How Tompolo’s $3m, Ijaw agenda swung Delta PDP governorship ticket to Okowa

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tompoloMore facts have emerged on the surprise that the governorship primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party in Delta State turned out to be.

The primaries, which took place on December 8, 2014 was won by Senator Ifeanyi Okowa.

However, a few days and hours before the primaries, the name of Okowa did not feature highly on the list of aspirants favoured to clinch the ticket.

Until about 48 hours before the primaries, the thinking in the PDP was to run with the perceived compromise candidate of the party and former Permanent Secretary in the Delta State Government House, Tony Obuh.

Obuh is from Delta North Senatorial District, which has never produced the governor of the state and was largely regarded to have the backing of the state Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan and the Presidency.

A day before the primaries, the name of a former Commissioner for Finance in the administration of former Governor James Ibori, David Edevbie, came up.

Edevbie was believed to have become the candidate of the Presidency after Ibori indicated interest in supporting him.

Though there was no complete compromise, there appeared to be an unwritten agreement before the primaries that Edevbie should emerge the party’s candidate.

However, Okowa emerged the candidate of the PDP.

Sources hinted that the major force behind Okowa during the primaries was ex-Niger Delta militant, Government Ekpemupolo, who is popularly known as Tompolo.

Ekpemupolo, now a billionaire by every standard, reportedly gave Okowa $3 million to prosecute the primaries.

The money was said to have been released to him on the eve of the election.

The fund was believed to be the game changer.

While some other aspirants openly at the primaries gave delegates $4,000 and N500,000, Okowa dished out N1 million to each of the delegates.

It was gathered that Ekpemupolo’s support for Okowa was obtained with some promised concessions.

One was that the deputy of Okowa, who is from Delta North Senatorial District, will be nominated by Ekpemupolo.

The ex-militant leader, who recently purchased six warships to implement a security contract awarded to him by the Federal Government, is said to have positioned a candidate for the deputy governor’s position from his ethnic stock, the Ijaw of Delta South Senatorial District.

If this comes to play, the Ijaws, one of the three major ethnic groups in Delta South Senatorial District, would have taken up virtually all elective and appointive positions for the area.

The other ethnic groups in the senatorial district are the Isokos and Itsekiris.

Already, the chairmanship seat of one of the local government areas in the senatorial district has been conceded to Ekpemupolo’s brother, George, by the PDP.

That decision became a source of controversy as the initial person pencilled down for the PDP chairmanship position was Weyimi Omadeli.

However, in order to give room for equity, the leadership of the party had to, a day before the primaries, cede the ticket to George.

At the time, the thinking was that if the Ijaws should produce the chairman of a local government area, an Itsekiri man in the person of Uduaghan would go to the Senate, while an Isoko man would emerge as the deputy governorship candidate to a governorship candidate from Delta North Senatorial District.

However, after the concession of the chairmanship seat to Ekpemupolo, the representative of the senatorial district in the National Assembly, Senator James Manager, also of the Ijaw stock, insisted on retaining his seat after his request to be given the governorship ticket did not materialise.

Uduaghan, an Itsekiri man, who had initially indicated interest in the Senate seat, was said to have conceded the seat to Manager.

This was based on the arrangement that a governorship candidate will emerge from Delta North Senatorial District, with the Isokos getting the deputy governor’s slot.

Informed sources said the unwritten agreement was for the senatorial seat to be rotated among the Ijaws, Itsekiris and Isokos.

Manager, of the Ijaw ethnic stock, will be returning to the Senate for the fourth time.

And with the push for an Ijaw to emerge as Okowa’s deputy, the implication is that the Itsekiris and Isokos will have no elective and appointive positions in the next political dispensation.

 

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