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2019: Power Rotation Matters  In Delta

By Prince Enahoro Edwin Erijoh

I recently read an article titled  ‘2019  and the Delta Progressives’ by Mr.  Godwin  Anaughe  which  generated  a lot of  reactions.

I  believe the article was right on power rotation in  Delta State.  Its conclusion  truly  reflects  the pulse of the voters in the  state, especially minorities, who collectively can swing the  gubernatorial  election to any direction.

It  is my view that rejecting power rotation will likely  consign  APC  to the opposition in  Delta  State  for a  long  time, while accepting  it  will  enable  the party to  build  a winning coalition that is capable of taking over the state  in 2019.

Right from when Delta State was created, the tribes have expressed deep concerns about the  equitable  rotation of power in the state.

It  remains  a very deeply emotional and compelling matter among all the people.  The passion that is tied  to power rotation is so  strong  that it is now even adopted in the local administration of some communities across the  state.

We have also seen  that  the cooperation or otherwise of minorities  is  now  a  very important  factor that  determines  the outcome of elections.  Every  objective and discerning mind  will agree  that  this was  the key determining factor in the 2015 election  when, after many attempts, a northerner, President Muhammadu Buhari, succeeded with the support of voters of the South West, at a time  when  power  rotation  favoured the North.  We  must recall  that  the  PDP, against  every  advice, went ahead and featured a candidate that was not in alignment with  power  rotation,  and even with all the resources at its disposal and the  power  of  incumbency, it lost.

In  Delta, the wide acceptance of  power  rotation  was  also  able  to trump  every  other factor in  the 2015 governorship election because minority tribes in  Delta  North and South  also  saw  power  rotation  as the  only  means by which they too would be  able  to  produce  the governor of the state. And they voted for Senator  Ifeanyi  Okowa  of  Anioma extraction.  This  is justified on the basis that both  Delta  Central and South had  taken  their turns to serve for eight years.

Therefore, it would be a grave mistake for  the APC  not to take  power  rotation  into  consideration on the flimsy excuse that  PDP  introduced  power  rotation  into  Delta politics.  The fact is that Delta  PDP  and the opposition were politically mature enough to recognize the  deep  emotional desire and  strong  agitations of the minorities for  power  rotation  but only  PDP  tapped  into  it correctly, knowing that to act otherwise will pose a grave threat to their hold on  power  in the State.

The victory of Governor  Okowa   in 2015 was an evidence of the impact of  power  rotation.  And since 2015,   there  has not been any significant change in the dynamics of Delta politics to  suggest that its  impact  on voter preferences  will be different in 2019.

The relentless pursuit of fairness and equity in the control of power by the minorities, as a  natural  response to the pre-existing fear of domination by the  largest  ethnic group, Urhobo, is still very alive and active.  Unfortunately, many who may not wish to face this reality still live in false hope that Delta Central can ride roughshod over the political interests of the other two zones.  They forget that in  any  3-horse race, a gang-up of  any  two can spell doom for the third.  Therefore,  any  insistence by Delta Central not to  put  into consideration the vivid interests of the other two zones will never produce a  positive  outcome.

From the above, we can  understand  why the sentiments for continuity of an Anioma governor remains very strong, if not  higher  than  it  was during the 2015 election.  For many Anioma  indigenes, especially the elderly who are much more committed to election matters, this may probably be a once in a lifetime opportunity and they will never throw it away under any guise.

The other minority ethnic groups are also watchful of any attempt to violate the existing order of power rotation because they are aware that it would delay or even deny them their own chance of producing a governor. As a strong realist, I am very convinced that anyone dreaming of disrupting this order of transfer of power will get a rude shock in 2019.

I am equally convinced that the idea of advancing popularity based on assumed backing of a single ethnic group will fail, more so when it is up against the challenge posed by the wider sympathy with power rotation. To my mind, power rotation, though unspoken of is even more popular and acceptable because it resonates quite well with all the minorities in Delta State.

APC must, therefore, take a dispassionate assessment of this reality as 2019 looms. The whole idea is that by reflecting deeply and factoring power rotation into its internal political calculations and strategy, delegates will be better informed to make the right decision so that the party can nominate a candidate with a much better chance of winning the 2019 governorship election in the primary election.

Personally, as an Isoko man, I firmly believe in and support power rotation. It gives me hope that one day an Isoko person will become governor of Delta State. I also believe that other minorities like us in Delta State would use their vote to keep this hope alive as men of credibility and competence are abounded in all three senatorial districts of the state. This is the reality.

So, let nobody kid you, power rotation matters greatly in Delta politics. And unless anybody that is against power rotation presents a more convincing and viable alternative, then the APC has no other option than to nominate its candidate from Delta North. To act differently is to compel APC to lose 2019 governorship elections because the majority of Deltans firmly believe in and will root for power rotation any day.

  • Erijoh is an Asaba based public Affairs commentator.


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