WITH roughly six months to the All Progressives Congress, APC, governorship primary in Delta State, hustling for the party’s governorship ticket is increasingly being redefined along sectional lines in a way that could put the opposition party out of depth in its challenge to the dominance of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP.
By Perez Brisibe
The shape of the re-alignment of forces in the APC came after leaders of the party from Delta South Senatorial district pledged support to Delta North to produce the party’s candidate for the 2019 governorship election.
The decision follows successive emergence of governors from Delta Central, (James Ibori 1999-2007) and Delta South (Emmanuel Uduaghan, 2007-2015) all on the platform of the PDP.
The incumbent, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa who was also elected on the PDP platform, is expected to complete his first term in 2019. The purpose of the alliance is to stop him from a second term which the APC chieftains hope to grab using any of the major aspirants from Delta North.
APC leaders from Delta North at an emergency meeting hosted by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu last month at his country home, had reiterated their position on the need for the party’s candidate to emerge from their district.
In a resolution reached at the end of the meeting, the Delta North APC leaders while encouraging eligible indigenes of the district to run for the number one seat in the state, said: “From the inception of the third republic, the Delta Central and Delta South Senatorial districts have successfully completed two gubernatorial terms each and as a result, the right of the Delta North Senatorial district to complete its second term under the banner of the APC is only equitable.
“All eligible gubernatorial aspirants from the Delta North Senatorial district are hereby encouraged to make their interest known to the zone at the earliest possible time.”
Delta South romance with North
Responding to the claim by Delta North, the Delta South APC Senatorial District in a communiqué signed by its chairman, Yemi Omaghomi, secretary, Chief Augustine Seibi and three others, described the demand by Delta North as “fair, just and equitable,” stating that it guarantees all ethnic groups, particularly the minority ethnic groups, in the state fair access to the governorship seat of the state.
Giving their condition for the support, they said: “The Delta South APC therefore unequivocally supports the quest of Delta North APC to produce the governorship candidate of our great party in the 2019 gubernatorial election in Delta State provided, however, that such candidate must commit to serving one term of four years.”
A number of the aspirants from the region, Vanguard learnt, have disposed themselves towards that condition.
However, some party chieftains are doubtful of the willingness of anyone agreeing to serve a single term after the person would have become governor.
It is in that light that some APC stalwarts especially from Delta Central are now spoiling for a showdown to the intent that they would not mind Okowa going for a second term so that the anticipated power shift to Delta Central could be realised in 2023.
However, it is believed that the convergence of views between Delta North and Delta South could be a gang up against Chief Great Ogboru who has repeatedly contested all governorship elections in the state since 2003.
Delta APC has not zoned its governorship ticket – Chairman
The chairman of the party in the state, Prophet Jones Erue has, however, ruled out zoning saying that the party’s ticket is available to aspirants from all senatorial districts.
“Delta State APC has no intention and has not zoned its governorship ticket to Delta North Senatorial district,” he said in a statement.
Though Ogboru is yet to declare his intention to run again in 2019, he has described proponents of a Delta North candidacy as giving a “justification to oligarchy” in the state.
He said: “Those bringing a sectional agenda are trying to give justification to an oligarchy. They are trying to justify why only a few of them can rule. I think it is best to select the best from the pool of those offering to serve. What Delta needs now is not a divisive agenda but a collective agenda to remedy the state from her current sorry position.
“I have always told the Urhobo around me that I stand for a better, improved and Greater Delta. So it is obvious there is no tribal or Delta Central Agenda. It is Delta State that needs to be emancipated from this visionless leadership.”
Aside Ogboru, Chief Okotie Osiobe, an indigene of Delta Central senatorial district, has declared his intention to run for the governorship ticket of the party.
Aspirants from Delta North as at today include; Prof. Pat Utomi, Rt. Hon. Victor Ochie, Dr. Cario Ojougboh and Charles Nwadiani.
With Delta South pitching its tent with their Delta North counterparts, the governorship ambition of Ogboru could be in jeopardy based on the permutations of the delegate system which is weighed against his Delta Central.
Statistically, Delta State with 270 wards has 25 local government areas; nine of which are located in Delta North while Delta Central and Delta South each have eight local government areas.
Of the 270 wards, Delta North alone has 99; Delta Central has 85 while Delta South has 86. Each of these wards has 20-man executive and five elected delegates each.
Based on this breakdown viz-a-viz the political romance between Delta North and Delta South, any aspirant from Delta Central would have a herculean task as both districts would produce at least two-third of the total delegates in the primary scheduled to hold on September 22nd, 2018 thereby placing aspirants from Delta Central at a disadvantage.