Okotete’s Ministerial nomination raises bad blood between Urhobos, Itsekiris


By Ñosa Àkeñzua

The age-old acrimony between the Urhobo, the largest ethnic group in Delta State, and the Itsekiri again reared up its ugly head as the umbrella body of the former, Urhobo Patriotic Assembly (UPA), slammed the Itsekiri over a purported petition to President Bola Tinubu and the Senate leadership protesting against his nomination of two Urhobo ”illustrious personalities” for possible Ministerial appointment.

The two are Stella Okotete, a former bank chief, and Festus Keyamo, former Minister of State for Labour, Employment and Productivity. Both are said to be Urhobo.

Okotete’s Ministerial bid is presently in temporary limbo as she failed to be confirmed by Senate on Monday due to certain issues, among them security matter.

Alongside former Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, and former Deputy Governor of Taraba State, Abubakar Danladi, her fate will be known soon.

UPA, in a statement signed by its chairman and secretary, Dr. Richmond Omoruvwie and Mr. Utuedoye Akpobrise respectively, claimed that the Itsekiri do not have ”that local standing” to decide who should be appointed by President Tinubu.

Reacting to a petition calling for her qualification, UPA described such as laughable.

Among the petitions against Okotete was one by a group of Itsekiri leaders and signed by one Chief Omatshe.

In it, Oketete’s person was attacked even as unprintable things were alleged against her.

The petition was also addressed to leadership of the Senate.

In other petitions against her too, the issue of alleged diversion of funds during her time in NEXIM Bank came up.

Dismissing all allegations against Okotete and instead chronicling her contributions to the electoral success of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2023 general elections, the Urhobo group said Okotete delivered her Delta Central Senatorial seat, Ughelli/Udu federal constituency seat for House of Representatives as well as Ughelli North Constituency 1 & ll State Assembly seat to APC.

“Those seeking her disqualification should please show Nigerians their Polling Units’ scorecards; let Nigerians be the judge well for the Ministerial position, contrary to the claim by some Itsekiri leaders.

“It is worthwhile to note that Ministerial appointments are based on several factors which include intelligence, capacity, experience, political clout, and a host of other factors. Ms Stella Okotete has over the years as the Executive Director of NEXIM Bank, proven herself as a technocrat and we certainly believed that going by her track record, she is eminently qualified for whatever portfolio she would be assigned.

UPA described the petition as based on falsehood and misinformation on Okotete, who it praised as ”a brimming light of the Renewed Hope Agenda in Delta State and a shining star lady in Nigeria.”

The Urhobos added: “We are surprised our Itsekiri neighbor has not imbibed the palpable change the Tinubu era has ushered in.

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“Ms. Stella Okotete is most suitable and qualified for it as she works hard and delivers true democratic dividends to her constituency in particular and the nation at large.

“We therefore in our patriotic interest call on the Federal Government and the National Assembly to discountenance any call to reject Ms. Stella Okotete’s Ministerial appointment as such call was made mala fide and should be seen as such as we have also uncovered that 95 percent of the petitions against her nomination were cooked by evil elements who are not happy with her rising political profile.”

“Ms. Okotete is a workaholic; she contributed to over 80 percent of the successes recorded in Ughelli North during the last elections.”

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Ihesiulo Grace

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