THIS is 19 years of democracy in Nigeria and Delta State. While a state like Lagos with no crude oil (well, oil has just been discovered) is thriving well, Delta, a very rich oil-producing state has refused to make any form of visible progress.
In fact, the state is retrogressing because, in the last two years, the issue of non-payment of workers and pensioners salary and pension has been a national embarrassment.
Since 1999 when James Ibori mounted the saddle for eight years and was jailed over his financial dealings through to Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan’s two-term of eight years also and now of Dr Ifeanyi Okowa’s almost three years, one can safely say the old brigade has failed the state and people.
However, there are two choices still left for the people to make; choose between the failed old brigades or try out the new brigade of young technocrats. The last local government council elections held on January 6, 2018, was a signal the people are fed up with the old order and they demand a change.
Local council polls across the country are usually a selection process done by the party in power in the state, so it is more or less a formality, and everybody seems to see it as that. But that was not the case with Delta’s as the people displayed their disdain for the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP’s) retrogressive style of governance by ensuring electoral manipulations did not take place. Met with stiff resistance by suspected thugs loyal to the state government, the exercise took a violent turn, and a couple of lives were lost with some secretariats of the Delta State Independent Electoral Commission (DSIEC) in some LG headquarters torched. It was all over the news.
The state electoral commission went ahead to declare ‘winners’ but the signal is clear that in 2019, with the national electoral body, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, conducting the elections with the approved Card Reader, it will be an uphill task for the PDP to attempt to subvert the will of Deltans.
But then, if we are talking about the youths taking over governance, who are these youths? At the moment, a group named Coalition of Professionals for Good Governance in Delta (Youth for Governor 2019) has taken it upon itself to screen some professionals and from the lot, make a choice of whom can wrest power from the old warhorses come 2019. They have kept their activities shrouded from public glare till the right time to release their choice.
From the little one could get from the watertight Coalition Of Professionals For Good Governance In Delta (Youth for Governor 2019) activities, former Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly and a gubernatorial candidate of Accord Party in 2015, Rt Hon Victor Ochei (Delta North), Comrade Sunny Ofehe (Delta South) and Mr. Sheyi Money (Delta Central) are among the three young people being properly screened by the coalition at the moment.
If one argues that Ochei belongs to the old order, he might not be far from the truth as he has been in government in the state for a long time under the PDP even climbing to the highest position in the state assembly. But Ochei is a youth, and he understands, to some degree the politics of Delta State.
Sheyi Money is the quiet one among the three people on the leaked list of young people who can take over power from the old brigade.
Mr. Money has a broad grasp of the dynamics of international business and a deep understanding of different business activities with a special focus on Sub-Saharan Africa. As head of several business development teams over the years, the young man has gained exposure and partnerships that he can use to industrialize and create employment in the state.
Comrade Ofehe, an environmental activist, based in The Netherlands appears determined as he has started consultations with party leaders of the APC. He will however have Great Ogboru to contend with at the party primaries later this year anyway.
From what was gathered, the Coalition Of Professionals For Good Governance In Delta (Youth for Governor 2019) will officially release the full list of suitable youthful aspirants and make a pronouncement soon, but what they have agreed upon is the fact that Delta must have a youth, who is a technocrat as Governor as the old horses have failed the state.
*Akpovi-Esade is a journalist and columnist.