By Julius Oweh
It was the great American mind, Albert Einstein in moment of intellectual illumination that postulated that politics is much more difficult than physics. Politics is laced with human being intrigues of power seeking and how the various conflicting interests can be married for the betterment of society. Even in the advanced climes of democracy, the unpredictable nature of man continues to play up. In Nigeria, those who pledge to work with you today may turn their back on you should some monetary inducement be dangled before them. That is why politicians especially those seeking elective offices work round the clock and they give nothing to chance. Mounting the soap box is a top priority for you not only to sell yourself and message to your party but also the electorate that have the keys to unlock victory.
It is against this backdrop that the mega rally of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in Oleh, Isoko South local government area of Delta State can be situated. It was a gathering of who is who in the PDP family. But one thing marked out the rally as unique – the presence of two former governors of the state, Chief James Ibori and Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan. Their presence made rumour millers out of relevance and circulation. Before then, rumour merchants were having a field day that there was a frosty relationship between Uduaghan and Okowa. As for Ibori, he has not hidden his love for Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and has always used every opportunity to drum that message home.
In that Oleh PDP mega rally, Ibori did not allow that opportunity to pass and he passed a strong message to PDP members and indeed all Deltans on the imperative to support the second term bid of Okowa for equity, fairness coupled with the achievements of the governor. Hear the appeal of Ibori: ‘Governor Okowa has performed well and on behalf of my family, my ethnic nationality, my friends, I join the good people of Delta south senatorial district to say congratulations our governor. There is no doubt that the people of Delta South will lead you(Governor Okowa) back to Government House in 2019….We need all the votes for our governor, it is very clear we all vote for Governor Okowa and Deputy Governor Otuaro in 2019‘.
Speaking in a similar vein and dispelling the much touted frosty relationship between him and Okowa, Uduaghan maintained that he was sure of Okowa getting a second term and argued that PDP should not waste to organise governorship primaries. Uduaghan explained his position on the second term bid of Okowa :‘All the ethnic groups in Delta South said they want you (Governor Okowa) back in 2019. So, there will be no primary election for the governorship position, we are going to work very strongly for Governor Okowa‘.
The Isokos also pledged their loyalty to the election of the governor and that holding the mega rally in Oleh was indicative of the mindset of the people. Two prominent Isoko sons spoke on the electoral fortunes of the governor. They are Chief Solomon Ogba, former president of Athletics Federation of Nigeria and Comrade Ovuozourie Macaulay, former secretary to Delta state government. Ogba is of the high sentiments that ‘Isoko people will deliver massively for Governor Okowa in 2019‘.
On the part of Macaulay, he advised all Isokos to sink their differences and vote for Okowa in 2019. He pleaded thus: ‘We the Isokos are ready to give Okowa a second term. Anything away from that will disrupt the arrangement. I will like to see an Isoko governor in my lifetime. I will not contest governorship. Isokos cannot afford to be on the wrong side of political history. Let us unite to get it right. In the fast approaching 2019 election, we must beat the mark of 67,000 votes of 2015. Okowa has to win and win very convincingly. That should be our mission‘
Both the Ijaws and Itsekiris through their leaders also pledged to deliver Okowa for the second term. Alaowei Brodrick Bozimo, a former Minister of Police spoke for the Ijaws while Dr Roland Oristejafor, a former defence minister also spoke for the Ijaws. Bozimo who was the chairman of the mega rally noted that the Ijaws are famous for speaking with one voice and that the case of Okowa‘s second term shall not be different. He revealed Ijaws belief in Okowa: ‘The Ijaw nation speaks always with one voice. The Ijaw people are totally committed to the divine ticket of Governor Okowa and deputy governor Otuaro. You don‘t change a winning team but the bottom line is that we must all have our Permanent Voters‘ Card‘.
Oritsejafor put the Itsekiri stance this way: ‘Those of us from Itsekiri see our governor as a builder of peace, roads, the youths, infrastructure of all kind and we will vote for him again in 2019‘.
It would be recalled that before the mega rally at Oleh, traditional rulers of Delta North met at Owa and passed a vote of confidence on Okowa and the need for continuity. The meeting of the 63 traditional rulers was hosted by the Obi of Owa, Emmanuel Efeizomor II and the communiqué was read by the Ogene of Ibedeni, Jonathan Kanegede I. This is what part of the communiqué says :‘We are not surprised that your massive people oriented programmes are being recorded and appreciated by many through numerous awards and since you are not tired in seeking well-being and progress of the people, we unequivocally pass a vote of confidence in you and your administration. We, the royal fathers, the 63 traditional rulers representing the various groups in Delta North, on behalf of our chiefs and the entire people are happy with your SMART agenda, the massive road construction across the state, Youth Agricultural Entrepreneur Programme and the Skill Training Entrepreneurship Programme‘. The logic is that if the royal fathers in their revered wisdom endorsed Okowa for second term, the road to victory is already paved with success.
Chief Emmanuel Okumagba, speaking on behalf of Urhobos in Delta South argued for equity, Okowa should be allowed to complete his second term. Okumagba argued thus: ‘We are here to show solidarity with the works which Chief Ibori started, Dr Uduaghan continued and which Governor Okowa is consolidating. If Chief Ibori spent eight years in office with the slot of Delta central and Dr Uduaghan did eight years for Delta South, we believe Governor Okowa deserves another four years in office. Governor Okowa should complete eight years `.
At another occasion, the views of the Urhobos were echoed by the PDP chairman of Udu local government area, Prince Sam Ughujowhovwo. And this is how he put it :‘As I speak, there is no local government area in the state without the presence of the smart Governor. He has been able to carry all the senatorial districts along in his government. He is the only governor that has held yearly briefing with his people without recourse to the political party affiliation. This is geared towards knowing the needs of the people and getting feedback from them. Ifeanyi Okowa promised prosperity. Today prosperity is a reality. It is visible everywhere. Over four thousand youths have been empowered via STEP and YAGEP programmes and some more than five thousand widows are being empowered via government special programme. In terms of infrastructure in the areas of sports, education and roads construction, Governor Okowa has done well. Urhobos and indeed all Deltans should stand behind him for second term‘.
The governor while acknowledging the efforts of the various ethnic nationalities towards his second term bid and that of the PDP family advised other aspirants to play the politics of inclusiveness and oneness. Said Governor Okowa :‘ With 2019 elections coming up, various groups are beginning to cause trouble for us but we don‘t want to go into the next election in groups, the more united we are, the stronger we will be as a people… don‘t allow your support for aspirants influence your decision because you do not gain anything by working against the party… leaders must allow the people to choose their candidates, we should be mindful of how we go about our campaigns because primaries will come and go but we will remain brothers and sisters‘. The counsel of the governor could not be better put as the Peoples Democratic Party in the state map out strategies on how to retain control of Government House, Asaba. This is the message members must to take to every ward and village across the length and breadth of the state.