Race For Gov­ern­ment House As­aba

The Guardian (Nigeria) - - CITY FILE - Abra­ham Og­bodo 08055328079 (Sms only) abra­ham.og­bodo@guardian.ng

It must be said also that even that quest by Ud­u­aghan breached the prin­ci­ples of jus­tice and fair­ness. Why him af­ter be­ing gov­er­nor of the state for eight years? Why can’t the slot re­turn to the Isoko who have been left out in vir­tu­ally ev­ery power equa­tion in Delta South, such that even in the on-go­ing dis­pen­sa­tion, the se­nate and deputy gov­er­nor slots are con­sol­i­dated in the Ijaw?

AS a bona fide Urhobo man, I shouldn’t be heard say­ing what I am about to say. But even if I do not say it loud and clear oth­ers will do in hush tones but in more graphic de­tails. I am say­ing the re­turn of Chief Great Og­boru on the bal­lot pa­per for the Delta State gov­er­nor­ship elec­tion next year does not make good po­lit­i­cal sense to him as an in­di­vid­ual, the Urhobo as a group and his party, All Pro­gres­sives Congress (APC). If any­thing, his choice as the APC can­di­date for the Delta gu­ber­na­to­rial is in­sen­si­tive at best and sui­ci­dal at worst.

The APC led by Adams Osh­iom­hole would have made two key as­sump­tions in set­tling for Og­boru who has been con­sis­tent as a con­tes­tant since 2003. First is the be­lief that he alone has the ca­pac­ity in all ram­i­fi­ca­tions to oust the in­cum­bent, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa. The sec­ond con­sid­er­a­tion is usu­ally hinged on the es­tab­lished de­mog­ra­phy of the state, which as­cribes about 40 per cent ad­van­tage to the cen­tral sen­a­to­rial district made up of eight coun­cil ar­eas and ex­clu­sively oc­cu­pied by the Urhobo. Chief Great Og­boru is Urhobo from Abraka in Ethiope East lo­cal gov­ern­ment coun­cil of the State.

But much more crit­i­cal fac­tors were left out, which makes the as­sump­tions base­less. It has been a chang­ing dy­nam­ics in Urhobo land and Delta State in gen­eral since 2003 when Og­boru seized the stage with storm. Things are no longer the same. Af­ter four un­suc­cess­ful at­tempts to take con­trol of the Gov­ern­ment House As­aba, Chief Og­boru is now more bat­tle weary than he is bat­tle tested.

The once huge noise around the Great Chief as the Peo­ples Gen­eral has sig­nif­i­cantly dis­si­pated. He is no longer the Urhobo Cen­tu­rion with per­vad­ing author­ity, who used to tell one man, come and he came; and to an­other, go and he went! These days, some peo­ple may ac­tu­ally go in the op­po­site di­rec­tion, when Og­boru is shout­ing come this way! A mea­sure of that power ero­sion can be seen in the chal­lenges he is fac­ing as­sum­ing the lead­er­ship of the APC even within Delta Cen­tral.

While it may be dif­fi­cult to ex­plain all the fac­tors that have com­bined to make Og­boru now look less than him­self, I will only say that a lot more peo­ple in Urhobo land are also de­sirous of what he de­sires – the gov­er­nor­ship of Delta State. Within his po­lit­i­cal house­hold, the Oedi­pal drive has height­ened and his hith­erto po­lit­i­cal sons could be itch­ing to dis­patch him to early re­tire­ment and in­herit the throne and all the at­ten­dant ben­e­fits in­clud­ing the queen.

In other words, the num­ber of peo­ple who lay claim to be­ing the peo­ple’s gen­eral in Urhobo land is in­creas­ing and the APC can only dis­coun­te­nance this re­al­ity at its own peril. To drive the party in Delta Cen­tral around Og­boru as if he is the only fac­tor that mat­ters will not add up to any po­lit­i­cal cap­i­tal. Og­boru is sim­ply bull­doz­ing with­out the con­sen­sus that strength­ens a party and peo­ple he has swept aside shall wait pa­tiently to strike back at the right time.

