By Julius Oweh
The Delta State chapter of All Progressives Congress still agonizing over its defeat in the governorship and House of Assembly elections, last Monday received what could be described as the last nail on its coffin. A federal high court sitting in Asaba nullified the participation of Chief Great Ogobru in the election. In a ruling delivered by Justice Toyin Adegoke, the court sacked the Jones Erue faction of the part that organized the primaries that produced Ogboru and instead recognized the faction led by Chief Cyril Ogodo. It would be recalled that the Ogodo faction of the APC produced Prof Pat Utomi as governorship candidate, Olorogun Otega Emerhor and Olorogun Ima Niboro as national assembly candidates. This ruling of the court apart from sending shock waves to the members of the party, it will be most unlikely that the party would survive this latest onslaught. In the result released by INEC, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of the PDP polled 925,274 votes, while Chief Great Ogboru of the APC came distant 215, 938 votes. Out of the 25 local government areas, PDP won 23 leaving two local government areas for the APC.
This defeat is coming despite the boast of the national chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole that the party would take over Delta state, using federal might. Oshiomhole reportedly said, “Together, we will sweep whatever is left out of Edo State and Delta. Comrades, we have secured Edo State, now we must advance to Delta. In the spirit of Bendel, which was governed by the late Samuel Ogbemudia, we must carry more brooms to Asaba and sweep all the way to Warri and install an APC governor in Asaba, so that the resources of Asaba can be used for the benefit of Deltans.”
But the PDP in Delta State was not perturbed and they worked round the clock to ensure victory for the party. Responding to the threat and boast of APC national chairman, the director general of the Delta state PDP campaign organization, a former commissioner and a former legislator, Chief Solomon Funkekeme maintained that PDP was solidly on the ground in Delta state, adding that APC would meet its Waterloo in the elections. The man was very prophetic.
This is what Funkekeme said before the historic elections. ‘We can’t lose sleep for Oshiomhole. Has he finished with Okorocha, Amosun, Amaechi and others? He has more than enough to contend with in his party. Delta State and Edo State have borders and we are peaceful neighbours. Oshiomhole has more than enough to contend with on his table. We are not losing sleep for him.
For the governorship, it is to tell the people that we are satisfied that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has been a good ambassador of our party, having performed well. He has governed well by ensuring that peace and security prevailed in the state. His engagements have brought improved security and peace. He has constructed about 400 roads, about 300 drainage systems, the perennial flood is being attacked through the storm water project; completed high flying projects like the Asaba Township stadium.‘
The problem of APC that brings the image of a jinxed party is that there are too many leaders competing for the political space and that some of the leaders especially Olorugun Otega Emerhor warned Ogboru that he was running against a moving train, adding that it was impossible for one tribe not minding its size to win the governorship polls alone. This was the position of Emerhor before the governorship polls: ‘Ogboru has been playing politics and has been failing for the past four or five times, only Urhobo cannot produce a governor. We need the three senatorial districts to win. Turner Ogboru went on live television to say I was supporting an Anioma agenda, how does that make Anioma people feel. Doesn‘t he need Anioma people to win. Ogboru cannot continue to spoil the chances of APC winning the governorship by making it Urhobo party, and we need the Anioma, Ijaw, Isoko, Urhobo and Itsekiri. Unless we do not want to win which Ogboru doesn‘t want to do‘.
This was proved right and that explained the landslide victory of the PDP. Furthermore, APC as a political party is not really on the ground compared to the PDP that has structures at the unit, ward and local government levels. With the elections over, the party secretariat of the APC shall go on limbo only for them to come to life few months to another general election.
The division of the party and its near extinction was further proved when some members of the party advised Ogboru not to go to court, adding that Senator Okowa defeated Ogboru square and even. The Coalition of Delta All Progressive Congress, an APC support group made this assertion recently. The convener of the coalition, Daniel Ekiugbo said that instead of the party to go court , it should set up an inquiry as to what led to the unprecedented defeat of the party. Said Ekiugbo: ‘INEC’s declaration was a true reflection of the wishes of the people of the state and I want appeal to APC leadership not to support Ogboru in his decision to go to court. It is obvious that challenging the outcome will be a wild goose chase. The margin is too wide for any sane person to think of challenging it. Ogboru had been challenging electoral victories in the past on allegations of being rigged out. So this time around, the national leadership of APC now provided the level playing field so that he will not be rigged out, but he was overwhelmed, winning in just two out of 25 local government areas. We reiterate our demand that the National Working Committee, NWC of our great party to set up a panel of enquiry to immediately review the outcome of the Delta APC overall performance in the just concluded elections‘.
Despite the advice of his party members and against the grains of political reality as the unpopularity of APC and its non-acceptability by the people, Chief Great Ogboru maintained that he was going to court to take the necessary steps to defend the franchise and mandate of the people. Ogboru alleged thus : ‘Okowa did not present himself to the people of Delta State to be reelected, he is imposing himself on them and they will reject him by the grace of God. This is the worst election we have witnessed in Delta State in the past twenty years, the reign of terror, the number of people who died, and of course the accreditation records from INEC testifies that the PPD was unduly influencing and interfering with the process of the election which is to say that the election was neither credible, neither was it free or fair. As a matter of fact, I and most Deltans believed that those elections, if and when properly conducted, APC should have won, and we believed that up until some few hours to the conclusion of the polls that we were winning, unfortunately, just after midday, thugs, uninformed persons working in cohorts with the PDP in Delta State, started to rain terror on our agents and defenceless voters‘.
Only few people and perhaps from outer space may believe the sentiments of Ogboru because the election was conducted by the federal government led by the APC. It was a question of the people power and rejection of the APC at work.
Perhaps the speech of Okowa at the thanksgiving service explained why the APC lost. His words: ‘But I want to publicly appreciate INEC and the security agents for being very fair and firm, and for standing for free and fair elections in the state. At the final announcement of the governorship election results, we won convincingly in 23 out of 25 local government areas, but lost marginally in two Local Government Areas. I trusted in the Lord and those who led the campaign also trusted in the Lord. I thank the leaders of the party for not just delivering me and my deputy, Kingsley Otuaro, but also two of our senators, nine members of House of Representatives and 26 members of House of assembly. Most especially, I want to appreciate my leader, former governor, Chief James Ibori.‘
Whether Ogboru goes to court or not, the political reality is that APC as a political party is not only jinxed by its latest political outing but a political patient in intensive care unit of hospital and that sooner or later, the oxygen shall be turned off. Those who boasted of the federal might underestimated the people might at the polls and that explains the present precarious situation of the APC. The facts on the ground are that Delta State is a PDP state and you do not need a soothsayer to say that. The facts speak for themselves.