BY ANDREW AKPOR in Warri•
The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Uche Secondus has affirmed that the former governor of Delta State, Chief James Onanefe Ibori, despite his jail experience cannot be ignored in Nigerian politics.
He also disclosed that Ibori no longer nurses bitterness against anyone involved in his political persecution and eventual incarceration in a foreign land.
Secondus stated this at a grand reception organised for Ibori at Ovwor-Olomu in Ughelli South Local Government Area of the state by one of his Urhobo kinsmen and political associate, Chief John Oguma, at the weekend.
The ex-governor, who returned to the country in April last year after serving a jail term in a London prison for money laundering while he was a governor, said in the spirit of national reconciliation and oneness under one God, he would not resent anyone for the part they played in the events culminating in his incarceration.
Specifically, Ibori while responding to a stream of accolades from numerous dignitaries at the event, including the PDP National Chairman, Uche Secondus; Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, and his immediate predecessor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, said: “I have forgiven all those who played one role or the other in my incarceration.”
He noted that power ultimately belongs to God and He only can give power, and advised the Nigerian political class, especially those seeking various political offices, not to heat up the polity in a bid to actualise their ambition.
“It has been a year since I returned from my sabbatical leave. I thank God and the entire Urhobo class for their support. In the days ahead, my actions will express my gratitude to you all,” Ibori observed.
Those who spoke earlier eulogised the exceptional leadership qualities of the two-term governor of Delta State, describing him as a bridge-builder and unifying factor particularly in the Niger-Delta.
At the event, the PDP National Chairman, Secondus extolled the sterling leadership prowess of Ibori, and harped on his outstanding contributions to the development of the entire Niger Delta region and Delta State in particular.
Secondus, who asserted that only the PDP can rescue Nigeria from the inept and rudderless leaders of the All Progressive Congress (APC), said the former governor deserved all the accolades and honours he’s been receiving from individuals and groups “because he is a man of the people who had built a solid national political structure.”
“Ibori must be celebrated because he is a man of the people, not just in Delta State but across the country today, and he is a factor in this country. On behalf of the masses of our country, we salute you (Ibori); we salute your courage because you are a man who believes in the struggle of the party.”
He further said Delta State should be proud of Ibori as “a son that has built a political structure that is envied across Nigeria.
Delta remains the only state in the country that has stability in political succession. It remains the only state where all the governors that have ruled the state are still members of the PDP.”
Secondus then challenged the APC to tell Nigerians what it had achieved since it took over governance, noting that the APC has borrowed N11 trillion in three years as against the N6trillion borrowed by the PDP in 16 years.
“Ibori believes in the welfare of the people and believes that the young shall grow and that the women must take their rightful place”, the PDP chairman noted, lamenting “APC has plunged Nigeria into insecurity, hunger and crisis, but in PDP controlled states, all our governors have fulfilled their promises to the people.”
Uduaghan, while thanking all for honouring Ibori, cautioned Nigerians and Deltans in particular against what he called rumour mongering and sycophancy.
“Ibori has a very forgiving heart. Here I am as a blood brother and I want to thank everyone who has come here today and those who went to see him in London,” Uduaghan said.
Similarly, Okowa, who was the special guest of honour, pointed out that Ibori laid the foundation of real development in the state and established a political structure which served as a bridge-builder and development agent across the country.
He thanked the people of the state for their support, and called for greater unity among Deltans, assuring them of more democratic dividends in line with his administration robust and people-oriented development template.
A clergyman, the Anglican Bishop of Ughelli Diocese, Rt. Rev. Cyril
Odutemu, warned that, “Nigeria is sick and in need of a true leader. The current government is not a solution to our problem. The solution to the problem of Nigeria is with God. Until Nigeria returns to God and elect the right man, we will remain like this. Herdsmen and whatever, will continue. We need a deliverer, and God will give him to us.”