Be­fore now, Oloro­gun O’tega Emer­hor, who con­tested the last gov­er­nor­ship elec­tion un­der APC, was called the party leader in Delta State. Og­boru was the Labour Party’s can­di­date in that same elec­tion. Both men are Urhobo, but nei­ther agreed to step down for the other to cre­ate a bet­ter cen­tral front to con­front Okowa from the North. Not even the Urhobo Progress Union (UPU), the high­est col­lec­tive lead­er­ship in Urhobo land could bro­ker a truce. Both went into the elec­tion and re­turned bruised. It should be men­tioned also that over the years, Og­boru had not stayed put on one spot to nur­ture a plat­form into real po­lit­i­cal com­pet­i­tive­ness. Like hyena, he would break in to take over when the kill is made.

He started bid­ding for the gov­er­nor­ship seat of Delta State on the plat­form of the Al­liance for Democ­racy (AD) in 2003. He switched over to the Demo­cratic Peo­ples Party (DPP) for the 2007 bid­ding and the 2011 re-run fol­low­ing the nul­li­fi­ca­tion of the 2007 elec­tion by the Ap­peal Court in Benin-city. He was in the Labour Party in 2015 through to 2017 when he stormed the APC to off­set the sta­tus quo and clinch the party ticket to con­test next year’s gov­er­nor­ship elec­tion in the state.

Sim­ply, the Chief does not like to play a sub­or­di­nate role. He loves all pro­cesses to build around him as the cen­tral fig­ure any­where he is play­ing. And he fights hard to have it that way all the time. To­day, O’tega Emer­hor who had ral­lied oth­ers to sus­tain the APC in the state be­fore Og­boru stormed in is strug­gling with ev­ery strength in him to have just a small bed-space in the house that he built.

Yet, it has not al­ways been this way be­tween Og­boru and Emer­hor. They had got on well in their long op­po­si­tion to the PDP in Delta State when the for­mer was the per­ma­nent con­tes­tant and the lat­ter per­ma­nent sup­porter with fi­nances. Trou­ble started when Emer­hor de­sired in 2015 what had some­how be­come the ex­clu­sive pre­serve of Og­boru in Urhobo land – the right to con­test for the gov­er­nor­ship of Delta State.

Some par­ti­san quar- ters must have briefed Chair­man Osh­iom­hole that in Delta party pol­i­tics, Og­boru de­sires or even de­serves (given his elab­o­rate sense of en­ti­tle­ment) noth­ing less than the right to con­test the gov­er­nor­ship seat in all elec­tions un­til he wins. And so, against the flow of the sen­ti­ments of the mo­ment in the state, the party has handed to him the ticket to con­test the next gov­er­nor­ship elec­tion on a plat­ter of gold.

The sen­ti­ments favour a gov­er­nor from the north sen­a­to­rial zone for at least an­other four years be­gin­ning 2019, so that the north, as the cen­tral with James Ibori and the south with Em­manuel Ud­u­aghan, can also have its eight un­in­ter­rupted years in Gov­ern­ment House As­aba.

By shut­ting out as­pi­rants from the north, the APC has not re­spected these sen­ti­ments and that shall prove costly in 2019. In ad­di­tion, I am say­ing that the Urhobo should not see the Og­boru APC ticket as largesse out­side their fair share. The un­writ­ten agree­ment on power ro­ta­tion among the three sen­a­to­rial zones in the state has worked well to cur­tail the dis­rup­tive eth­nic ten­den­cies and it should not be dis­carded for any rea­son, at least for now. The Urhobo who still feel pained by the lo­ca­tion of the state cap­i­tal in As­aba out­side the orig­i­nal Delta Prov­ince when Delta State was cre­ated by the Ba­bangida ad­min­is­tra­tion in 1991, have al­ways sought to in­voke their de­mo­graphic ad­van­tage to per­pet­u­ally hold on to the gov­er­nor­ship to even up.

