By Emma Amaize, Editor, NDV
ASABA—FOR some time now, former Minister of State for Education and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, chieftain in Delta State, Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi, has seemingly been missing in action in the politics of the state.Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi
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A criminologist, lawyer and unarguably the leading investor in the state, he is a bubbly politician that is easily noticeable wherever he is, but he has been extraordinarily silent these days.
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Battle with Ibori, Uduaghan
Gbagi, one of the founders of the party in the state wanted to be second governor of the state after the late Chief Felix Ibru, but lost the party’s ticket to Chief James Ibori. He never regarded Ibori as better qualified than him and rued the missed opportunity.
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Ibori consolidated within his first four years and nobody was a match for him in 2003. He contested and lost the party’s ticket again in 2006 to Ibori’s successor, ex-governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan. Though he never supported Uduaghan’s emergence for he pitched tent with the elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark’s group that did not want Ibori’s pick.
Uduaghan, who reconciled with him later, invited him to Government House, Asaba, until they fell out subsequently and Gbagi describing him as bird of the same plumage with Ibori. The criminologist gave Uduaghan tough times during and the former governor was forced to visit him and make peace for his second tenure.
Like other powerful Urhobo politicians, Olorogun Gbagi does not, however, believe in the power shift arrangement put in place by Ibori, which saw the governor seat move from Central senatorial district after him (Ibori) to South senatorial district represented by Uduaghan and now, North senatorial district, where the current governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, is from.
At peace with Okowa
Both Ibori and Gbagi are from Central district, but in battling Okowa for the party’s ticket in 2014, he maintained that the most qualified Deltan should be elected to rule the state, irrespective of tribe. He lost out yet again.
Neither he nor any other aspirant contested the 2018 governorship primaries with Okowa, which is also a measure of the governor’s acceptability within the party.
In terms of disparagement, Okowa appears to be the only governor of the state so far that Gbagi has not lambasted as he did to his predecessors.
It looks as if there is a new spirit that holds back Gbagi these days. When news filtered that Uduaghan was planning to exit PDP for APC, months ago, Gbagi called this writer to confirm the authenticity and the moment I corroborated the gossip at the time, he said if he dared it, he would explode against him. But he never sparked since then.
By PDP arrangement, the governorship of the state would go back to Delta Central in 2023 if Okowa wins his 2019 re-election and party faithful, who knew he campaigned and spent his resources for Okowa’s victory in Delta Central in 2015, have been watching his footprints. Evidently, supporting Okowa more aggressively this time will position Gbagi very strongly for the 2023 race, but the entrepreneur has been curiously taciturn.
He declares unambiguously that he is a self-made man and had never stolen government’s money, but since 2007 when Ibori left power, nobody ever became the governor of the state without his backing. Ibori it was, who made Uduaghan governor. He did so for Okowa and has sworn to do it again.
Bend over to conquer
Is Gbagi supporting his friend, Okowa’s 2019 project or he still thinks the Anioma people have no business continuing to shepherd after 2019? Where precisely is the bombastic Gbagi, the politician, who ruffles feathers and unafraid to step on toes in the state .
If he were to play the Urhobo agenda, he would have ditched Okowa to support either of the Urhobo governorship candidates of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and Labour Party, LP, Olorogun O’tega Emerhor and Chief Great Ogboru respectively, fielded in 2015 against Okowa, but Gbagi is a party man to the core.
With his Midas touch in business, not a few acknowledge that despite the odds bordering on his perceived arrogance by fellow politicians, Gbagi would make a good governor. Former governor, Uduaghan identified him as the biggest investor in the state and Okowa said with people like Gbagi, there was hope for industrial revolution of the state. .
Why did Gbagi not slug it out with Okowa for the party’s 2109 ticket, why did he dither on Uduaghan, is the criminologist just minding his numerous businesses within and outside the country for now or will he strike a pact with the godfather of modern-day Delta politics, James Ibori, to prevail? All these I will find out in my encounter anytime, anywhere with the first African Rotary Arch-Klumph Society member.Related