By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South
FOR some months running, dissimilar tendencies in the All Progressives Congress, APC, Delta State, have been embroiled in a make or mar battle over which of the three senatorial districts, Delta North, South and Central will produce the party’s gubernatorial standard-bearer in the 2019 general elections.
It has indeed been a consuming battle with casualties, but Delta South appears not to be seriously in contention for the ticket, as the immediate past Governor of the state, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, who recently decamped from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is from the senatorial district.
Governorship Candidate in the 2015 election leader of the party in the state, Olorogun O’tega Emerhor, who is from the Central senatorial district seemed constructively disposed to the plan to pick APC’s 2019 gubernatorial candidate from the North senatorial district to give the incumbent governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa a good run, but the decision has put him on collision course with the powers- that- be in the district, including five-time governorship candidate, Chief Great Ogboru, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege and others.
In the last few weeks, it was thought that strategists of the party had, after a careful study, resolved the governorship in support of Delta North (Anioma), as given the political equilibrium in the state, it would be logical for North to carry on with its two-term tenure, which Okowa started in 2015 in 2019, not necessarily under a PDP government so that it will incontrovertibly be the turn of Delta Central in 2023
Since the commencement of the present political dispensation in 1998/1999, Chief Ogboru, aka, People’s General had contested the gubernatorial elections under the platforms of different parties against former governors, Chief James Ibori, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan and the incumbent, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa and lost in them all.
Because of the hurting defeats, many think that he would not be the appropriate candidate this time around for the APC, which he joined after the 2015 general elections, but has become a major power broker. Our findings also showed the governorship aspirants from the North senatorial district want to capitalize on Ogboru’s purported rejection in the past polls to further their ambition.
An unconfirmed report on the strength and weaknesses of APC governorship aspirants in the party commissioned by the leadership of the party also narrowed the 2019 choice to two leading aspirants from Delta North.
Ojougboh’s daring move
Apparently emboldened by the rising inclination to the North district, one of the foremost APC aspirants and former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, who is very noticeable in the campaign for Delta North candidate, last Sunday, enjoined the state leadership of the party to adopt him as the party’s gubernatorial flag bearer, insisting that he has all it takes to win general election in 2019.
Speaking after opening the secretariat of the Buhari/Ojougboh Support Group, which will also serve as his Governorship Campaign secretariat in Asaba and consultative visit to Olorogun O’Tega Emerhor, Ojougboh promised to mobilize voters in Delta State to cast their votes for President Muhammadu Buhari in next year’s presidential election.
He boasted that APC would deliver over two million votes for President Muhammadu Buhari in the presidential contest. Ojougboh said: “This main support group for Buhari in Delta State will also serve as my own campaign group. Our vision here in Delta is that we are going to give Buhari two million votes for his re-election.
“Also in line with Buhari’s commitment to free and fair election, here in Delta, we are equally committed to a peaceful and fair election come 2019,” he added.
He made a public vow before political leaders to do one term if elected Governor in 2019. The undertaking, which he had emphasized severally in the last few months was to re-assure that the people of Delta Central (Urhobo) that Delta North does not have the intention of appropriating power more than eight years (two terms in a row) in the unwritten power rotation formula in the state, whether under PDP or APC.
Ojougboh, who also launched his ‘one man, one vote’ campaign in Asaba embarked on road show with his crowd of supporters, later moved to the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to submit a position paper to the electoral body.
Governorship ticket not zoned – Emerhor
Olorogun Emerhor in his remarks, said effort was on to reconcile the two tendencies in Delta APC, adding that they are determined to win the election in the state for the party.
The party leader said the decision to use direct primary to pick their candidates would facilitate the working together of the two tendencies, pointing out that whoever they pick as their candidate “must be smart, accessible and must know Abuja”.
He said they were prepared to listen to all the aspirants before taking decision on who would be their candidate, saying the party has not zoned the governorship slot to any senatorial district.
While encouraging all the aspirants to work harder, he advised party faithful to register and obtain the APC membership card to enable them participate in the direct primaries.
Ogboru sends unambiguous signal However, Chief Ogboru, who was rumored to have read the handwriting on the wall, sprung from his lair, during the week, saying that he and others would liberate the state from PDP in 2019.
Chief Ogboru, hinted at Orerokpe, on Sunday, that he would consult with ward, local government executives, leaders and elders of the APC on Monday, on his gubernatorial ambition. He made the disclosure during a consultative visit by the senator representing Delta Central senatorial district, Ovie Omo-Agege to ward, council executives, leaders and elders of the party in the area ahead of his re-election bid.
Ogboru while addressing hundreds of APC supporters at the venue, said: “The time for liberation has come and the chief of that liberation is no other person than our president, President Muhammad Buhari, who is our chief liberator because he is coming here leading a pack of liberators amongst whom are our comrade chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole himself, our super senator himself Ovie Omo-Agege and my very good self, Chief Ovadje Ogboru who is one of the liberators now.
“With all of us joining hands with you, the liberation for Delta State indeed has started but today is the day for the senator. I would speak to you people on Monday as we have all come on behalf of him to seek your consent that he should go back again,” he asserted.
Ogboru is our choice – Senator Omo-Agege
Earlier in his address, Senator Omo-Agege appealed to the executives, elders and leaders to elect Ogboru as governor of the state come 2019, describing him as the only man who can win the state governorship election for APC.
He said: “We all know that the only one man who can win the Delta State governorship election for APC is Chief Great Ovadje Ogboru. I am not supporting him because he is an Urhobo man but because he is the only one that can win the governorship election for us.”
“Therefore, others and I have gone into the fight (APC crisis), won and lost and the stage is now clear by God’s Grace to return Chief Ogboru as our APC nominee for governor and by God’s Grace, the APC governorship candidate in 2019,” he added.
Ogboru’s jostle for APC governorship ticket in 2019 will surely ruffle feathers among members in Delta North, who suspect he is being goaded into the race by Senator Omo-Agege that allegedly wants to gun for the ticket in 2023 by which time Ogboru will be prevailed upon by leaders in the district to give chance to a younger Urhobo contender.