Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi.
By Chukwudi Abiandu
The race to replace Governor Ifeanyi Okowa in Government House, Asaba in 2023 has begun in earnest with Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi declaring yesterday, Tuesday, November 13, 2019, his interest to contest for the plum position.
Speaking to journalists in his elaborate country home in Oginibo town, Ughelli South Local Government of Delta State at a lunch get together he had with them, said: “I have declared my intention to contest the governorship position of Delta state, and I have started consultations leading to 2023.”
Answering question from journalists on whether it is not too early for him to declare interest to contest an election that will hold in 2023, Olorogun Gbagi said: “I don’t need to stay back in government so I can collect some more allowances enough to enable declare my interest for the election now. Those who may be nursing the idea, but cannot come out to declare can continue to remain in government to collect their allowances; I don’t need to collect allowances from government before I can declare my intention to run because I am not in government. At the appropriate time we shall separate the men from the boys.
“I said I want to be governor, and I have begun consultations. I have been a reputable businessman with integrity, and I have the bullet (means) to run for governor.”
Gbagi said he has always depended on the laudable training given to him by his late father, who taught him work to be able to always stand on his own in any situation, and that that training he has held on to and has been invaluable to him in life.
“I have never done state of Federal Government’s contract job in my life. I don’t believe in it,” he said.
On claims from the Ijaw end of the Delta South Senatorial district that it is their turn to run for governorship since almost all the ethnic nationalities making Delta State have had a shot at the position, Olorogun Gbagi said: “We did not zone the governorship of the party to tribes. We zoned it to senatorial districts. Now that it is the turn of the Central we shall go for it.
‘But we alone as people from the Central cannot make the governorship happen by ourselves. We must work together with other senatorial zones in other to make it.”
Asked his response on agitations that it is the turn of the Okpe in the Delta Central senatorial district to have the governorship, Gbagi said: “My father is from Udu in Ughelli North Local Government, and my mother is from Ethiope East Local Government. I was brought up in Sapele. When I go to Sapele you can’t beat me. I am too matured and too principled to be taken in by such claims. In Sapele, I am the biggest investor in that constituency.
“I am ready to challenge any one from the Uvwie constituency, and I will beat them all.”
On how he hopes to get the endorsement of the Urhobo Progress Union (UPU), the umbrella socio-cultural union of the Urhobo, the governorship hopeful said: “ We have looked at the issue of UPU, and we must be careful. UPU came out and said Okowa cannot be governor, but today Okowa is governor.
“Upu are not politicians. They are custodians of Urhobo people. We are politicians.”
Olorogun Gbagi pointed out that he had never contested any election previously, and that this his quest for the governorship in 2023, his chances are bright. “My chances are bright. I have planned for 24 years for this, and I did not plan to fail. Wait until that time comes and you will see. In this business, there is no room for children who are still using pampers.”
On what he has in stock for the people of the state should he become governor, he said: “A better Delta is my agenda for the state.” He said he will work on the drain; “I will work to provide jobs for the jobless in Delta. I will tender my resignation if I become governor and you did not see me do do the drains, and give jobs to the people.
“ I spend between N15million to N18million monthly to pay salaries to workers . There is a lot to do to turn around the jobless situations, depending on how you want to do it,” Gbagi said.
He decried the attitude of youth to investors and their investments, saying that it is this bad attitude that has driven investors away, which made them to quite the areas in Delta state to elsewhere. “Today, who are those suffering it?, Gbagi asked.
He pointed out for instance that there are over 360 Nigerians from other states flown into Delta State on daily bases, who come to do business. “And they go away; they don’t pay tax here in Delta State. We are lucky to have a man like Okowa as governor, who took measures to create peace and conducive environment for business out fits to thrive. Blowing up pipelines does not pay,” Olorogun Gbagi said.
Asked whether he belongs to the nucleus group believed to be the group that anoints candidates for governorship in the state, Gbagi said: “I founded PDP. Forget about all that you heard or may have been told, I was a founder of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). I am contesting the election by the grace of God on the platform of the PDP.”