Francis Ewherido, is a member of the Otega Emerhor Campaign Organization. In this interview, he speaks on the chances of Emerhor and why he should be the next governor of Delta State. He also bares his mind on the Urhobo Progressive Union (UPU) and the Uvwiamughe Declaration.
By Fredrick Okopie
How are the campaigns going?
The campaigns are going on well. A lot of ground has been covered; there is still work to be done. Our people need to be engaged personally and at close quarters because there is a lot of misinformation.
Did the postponement of the elections affect your plans?
Definitely, but I personally see it as a double edged sword. It means additional expenses, but at the same time, it gives you additional time to cover more grounds, dot your “i’s” and cross your “t’s.”
Why should Deltans vote Emerhor governor?
Deltans should make Emerhor their next governor because he is the best of the pack. He is equally more diversified in terms of experience, traversing banking, insurance, shipping, real estate and mortgage among others. He is also a great manager of men and has the uncanny ability to bring the best out of people, polishing rough diamonds and making them superstars.
Assembling of great teams
I have seen him do this time and time again. He is also adept at assembling great teams and turning around sick institutions. Emerhor understands systems and processes and he will bring private sector efficiency into governance. He is just tailor-made for the position at this time.
What are his chances with the endorsement of Great Ogboru by the Urhobo Progressive Union?
The chances of Olorogun Otega Emerhor remain very bright. Honestly, I like to refrain from talking about other candidates and concentrate on my candidate, Emerhor. I also would rather not talk about the crisis in the UPU because I had my misgivings with the Uvwiamughe Declaration from the beginning because of its divisive nature and the UPU’s ability to faithfully implement it. But to answer your question, what will be, will be endorsement or no endorsement. It is God who gives power.
I am with Emerhor all the way to the end. With all due respect, The Chief Joe Omene-led UPU committed a fundamental error and in the process meted out great injustice to Emerhor. You do not lay a foundation and go ahead to put a different superstructure on it. You must first of all pull down or amend the foundation, if not, you create structural problems. The Uvwiamughe Declaration, the basis of which the purported endorsement of Chief Great Ogboru was made, stated that all Urhobo sons should contest on the platforms of major parties.
Labour Party, Ogboru’s platform, is anything but major. Apart from Delta State and maybe Ebonyi, I am not aware of any other place where it has any reasonable presence. The former highest political office holder, Governor Segun Mimiko, his federal and state legislators and the national chairman left Labour Party sometime ago.
Currently, the only two major parties in Nigeria are the APC, Emerhor’s party and the PDP. The Uvwiamughe Declaration states that any major party that gives its governorship ticket to an Urhobo is the party UPU will support from the presidential to house of assembly elections. Based on the Uvwiamughe Declaration, the Omene-led UPU should in fact have endorsed Emerhor which the Chief Tuesday Onoge-led UPU has done. But you can see that the Omene UPU has abandoned its own declaration with all the endorsements it has so far made.
If the Omene UPU felt the political equation has been altered by the emergence of Ogboru and Labour Party, the honourable thing to do would have been first of all shred the Uvwiamughe Declaration and then come up with a fresh declaration accommodating Labour Party. To build on that initial foundation and come with endorsement of Ogboru is defective and very unjust to Emerhor.
Going into a governorship race is a very weighty decision. You do not just wake up and tell somebody who has entered the race with conviction and a mission to drop his ambition and queue behind somebody else. That is insensitive and disrespectful. The UPU is like a father with many children. You need great wisdom and tact to manage your affairs and avoid unnecessary acrimony and bickering.
Abandoning the spirit of Uvwiamughe Declaration and behaving as if nothing happened is like a referee shifting the goalpost after the football match has started without consulting the teams. Look at the mess that has been created. The Omene UPU has portrayed itself as a body that cannot walk the talk and that is not good enough for the umbrella body of the fifth largest ethnic group in Nigeria.
Chief Omene said the UPU took the decision because it did not want Urhobo to go into the elections with a divided house. But the house is already divided. Some of Senator Okowa’s staunchest supporters are Urhobos.
Since after the declaration, how many Urhobos have left Emerhor’s and Okowa’s camps in compliance with the UPU order? Many factors determine political affiliation, so you cannot legislate on this matter. That is partly why I was never comfortable with the Uvwiamughe Declaration in the first place. Also, the level of political uncertainty is high; these endorsements are hasty and not well articulated. I just feel personal interest, rather than the Urhobo interest, informed these endorsements.
I also have issues with this whole idea of anointing candidates by UPU. It did it in 2006 and the candidate they endorsed was not even in the top five when the PDP governorship primary was held. The UPU is a socio-cultural umbrella body of the Urhobo Nation, representing Urhobos across political divides.
Even if they want an Urhobo son as governor, they should come up with more ingenious ways, so that the UPU does not get too sucked into party politics. The way things are going the UPU will suffer a lot of collateral damage and its stature diminished.
But having produced governor twice, don’t you think the Urhobos should allow the Aniomas produce the governor this time around?
Sorry, I do not believe in ethnic politics, especially when it comes to the top office. Let the best man win. My support for Emerhor has nothing to do with our common ethnicity.
I believe he is the best and most competent man for the job; that is why I support him.