There are three governorship aspirants who are at present the front runners. They are Olorogun Barrister Kenneth Gbagi, Olorogun David Edevbie and Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori, speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly. These are the prominent runners in the Delta governorship race. Gbagi entered the race in 2019 few months after the swearing in of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa. He has been the most consistent since he began the race.
This article attempts to examine these three aspirants and allow Deltans make an impartial, unbiased decision who among them is best fit to ascend the seat of power in Delta state. These three aspirants were the ones endorsed by DC-23, the Urhobo lobby group which was put together to select the best three to present to the governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa.
Let’s begin with Sheriff Oborevwori, speaker of the state house of assembly, who is presumed to be the governor’s choice, though the governor has dissociated himself from attachment to any aspirant in the governorship race. In the last few weeks, Oborevwori has been in the news, making headlines across various social media platforms. However, his headlines have been of people attacking his person and calls for him to step down from the race. He has one of the largest following which is due to the reported endorsement by the governor.
He attended secondary school as every other individual and higher institution with a master’s degree as reported. He is said to have worked as a councilor in 1996 and was community leader between 1996 and 2003. He became speaker of the state house of assembly when Monday Igbuya was impeached during his first tenure in the house. Fortunately for him, he emerged as speaker for the second term in the house.
Initially, his governorship ambition was shrouded in secrecy. His chief press secretary, Dennis Otu, once denied that his boss was running for the governorship of Delta state. He fully joined the race just towards the end of last year, 2021. He has held various appointments with Delta state government as special assistants on various matters.
Arising from his alleged endorsement by Governor Okowa which the governor has denied, some members of the state executive council and other government appointees began to queue behind him. But last week, issues surrounding his multiple names and academic qualifications took the cyberspace and have remained the talk among Deltans. Following this discovery, a lot of Deltans have called for delisting of Oborevwori from participation in the contest.
The reasons for this call are quite known to many discerning minds. If he eventually emerges as the party candidate, there might be litigations from both the party aspirants and the opposition party, APC. The end result could be the end of the PDP in the state. This is why every wise Deltan is calling on Governor Okowa to pull out from Oborevwori. The discrepancies in his records and names would spell doom for the party.
Olorogun David Edevbie has worked in many financial institutions across the world. He is an expert in financial management. Edevbie was born December 23, 1963 in London. The University of Lagos trained Economics graduate sojourned abroad to earn higher academic degrees at prestigious colleges like Cardiff and Harvard business schools. He has also had the privilege of working for global development agencies.
He was the Delta state commissioner of finance three times (1999-2003, 2003-2005 and 2015-2019) and chief of staff to the government of Delta state (2019-2021). Nationally, he was the director of finance and administration of the Yar’Adua campaign organization in 2006 and 2007. Later, he was the principal secretary to the President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
However, he was later to be accused of conspiracy in the sale of Vee Networks Ltd, a company which Delta state was a substantial shareholder. He was brought before the EFCC on this allegation. But in February 2013, David Edevbie sued the EFCC praying the court to compel the commission to prosecute him for his alleged involvement in money laundering activities being leveled against him or be given a clean bill of health, indicating that he had committed no crime. The issue was in connection with the sale of Delta state’s shareholding in Vee Networks Ltd., VNL, while he was Delta state commissioner for finance.
In the suit, Edevbie sought an order of the court to compel the EFCC to prosecute him where investigation disclosed evidence of wrongdoing or in the alternative, an order compelling the EFCC to make an official written communication exonerating him from any alleged financial crime arising from the VNL transaction. But the failure of the EFCC to prosecute him at the conclusion of its investigations is an indication that he has committed no offence for which he could be prosecuted.
In the build up to the 2015 general elections that produced Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa as governor, he took part in the primaries, an action that is his major offense against the governor today. Thereafter, at the emergence of Governor Okowa, he was appointed commissioner for finance and thereafter, chief of staff before he was sacked.
But with the report of EFCC not prosecuting him over the money laundering allegations, the camp of Sheriff Oborevwori has continued to rubbish his campaign efforts. Fred Latimore, the media director of Oborevwori’s campaign organisarion, has on several occasions, called him looter of state resources, and that the people of Delta should not allow him into Delta government house.
Olorogun Barrister Kenneth Gbagi, one of the three top runners, is a lawyer, a criminologist, a businessman and an entrepreneur. He is said to be the biggest entrepreneur and investor in Delta state. He is an indigene of Ughelli south.
He is a former minister of state for education and one of the richest lawyers in Nigeria without taking any loan from any bank in the world. He has made billions of hard-earned naira as a business mogul. He is an hotelier, attorney, criminologist and a politician who is living a dream of affluence while providing jobs for the youths and making earn living through his investment.
While he was minister of education, he led the federal executive council then under former President Goodluck Jonathan to establish 13 universities, 14 polytechnics and 16 colleges of education which were spread across the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria. As one of the 42 ministers that served in the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, he was the only member of that government that was not invited for questioning by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). That is a testimony of financial blamelessness.
The schools he established are some of the thriving institutions today in Nigeria. Through his knowledge of security, he has helped banks with their security operations nationwide. He is the proud owner of a security company called GKO Security Nig. Ltd. He has investments in real estate with over 700 properties to his name.
He has provided jobs to so many youths, being one who believes in showing a man how to catch fish instead of giving the man fish to eat. He has employed these youths at his several companies, hotels, and establishments. He runs a scholarship scheme where 2000 students are sponsored to various schools and trades yearly.
People have raised allegations against him but the courts have quashed all of them, seeing them as frivolous and lacking merit. Many people have tried desperately to tarnish his image but all attempts have been completely futile. Today, Olorogun Barrister Gbagi stands as the only one among the three top contenders that has no blemish attached to his name. Anybody can prove it. For those who say he does not pay his workers, he has publicly told them to present one person whose salaries he never paid and that he would give such person N10million. From then till date, nobody has come out to say he was owed salaries by the governorship aspirant.
Among all the top three aspirants and others, no one can lay claim to any act of financial misconduct against Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi. He has clean financial records from the federal level to the Delta state government. This is why he is said to be financially faultless and blameless. There are reports of him being given bribes but he rejected them. This happened when he was chairman of Delta Development Property Authority (DDPA). He was able to save N800million for the agency and the then military governor wanted him to share the money, he promptly declined, and because he declined the military governor relieved him of the appointment.
Gbagi is the man Deltans need for the survival of the state and the safety of our resources. He cannot fritter away our money and will not waste it on godfathers who contribute nothing to the development of the state. Many of the contestants are being made to swear oaths to their godfathers of regularly paying them millions monthly when the masses are lacking means of survival.
Governor Okowa is therefore encouraged to see Gbagi as the man he needs to take over from him. With him, the treasury of Delta is safe. The development of Delta is assured and there will be sustainability of the good work the governor has done.