDP national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus recognises Ibori as the defacto political leader of the region and a key player in national politics. The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, openly declared at several functions that Chief James Onanefe Ibori was and still his political mentor and leader for life.
Delta State Governor, Senator Dr Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, consistently declared Ibori as his big brother and political leader of inestimable values. The list is endless. Let me also add that Chief James Ibori is my national political leader, the undisputed illustrious son and leader of Urhobo nation, home and abroad. This is the true position and Hus detractors shall fade away in no time.
I hear that some overzealous politicians, some of whom are of Urhobo nation extraction, are warming up to question the political leadership and sagacity of Chief Ibori and governor Okowa in 2023. The small money in their bank accounts is fuelling their pride and vain ambition, to want to look at Ibori in the face with disdain and to despise him. It is okay for a child to grow long teeth provided there is sufficient lips to cover it. At the appropriate time we shall all.sing and dance to the solid political ballads as directed by the duo of Chief Ibori and governor Okowa. Both of them are indivisible political entity and those fanning the ember of disunity among them shall end up in shame and acute regrets. We are waiting for the political deviants to rear their ugly heads in the deep blue sea of strategic politics, come 2023.
The synergy between Chief Ibori and Okowa, as well as the interests of other genuine and trusted musketeers will give PDP another landslide victory in 2023. Power rotation is ongoing and it is the turn of Delta Central in 2023. Roadside politicians plotting negative media campaign against Okowa and Ibori will of a necessity hit the rocks as we gradually navigate towards 2023 general elections.
It is very important to point out that no matter the negative media campaign to defame Chief Ibori, it shall backfire in due time. We know what’s responsible for Ibori’s ordeal and we know that there are other past state governors in Nigeria, who ought to be in jail by now, but still working free and playing major roles in APC national government under President Buhari. It is not true that Ibori is the devil while other past governors are saints. It is not also correct that Ibori’s wealth is strictly tied to his tenure as governor of Delta state. It is true that Ibori was already very successful and own properties in Nigeria and overseas before becoming governor of Delta state. We are also aware that there is a cabal working very hard to tame Ibori’s political relevance and sagacity. What we also know is that the forces against Ibori shall crumble out of power and relevance in due season, and Ibori will sustain his mega force in state and national politics.
Ibori is indestructible by mere mortals as a man who have absolute faith in God’s purpose for his life, not moved by sponsored negative media attacks and shall continue to retain his leadership position as the authentic national political leader of the South-South geopolitical zone. Take it or live it.
We the people of the Niger Delta region and progressive Nigerians treasures Chief Ibori.
If you don’t like Ibori and Okowa, hide your face!