The Delta North Senatorial District otherwise called Anioma holds the key to whoever wins the fresh election ordered by the Appeal Court which sacked the governor of the state, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, saying his election was fraudulent. With nine local government areas and a firm decision not to field any candidate in the governorship poll, Anioma is open for the political gladiators in the state.
Uduaghan has an uphill task in Delta Central where the dominant Urhobo national group is capitalising on the opportunity for the fresh election to enthrone a political hegemony through Chief Great Ogboru, who organised the judicial coup that toppled Uduaghan from Itsekiri, one of the three ethnic nationalities that make up Delta South Senatorial District.
Delta North comprise Aniocha North and Aniocha South; Ndokwa East and Ndokwa West; Ika South and Ika North East; Oshimili North and Oshimili South; and Ukwuani local government areas. It has a population of 1.5 million going by the 2006 census.
Delta Central has eight local governments areas to wit: Ethiope East and Ethiope West, Ughelli North and Ughelli South, Udu, Uvwie, Okpe, and Sapele, The Itsekiri have three local government areas comprising Warri North, Warri South and Warri South West. Ijawland, where Chief Edwin Clark holds sway has three local government areas encompassing Bomadi, Burutu and Patani. There is no chauvinistic calculations that can make any of the ethnic groups to perpetually hold on to power or to permanently exclude the others from attaining power.
But, for the 90-day interregnum of Prince Sam Obi, Delta North has not produced a governor since the creation of Delta State in 1991. Nevertheless, it played the role of kingmaker in 1992, when Professor Eric Opia of the defunct National Republican Convention, NRC, was by-passed for Chief Felix Ibru in an election where the predominant reasoning was that political power should go to either of the central and southern senatorial districts, to assuage the bitter feelings generated by the cloning of the geo-political entity that left the two sides feeling cheated.
In 1999, the people of Delta North pitched their tent with Chief James Ibori of PDP against Chief Moses Kragha of ANPP. The latter was the choice of the Urhobo, who have not seen the need and any sense in the philosophy of “live and let live.” It was the Anioma vote that returned Ibori to office in 2003, when he squared up with Ogboru.
In 2007, it was also the Anioma people who sided with Uduaghan against Ogboru of DPP.
The people of Anioma have preached the spirit of accommodation for all the ethnic nationalities who must have a sense of belonging since the capital of the state is in Asaba. It follows that the other senatorial districts should first occupy the governorship seat to assuage any feelings of cheating and deprivation arising from the action of the military regime in 1991.
Mr. Alex Onwuadiamu, Secretary of the steering committee of Anioma Political Forum, said the forum and indeed, any credible platform of Anioma sons and daughters have not endorsed any of the candidates. His words: “At no point have we endorsed a governorship candidate. Of course, there is nothing wrong in the Anioma people supporting the government of Dr. Uduaghan, but that is not tantamount to saying that we have endorsed any candidate. For such an endorsement to take place, there is a process that must be followed. There should be a general meeting of the Anioma people or of those who subscribe to the ideals of Anioma people and credible leadership from the area. It is at this level that we can endorse any candidate.”
The Chairman of Aniocha Renaissance, Chief Patrick Onwochie, said: “We know the dynamics of politics in Delta State and we know that in a free and fair election, nobody can become a governor of the state without the Anioma vote.’‘ To him, “this is the time for us to look for a governor that we can trust to deliver the dividends of democracy and finally Anioma people shall insist on whoever is coming as the governor of Delta State must be that candidate that is agreeable to signing a memorandum of understanding with genuine Anioma leaders that he or she stands on rotation of power. If you don’t subscribe to our terms, you are left on your own.’‘
However, the Chairman of Adinigwe Political Forum, Chief Adizue Eluaka, said the fresh election will provide a test case for President Goodluck Jonathan’s pledge to the world that the 2011 elections will be free, fair and credible. In that case, “Anioma people will show that they understand the language of politics. We find it insulting on our intelligence for somebody to tell us in the 21st Century that we are not politically mature for a high office.’‘
Chief Moses Enujeko from Ndokwa East Local Government Area said: “when Dr. Oliseh Imegwu spoke out on the marginalization of Ndokwa East by Uduaghan administration, he was suspended from the House and removed as the Speaker, yet a lot of our urban areas from Agbor, to Kwale, from Ogwashi Uku, to Kwale, from Asaba to Issle Uku, from Asaba to Obiaruku, etc are left without basic amenities. There is no tangible structural development in these areas.’‘
Supporting Ogboru against Uduaghan seems expedient to some people who want to vent their frustration against the sacked governor but victory for Ogboru, will effectively kill the principle of power rotation in the state as the Urhobos want to enthrone political hegemony. The dictates of realpolitick must therefore ensure that “no national group becomes so powerful” as to lord it over the other component social groups in the interest of peace and harmony in Delta.
This is where Anioma people holds the balance of power that has been the stabilizing factor in the survival of the state.
As the most strategic partner in the Delta project, it is in the enlightened self interest of Anioma people to reject another possible eight years for Delta Central under any guise as this will empower the Urhobos to hold on to power for 18 years, taking into account the two years of Chief Ibru, and the eight years of Ibori.
The dynamics of the politics in the state means the people of Anioma ought to support Uduaghan to complete his four years and go for a possible second term, to give Delta South the chance to complete their slot thereby leaving the political space open for the Anioma people.