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Published On: Sun, Aug 2nd, 2015

How Ibori is Governing Delta State from London Prison

Chief James Ibori

Chief James Ibori


LAGOS AUGUST 2ND (URHOBOTODAY)-Until he fell out of favour with ‘the powers that be’ after the death of late President Umar Yar’Adua, ex-Governor James Onanefe Ibori held sway not only in his political space in Delta State, but also within that of Nigeria.
Known to be a highly influential politician, Ibori dominated the politics of Delta State, first as a governor, then as a kingmaker, succeeding in unilaterally installing his cousin, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan as his successor in 2007.
Ibori is not called Odidigborigbo of Africa for nothing. Even in far away London where he is currently tucked away somewhere in a Wandsworth, Long Lartin Prison, in the United Kingdom, Ibori still wields enormous influence. He determines, to a large extent, who gets what, when and how in the oil-rich state.

The former governor, who was a close political acolyte of late Yar’Adua, is currently serving the last lap of his 13-year jail term, after pleading guilty and being convicted for money laundering in a Southwark Crown Court.
Though the immediate past governor of the state, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, was said to have consulted occasionally with his political benefactor during his eight year tenure as the governor of the state, the duo reportedly fell out during the last governorship primary where Ibori preferred Ifeanyi Okowa to Uduaghan’s Tony Obuh.
Subsequently, Okowa won the governorship poll, thereby consolidating Ibori’s position as the undisputed kingmaker in the state, even now that he’s locked away in London.
During the last general election, Ibori’s prison was said to have turned to a Mecca of sorts, as politicians from the state flooded the facility to ask for his blessings.
An early indication that Ibori’s influence had not waned in the politics of the state was when his young daughter, Eriatake, expressed her interest to the state house of assembly.
Eriatake, herself a Special Adviser to Okowa in his years as a senator, won the April poll to represent Ethiope West, beating her closest opponent with over 95 per cent of the entire votes cast.
Sources disclosed that Ibori’s daughter would easily have been made the Speaker, but was disqualified by the assembly rule that the position was reserved for only ranking lawmakers.
In fact, all the current Senators representing the three zones of the state are Ibori loyalists, having served as Commissioners under him.
From Senator James Manager, who currently represents Delta South in the Federal House of Assembly to Senator Ighoyota Amori (Delta Central), a die-hard Ibori loyalist and Peter Nwaoboshi, (Delta North), the trio remains Ibori’s men any day.
Senator Manager, now a fourth term lawmaker, was not just a powerful Commissioner of works under Ibori, he was also the pioneer chairman of the PDP in the state in Ibori’s administration.
Chief Amori, who, like the ex-governor, hails from Ethiope West LGA of the state and currently represents the Central zone, comprising mainly Urhobo people, boasts of holding forth for the jailed politician while he’s away doing time in London.
Nwaoboshi, PDP chairman under Uduaghan also held several positions under Ibori, including being Commissioner of various ministries.
Ibori’s influence (infamous as it might be) in Delta State goes beyond just the aforementioned. He also has many loyalists in other spheres of the state’s politics.
From Evelyn Oboro, member representing Uvwie, Sapele and Okpe Federal Constituency in the House of Representative to Daniel Mayuku, ex-Chairman House Committee on Appropriation to the new Speaker Monday Igbuya, Ibori’s name resonates when their political history is read.
Among Ibori’s relatively new political loyalists are Talib Tebite, Tim Owhefere, Michael Diden, Reuben Izeze, Orezi Esievo and Toju Abigor.
In addition, Okowa, who reportedly paid a ‘thank you’ visit to Ibori in his cell in London just after his election, was said to have handed a list of aides by the former governor at least 40 percent of names sent in by Ibori.
For instance, of the twelve Commissioners recently selected by Okowa, at least five had served under Ibori, while Ovie Agas, the Secretary to the State Government was one of his boys.
The words of Senator Amori, a serving lawmaker who represents Delta central is instructive to fully understand Ibori’s domineering influence over the politics of the state.
Hear him, “First, there is no doubt that Ibori’s absence created a vacuum because we lost his physical leadership. I will tell you categorically that even though he is not around, Ibori is around. We have lost nothing, we have lost his physical presence but his political presence, his leadership is still very much with us, so his absence is felt but probably we would have done better than we are doing now but from what we know we have lost nothing.
“Ibori is still very much with us. Of course, his daughter won election to the State House of Assembly. This is Chief Ighoyota Amori, that is Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan, that is Senator Okowa that is James Manager, that is Peter Nwaoboshi, they are all members of Ibori’s political dynasty.
“Of course, you know, we were all his political apostles even though he is not around; his apostles are still very much around and completely in charge. It will be extremely difficult to displace this dynasty that has been properly established and laid on a solid foundation. He (Ibori) is a political rock of Gibraltar which will be difficult to exterminate.
“Okowa is an apostle under Ibori, Ighoyota Amori is an apostle under Ibori, James Manager is an apostle under Ibori, Peter Nwaboshi is an apostle under Ibori.
All persons who have won election today in the state are all James Ibori’s apostles. So, if Okowa has emerged as governor, one of Ibori’s apostle/disciple has emerged’’.
He adds, “So, the hand of Ibori is everywhere. The hand of Ibori is in my victory, the hand of Ibori is in Nwaboshi’s victory, the hand of Ibori is in James Manager’s victory, the hand of Ibori is in Erhiatake’s victory, the hand of Ibori is in Igbuya’s victory. Any member of the House of Assembly today or National Assembly, Ibori’s hand is there and it will continue to be there, it will be indelible.
“So, don’t let anybody tell you that Ibori is away. Ibori is just away physically. Politically, spiritually and otherwise, Ibori is very much with us and, of course, you know, we are waiting for him to come very soon where the political family will reunite with him.”
Uduaghan tried in the last minute to move against Ibori’s choice during the last governorship poll; he failed woefully. Will Okowa stick with his godfather till the end of his tenure? Only the time will tell.

