By Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State yesterday flagged off his campaign for reelection, with former governor Chief James Ibori, pledging his unflinching support both spiritually and politically, to the bid.
Speaking at the campaign flag-off at Oghara Township Stadium, Ethiope West Local Government Area of the state, Ibori stressed that sustenance of peace in the state was of essence.
He said that as a former governor of the state for eight years, who was familiar with the workings of governance, he was in position to say Okowa has done very well and deserves a second term as governor.
He said he was praying that God should frustrate anyone attempting to disrupt the peace and harmony among the different ethnic groups achieved through the policy of rotational leadership introduced PDP
Ibori said that Okowa fully understands the ”history of the political family of the PDP in Delta State”, saying he respects the elders and has worked assiduously for unity and enduring peace in the state.
He commended Okowa for coming to his hometown of Oghara to flag off his reelection campaign just as he did in 2015 even while he (Ibori) was away.
The former governor, however, said that the battle to deliver Okowa was essentially that of his Anioma kinsmen of Delta North Senatorial District as he (Ibori) has the people of Delta Central behind him for his reelection.
Addressing a mammoth crowd of party supporters who besieged the stadium in carnival-like style, Okowa said he had done enough in the last three-and-half years to deserve a second term in office, saying the PDP was poised to win the governorship election overwhelmingly.
While thanking the people for their support, he said that PDP would secure victory in the 25 local government areas of the state, including Ethiope East, the home of Chief Great Ogboru, the governorship candidate of the APC, even if the opposition party mobilized national security personnel during the election.
Okowa stressed that he was firmly on ground and with the people and challenged anyone seeking to be governor of Delta State to a public debate, saying no ”stranger” who was not fully resident in the state could hope to win any election in Delta State.”
Okowa, who spoke intermittently in Pidgin English, said, “I thank all Deltans for the votes cast for us in 2015. Together we have crossed the very difficult times, our collective efforts have been recognised nationally and internationally; we have delivered on our promises.
“As we move into the next level, we will continue to grow prosperity, but, I cannot do it alone, working with you, all Deltans, we will build a stronger Delta that we will be proud of and others will emulate; what we need is cooperation and peaceful environment.
”From the Presidency to the State House of Assembly, we will have to deliver all our candidates. I offer myself for debate because, it is not enough for All Progressive Congress (APC) candidate to come out and say he wants to be governor and relying on thugs or run to Lagos after every election.
“I am going into the election, together with all Deltans and we will win in every local government area of the state. Deltans are happy, Delta State is a peaceful state. Let us take the message from house to house, talk to everybody, so that before the election, all Deltans will belong to the PDP, tell them about what we have done, what we are doing and what we will do.
“When we said we were going to create jobs, people thought we were joking, but through the Job Creation Office we have created over 20, 000 jobs. We are organising business fare for beneficiaries of our entrepreneurial programmes; we have revamped technical colleges, and all the courses in our Polytechnics have been accredited, because of peace, our state has moved from number four t to number one in oil production.
”This is the only state in the federation that has awarded more than 350 road projects. We are constructing drainages to check flood and in the course of this year, we will start drainage projects in Effurun/Warri axis of which we have made budgetary provision to the tune of N3 Billion. We have constructed over 4, 738 classrooms and we have awarded contract for the renovation of the Teaching hospital. We are the first state in the country to start health insurance scheme of which we have captured the formal sector and already enrolling the informal sector.”