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Delta politics of zoning: The myth and deceit

By Brown Depreye

DELTANS have never been more apprehensive of their political future like they felt before the 2019 governorship election.

This feeling was occasioned by not only the threats from the All Progressives Congress, APC, chairman, Adams Oshomiole, on the need to colonise Delta State but also on what happens in 2023 when the zoning system imposed on the state in 2007 by the then Governor James Ibori expires.

Fair as it appears, this zoning was a mere exercise designed to satisfy the interest of certain individuals, as the only way of hanging on to the corridors of power. Like as in every good movie that has two ends, the zoning arrangement in Delta State seems to be heading towards a tragic end.

Delta

What will happen at the end arena remains a matter of prophetic guess work as many nationalities in the state are beginning to ask the inevitable question: ‘How Did we get here and who is the ultimate beneficiary’ of this so ‘beautiful’ zoning forced down our throat?

There is no doubt that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has remained the political landlord of Delta State, having won all the elections so far in the state. It is also an established fact that with zoning, the PDP has produced excellent leadership in the state.

However, there is an emerging school of thought with  an already established large followership that now questions or views the political arrangement as serving the interest of a select few.

This school of thought has its main campus in the Ijaw axis of the state with satellite campuses in Isoko and Ndokwa axis of the state and their students are many. Their position is that if the zoning arrangement must continue in Delta State, it must continue from the South Senatorial District that houses the Itsekiris, Ijaws and Isokos.

Their argument is hinged on the premise that by 2023, all the three senatorial districts in the state would have had a taste of the exercise and it will only be fair that the South Senatorial District which has consistently turned in the highest number of votes be allowed to enjoy the highest office which their votes gave to Central and North senatorial districts.

They argue further that Central Senatorial District has already produced two civilian governors of the state in Chief Felix Ibru and James Ibori. The Ijaws who hold strong to this argument have the sympathy and understanding of the Isokos who feel highly marginalised in the zoning arrangement.

Okowa, the jinx breaker straddling Delta

For the Isokos, they have been turned to the wretched of the earth, or so they argue. They are vexed by the fact that in this present dispensation, under the government of Okowa, all they have gotten is a miserable office of the Majority Leader of the House of Assembly, while the Urhobos who are waiting with smiles for 2023, are gifted with the powerful position of the Speaker of the House, the number three man in the state.

The Isokos argue that since they have nothing to live for, they would rather work with the Ijaws and Ndokwas to make sure that the next governor does not come from the Urhobo axis as the PDP has not really fared well in Urhoboland.

According to them, Isoko, despite having so many oil wells in its two local governments, remains the most marginalised in the state. They have exhibited brotherhood where necessary, received pains for their fellow Deltans only to be dumped at the end of the day.

It will be too sad if by 2023 the Isoko nation and its leaders choose to remain fourth class citizens in a state where their input in terms of both natural and human resources are required to move the state forward.

In these cacophony of arguments, what is evident and sure is that it will not be business as usual in Delta, come 2023 because the Ijaws and Isokos are spoiling for their pound of flesh.

How the political leaders led by incumbent governor handle the emerging threat will determine which party wins the next gubernatorial election in Delta State. Until then, the comedy is still loading.

The year 2023 definitely will create a new dawn for Deltans, that is if urgent steps are taken to correct perceived marginalisation and appease the aggrieved.

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