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  1. Wadoo Wadoo says:

    For a person who has stolen the resources meant for the well-being of the poor people and confessed to it, to be held up by our politicians smacks of madness and extreme ignorance and corruption. They do not know what is means to hold public office. They are just vagabonds in positions of power, nothing more. Ok, with all this magic of Ibori’s political sagacity, is Delta State better off compared to Akwa Ibom of Edo State? Can anybody say that Uduaghan’s debt of over N773 billion is a blessing to us? All the politicians mentioned as being the children of Ibori are deeply involved in one corruption or the other. True leaders are those who make a positive impact on the lives of their people not those who gather a collection of thieves and thugs and use them to destroy our commonwealth and call them leading political figures. We should be ashamed of Ibori as a people. He was a common convicted thief and fraudster in London before coming to run for governorship in 1999 knowing that he was not fit for the position as an ex-convict. Is this the kind of person we should be celebrating? Vote pdp and their evil cartel out of power. They can never bring anything good for the State.

  2. Every state of the federation has a political leader. Every region in Nigeria has a political leader. People like Peter Odili of Rivers state, Alamiesa of Bayelsa, Lucky Igbinedion of Edo state, etc etc were men who have positioned their states in the politics and development of this country called nigeria.James Onanafe Ibori is not just a political leader of delta state but highly recognised by politicians all over Nigeria. Infact , that GEJ failed his second term presidential ambition was because of the treatment he melted on Ibori. So if you Deltans don’t appreciate this big political war lord, that’s your cup of tea. But I believe those who knows his value will always appreciate him.

    • Wadoo Wadoo says:

      @Frank, so in your opinion, those who have confessed in court that they have abused the trust of the people they are supposed to represent are to be looked upon as true leaders of the people, abi? I don’t want to be abusive, but that is madness. The problem we have in Nigeria is that we do not have proper leaders. Every great Nation, just like here in London, have true great leaders who at great self sacrifice advance the course of their people and their nation is better off for it. To deceive ourselves that thieves and rogues are true leaders is merely self delusion and self destruction. Is it any wonder why Nigeria cannot move forward after 50 years? Try going overseas and observe how their system works and you will see that these people you mentioned are NOT true leaders, they are charlatans.

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