By JESUTEGA ONOKPASA
The Delta 2015 gubernatorial race is fast emerging as the most complicated and probably most confusing race for any Government House nationwide.
Pundits are continuously shifting their bets, laboring beneath a debilitating cluelessness on how those bets may safely be hedged against the background of ever surprising developments which keep springing up to dominate the political landscape in the high-octane race to 2015.
While the idea that the governorship would shift to the Delta North Senatorial Zone was hitherto more or less a given, serious contenders for the governorship have solidly emerged from all three zones. Needless to say, where does that leave advocates of power shift like me?
I have often interrogated my support for political inclusiveness. However often I choose to embark on that exercise, I end up right where I began. It is not possible that God created any group of people not fit to rule.
But I also have a closer-to-home reason for my stance. Few people bother to remember any more that the existence of the state we are at daggers drawn to rule is traceable to efforts led by a man of Delta North extraction. Denis Osadebe, Premier of the defunct Mid-west Region was the man who spearheaded its creation from the defunct Western Region.
At the time of the struggle, my late father, Benedict Etedjere Onokpasa was a member of the Action Group, AG. When it dawned on him that Obafemi Awolowo was immovably opposed to the creation of the Mid-west Region, he decamped to the Nnamdi Azikiwe led National Council of Nigerian Citizens, NCNC, a party that tacitly supported its creation.
Matters came to a head for my dad, when the AG, as was its clandestine nature in those days, brought trumped-up charges against him alongside other decampees including a fellow Okpe man, the late Chief Brass Ometan. They were arrested in Warri and environs, transported to Asaba and marched before a judge.
It was Denis Osadebe, the irrepressible bulwark of the Mid-west movement who defended them. Incidentally, it was the same Osadebe who coined the term Anioma and I simply cannot see how he could have championed our collective libration from the Western Region, been the Premier of the Mid-west Region, and for some reason, another person from Delta North cannot become the Governor of a state created from the same region he was most instrumental in creating.
As we say in Urhobo, it is the man who calls you that you answer. Yet I had known Dr. Festus Okubor, present Chief of Staff to Governor Uduaghan, long before I ever met Ochei, and had served with him on the Delta PDP Campaign Council, 2011. Dr. Okubor is an interesting fellow.
Remarkably humble, unassuming and perennially down to earth in a political theater of egotistical individuals, there are few heights, this medical doctor has not attained in politics. Between 1996 and 1998, he emerged on the national political landscape when he became National Publicity Secretary of the defunct Grassroots Development Movement, GDM.
Later in 2002, he became Chairman, Ika North East Local Government, and a year later became the State Director of Protocol, Government House, Asaba. Okubor was then appointed Commissioner for Special Duties in 2006, later as Commissioner for Information and then Commissioner for Health in 2007.
In 2008, he became Chairman, Delta State Hospitals Management Board. In the hair-raising morass of the 2010-2011 electioneering season which saw two gubernatorial elections held in Delta in remarkable quick succession, Okubor emerged as Deputy Director General, Uduaghan Campaign Organization.
The challenge with Okubor derives from his remarkably cool approach to politics, something I have come to situate within the worldview of a man not desperate for power. Indeed, a PDP chieftain, Chief Olori Magege, jokingly threatened to ‘kidnap’ him into the race should he continue to exhibit reluctance to throw in his hat.
ONOKPASA writes from Warri