By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
Though he represents the powerful and influential Urhobo population in the Senate, little was heard or known about Senator Adegho Eferakeya until now.
Indeed, he was more readily identified by his unique Urhobo attire on the Senate floor than any legislative or political activity.
However, like fish just rediscovering water, the former University teacher of pharmacy has suddenly transformed into a political phenomenon giving more concerns to an already troubled political establishment in Delta State.
Troubled on all sides by political enemies within and outside the mainstream Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Delta State chairman of the party Chief Peter Nwaoboshi was full of relief with the decision of Senator Eferakeya and his political and cultural soul-mate, Chief Ovie Omo-Agege to exit the PDP for the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
“Very good riddance,” Nwaoboshi told Vanguard even as he described the election of the former lecturer to the Senate in 2007 as an accident of history which he claimed, occurred because of the tax problems of the other party heavyweights in the constituency.
Nwaoboshi’s exclamation of relief was indeed reflective of the major trouble the duo have recently subjected the PDP and supporters of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan’s second term campaign to.
Omo-Agege is today arguably the strongest challenger to Uduaghan and has not unsurprisingly, packed momentum from his Urhobo ethnic nationality which is the dominant ethnic group in the State. His challenge is in the view of some also being backed by the powerful political lobby hanging around eminent Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark.
In exiting the PDP the duo cited the continuing question of the legitimacy or not of the Nwaoboshi led executive which they felt was overtly protective of Uduaghan.
“You would recollect that in 2008, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor (former National Chairman) forced the illegal executive committees (from wards to state) on PDP members of the state,” Eferakeya wrote in his letter of resignation to the National Chairman of the PDP, Dr. Okwesileze Nwodo which was made known to the press last week.
“When you became the National Chairman, we, again, under Dr. E.K. Clark, on July 27, 2010, protested to you and the National Working Committee (NWC). Till date, no congresses have been conducted in Delta State PDP.”
Continuing, Eferakeya said:
“The illegality of the excos is substantiated by several letters from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to NWC, saying that INEC will not accept candidates emerging from primaries conducted by the illegal excos.
“Some states in the same situation have conducted congresses but the Delta State crisis is compounded by litigation upon litigation. The end to the crisis is not in view. For one to carry on with one’s ‘political life’ I have no other choice but to resign my membership from PDP.”
Omo-Agege in a similar letter of resignation dated November 1, 2010 said:
“I have come to the sad conclusion that the crisis of credibility and illegality that has bedeviled the Delta State chapter of the party since 2008, when an illegal exco was foisted on the members without due process of conducting ward, LGA and state congresses, in accordance with the party guidelines and constitution as evidenced by the INEC report, has robbed the once popular party of all the goodwill and support of members and voters alike.”
“It is clear that my political aspiration of adding value to the governance of my dear state, Delta, will never be realised in such a crisis_ridden and rancorous platform.
“It is, therefore, my conclusion that my ambition and aspiration will find better expression in an alternative political platform built on a solid foundation of internal democracy and equal opportunity.”
But Nwaoboshi was dismissive of the duo saying:
“First of all, Omo_Agege said he joined the party in 2002 and that tells you that he was not there when it was formed. We had won elections before he came and he has never voted for PDP in his life,” Nwaoboshi said.
On Senator Eferekaya who represents Delta Central Senatorial district in the Senate, he said:
”Senator Eferekaya just retired from Delta State University and he was just picked to go and run the election not because he was a popular candidate but because the people there were just not prepared to run the election. It was in the last minute he came, it was because of tax clearance problem of others and he cannot claim to be on the ground politically.”
“He was virtually forced on the people so for me, we don’t want to join issues with them, we now have time to test our strength on the field so that the whole world will know those who are noise makers in the newspapers,” he said noting that the defection of the two men would not afford the fortune of the party.
But whether forced on the party or not, Nwaoboshi’s claim is indicative of the lack of due process that characterised the selection of candidates for elective positions in the 2007 elections by the PDP.
Then, the PDP State machinery under the command of the erstwhile governor of the State, Chief James Onanefe Ibori was able to have its way in imposing its will on all elective positions in the State. Indeed, where it was obstructed in the PDP national secretariat like in the case of the Delta North Senatorial district where its favoured pick, Senator Patrick Osakwe was turned down in favour of Dr. (Mrs.) Marian Ali, the wife of the party’s then national chairman, the PDP machinery simply did the unimaginable when it returned Osakwe on the ticket of Accord Party, an unknown political party in the State.
Remarkably, Omo-Agege who is now reportedly aligned with the Clark group was a disciple of Ibori having served progressively as an Executive Assistant, Commissioner for Finance and lastly as Secretary to the State Government (SSG).
With Ibori now ensconced from political activity on account of his legal troubles at home and abroad in Dubai, Omo-Agege has now broken out from the home which Ibori painstakingly built in his eight years in office.
Omo-Agege and Eferekaya have now chosen the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) as the platform on which they hope to confront the formidable political machinery in support of Governor Uduaghan.
The decision presents political complexities for all combatants in the conflict. For the backers of Ovie-Agege, notably associates of Chief Clark it presents them with the difficulty of moving outside the PDP the main party under which they hope to realise their bigger dream of getting President Goodluck Jonathan elected as President in 2011.
Should the ACN come up with its presidential ticket they would be faced with the crucial decision of choosing between supporting Jonathan’s PDP or siding his political rival as chosen by the ACN in the presidential election.
The prospect of such it is suggested may have tempered the vehemence with which the mainstream Clark group has recently attacked Uduaghan’s 2011 re-election bid.
However, there are other Omo-Ageges in the PDP family who like Clark will not exit the party on account of the strategic interests they have at the federal level.
Two of them are Godsday Orubebe the 51 year old Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi. Orubebe was once an integral part of the PDP establishment led by Ibori before he parted ways with them. It was not surprising that the establishment in Delta fought against his nomination as Minister.
Gbagi on his part was preparing grounds for his fourth gubernatorial challenge against the Ibori establishment when he was four months ago nominated as a Minister.
There were indeed suggestions in some quarters that Gbagi’s nomination which apparently had the approval of Uduaghan was a strategic move by Asaba to deflect the missiles expected from Gbagi.
However, that has not happened. It is such an irony for Uduaghan that the two ministers from Delta State are aligned in opposition to his second term aspiration.
Indeed for the governor’s associates the exit of Omo-Agege despite the relief enthused by Nwaoboshi is a double edged sword.
It frees Omo-Agege to position and prepare himself as the most formidable challenge to Uduaghan’s re-election bid. With that is a long drawn battle that could tap the energy of Uduaghan till election day quite unlike his first election in 2007.
Unfortunately, the Commander of the 2007 campaign is not only helpless in aiding his disciple, overwhelmed by the legal challenges all around him, Ibori simply may be ignorant of the war in his own house.