May 10, 2017

Family duel over Warri South constituency 1

PROCESS Shola Daibo is the Aunty.  Stanley Emiko is the nephew. Both of them are related to the Olu of Warri, paramount ruler of Iwere kingdom, by blood. Princess is the younger sister to the Olu while, Stanley is the son of Prince Yemi Emiko, younger brother to the Olu. The prize is the Delta State House of Assembly seat of the Warri south constituency 1, left vacant by the death of Mrs. Omamuli Udoh, former occupier of that seat.

There were other contestants in the race but the whole process has narrowed down to the candidates of the Accord party and the All Progressive Congress , APC. The Accord being the alternate to the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, that is to say, the faction that is opposed to Alhaji Modu Sheriff as the national chairman of the PDP. Worthy of note is that the PDP also presented a candidate for the election. It was a test run battle for the coming elections in 2019 and everyone involved wanted to make his presence felt.

The APC  tried to explore the division in the PDP to gain ground in the state but the governor Okowa faction of the PDP will not allow that to happen. The Warri south constituency 1 is not only important to the state, it is also very important to the federation as well, being an oil producing area, a very important one, with the presence of oil companies and other allied businesses. When the oil communities are at peace, the nation is at peace. Those who know will tell you that the cause of Nigeria’s recession is the instability of the Niger Delta region, not all of the theories that have been bandied about. The management of our common wealth has not changed. So, this election means a lot to all of the parties and they took it as such.

Three days to the election, the  Governor  Okowa relocated to Warri city to personally drive the focus of the campaign and all his commissioners were on ground to mobilise. The APC campaign was spear headed by popular Warri chief, Ayiri Emami, with a lot of former PDP stalwarts that have decamped to the APC behind him. For once, the whole apc factions in the state were united in support of a single candidate. I was surprised to see Chief Adolo Okotie- Eboh at the APC campaign rally. It was a charged atmosphere and there was no retreat, no surrender on both camps. The instruction from the Olu was that; no matter the outcome of the election, all of them must realise that they are brothers and sisters. That set the tempo  for the election.

It must be noted that if the PDP does not put its house in order, especially as it concerns the national chairmanship position, it might as well forget about the 2019 election because, by then there will be no PDP to contest the elections. It was the single most contributory factor for their losses in Edo and Ondo states respectively, because of the distractions it caused and the Delta State governor was very smart in avoiding that pitfall. That accounts for the support for the candidate of the Accord party. As it is for now, nobody knows why Modu Sheriff is bent on destroying the PDP with his obstinate behaviour. Whatever his reasons are, they must try and resolve issues fast, otherwise the PDP is dead as a party.

The APC tried to play the advantage card but Governor Okowa was smart in this regard. All the instruments of incumbency were brought to bear in the election and at the end of the day, the Princess, of Accord party, backed by the other faction of the PDP, won the election. Both sides did what they could to win the election but in this race, only one winner must emerge. The situation was succinctly put by my good friend, Barrister Ben-Mene Ejegi in his Facebook post thus: “Becos there can’t be two winners in one contest, whoever wins in today’s Warri south bye-election should just shut up and admit his/ her loss.

As both sides despatched their agents with cash loaded vehicles to all the communities (including mine) to buy the conscience of our youths (who have deliberately mortgaged their destiny like the biblical Esau), the better rigger ought to “win”. Next time do better to fill the stomachs of our dreamless youths, with enough to buy them drinks and be sure to win…..”.

I hear somebody is planning to go to court over the outcome of the election. Like Barrister Ejegi, I will advise the loser not to waste his precious time and money, rather, he should go back and reassess his performance. The better equipped and funded candidate won. We are still at the primordial level of real democracy and until we move out of that stage our election pattern will remain this way.

For me, the election was keenly contested, interesting and exciting but the low point is that it was centred around only one family. Are there no more credible candidates in Itsekiri land that can effectively fight their cause at the State Assembly without being tele guided  by pecuniary and narrow interests? Well, that is the question for my Itsekiri brothers. The world is moving at a very fast pace and true leaders are required to go with the pace. The ones we have now can sell their brothers for a piece of ‘shekel’ like the biblical Joseph brothers. If an ordinary bye election  in a State assembly can generate so much interests and wastes, we wonder what the guber and assembly elections of 2019 will look like. It was  indeed a bye election to remember

Mr. Sunny Ikhioya,
Twitter: @sunnyIkhioya