By Charles Kumolu, Deputy Features Editor
Immediate past Chairman of Delta State House of Assembly Service Commission, Chief Princewill Ejogharado, in this interview, explains why the grievances created by the emergence of Chief Great Ogboru as the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the state must be addressed urgently.
Do you think the crisis in Delta State chapter of the APC would not affect the party’s chances in the governorship election?
We are already in a mess in Delta APC. Even if help comes now it might be too late because the PDP in the state has exploited the crisis to the point that we have lost many members to them. The situation has led to the defection of many APC foot soldiers to the APC. It is a source of concern to people like us. Everything is very bad for the APC in Delta State.
But efforts had been made to resolve the crisis, especially the meeting convened by the Vice President where all stakeholders attended. Does it mean that the outcome is not yielding good results?
The moves that were made came too late. Instead of making peace, the moves aggravated the crisis. At the moment, everyone is looking up to the court to give us the justice that the party has denied us through the leadership of Oshiomhole.
If Oshiomhole had not come to destroy the party, the crisis would not have been this bad. There was a crisis before he came but Oshiomhole came and worsened the situation. The truth is that the PDP is crawling back to victory in the state. Our only consolation is that Buhari will win but even if we get the expected justice from the court, it will be difficult for the APC to win the governorship election in the state.
Delta is a very peculiar state, therefore, the injustice must be corrected. The injustice being introduced with the choice of Ogboru, who comes from Delta Central Senatorial District, is going to affect the fortunes of the party in the state. Whatever they assume in Abuja is not what is on the ground in the state.
It was the thinking of everybody that the APC will give the ticket to someone from Delta North because the South and Central had produced Ibori and Uduaghan. Also, Okowa ’s government was like a boost for the prospects of the opposition in the state.
It presented an opportunity for the opposition to defeat him but Oshiomhole bungled the opportunity when things were already working in our favour. Being the immediate past chairman of the House of Assembly Service Commission and the chairman of the forum of past local government party chairmen in the state, I am speaking from the position of knowledge because I have been deeply involved in electioneering process in the state. I was the chairman of Ethiope West Local Government Area where James Ibori comes from. It was during my tenure that Ibori won the governorship election in the state.
I founded the political association on whose platform Ibori actualised his governorship ambition. We had actually prayed that the APC would give us a candidate whose popularity is visible across all the groups in the state. Someone like Chief Victor Ochei who is popular across the state would have emerged as the APC candidate. Ochei’s political strength cuts across the political divides.
His candidature would have divided the PDP because there are many PDP people, who are not happy with the current administration in the state. These people were waiting in the wings for us to get it right but Oshiomhole messed everything up. From what has happened, I am suspecting that there is a deal between Oshiomhole and the PDP in the state because Delta is a very critical state in Nigeria. With the way things are going, we longer have chances because of what Oshiomhole has done.
You said you are looking up to the court, which of the cases are you hopeful about because there many cases in court?
I belong to the Cyril Ogodo-led camp because that was the executive that was inaugurated by John Oyegun when he was the national chairman. Oshiomhole brought vendetta to bear in the leadership of the party in the state. He didn’t just do it Delta but across the country.
The issue in Delta was a peculiar one. When he wanted to become the chairman of the party, he convened a meeting for South-South party leaders at the Government House, Benin. Prophet Jones Erhrue attended the meeting without carrying his deputy, Ogodo, along. Ogodo told him that it was wrong not to have carried other executive members along. Jones went there and adopted Oshiomhole without the consent of other members in the state.
Rebuttal by Ogodo
Ogodo told him that what he did in Benin was for himself, stating that Delta State APC had not adopted Oshoomhole. I want to be challenged that it was not for this reason that Oshiomhole did what he did in Delta State chapter of APC. That rebuttal that Ogodo did in the newspapers is what we are suffering in the state because the rebuttal almost affected Oshiomhole’s chances. That was why he did everything to undermine the Ogodo executive council in the state. Oshiomhole is supposed to be the father of the party, not a destabilizer.
Without prejudice to the cases in court, we want the injustice done to us in Delta State by Oshiomhole to be addressed. Without justice, APC has no place in the state and if anyone thinks Delta is a place where federal might would be deployed to rig in favour of anybody, the person is wrong. Delta State is a peculiar state. We had chances to defeat Okowa but he is lucky to have escaped it given what Oshiomhole did. There is no party leader and member who is talking about how the party will win the election, because of the crises.
In the light of all you have said, do you think there is a way the party can stop what seems like an imminent defeat?
It is too late because Delta State has its peculiarities. If we go the way we are going now, the candidacy of Ogboru will provoke conspiracy between Delta South Senatorial District and Delta North Senatorial District against Ogboru, who is from the Central Senatorial District. People like me in APC will not vote for him. I can’t waste my vote by voting for Ogboru. If we had someone like Victor Ochei as a candidate even if it is a month to the election, there will be a revival for the APC. His candidacy would have thrown the PDP into a panic mood. I had thought the presidency would resolve the crisis in the state.
I think the judges in their wisdom will address the injustice because the primary election in the state was fraudulent. The making of Ogboru as a candidate was not democratic. We are patiently waiting for the court to make our pronouncement before making our decision. Every reconciliatory effort had been deceptive. Even the one by the Vice President was belated.
Some of us are standing for equity and our stand is that Delta North will produce the governor for eight years. Only a judicial pronouncement will save APC in the state because Okowa is poised to have a smooth ride to the Government House. Oshiomhole should be held responsible for anything that happens to APC in Delta State. Without ensuring that someone from Delta North is made the APC candidate in the state, the party is doomed.