By Julius Oweh
If the events of May 27, 2022 at the Federal College of Education, Asaba are anything to go back, it will be an uphill task for the All Progressives Congress APC to dislodge the Peoples Democratic Party from Government House, Asaba. The APC governorship primaries witnessed a scanty crowd and three prominent chieftains of the party were absent.
They are Dr Cairo Ojuogboh, Engineer Victor Ochei and Barrister Festus Keyamo. These political heavyweights boycotted because of what some political observers see as the hijacking of the APC structures by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege. Politics is not straight mathematics and a lot of fence-mending is going on so that the party could face the common opposition in next year’s governorship election.
An elated Omo-Agege said in his acceptance speech that all APC members should come together and remove the PDP government, which according to him, was denying the people of Delta State the dividends of democracy. He explained that his EDGE agenda was based on ‘Employment and Empowerment, Development, Good Governance and Enduring peace and security‘. These are lofty ideas, no doubt and the prayers on the lips of most Deltans are that APC should pass through the furnace of politics to give concrete realization to them.
Omo-Agege appealed to Deltans : ‘We should not fold our hands and allow PDP to continue to marginalize us. The time has come for us to take our destinies into our hands and say enough is enough‘. The odds against Omo-Agege to transit from a senator of the Federal Republic to that of state governor are many and varied. It is not enough for Omo-Agege to say enough is enough.
The truth of the matter is that APC is not really on ground and in areas where the party is visible, dictatorship as displayed in the party primaries where some angry members went on the rampage and burnt cars should be guarded against. You cannot talk of democracy where your actions are dictatorial, through and through. The APC in Delta State must reinvent itself to win the minds of Deltans. It is not enough to say that the PDP is bad, you must tell Deltans in actions what you are likely to do differently.
The political strategy of the APC is to exploit the division of the PDP and woo such aggrieved members. As you read this piece, the Ibori family whose egos were bruised by the rising fortunes of Okowa is in overtures to the APC. It should be borne in mind that Omo-Agege was a member of the Ibori political family before defecting to the APC. The deafening silence of James Ibori since the PDP primaries are encouraging signs that the fortunes of APC could get a boost from such alliance.
Another thing the APC is banking is the candidature of Sheriff Oborevwori which the APC regards as a feather weight. It could be recalled that the Urhobo Progress Union endorsed David Edevbie and were silent on the Delta State speaker.
Furthermore the legal battles of the PDP candidate and the alleged inconsistencies in his records could give the APC enough salvoes to clinch the governorship position. But these inconsistencies remain allegations, not proven anywhere yet. However , the thinking in the ranks of APC is that if they cannot win in the general election, they are likely to win in court. Only the future shall tell if these two strategies of the APC shall see the light of the day.
It is also possible for the APC to explore using federal might in Delta. There is the political thinking that Omo-Agege’s closeness to President Muhammadu Buhari could make him to attract enough federal presence. Today Omo-Agege has brought law school and federal polytechnic to the state. Since politics is the art of impossible it would not be out place for the APC to use the instrument of federal power against the PDP in Delta State.
But followers President Buhari know that hardly does he help anybody win elections. Former Ogun Governor, Amosun said to be the closest governor to Buhari then could influence or produce his successor in Ogun in spite of overtures to Buhari. Rochas Okorocha was almost residing in the villa but could get his inlaw to succeed him in Imo. The two former governors relied heavily on President Buhari.
The APC Presidential primaries was another pointer. Bola Tinubu who emerged winner was never the choice of President Buhari. APC must work hard to hope to gain any ground in Delta. Is it true that many are dissatisfied with the PDP government? And if they are, is APC the option? Maybe yes, maybe no.
Can they embark on enough mobilization of the people? The APC media team under the leadership of Ima Niboro is doing a marvelous job and always taking the initiative from the PDP. The party must move forward realizing that winning election is not about media work alone. You have to visit the various local government areas, the wards and the villages to tell the people what you have for them.
The APC choice of running mate to Omo-Agege could be a clincher for them. The people of Ndokwa are better suited to present the deputy governor and the APC should not make the mistake of ignoring them. Exploit the Ndokwa area, talk to them about marginalization that showcases in no higher institution of learning in Ndokwa nation and you could get their votes.
With the exit of Great Ogboru from the APC, the major obstacle of APC winning the governorship race has been removed. It is also heartwarming that O‘tega Emerhor, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi and Ngozi Olejeme are behind Omo-Agege. This should not make the APC to contemplate for a split second that winning the governorship is a piece of cake. It is very difficult and strewn with many obstacles.
That is the more reason the party should embark on aggressive fence mending so that the likes of Ochei, Keyamo and Ojougboh should be brought into the picture. Politics is best practiced with horse trading and Omo-Agege should climb down from the high horse and appeal to the aggrieved members of the party. If that is not done, all the media propaganda and the political permutation shall varnish the way butter melts under heat. All the same, I wish him all the best in his race to become the next governor of Delta State.
Julius Oweh, journalist, Asaba, Delta State.