The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has showered praises on former governor of Delta State and ex-convict James Ibori, describing him as “a unifying figure and a blessing to the Niger Delta region.”
The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Uche Secondus, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta, and ex-Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan and other national and state PDP leaders gave the eulogy on Saturday, March 10, 2018.
A statement issued by the press unit of the Delta State Government House said the politicians spoke at Ovwor-Olomu in Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State during a grand reception in honour of Ibori.
They said Ibori is a unifying factor in the development of the Niger Delta region and Delta State in particular.
Critics have faulted the accolades, describing it as shameful and disgraceful considering Ibori’s corrupt past which was not referenced during the event.
On February 27, 2012, Ibori pleaded guilty before Judge Anthony Pitts in a London court to 10 counts of money laundering and conspiracy to defraud.
The ex-governor admitted to stealing $250 million as alleged by the Metropolitan Police.
The prosecutors alleged that Ibori spent some of the stolen money buying six houses in London – paying £2.2 million in cash for one Hampstead mansion – and putting his children in expensive British private schools.
After he pleading guilty, Crown Prosecution Service lawyer, Sasha Wass, made a short submission, saying the prosecution was discontinuing Ibori’s trial because the former governor had “accepted the entirety of the prosecution’s case as it has always been set out.”
He was later sentenced to 13 years in UK prison. He was, however, released and deported to Nigeria in February 2017.
Regardless of Ibori’s antecedent, the PDP leaders still parades him as a man of honour, saying the party needs his leadership skills to wrestle power from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) ahead of the 2019 election.
“Ibori must be celebrated because he is a man of the people not just in Delta state but across the nation, today, he is a factor in this country. On behalf of the masses of our country, we salute you, we salute your courage because you are a man who believes in the struggle of the party, PDP Chairman, Secondus said
“You [Delta State] have a son that has built a political structure that is envied across the nation. Delta State remains the only state in the nation that has a stability in political succession. It remains the only state where all the Governor that have ruled the state are still members of the PDP,” he added.
According to Governor Okowa, Ibori laid the foundation of development in the state and established a political structure which served as a bridge builder and development agent across the country.
On his part, Uduaghan called for an end to rumour mongering and sycophancy in the state
In response to the praises, Ibori advised the political class especially those seeking political office not to heat up the polity, saying power belongs to God and that only He can give power.
He said he has forgiven all those who played one role or another in his incarceration.