By Ijeoma Uba
By an unwritten agreement, majority of Nigerians have consented to power rotation of elective offices, both in political and community affairs. This agreement is to engender equity, fairness, balance and geo-political spread. Political parties have began to adopt it as a strategy for winning power when it comes to elections at all levels.
The impact of power rotation in elections in Nigeria has become so dominant that it would be seen as “dumb politics” for any political party to attempt to disregard it. We may recall that President Goodluck Jonathan and the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, paid a heavy price and had learnt the hard way in 2015.
In Delta State, the People’s Democratic Party has also managed to hold on to political power largely because the opposition has failed to recognise this clamour by every minority group for equity and fairness in the distribution of executive power in the state.
From 1999 to 2007, Chief James Onanefe Ibori of Delta Central governed Delta State; while the period from 2007-2015 saw Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan of Delta South on the saddle. It was therefore naturally expected that 2015 -2023 should be the turn of Delta North.
Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa of Delta North won the 2015 election in a landslide, and is warming up for a second term in 2019. And while I concede that he could have done much better since the three years that he has been on the saddle, I totally see it as unfair, maltreatment and even inciting for the governance of the state to be taken away from the Delta North region before 2023.
If Dr. Okowa is not doing well enough, then he has to be replaced; because there are surely other eminently qualified Anioma sons and daughters who can replace him. And any argument for the governorship to be taken away from the Delta North district before 2023 will be seen as a big slap on the face of the entire Anioma. I can almost guarantee that every genuine son or daughter of Anioma shall and will guard against that.
It is therefore not only surprising but disheartening that the People’s General, Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru, would be angling to short-change a section of the same people that he seeks to lead.
While he is constitutionally qualified to aspire to govern Delta State, Chief Ogboru should rest till 2023 in the spirit of fair play and equity. Unless he is telling everyone that his quest to rule Delta State over these many years has eroded his filial duties to his own mother’s people. He must stop to ponder deeply why the same Delta North region that earnestly voted for him in 2011, from where he won four local government areas, would totally reject him in 2015.
Come to think of it, the Chief Ogboru who after contesting elections disappears from public glare cannot be said to be overambitious. Here’s a man who doesn’t contribute to any national or state discuss. A man who has never spoken of good nor condemned ills in the society, including a ravaging menace of herdsmen, when people are harassed, raped, maimed and killed periodically in his own domain.
If what I read is true, that he is actually preparing for 2019, then his handlers should advise him against such a wrong step because there is no path to victory. The political situation has changed since 2011, as evident in 2015. And now that he has joined the All Progressives Party, APC, he appears to be borrowing a leaf from PMB who contested many times before he won, thinking that he too can win this time. However, Chief Ogboru must know that all politics is local, and that he is not Buhari. Moreso, he has to know that Buhari won in 2015 because it was the turn of the North, and Jonathan was seen as more of an opportunist trying to usurp the Northern people’s chance trying to usurp the turn of Delta North.
For equity sake, I will strongly advise him to invest the goodwill of his followers in supporting a Delta North candidate this time around. The return on such investment would be very high. And if by 2023, he still wishes to run; his bargaining power could be very huge when it is the turn of Delta Central. But should he decide not to run, it will be written in history that he sacrificed to join the ultimate charge that freed the people of Delta State from political bondage.
Also, many Urhobos may be concerned that should another Anioma indigene win the governorship on the platform of the APC, will the new governor respect the standing gentlemanly agreement to serve for one term? This question has been raised by not a few people, especially Urhobo, who feel that they may be short-changed by any digression. It is a legitimate concern given the high level of distrust in Nigeria’s politics. However, what I believe and can foresee is that if by 2023 the Anioma governor chooses, contrary to the agreed rotation to re-contest, the politics of fair play which gave Anioma the governor will remove him/her from office as the other zones will definitely kick against it, and will support Delta Central. Such betrayal can never stand, and because in my view Delta State needs to be freed, such a concern isn’t enough reason to cut Delta North’s tenure to only one. That is not equity; and that will be unfair to Chief Ogboru’s mother’s people too. But more importantly it would doom APC’s efforts to takeover Delta State.
At 60 years, Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru should bother more about his legacy, the wellbeing of the Delta State he would wish to live to see, as well as strengthening the next generation; instead of pursuing personal gains which might be more egoistic than fulfilling.
The People’s General should stand out as a Field Marshal and kingmaker, especially in 2019 when the odds are not in his favour.