THE 2015 elections may still be more than a year away, but in Delta State, some of the gubernatorial hopefuls are already at one another’s throats in what is fast deteriorating into a rat race to Government House. My projection is that the desperation with which various hopefuls for the governorship are trying to actualize their ambitions may end up framing the elections in crisis, bad blood and most unfortunately, in ethnic hatred.
I am, however, more interested here in interrogating what is now a clear attempt, on the part of some of his competitors, at ganging up against Victor Ochei, incumbent Speaker, Delta State House of Assembly.
Instructively, while Ochei has already emerged as the frontrunner on account of his stunning achievements as Speaker, the storm of unfair attacks from a multiplicity of directions over a race he has not even officially declared for, can only serve to make Deltans more sympathetic to his person.
The latest of such attacks is a laughable attempt to dress him in the toga of a neophyte and an inordinately ambitious youngster.
In the first place, Ochei is a middle-aged man. He is in his forties and by no means a youngster. Indeed, it cannot possibly be said that the best performing Speaker in the history of Delta State, its number three citizen and head of the first arm of government, is by any means unqualified to become the state’s governor.
More disgusting is the infantile preoccupation with interpreting Ochei as an outsider on account of his Delta North origin. The people of Delta North are bona fide Deltans, equal stakeholders in the state, and our brothers and sisters by the grace of Almighty God.
They are just as entitled as anyone from Delta Central and Delta South to aspire to the governorship of our dear state. Anyone holding a contrary opinion may justifiably be written off as an apostle of ethnic hatred. Interestingly, the stakeholders currently pressing Ochei to run, have admirably been engaged in building a broad based coalition across the state by unveiling his enviable credentials as a detribalised Deltan and a unifying factor with much to offer rather than a gubernatorial hopeful merely banking on power shift. Ochei does not need to run on the excuse of power shift.
He has performed to the delight and admiration of all Deltans and it is his performance that has catapulted him to the status of the frontrunner for the governorship of the state. Unfortunately for those who have ganged up against Ochei, they frittered away all the years they have been in positions of authority, leaving nothing behind for which Deltans would be proud to remember them by.
Ochei, amongst other achievements, has delivered what is now the best House of Assembly chambers in Nigeria, with public affairs commentators setting his accomplishments as the minimum standard for someone aspiring to the governorship of Delta. It is certainly not his fault that his rabble-rousing rivals have little or nothing to show for their stewardship in governance.
Had they been more forthright persons, they would have been minded to recommend themselves to Deltans on the basis of genuine achievements to the benefit of the citizens of the state. Having failed to make any positive impact in government, they are now prepared to resort even to the most dastardly expedients as a shortcut to power.
Ironically, the unfair concentration on Ochei will only induce the good people of Delta to be even more favourably disposed to his emergence as their governor.
In light of the already crystallized understanding that it is only fair that the governorship of Delta be zoned this time around to Delta North, it is expected that the indigenes of the zone would make hay while the sun shines by pruning down the unwieldy number of aspirants from their zone while distancing themselves from desperadoes who seem quite prepared to do anything for power.
They will ultimately be better served by rallying around a credible candidate they can present with confidence to the rest of the state. As for the more fractious aspirants amongst them, their unhelpful behaviour can only lead to increased disunity which aspirants from other zones are already warming up to capitalize on for the purpose of denying them the governorship in 2015.
It would appear that some of our politicians, having become arrogant and ignorant upon the intoxication of power and the euphoria of high office now see their becoming the Governor of Delta as a do-or-die affair. Unfortunately for them, Deltans will choose their Governor from the ranks of performing leaders with verifiable achievements they can actually see as a testament to sterling stewardship in government.
Needless to say, the last sort of politicians they will allow into Government House, come 2015, are those whose only claim to distinction is that they have been this or that in the politics of Delta. As for Victor Akpomedaye Ochei, I make bold to say that he came, he saw and he delivered.
Mr JESUTEGA ONOKPASA, lawyer, wrote from Warri, Delta State