The victory of Governor Sheriff Oborevwori of Delta State at the Supreme Court last Thursday, against Kenneth Gbagi has continued to generate reactions among Deltans.
Oborevwori is miffed that rather than accepting defeat, his opponents in the governorship election have been dragging him up and down the courts. According to him, they should understand that power comes from God.
Gloria Umukotete, an entrepreneur and onetime contestant of the Ughelli Federal Constituency seat, in her reaction to the legal tussles, said, “I had preferred a situation whereby all the other guber candidates would drop whatever aspiration they had and support Oborevwori since he was the one the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the winner of the guber election.”
The Urhorbo-born politician cum social advocate, said, “Ifeanyi Okowa, the immediate past governor of Delta State, in his wisdom ensured the governorship position went to the Delta Central Senatorial District in line with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) arrangement but it bleeds my heart as I see our people neck-deep in legal tussle against their own brother, Oborevwori.
“I commend Great Ogboru, governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in the election, for listening to voice of reasoning and threw his weight of support to the governor once he was declared the winner. That’s the spirit of sportsmanship!. Politics shouldn’t be a do or die affair but should be done for the growth of the state and the citizens
“If an Urhorbo man is there as the winner, I don’t know any reason other Urhobos should be fighting him. They should have just accepted Oborevwori’s emergence as the act of God.
“I think what they should do is to come together and forge ahead to see how they can get a better Delta State than fighting ourselves and wasting resources running up and down the courts.”
Chinweike Nwankwo, an agro-industrialist and chief executive officer, ChinwinxFarms, also frowned at the level of desperation exhibited by politicians.
“I think Governor Oborevwori deserves the victory not because of PDP but because he has been in the system as the speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly. We know that he has the capacity to keep to his words in governance.
“I know it is very natural to always consider your opponent as your enemy, that you try everything lawfully and otherwise to pull him down.
“I believe Oborevwori’s victory is well deserved. I believe so much in this government and I know that in a short while, everything will unfold.
“You might not know how best the other person will deliver. The devil you know is better than the angel you don’t know,” Nwankwo said.
Jossy Ofeimu, an entrepreneur, said, “As an observer, during the recently held elections, I saw all that happened hence it is clear to me that this country is for the bourgeois
“We wanted the best and voted for our preferred candidates from the presidency, national assembly, the governorship to the state assembly elections; we voted for those we thought were the best but we were shocked at the results declared by the INEC.
“As an entrepreneurs, all we want is good leadership and enabling environment for our businesses to thrive,” she said.
Also, Kelvin Atamo, the chief executive officer, JK Science Tech Company Limited, on his part, congratulated the governor on his victories.
He however, noted that there was nothing wrong for an aggrieved party to seek justice if he or she is dissatisfied with a process.
“Their political bickering is not my problem. All we want is the right leader. They are politicians. We are business people. All we want is good leadership and enabling environment for our businesses to thrive,” he said.
Oborevwori was the governorship candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the state during the April 18, 2023 while Gbagi was the candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
Gbagi, an industrialist and former minister of education (state), had entered into the Delta State Governorship race on the platform of the PDP but opted out less than 24 hours before the party’s primary election held last year.
Gbagi, a foundation member of the PDP who was among the 13 guber candidates contesting from Delta Central Senatorial District, blamed the then Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa for allegedly not providing enabling playground for all the candidates to contest the election.
He moved over to the SDP where he became the party’s guber flag bearer and contested against other candidates from other political parties.
Gbagi and other candidates including Ovie Omo-Agege of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ken Pela of the Labour Party (LP) and Great Ogboru of APGA, amongst others, lost to Oborevwori.
Gbagi, Omo-Agege, and Pela separately dragged Oborevwori to the three-man Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal led by Justice C.H. Ahuchaogu in Asaba with each demanding in their petitions that Oborevwori’s victory be nullified. They all lost to Oborevwori at the tribunal and headed to higher courts.
Among other claims, Gbagi said he was the only one clean enough to be the number one citizen of the state. According to him, all other candidates that participated in the guber election have criminal records and thus were not qualified to even contest the election.
Gbagi, who was a star witness in the petition he brought before the tribunal, also faulted the process that threw up Oborevwori as the governor of the state and requested that tribunal nullify Oborevwori’s victory and declare him winner.
Gbagi, who claimed to have discovered new evidence to prove his petition, had made an application for the reopening of his case on the date fixed for adoption of final written addresses by the tribunal.
The tribunal dismissed the aforesaid application for being incompetent, belated, and strange as the document he was trying to introduce was not pleaded in his petition.
The tribunal proceeded to conclude the hearing of the petition and found that Gbagi’s claim of being the winner of the election was totally unfounded. The tribunal also dismissed Gbagi’s claim that Oborevwori was not qualified to contest the election.
Not satisfied with the tribunal’s ruling, Gbagi filed an appeal against the tribunal’s refusal of his application to reopen his case.
The Court of Appeal, in dismissing the appeal, held that the tribunal rightly refused to reopen his case.
Still not satisfied, Gbagi headed to the Supreme Court against the judgment of the Court of Appeal on the issue of reopening his case.
In a unanimous judgement of the Supreme Court delivered by Justice John Inyang Okoro, on Thursday, the apex court dismissed the appeal brought before it by Gbagi, for being a waste of time, mere academic exercise, and lacking any utilitarian value.
PDP’s Counsel, Ekeme Ohwovoriole, SAN, and Ayo Asala, SAN for Governor Oborevwori, had argued that the Appeal lacked merit because the tribunal had been dissolved.
The whole situation is seen to be slowing down governance in the state. Expectations are rife that as the 180 days deadline for all election cases in the country draws near, it would be clear the next few days and weeks who governs the state. Then would things begin to work as planned by the government in power and for the people of the state.