2019: The APC gaffe in fielding Ogboru against Okowa

By Charles Okogene

At a time, the word equity was the sing song, especially, among the political class in the oil-rich Delta State. It was a word introduced into the state’s political lexicon by the then governor of the state, Chief James Ibori who not only mouthed it but implemented it. It can be likened to the rotational or zoning formula at the national level, which all parties have embraced and which is one of the factors used in deciding who or which geopolitical area of the country occupies any elective office.
Equity until 2015, worked perfectly well in Delta State, especially in the ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). It was on its wings that Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, who emerged governor of the state and who hails from one of the smallest ethnic nationalities, Itsekiri, whose voting strength would not have been enough to make him a governor even if all the sons and daughters of Itsekiri voted for him.
However, in the spirit of equity, all the governorship aspirants he defeated at the PDP primary, held in Ogwashi Uku in 2007, rallied round him and helped market him to the people of Delta State and today, the rest is now history.

However, while many had thought that the challenge of electing a governor every four years in a multi-ethnic state like Delta State, which prides itself as one standing on a tripod, had been conquered by the Ibori equity formula after eight years of Uduaghan when the battalion moved to Anioma with Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa as the right man for the job, the All Progressives Congress (APC) is poised to return the state to Egypt with the election of and presentation of Chief Great Ogboru, a serial governorship candidate in the state as its governorship standard bearer for 2019.
By positioning Ogboru as its candidate for the 2019 governorship election, the party has in an unmistakable terms, told other ethnic nationalities in the state that they do not matter. That it does not reckon with the equity agenda on whose wing the likes of Uduaghan and Okowa flew to Government House, Asaba. That the Urhobo, the dominant ethic nationality, which prides itself as the fifth largest tribe in Nigeria, has the God given ‘right’ to rule the state despite the fact that it had produced former governors of the state, the late Olorgun Felix Ibru and Ibori.
But let it be on record here, that this is by no means suggesting that the Urhobo are all queuing behind the Ogboru ethnic driving ambition. In fact, on the contrary, majority of Urhobo political elite are firmly in support of the rotational policy of the PDP. This is understandably so because they know that by 2023, it would be the turn of Delta Central to produce the governor in accordance with this sentiment.
Though, in past elections in the state since 1999, Anioma, which is the second largest ethnic nation in the state with nine local government areas, had always sided with the PDP until after 2015 when the scale fell off their eyes like Paul on its way to Damascus. The table turned and they began to spread their tentacles into other parties, particularly, the APC. Their prominent sons like Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, the minister of state for Petroleum Resources, Hon. Victor Ochei, a barrister-at-law, an engineer and former Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, and accomplished economist, Prof. Pat Utomi, took up the membership cards of APC.
One had expected that the party would have, in the spirit of the prevailing equity in the state, elected and presented Ochei or Utomi, both of whom contested the governorship primary election, to INEC as its candidate for the 2019 election to complete Anioma nation’s desire to rule the state for eight years like the Urhobo of Delta Central and the Itsekiri of Delta South did. That was not to be. Instead Ogboru, an Urhobo son, whose ambition for the past 12 years, had always been to occupy the seat of governor of the state was chosen thus reviving the almost long forgotten voting on ethnic divide, which the equity formula had almost successfully consigned to the dustbin of history.
While the circumstances that led to the rejection of Utomi as APC’s candidate is still controversial, such is not the case of Ochei whom Mr. Alex Owuadiamu told this writer in a Facebook chat, “for the avoidance of doubt Rt Hon Victor Ochei was not screened out. He was successful at screening. We had a governorship primaries that was bungled in terms of delegate list, security arrangement and other logistics. Rt Hon Victor Ochei is seeking redress at the appropriate quarters.” So, all things being equal and when INEC rolls out its ballot boxes for governorship election in the state, it will be Okowa, Ogburu and the rest.
The return of Ogboru as APC’s candidate, has given the PDP in the state the assurance that victory is certain. To them, Ogboru whom it has defeated not twice but a record five times, is still beatable as he has nothing new to tell the people order than playing up ethnic cards, which is also likely to favour Okowa because other ethnic nations like Isoko and Ijaw, both of which are also queuing to take their turns in the spirit of equity to occupy the office one day, are most likely to cast their votes for PDP
All things considered, it is difficult to see how Ogboru and his ethnic jingoists would convince Deltans to vote out Okowa, who incidentally has performed well, after four years when others from Delta South and Central Senatorial Districts did eight years. Deltans are not prepared to court the politics that is driven by ethnicity, injustice and inequality which inexorably breed disunity, mutual suspicion and anarchy.
• Mr. Okogene, a journalist hails from Adonte in Aniocha South LGA of Delta State, but lives in Lagos and can reached on 0803311433

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