By Godwin Anaughe
Delta, a state with great potentials which has lost its way, is now ready for change. The All Progressives Congress, APC, is now presented with the greatest opportunity to add another state in the South South geo-political zone to its fold as the party is providing a strong and vibrant opposition to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party,PDP, government in the state. No other state in the region is more likely to swing to APC in 2019 than Delta State. But the party is yet to be focused towards capturing the state.
Having just successfully defended Edo State, despite PDP strong push for the state, it’s time APC goes on the offensive in the neighbouring Delta State. APC national leadership must now prioritise Delta as one of the states it can win in 2019.
With its huge resource in oil, gas, fertile land, hard working and talented people, Delta State should not be as backward as it is today. For 17 and half years, PDP missed every opportunity to develop the state.
The present administration has demonstrated that it is business as usual. Instead of working for the common good by addressing the issues that concern the people, Okowa is more concerned with perpetuating a political dynasty that has plunged the state into huge debt and has turned his back on the people.
It’s outrageous that a state which boasts of proven citizens who can fix the broken system such as Chief Great Ogboru, Olorogun O’tega Emerhor, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, Chief Peter Okocha, who have all contested for the governorship on the opposition platforms in the past, Festus Keyamu and Pat Utomi, a professor of political economy, management expert and founding member of APC, continues to be mismanaged by self serving politicians who refused to change despite the persistent clamour for change.
Today, majority of Deltans have long concluded that things will surely get worse, unless by acting collectively they will take their state back from the iron grip of PDP.
In the 2015 general elections the scale of rigging was unprecedented and performance of the opposition was as such a consequence disastrous. It was nothing compared to its showing in 2010 re-run election and 2011 general election. But if there is such a thing as a useful election defeat, then the 2015 loss would qualify. It showed unequivocally that a divided opposition couldn’t compete with the Ibori political machine and hope to win.
To win, the opposition in Delta must be united and determined to rescue their state in 2019, the opposition members have turned to APC in droves to turn the table against PDP.
The Urhobo nation, the largest ethnic group in the state and hotbed of the opposition to the ruling PDP government has now embraced he APC as its party. The senator representing the Urhobo nation and Delta Central Senatorial District on the platform of Labour Party unequivocally supports President Muhammadu Buhari and hobnobs with APC senators in the Senate.
Chief Great Ogboru and its Labour Party followers have joined the APC. So too is Hon. Victor Ochei of Accord Party and his followers. Olorogun O’tega Emerhor, the 2015 governorship candidate who fought Ogboru in 2015 for UPU endorsement and Urhobo votes put aside his political differences with his rival and welcomed both Ogboru and his followers to APC.
This fusion of members of APC, LP and Accord party puts APC in a unique position to take over Delta in 2019. But projected takeover of Delta is being threatened by the escalating leadership crisis that pre dates the fusion.
In April last year, Justice Matthew Nduka Obi of a Delta State High Court sitting in Asaba, declared the congress held on April 26, 2014 illegal null and void; dissolved the Emerhor-backed, Prophet Jones Erue-led Executive of APC and ordered a fresh congress. The judgment followed a suit filed by Chief Adolor Okotie-Eboh, the former chairman of ACN, one of the legacy parties that formed the APC. That judgement was promptly appealed by Erue-led executive.
Some elders and leaders of the party led by Senator Francis Okpozo under the umbrella of Elders and Leaders Committee demanded that National Executive Committee of the party obeyed the court judgement.
And when it failed to take action the Elders and Leaders Committee took matters into their own hands and set up a caretaker committee to pilot the affairs of the party until a substantive executive is put in place by the national leaders of the party. And for daring to act, the group leaders including Senator Francis Okpozo, Dr. Veronica Ogbuagu, Engr. Hyacinth Enuha, and Dr. Alex Ideh are being threatened with disciplinary action including suspension.
Also among the new entrants into the party, there is a growing sense of disquiet which can possibly undo the progress made so far in growing the party.
While all parties have legitimate concerns and disagreements, there is one area they all agree, and that is PDP must be defeated in 2019. And that requires a united front. Certainly, the principal responsibility for bringing these infighting and disagreements to an end rests squarely with the national leadership of the party, which must now take urgent steps to end the acrimony and unify the party behind a credible leadership to take on PDP. This is one task that requires skill and political gamesmanship, and it’s a task that must be fulfilled without losing anybody or group.
Godwin Anaughe , a public affairs analyst, is resident in Lagos