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Years ago, I did an epistle on the rise and fall of empires. As a student of history and international relations, my study exposed me to several empires that have risen and crumbled. I made reference to the Persian empire, Han dynasty, Umayyad Caliphate, Mongol empire, Ottoman Empire, Spanish empire, Songhai Empire founded from the ruin of the Malian empire, not forgetting also the Roman empire that lasted for 1000yrs until Romulus, the last of the Roman emperors in the west, was overthrown by the Germanic leader Odoacer, who became the first Barbarian to rule in Rome. One striking phenomenal in all these is that the collapse of one empire lead to the rise of another.
The Historian is interested in what led to the collapse of these empires. We do agree that history does not repeat itself, however historical events do have semblance. Therefore, if historical occurrence do have semblance, why are emperors of newly founded empire finding it difficult to learn from the mistakes of those before them? The answer lies in the word of God in Ecclesiastes 3 vs 1-22, with strong emphasis in 5&6 “a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away”. Surely, everything on earth according to God’s plan has it season.
The foregoing is vital and germane in x-raying the Chief James Onanefe Ibori Political Dynasty that was was enthroned in 1999 following the ascension of the emperor to the office of Governor in Delta State. The dynasty have raised billionaires from the scratch, men of influence and affluence in the state and producing the presidents for country. It was on record that Chief Ibori bankrolled Late Musa Yar’Adua election in 2007 same way Governor Okowa is alleged to be bankrolling Atiku Abubakar election. If Atiku wins, it is safe therefore to assert that the Dynasty has produced two presidents since Okowa is a product of the Dynasty.
As stated earlier, the Songhai empire was built from the ruin of the Malian empire same way the emerging Owa-Alero Empire will be built from the ruin of the Chief James Onanefe Dynasty. While one is not unmindful of the ongoing reconciliation process to bring everyone back to the PDP fold, we don’t need to trouble Late Prophet TB Joshua tomb at Ikotun to come to reality that if Atiku and Sheriff wins 2023 elections, that is the end if Ibori Political Dynasty in Delta State.
Again, the historian is interested in what leads to the Rise and Fall of an empire, thus the author is interested in the underlying factors leading to the Ibori End of Era. I will start the narratives from the home front. This is so because the Holy Bible told us that what can the righteous do if the foundation is destroyed. No matter the wealth, influence and affluence a man command, don’t despise the ancestors in your own family and community. These are invincible forces that propel and sustained many unbeknownst to them. So long you are making majority in the family and community happy, these invincible elements will continue to stand for and by you, and when you do otherwise, they depart.
It is known fact that Chief James Onanefe Ibori never wanted his daughter to delve into the political scene. PDP zoning arrangement in 2015 gave the position of the Speaker to Delta Central and it was rumored that the position will be given to Hon Emmanuel Ighomena from Ethiope West who would have been a two term member if elected into the state House of Assembly. With his intimidating profile as a one time House of Assembly member and Commissioner for Power and Energy, ascending the position of the speaker would have been a walkover. A situation Sen Ighoyota Amori was alleged not to be comfortable with. He has interest on his political godson Hon Monday Igbuya from Sapele constituency, thus Chief Ighomena has to be stopped using political gerrymandering. Sen Amori was alleged to sold the idea as well as convince Ibori who was then in the UK to support his daughter to run for the state House of Assembly. Erhietake coming altered the internal rotational system in Oghara. Oghareki where Ighomena hails from that ought to produce the state House of Assembly was short changed. Chief Williams Makinde becoming the MD of DESOPADEC was used to compensate the Oghareki people.
This action although overlooked sowed a seed of discord.
February 2017, Chief James Onanefe Ibori returned from the UK and massive celebration that heralded his coming ought to put any sitting governor on his toe. When Gov Okowa visited Ibori, his appeal to him was Ibori to stay out of politics whereas before leaving the UK Ibori made a statement that he’s going back to Nigeria to play politics. The Okowa camp set their machinery on motion asap. Hon Monday Igbuya the then Speaker was alleged to be seeing, wining and dining with Ibori than the sitting governor. He has to be axed out and true true he was ousted. Next was Local government election that was approaching and Okowa need to plant his men in the various local government since the chairmen are statutory delegate. Hon Moses Ogbe Ibori protege appointed by Governor Uduaghan is an upright man such as job. Him presiding over DSIEC is dangerous and he has to be axed out. True true, he was ousted and this generate furore in the political system. He was to be brought back but he turned down the offer. The incumbent chairman from Oghara was instead used to replace him.
Gov Okowa been a Machiavellian and Sun Tzunist tactically caused problem in Ibori home front by requesting Hon Solomon Golley(Ibori cousin) to go for a second term on the ground that he delivered his mandate in the area of security. Again, Solomon Golley returning altered the internal zoning arrangement in Ethiope West and there were serious annoyance and vexation from both Mosogar and Jesse axis whose turn was to produced the Local government Chairman. The internal anger spread from Oghareki to Mosogar and Jesse.
To further cause problem in Ibori home front, again it was alleged that Okowa suggested to Ibori to return his daughter for second term in the state House of Assembly. Erhietake returning denied and deprive Mosogar and Jesse axis their turn to going to the state House of Assembly. It is unfortunate that Chief Ibori men on ground didn’t do enough to convey the pulse of the people to him. Like an Airbus A380 pressurizing for a takeoff, the anger of the people increased. In 2019, I served as INEC RATECH officer and Jesse people almost took my life in the election between Ben Igbakpa and Halims Agoda. They have been following me on Facebook and they know am Ben Igbakpa supporter. It was God that saved me as I escaped to Mosogar. I heard all they said and I sympathize with them.
Fast forward to 2023 election where it was alleged that, again Okowa suggested to Ibori to allow his daughter to run for the Ethiope Federal constituency so that she can takeover from Ben Igbakpa. This prompted a meeting between Ibori, Ben Igbakpa and Gov Uduaghan as witness in Ibori Asokoro residence. Erhietake having spent 8yrs in the House of Assembly and crowing it up with a shot in the Green Chamber reinvigorated the anger of the people against the Dynasty. Furthermore, Okowa knew too well that Ibori will give his support to Sen Amori for the Delta Central Senate hence he gave his support to John Nani using body language. The election between Amori and John Nani, Ben Igbakpa and Erhietake Ibori placed Ibori in a very strong dilemma.
In conclusion, haven succeeded in causing disaffection between Ibori and his people, Gov Okowa took the battle to the state capital by uprooting every Ibori diehard in his government. Those perceived to be loyal to Ibori were shown the exit door. By the time Ibori was set for war to ensure his anointed candidate emerge the governor of the state come 2023, there was little or no much force from home to prosecute the war. Sun Tzu in Arts of War recommended that before embarking on any war, ensure your home front is intact – physically, spiritually and otherwise.
In all, Ibori as man should be commended for building a 24yrs empire from the scratch and sustaining it in a multicultural state. Also, in spite of his ordeal and what he went through, the Man Has Really Tried. He just need to focus on his business and start writing his memoir. There are some many gift embedded him that need to be documented for the sake of generations ahead.
Clinton Onoriode Sagboje
(The Political Prophet)