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Why Did Sheriff Oborevwori Dodge Guber Debate?





So many absurdities are taking place in the 2023 election cycle! These occurrences are incidental to the electioneering season, especially those happening in Delta State which are peculiarly situated in the evasive antics of the gubernatorial candidate of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori.

This is gleaned from the laughable manner that Sheriff Oborewovri, whom Governor Ifeanyi Okowa is prodding as a puppet-successor for sheer egoistic reasons, cleverly dodged a gubernatorial debate which was recently suggested by the Deputy Senate President and the All Progressives Congress’ (APC) governorship flagbearer, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege.

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Rather than pick up the gauntlet and face his challenger, Sheriff lazily tucked his tail in-between his legs and ran away like an heir frightened by sudden overcast of the sky at noon!

But Sheriff’s lack of interest in that proposal did not surprise those that are conversant with his handicap to communicate in simple, flawless English language without written address at public functions. Even when Omo-Agege subsequently lowered the bar probably out of pity by asking him to speak either in Urhobo language or pidgin which is the unofficial lingua franca in Delta State, he was not enthusiastic about it.

And few days to the election, the man has remained mute like someone whom the gods have struck with dumbness for a grievous offence! A reaction pushed out two weeks later by his camp and authored by Mr. Fred Latimore Oghenesivbe, the loud-mouthed propagandist in the fold of Delta State PDP, was at best gibberish. His argument that Sheriff Oborevwori was too busy to agree to such a debate was nonsensical as enlightened Deltans knew it was a cover-up to shield Sheriff’s poor spoken English from the public.

Those who had followed the campaign trail of Sheriff would have noticed his momentary verbal disability once he’s asked to address the crowd of party members and prospective voters in English language. It is on record that whenever he reached a campaign ground, journalists were always asked to switch off their recording devices. It is after he had spoken that a team would craft a variant of whatever he said in good and understandable English.

But wait a minute! What is so difficult for a guber candidate like Sheriff who is parading a Masters in Political Science in attending a political debate? Such a debate would have provided an avenue for him and co-contestants to speak on ideas propelling their ambition before members of the audience who would then assess their performance and make informed choice(s) of whom to vote for on the election day.

For any politician who personally sat for his school certificate examination and passed it, engaging in a debate shouldn’t be a big deal! In any case, if it’s so difficult for him to go there alone, he would have been allowed to solicit assistance of his sponsor, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to sit beside him and provide ‘expo’ answers to questions that would be posed to him. That he shied away from a debate spoke so poorly about his preparedness to govern Delta!

Apart from Omo-Agege and himself, Olorogun Keneth Gbagi who’s the candidate of the Social Democratic Party(SDP) would have been part of the debate. Likewise Ken Pela, the dark horse and candidate of the Labour Party(LP), Dr. Goodnews Agbi of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Mr. Sunny Ofehe of the Young Progressives Party(YPP) among others.

Be that as it may, Sheriff should have used that platform to market his M.O.R.E. Agenda which many informed Deltans see as grossly banal and uninspiring for lacking creativity and good conceptual sense. He would have told us whether his M.O.R.E Agenda signifies a futuristic intention to aggravate the wasteful perspective of the Okowa administration in borrowing more funds if he becomes Governor or whether his manifesto will translate into concrete verifiable development of all parts of the state unlike what presently obtains in Delta. He would have been able to tell Deltans if his M.O.R. E Agenda is preferable to the manifestos already articulated by Omo-Agege to re-order and reset Delta after 24 years of painful despoliation by the PDP.

He would have been asked to itemise the so-called achievements of Okowa who made parochialism, nepotism and divisive approach to governance a state policy. Sheriff should have told us why he intends to go on with the achievements of an administration which had received trillions of naira in revenue, yet there’s nothing on ground to justify the huge earnings. He would have told us why he wants to stick to the policies of Okowa’s unenviable era which has impoverished Deltans in a worse form today than they were in 2015 when Okowa mounted the saddle.

Whoever is seeking to govern a complex state like Delta must have physical agility and mental capacity. It is however obvious that Sheriff lacks intellectual capacity to address issues extempore without embarrassing himself and disparaging the image of our state. Even at the best of times whenever he delivered even a speech, he muddled it up like a kindergarteen learning strange polysyllabic words! This is the dilemma Deltans would be faced with should they elect a man with the lowest capacity among the Frontline candidates.

In the 32 years history of Delta State, Sheriff is the only gubernatorial candidate whose academic qualifications had come under intense and ridiculous scrutiny. In retrospect, former Governor James Ibori only had a court case which bordered on alleged conviction for theft instituted by Messrs Goodnews Agbi and Anthony Alabi, while Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan was also dragged to courts several times over election matters by Chief Great Ogboru, the man who has made a career out of governorship contests in Delta State in the past two decades. For the outgoing Governor Okowa, no certificate issue has dogged his person other than the trauma of being taken to courts in 2015 and 2019 by Ogboru as the customary troubler of PDP governors.

Therefore, Deltans should be wary of casting ballot for a candidate who’s mentally empty and communicatively dumb for obvious reasons. As a state with an impressive percentage of literate and enlightened citizens, we cannot afford to have a governor who is a half-baked man, let alone ‘a quarter-baked fellow’ by default!

NEXT: The Case Against Sheriff Oborevwori

UWADIUSOR & ARUGBA, journalists and public affairs commentators, are based in Asaba, Delta State. They can be reached through [email protected]


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