The resignation of Engr. Victor Ochei as Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly has ominous signs for aspirants the 2015 governorship contest in the state.
BY EMMANUEL AZIKEN, POLITICAL EDITOR
THE Deputy Majority Whip, Peter Onwusanua is to emerge Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly today following the formal resignation of Victor Ochei as presiding officer of the House.
Ochei had occupied the office since the inauguration of the House in 2011 and his resignation has been generally traced to intrigues and politicking around the 2015 gubernatorial contest in the state.
Ochei’s resignation with effect from today, Vanguard learnt, followed the realization by some of his opponents in the House that Governor Emmanuel Uduagahan was not backing his 2015 gubernatorial aspiration as many of the members had generally been led to believe.
The realization which dawned on the members last week also followed allegations that Ochei had stepped on sensitive toes outside the legislature in his carriage and conduct in the past.
“House members thought that the governor was carrying him and preparing him for 2015, so many members toyed along fearing that if they did anything against Ochei that they would be stepping on the toes of the governor. The kind of approvals he got and the way he carried himself drove fear into many members,” a House member confided on the basis of anonymity.
“The whole state thought that he was being prepared for 2015 and that is why people started drifting to him and you know many people with interests in 2015 did not want to hurt him or the governor,” one of the principal architects involved in the development told Vanguard.
Over time, concerned associates of the governor were said to have increasingly leaked to the Government House their apprehensions over Ochei with some asserting that with the influence he was already pulling that he could become a problem for everyone should he become governor in 2015.
The governor it was learnt was said to have recently disowned his patronage of Ochei’s gubernatorial aspiration, a development which emboldened his local enemies within and outside the House to launch an onslaught against him.
With the tide turning against him last weekend and with majority of the House members believing that the governor had abandoned him, it was not easy for Ochei’s enemies to use the name of the governor to wipe up sentiments against the speaker.
“Me, I would not have signed for his removal because of the simple fear that the governor is the one protecting him, but when we got the clear signal we all signed,” a member of the House ordinarily close to the former speaker told Vanguard.
Meanwhile, Ochei according to sources is to sustain his gubernatorial ambition in a field of increasingly crowded aspirants that had been dominated by himself, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa and lately, the governor’s chief of staff, Dr. Festus Okubor.
Meanwhile, the contest for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP gubernatorial ticket is expected to be jolted in the next few days when a serving commissioner and a major associate of Governor Uduaghan from the Delta Central enters the race.
The serving commissioner Vanguard learnt is exploiting the opportunity of the absence of a strong candidate from Delta Central to press home his ambition to replace Uduaghan in 2015.
The expected challenge from the commissioner follows the lacuna created by the death last year of Senator Pius Ehwerido one of the most formidable aspirants expected to have shaken the contest from whatever party.
He is expected to push his advantage in the face of the strong division in Delta North between the three major aspirants, Okowa, Ochei and Okubor.