By Godwin Anaughe
Next week, many Nigerians will participate in yet another critical election. And for the electorates in Delta Central Senatorial District, the stakes could not be higher as they have to make a massive decision on who to send to the 9th senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Electing a wrong person could have dire consequences for the Urhobo nation that is eager to restore its standing in the affairs of state and country.
Over the years since the return of democracy in 1999, the Urhobo nation, the fifth largest ethnic group in Nigeria which overwhelmingly populates Delta Central have been losing its standing in national affairs. So as the Urhobos go to the polls on the 16th of February 2019, they will be electing not just a representative to the upper chamber of the National Assembly but a senator who will champion Urhobo cause at the national level and take Urhobo forward.
Senator Ovie Omo-Agege is hoping to retain his seat on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC to continue the good work he is already doing to promote and protect Urhobo interest. Challenging him for the right to represent Delta Central Senatorial District in the red chamber are sixteen other candidates. But the contest will be mainly between Omo-Agege and Hon. Evelyn Oboro, a two-term member of the House of Representatives who is seeking a promotion to the upper chamber on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP.
Omo- Agege won the APC ticket in a landslide, defeating the 2015 APC gubernatorial candidate, Olorogun O’tega Emerhor who made a late challenge for the APC ticket. On the other hand, Oboro defeated Chief Ighoyota Amori, whom many believe would have posed a greater challenge to Omo-Agee’s ambition to return to the Senate.
As we all know when considering an employee for promotion you must make sure that this person is qualified, can take on bigger tasks and is a proper fit.
Hon. Oboro is constitutionally qualified to aspire to be a senator. She is a Nigerian and she is above the age of 35 and had completed at least secondary school education. We also know that she is sponsored by a political party, has a sound mind and no prior criminal conviction nor adjudged to be bankrupt.
But does she have the skills and knowledge to effectively represent the Urhobo nation in a chamber dominated by ex-governors, retired military generals, academia and others who have excelled in other professions before joining politics? What is more, is she the right person to represent Urhobo?
In contrast to the outsized personalities that have been Urhobo senators – David Dafinone, Fred Brume, Felix Ibru, (Prof) Adego Eferakeya, Puis Akporokena Ewherido, it is clear that Miss Oboro does not belong to that exclusive club of Urhobos.
And the sad reality is that she wouldn’t do a better job than Omo-Agege, the incumbent senator, primarily because she is a political hack whose intentions are believed to be more aligned with political opportunism than personal conviction, ethics or morals and whose political career so far has been shaped by PDP corrupt political machines. Her history of political opportunism has shown that she is truly a machine politician and a hired gun.
After two terms in the Federal House of Representatives, Oboro is little known beyond Delta, her home state. And as a ranking member of the House of Representative, the only committee she could secure its leadership is the little-known Women in Parliament Committee. Urhobo deserves better. This should be on the radar of Urhobo electorates who are concerned about where the Urhobo is headed right now.
Take the long view, and Omo-Agege remains the best voice for Urhobo. The Urhobos need someone who is smart, strategic, courageous and has a proven record of performance. And in Omo-Agege, Urhobo has found one man who has all four qualities. Tested and proven, Omo-Agege is regarded as better suited to restore Urhobo Greatness.
And his story is very compelling.
In just three years in the Senate, everyone knows Omo-Agege because he built a national profile as an unshakable ally of President Muhammadu Buhari. He’s earned credibility by picking big fights long ago that wasn’t so popular at the time but have proven to be masterstrokes.
An outspoken supporter of Mr. President, Omo-Agege, 55, has cultivated the most anti-Saraki record in the Senate. He stood up against the Senate president, Dr. Bukola Saraki who turned the Senate against the APC federal government. and against all odds prevailed. He refused to cave into the arm-twisting tactics including promises of committee posts or other prime positions Saraki has perfected to control the Senate.
As a consequence, Urhobo political standing is more robust than what it was four years ago. Urhobo is right on course to greatness, thanks to Omo-Agege. And the Urhobo people are so grateful and proud of his achievements as a fresh senator.
The Urhobo people know that he is a competitor who will fight for what he believes in and not a political hack who has no principle, beliefs nor reputation. They also know that he takes a back seat to no one when it comes to “doing what’s right for the Urhobo nation. He will always stand up for whatever he wants.
In 2015 the Urhobo people made the right choice in Omo-Agege and right now, barring an almost unthinkable upset, Omo-Agege looks set to make history as the first Urhobo senator to win reelection as he is expected to easily defeat Oboro who has proved undeserving of promotion to the upper chamber of the national assembly to represent a senatorial district where PDP is very unpopular.
Make no mistake, Omo-Agege is beloved in Delta Central as a smart, courageous and personable lawmaker, whom they believe can take Urhobo out of political marginalization to greatness. He has captured the hearts of the Urhobo people and they recognize that if Urhobo must continue to make progress in its determination to regain lost glory, Omo-Agege should be supported to return back to the Senate to continue his good work on behalf of the Urhobo people and they are nearly unanimous in rallying to his side across party lines. Even in Uvwie Local Government Area, the local government of Oboro, Omo-Agege is well positioned to win.
Former 1st Deputy President-General of Urhobo Progress Union UPU and an indigene of Uvwie,
Chief Tuesday Onoge, praised Omo-Agege, saying he had “served our nation and Urhobo people well and honorably” and should be reelected.
The General Secretary of the Forum of Urhobo Kingdoms President Generals who is also the acting Chairman, Chief Kenneth Iwhewhe, described Sen. Omo-Agege as a dogged fighter and courageous child that is deserving of being sent on an errand to the Senate again.
“Go and deliver. Nobody knew that you are a dogged fighter, but with your antecedents in the past three years, you have shown that you are a man to be remembered.”, Iwhewhe said.
The Urhobo kings are also not left out in the overwhelming endorsement of Omo-Agege. Speaking when Omo-Agege presented his stewardship report to the Ivies, the Chairman of the council, His Royal Majesty, Ogoni Oghoro I, the Ohworode of Olomu kingdom, said “Omo-Agege has not only represented the interest of the Urhobo nation adequately but also that of the generality of Nigerians”, adding that they have no doubt that Omo-Agege will do more for the Urhobo nation if he is given the opportunity to go back for his second term and assured him of his second term bid at the national assembly.
However, history favors Oboro, as no senator has won reelection in Delta Central since Delta State was created. But against an incumbent, with unquestionable qualifications and grit, with impressive patriotic bona fides and a track record of fighting for what he believes in, rule of law which had earned him nationwide popularity, the chances of her actually prevailing are virtually nil, which is the conclusion, of course, that she has come to realize recently when she started to make false allegations about threat to her life and fear mongering.