The quest by Delta North to produce the next state governor, seemingly at all costs is worrying. Attempts to dignify the quest with other ideas betray the true motive of the advocates.
If there is a core Delta in the state, common sense dictates that they constitute the core owners of the state. How come, one may ask, that the core owners of a property are not in custody of their prized possession? There is no gainsaying the fact that Delta State capital was taken from core Delta by Anioma, using militarist steroid provided by marital ties.
It was the case of a person you called to come and dine with you running away with the only piece of meat in the soup!
The reference to “hewers of wood and fetchers of water” does not apply to Anioma, as they have Asaba which is one of the best and fastest growing capital cities in Nigeria. The only international airport in the state which former aviation minister, Stella Oduah, certified as world-class is also located in Delta North. To single out Urhobo as “being most hostile and antagonistic in their attitude towards their neighbours” and that “this hate-mongering attitude towards Anioma people…has taken a frightening and murderous dimension”, is to say the least mischievous.
Over the years, Urhobos have been most accommodating of all the ethnic nationalities in Delta State. The two Urhobo governors, Chief Felix Ibru and Chief James Ibori, chose Simeon Ebonka and Benjamin Elue, respectively, from Delta North as their deputies. The fact that Igbos have lived happily in Warri, Ughelli and other major Urhobo towns, cities and villages pursuing their trades and businesses unmolested, not even once, further show that Urhobo people have nothing against the Anioma to warrant such attacks.
In Delta State today, it is the Urhobos who are the majority ethnic group in the state and the fifth largest in the country that are being marginalised. Despite the huge investment of Urhobos in the present Federal Government, particularly during the 2011 presidential poll in which Delta Central gave as much as 800,000 votes to President Jonathan’s PDP, against a paltry less than 200,000 votes from Anioma, Urhobos have gotten nothing from the Federal Government in terms of appointment and federal presence. Most federal appointments from Delta State have been hijacked by our Anioma brothers, leaving Urhobos with nothing. Is this Anioma’s brand of the concept of equity and fairness that they preach?
The argument that Delta North made Uduaghan governor in 2007 is turning truth on its head. We all know how then Governor James Ibori, an Urhobo, helped Dr Uduaghan into Government House. Anioma should stop claiming any glory on that. Whatever votes Anioma people have given to PDP over the years, Delta Central District has given much more to the party.
The position of Delta Central and Delta South Senatorial districts which constitute the core Delta is that since the state capital has been domiciled permanently in Delta North Senatorial district against reason and the wish of the majority of Deltans, the only consolation that is acceptable to the people of core Delta is governorship of their own state. That is why it would be politically fatal for the PDP to cede the PDP ticket for any reason to Delta North because the core Delta, that is Delta Central and South, will always vote for their own in the general elections.
It will be the height of political misjudgment to attempt giving the party ticket to Delta North on the basis of a non-existing zoning plan. Elder Godsday Orubebe and Chief Tony Prest from the same senatorial district as the incumbent Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan and Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi from Delta Central who have shown interest in succeeding the incumbent are right in seeking the PDP gubernatorial ticket. So too are potential candidates such as the Deputy Governor, Professor Amos Utuama, Obarisi Ovie Omo-Agege, and Professor Saliba Mukoro from core Delta should they decide to run. It will be patently wrong for the party to prevent anyone from Delta Central from vying for the highest political office in Delta State just because some people think it is the turn of Delta North.
The core Delta still hurts over the injustice of locating the state capital outside the area that agitated for the creation of the state. The only compensation for them therefore is the position of Governor of the State which they are not willing to concede, especially in 2015.
Equity, justice and fair play demand a balance of economic and political distribution of power among co-habiting nationalities.
In all fairness, adding the governorship to this array of privileged positions in Delta North will be unfair to core Delta. Should the governorship go to Delta North in 2015, the lot of the rest of Delta State can only be imagined. With the very real danger of political vendetta, does it not stand to reason that the core Delta may suffer in such a scenario? Mindful of all these realities, which core Delta politician will genuinely support a Delta North candidate in 2015?
Finally, the core Delta does not hate Anioma or anybody for that matter.
Deltans are not fools and will not now pander to some power-shift argument to further tilt political power in favour of one section of the state against the others without subjecting interested aspirants to a transparent democratic process.
It is only through such a process that the best candidate will emerge on merit. Zoning or any other undemocratic arrangement which bestows advantages on one ethnic group or a section of the state is antithetical to the search for the kind of leadership that would command the respect and allegiance of Deltans across the land.
Ms Annabel Ogheneganre, a political analyst, wrote from Abuja