Frontline Delta 2023 governorship aspirant, Senator James Ebiowou Manager has emerged the preferred choice of Delta Ijaw For Governor leadership ahead of the gubernatorial primary election of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
The lawmaker, currently representing the Delta South Senatorial District was picked ahead of other Ijaw governorship aspirants, the incumbent Deputy Governor of Delta State, Kingsley Otuaro, and Braduce Angozi, a former Commissioner of Agriculture to slot it out with other PDP aspirants from other ethnic nationalities in the state, with a view to emerging as the sole candidate of the party for the Delta 2023 governorship election.
Findings by Daily Report Nigeria reveal that Ijaws in Delta State have been working round the clock to prune down the list of aspirants contesting the 2023 governorship election in order to increase their chances of winning the seat.
The emergence of Manager, politically referred to as Egbage, was preceded by several rigorous and painstaking processes, which began with the declaration of the ‘Ijaw Agenda’ mantra.
Ijaw governorship agenda 2023
The Ijaws made their desire to produce the next governor of the state no secret from the instance the question of who will succeed Governor Ifeanyi Okowa in Dennis Osadebey House came to mind.
The second largest ethnic nationality in the state behind only the Urhobos, Ijaws consistently echoed 2023, the turn for them to occupy the apex seat of power in the state.
Arguably, the greatest contributors to the economic input in Delta, marginalization of its mostly coastal areas in developmental actions served as a great pointer to their clamour.
The fight for an Ijaw son/daughter to emerge the next occupant of Osadebey House was heightened on May 22, 2021, when a Committee led by Alaowei Broderick Bozimo convened the ‘Delta Ijaw 2023 For Governor Consultative Meeting’ at the BB Hotel in Warri.
The former Minister of Police Affairs led other Ijaw leaders to declare their commitment to taking over power from the incumbent administration come 2023.
Stressing that unity was all his people needed to emerge victorious, Broderick said, “Delta state belongs to all of us, and the ljaws have the right to become governor. This is our time, let’s unite ahead to form a formidable team to battle for the seat of government.”
The elder statesman’s thoughts were reiterated by President of the Ijaw National Congress, Prof. Benjamin Okaba, who said that his people will no longer play the role of supporting other ethnicities in the State.
Okaba particularly called on other sister tribes to support the Ijaws for the 2023 governorship.
Describing 2023 as a divine mandate, Okaba said; We the Ijaws of Delta..can no longer be a supporters club. This time around, it is the turn of Urhobos, Isokos, Ndokwa, Itsekiris, Anioma, Ika nations to support the Ijaws course for.”
While the ‘Ijaw Governorship Agenda’ had been a campaign on social media long before then, that convention gave the needed impetus to the pursuit of purpose.
The fact that a national figure such as Alaowei Broderick Bozimo was at the forefront with the backing of Pa Edwin Clark and the INC President, who incidentally is from the state, made it more a forceful and worthwhile course for many.
Several consultative meetings with other ethnic nationalities, Senatorial Districts and critical stakeholders by the Committee followed the convention, to further add momentum to the Ijaw governorship course.
One major task the Delta Ijaw For Governor 2023 Lobby Team had in its consultations across the state was to silence the argument of zoning, which was argued by many quarters, particularly the Delta Central District.
Another argument raised was that, even if there was a zoning arrangement, all Senatorial Districts have had a taste of the governorship seat, and as such, starting the rotation from the Ijaws in Delta South was the only fair deal.
The argument to zone the 2023 governorship to Delta Central was further quashed by Ijaw national leader and elder statesman, Pa Edwin Clark, who called on Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to provide a level playing ground for all aspirants.
How Manager emerged preferred candidate
By the time the zoning arrangement was watered down, the next challenge obviously became who was the preferred candidate to give Ijaws a brighter fighting chance at the primary of the Peoples Democratic Party, as three of the finest politicians from Ijaw extraction made known their intentions to contest the election from a very early stage and remained committed to finishing strong.
The need to provide a candidate with the wherewithal to challenge and wrestle the ticket from aspirants of other ethnic nationalities led to the next line of consultations and deliberations among key stakeholders.
The dilemma led to several interventions and joint sessions with the leaderships of Ijaw National Congress, and the Ijaw Youth Council of Delta extraction, critical stakeholders, the Broderick Bozimo-led Committee, the three aspirants and an Evaluation Committee headed by former Vice Chancellor of DELSU, Prof. Victor Peretomenele, saddled with the responsibility of interfacing with the three aspirants, in a bid to pruning down the number to a single aspirant to increase the chances of Ijaws winning the ticket.
A reliable source, who was privy to all the processes told Daily Report Nigeria that “the Committee interfaced with the the aspirants individually and collectively.
“The three aspirants after several hours of interfacing and discussions among themselves, could not agree on a sole candidate, but declared their intention to abide by the report/decision of the Evaluation Committee.
“After over 48 hours of critical assessment of the content, capacity, antecedents, political capital and other variables amassed by the aspirants over the years, the Committee, after a contentious debate among members at Alaowei Bozimo’s residence, picked Senator James Manager as the preferred candidate.”
Our source noted that while the two other aspirants were eminently qualified, it was wise that a single candidate is picked to battle with others in the interest of the Ijaw nation.
Our source also noted that the report on the decision of Manager as a preferred candidate has not been forwarded to the leadership of Ijaw Nation for further actions, which the source said would be done soon.
When contacted on if Ijaws have picked a preferred candidate, the INC President, Prof. Okaba said there was a Committee responsible for that, and that the decision of the Committee has not reached him.
Efforts to reach Alaowei Broderick Bozimo for his comments on this proved abortive as calls and text messages to his mobile were not attended to.