This has how­ever not worked largely due to their in­abil­ity to sub­sume their dif­fer­ences un­der a com­mon pur­pose. The gov­er­nor­ship they seek so des­per­ately has also meant an op­por­tu­nity for self-can­cel­la­tion in

suc- ces­sive elec­toral sea­sons since 1999 when the can­cel­la­tion started be­tween James Ibori and Moses Kragha. It is not the fault of other groups that the ma­jor­ity eth­nic group in the state is stuck in at­tri­tion and is not able to rise with the de­served force­ful­ness for recog­ni­tion.

There are there­fore two things to con­sider go­ing for­ward. One is for the Urhobo to be or­gan­ised such that the jun­gle will be calm when they roar. Two is for them to show mag­na­nim­ity in strength even when they even­tu­ally get rein­vented and clearly in a stead to de­ter­mine al­most all the is­sues in Delta pol­i­tics. For a peace­ful Delta State and in­deed so­ci­ety in gen­eral, this charge should be an­nounced to all sides to come to eq­uity with clean hands. Jus­tice is good for all sea­sons and for all peo­ple.

For in­stance, there is a Sen­a­tor James Man­ager who thinks rep­re­sen­ta­tion of Delta south in the Se­nate is his birthright. Al­though there are Urhobo el­e­ments in the zone, po­lit­i­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the south os­cil­late among the It­sekiri, Isoko and Ijaw. But James Man­ager, an Ijaw from Patani, has weighed down on the slot like an in­cubus since 2003 af­ter the four years of Mrs Stella Omu an Isoko at the Se­nate. He does not want to let go and this seems the pri­mary rea­son for­mer Gov­er­nor Ud­u­aghan, an It­sekiri, left the PDP for the APC in search of a place in the Se­nate.

It must be said also that even that quest by Ud­u­aghan breached the prin­ci­ples of jus­tice and fair­ness. Why him af­ter be­ing gov­er­nor of the state for eight years? Why can’t the slot re­turn to the Isoko who have been left out in vir­tu­ally ev­ery power equa­tion in Delta South, such that even in the on-go­ing dis­pen­sa­tion, the se­nate and deputy gov­er­nor slots are con­sol­i­dated in the Ijaw?

The sit­u­a­tion is not dif­fer­ent at the more mi­cro level where some peo­ple wish to be per­ma­nent rep­re­sen­ta­tives in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives or State House of Assem­bly. There is one called Leo Ogor in Isoko Fed­eral Con­stituency and an­other called Ni­cholas Mutu in Bo­madi Fed­eral Con­stituency. This is the same in­jus­tice that per­me­ates na­tional schemes and which dis­ad­van­taged groups in the South­South and Mid­dle Belt al­ways seek to re­dress ei­ther through re­struc­tur­ing, re­source con­trol or the con­sti­tu­tion­ally em­pow­ered Fed­eral Char­ac­ter pol­icy.

Back to the start­ing point. The APC should not hope to achieve much with Og­boru can­di­dacy in the gov­er­nor­ship elec­tion in Delta State next year, ex­cept the party has other ideas not known to a trans­par­ent elec­toral process in mind. Aside the brew­ing di­vi­sions within the APC oc­ca­sioned by Hur­ri­cane Og­boru, which weak­ens the party’s ca­pac­ity to con­front the PDP in the cru­cial con­test, the Urhobo may want to wait pa­tiently for an­other four years for the north to fin­ish its turn in or­der to lay ex­clu­sive claim to the gov­er­nor­ship in 2023. Even now, Sen­a­tor OmoAgege who is far more strate­gic among the lot in Delta APC will also be think­ing that way and may ac­tu­ally want Og­boru to fail so that the coast will be cleared of cataracts and falls for him when the bid­ding opens in 2023.

But as it is in Chi­nese movies, Chief Great Og­boru is step­ping in for the last fight. He must fight best also. Af­ter this, the cur­tain will drop to sig­nal the END of the show. If he is dis­patched, he ceases to be the hero and be­comes the vil­lain of the epic po­lit­i­cal bat­tle that started

in 2003.

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