By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South
FOR those that read between the strokes, the weightiest political puzzle answered in the last two weeks in Delta state is the senatorial district that will produce the next governor of the state, which was resolved in favor of Delta Central senatorial district generally occupied by Urhobo people.
Speaker of the state House of Assembly, an Okpe from Urhobo, Delta Central senatorial district, Rt. Hon Sheriff Oborevwori, who kept a tally of 590 votes at the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, governorship primary, May 25, is to coast PDP flag in 2023 and Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege from Orogun, Delta Central, unchallenged at All Progressives Congress, APC governorship primary, which he won with 1,090 is the party’s gubernatorial candidate.
Successive governorship contestant, Chief Great Ogboru, aka Peoples General, from Abraka, Delta Central equally picked the 2023 gubernatorial ticket of All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, while former Minister of State for Education, Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi, from Oginibo, Delta Central, who pulled out from PDP governorship primary has joined the Social Democratic Party, SDP, on whose platform he will contest governorship.
Visibly, the four dominant governorship candidates: Oborevwori (PDP), Omo-Agege (APC), Ogboru (APGA) and Gbagi are all from Delta Central. Though one or two other political parties, including the New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNNP, which has an Isoko son from Delta South senatorial district, Dr. Goodnews Agbi as its governorship frontrunner may still come up with standard-bearers before the expiration of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, deadline.
Manager remains Ijaw number one
In the ruling PDP which sets the standards in the state, it was a two-branched battle between Ijaw ethnic nationality, Delta South senatorial district and Urhobo ethnic nationality in Delta Central.
Senator James Manager representing Delta South senatorial district in the Senate and Deputy Governor, Deacon Kingsley Otuaro, carried the hope of Ijaw people in Delta South who sought modification to the unrecorded senatorial power sharing sequence to home-grown arrangement on grounds that Urhobo and Anioma ethnic groups had beforehand occupied Government House, Asaba, and it was their turn.
Though he positioned third, Senator Manager showed with the PDP primaries that he is probably the number one politician Delta-Ijaw can offer. Otuaro held a thanksgiving mass in Warri, last week, to thank God, saying: “I have never been fulfilled because God told me to go and contest and I did. I am not an impressionistic person, I am a child of God. He spoke to me and I heard him, I was restless and peace came over me when I responded yes, I will”.
Why PDP settled for Delta Central
Oborevwori’s nomination answers the question of senatorial or ethnic power sharing in PDP and also puts to rest the contention between Urhobo and Ijaw on 2023 gubernatorial ticket of PDP. Oborevwori, overruled by the apex Urhobo group, Urhobo Progress Union, UPU, got it first and foremost because he is from Delta Central senatorial district which the rotational arrangement favored.
Though skewed and fastened with unseen motives, former governor of the state, Chief James Ibori, who is the leader of the famous Ibori PDP political family, commanded the senatorial power sharing arrangement that has brought some sense of political stability in the state since 2007.
His confidant, an Itsekiri from Delta South senatorial district, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, governed after him from 2007-2015 and in 2015, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, from Ika area of Delta North senatorial district took over from him, not exactly on a platter of gold. But the fact that gubernatorial power has swapped in 23 years from Central to South and presently, North of the state, has given the arrangement inclusive acceptability. Other political parties, including APC, covet PDP for the political order.
Why Edevbie lost out
What was seen as peccadillo between Ibori, the political mentor of Okowa and the governor on who emerges the 2023 standard-bearer of PDP was not about the propriety of the power sharing covenant but Ibori’s 2023 choice, Olorogun David Edevbie, who lost in the primaries with 113 votes to Oborevwori, later confirmed to be Okowa’s trump card with 590 votes.
Ibori delivered Delta Central senatorial ticket to his political associate, Chief Ighoyota Amori and Ethiope federal constituency label to his daughter, Hon. Erhiatake Ibori-Suenu. What happened in the case of Edevbie was predictable as the governor liberally hinted him (Ibori) much earlier why he would not support his scheme.
A privileged political leader told this paper: “Okowa gave Ibori his reason long before the 2022 primary. It is essentially located in the 2014 primary in which Okowa struck a gentleman agreement with Edevbie not to participate in the said balloting because it was evidently the turn of Delta North based on the unwritten power arrangement. Both agreed that Edevbie would not contest and on his part, Okowa, if he won, would protect his (Edevbie) interest in 2023 among other things.”
”But Edevbie reportedly betrayed Okowa when he backed out of the arrangement and contested 2014 primary against him without bating his eyelid on previous treaty. The brainteaser then was if Edevbie had won the primary, would Delta Central not have continued another round of eight-year tenure to the detriment of Delta North? Such a person who opposed power shift in 2014/15 should not be encouraged to benefit from power shift in 2023. ”Find out from Ibori if Okowa did not explain this very plainly to him, Okowa never opposed power shift to Delta Central, he only wanted Ibori to support a candidate different from Edevbie, but his political leader stood on Edevbie as option 1, 2 and 3.
“Tell me what Okowa did wrong, all things being equal, I know PDP will win in 2023 and power will return to Delta South in 2031 when Ijaw, Itsekiri and Isoko will slug it out. Our 2023 primary was never a fight between Ijaw and Urhobo, it was Delta Central versus Delta Central and Okowa was not against power shift to Delta Central” the source said.
Omo-Agege vows to depose PDP
APC gubernatorial candidate, DSP Omo-Agege and other tacticians in the party, who were all stalwarts of PDP before their exit calculated long ago that by the PDP power arrangement, which so far seems to be working in the state, power would rotate to Delta Central in 2023 and that is what has materialized.
Omo-Agege in particular worked tirelessly to position himself as the party’s gubernatorial standard-bearer since 2019 and with the APC Delta North senatorial candidate and former state chairman of PDP, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, and others, they believe they can dethrone PDP in 2023 in the state.
Ogboru to settle scores with DSP
Chief Ogboru, who gave Omo-Agege the Labour Party, LP, platform that propelled him to the Senate in 2015 was niftily flanked out of the gubernatorial ticket of APC, this year. He is simmering with anger over what Omo-Agege did to him and most likely give him a taste of his own medicine.
The peoples general as he is fondly called believes that Omo-Agege rode on his back to fame in 2015 and that fact he wants to make him understand in 2023, especially in Delta Central, where he (Ogboru) is looked upon as a political god of sort.
Except for the 2023 governorship ticket of APC, Omo-Agege had not opposed the political dream of Ogboru since political calling brought them together, years ago.
Gbagi set to prove mettle
Olorogun Gbagi, an industrialist and criminologist, who started his 2023 gubernatorial quest in 2019, much earlier than other candidates, had his plan dashed in the run-up to the PDP governorship primary, but insisting that he has a mission to change the state for the better, he has taken-up the gauntlet with his plan to contest governorship on SPP platform.
If the opinionated understanding of Delta Central holding power for another eight years, no matter the political party, comes to pass, it is expected that power shall move again to Delta South in 2031. That time, three ethnic nationalities that make up the district – Itsekiri, Ijaw and Isoko will have another opening. Of the three, Itsekri through ex-governor Udaughan governed the state from 2007 to 2015, which may mean giving Ijaw and Isoko their greatest opportunity ever to govern the state.