By Ejiro Ofoye
In the wake of the demise of Mrs. Beatrice Omawumi Udoh, member representing Warri South Constituency I in Delta State House of Assembly, DTHA, the political landscape of the constituency has suddenly opened up a mosaic of possibilities as to her likely successor in the House with Godwin Abigor of the SDP (or is it now the APC), and Michael Tidi of the PDP as front contenders.
Aspirants of lesser political strength include Mofe Edema, the current Local Government Chairman of Warri South, who has been severely criticized for eyeing the post of one of his deceased constituents, and Shola Daibo, who has been written off as an unserious contender given that she resides in America and is accordingly tagged as the “Diaspora candidate”.
On Abigor, it has been pointed out that it would be most unfair for him to take over Udoh’s post now that she is dead. Abigor and his associates are accused of harassing the deceased to the point she passed away and many feel that giving Abigor her post now would amount to rewarding his camp for making life difficult for her.
In any case, pundits have speculated that those touting the names of Edema and Daibo and projecting them as flag bearers for the PDP are actually trying to play a fast one on the Governor Ifeanyi Okowa- led PDP administration in the state, confident that they lack the popularity to win election in the constituency.
But the problem with Abigor running under APC is the fact that he is seen as a former governor’s right-hand man and that the governor is insisting on his winning the race if only to prove that he remains a force to be reckoned with in the politics of Delta. More crucial from a political standpoint is the fact that should Abigor win, especially against someone like Tidi, he would have ended up defeating a candidate of Okowa with whom the former governor is perceived to be having ongoing disagreements.
Compounding issues for Abigor is the fact that many stakeholders in Delta APC are not in support of his aspiration. Many of them view his attempt to join their party at this late hour as opportunistic.
In the case of Tidi, he happens to be an aide to Okowa and actually has an office right within Government House Asaba, a situation which has given rise to the speculation that he would naturally be the governor’s choice especially against the background of the fact that he remains an unapologetic defender of the Okowa administration, a tendency that has made him quite unattractive to Abigor’s associates who are rumoured to have serious differences with the governor.
Nevertheless, Tidi’s support base is strong with his street credibility and popular appeal way and above those of his fellow contenders. His supporters continue to insist that rather than those who hounded Udoh till her death inheriting her post, someone from her political camp should be the one to serve out the remainder of what would have been her term had she lived.
The problem with their position is that despite Tidi’s closeness to Okowa, the governor has not indicated in any way that Tidi is his preferred candidate, more so when leaders like Otumara whom Okowa cannot do without in Warri are not rooting for his aide.
That notwithstanding, clearly, this is a race between Abigor and Tidi. To the long suffering people of Warri, who are the electorate and the most important factor in a genuine democratic setting, I can only say, ensure your voices are heard in Warri South and that it is the candidate of your choice that replaces Udoh.
Ejiro Ernest Ofoye is a public affairs analyst.