Traditional rulers of Isoko ethnic nationalities of Delta State and their communities' Presidents-General on Thursday endorsed Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as their sole candidate for the 2019 governorship elections.
The endorsement, it was reliably gathered, earned the traditional rulers and the Presidents-General the sum of N20 million as a 'kola' from the Governor as a sign of appreciation for a job well done.
The endorsement, which was made on Thursday during an emergency national conference of the Isoko nation convened by the Isoko Development Union (IDU) held at Oleh, Isoko South Local Government Area of Delta State, coincided with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship campaign rally in Oleh, headquarters of Isoko South Local Government Area.
The amount of the money making up the 'kola' was not disclosed to the entire conference but a President-General of one of the communities who pleaded for anonymity confided in our correspondent that the cash, which was arranged in small nylon bags, was N20 million.
"Yes its N20 million, because I overheard one of the traditional rulers disclosing it to a colleague of his at the venue shortly after the Governor and his entourage left for the PDP campaign rally at the Oleh township stadium. The traditional rulers took the lion share as it were, while a part went to the IDU and the Presidents-General of the various communities that participated in the endorsement," he said.
"But frankly speaking, I have my fears, because the traditional rulers and we, the Presidents-General, are supposed to be neutral, not to be involved in partisan politics. There are several other governorship candidates from other political parties for this 2019 elections and now we have endorsed Okowa of the PDP and if tomorrow, Great Ogboru of the APC emerges the Governor, what will then be the fate of the Isoko nation."
Giving reasons for the Governor's endorsement, the traditional rulers noted that the only way they could reciprocate Okowa's good governance in Isoko land was to re-elect him to continue with his good works.
The Ovie of Oleh Kingdom, Anthony Ovrawah, Omagha I, who is the Chairman of Isoko Traditional Council of Traditional Rulers, led the over 19 traditional rulers to pray for the Governor, assuring him that all Isoko sons and daughters would cast their votes for him.
Earlier, the President-General of Iyede Kingdom, Jerry Okokowa moved the motion for Isoko people to collectively cast their votes for the return of Okowa to government house, Asaba till 2023, saying: "We have no other option than Governor Okowa; he has executed a lot of projects in Isoko land, including the construction of this edifice, the Isoko house and he will do more for us in the next four years."
The motion was seconded by the President-General of Oleh Kingdom, Believe Alakri.
In his response, Okowa thanked the Isoko people for their love for him and his administration.
"I am surprised, I am excited at what you have done this afternoon; It is a great honour that you have done to me and I must thank the Isoko people for the love you have for me and my administration," he said.
"What is happening here today convinces me that you have accepted me as one of you; it tells a lot of story that you are not ashamed to identify with me. I thank you for the peace you have continued to give to us as a government, which has given us the enabling environment to carry out development projects.
"Thank you for the partnership, which will make me relate more with the Isoko nation; in the next four years, a lot more will be done for the Isoko nation because the Isoko people truly deserve it. With the pronouncement of the traditional rulers, this is a total support, which will give me more votes than what you gave us in 2015."
Okowa used the medium to plead with the traditional rulers and the Presidents-General of the various communities to vote for all the candidates of the PDP, especially Atiku Abubakar for President, Senator James Manager and Leo Ogor, for house of Representatives, adding that "since you have shown love to me, show love to other candidates of the PDP because, the success of the PDP in the February 16 elections will make the March 2 elections easier".
Speaking earlier, the President-General of the Isoko Development Union, (IDU), Iduh Amadhe, said: "What is happening in Isoko has never been done for any man, Isoko people are not sychophants but when we heard that you (Governor Okowa) and your entourage were coming to Isoko nation for campaign rally, an emergency national conference was called for you; 19 traditional rulers are here, the Presidents-General of different kingdoms are here and whatever we have done today will be translated to all the villages in Isoko and it will be respected; you will get the votes of Isoko people."