By Obah Sylva, Tunde Joshua, Michael Paul and Gabriel Elozino Awodeha
Delta is currently in the midst of political storms that have enveloped the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state over next year’s gubernatorial election.
The anxiety and tension mounting are not yet inter-party because the APC and PDP have not agreed on or picked their standard-bearers for the election before facing each other.
The ruling and opposition political groupings are dogged by internecine intra-party feuds that are keeping their chances at the governorship election hanging.
The PDP is dogged by a major disagreement between former governor, Chief James Ibori, and incumbent helmsman, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, over who to succeed the latter.
Ibori is said to be backing his former finance commissioner David Edevbie from the same Delta Central Senatorial District while Governor Okowa is said to be undecided on whom among his confidants from the area or the South where his deputy comes from.
Central is made up of the Urhobo ethnic group while Delta South Senatorial District comprises the Ijaw, Isoko and Itsekiri ethnic nationalities. Okowa is from Delta North Senatorial District which under an unwritten state PDP power rotation ‘agreement’ is precluded from fielding governorship aspirants or candidates for the 2023 poll.
But Okowa’s deputy, Barrister Kingsley Otuaro is an Ijaw most of whose political chiefs and people want to run in 2023, urging a new rotation system based on ethnic groups and contending that the extant agreement had always been observed in the breach because Central aspirants always threw their hats in the ring whenever it was the supposed turn of the other districts.
Some accuse Okowa of backing the Ijaw to repay their support against Edevbie who ran against him in the 2015 PDP primary election.
Some also accuse Okowa of opposing Ibori’s choice and throwing up other Urhobo aspirants such as the current state House of Assembly speaker and a former commissioner for justice, Peter Mrakpor. However, Okowa insists that he is neutral and wants a level playground for all.
The stalemate has led the Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) to throw its weight behind Edevbie who is of the ethnic stock. The move has triggered opposition from some prominent Urhobo (even dividing the UPU), the Central PDP and local governments chapters and some observers.
Omo-Agege has mountain to climb As aforementioned, the race to the Delta State government house for the two parties is dogged by crises with pressure mounting on the gladiators.
APC seems to have a chance that could have been leveraged upon if everything was in a proper perspective, a source told The Trumpet.
“You can see that the PDP is currently in a state of dilemma and confusion. The clash between Ibori and Okowa is taking a big toll on the party.
“Apart from these two blocs, there are other blocs that may form a coalition before the primaries to challenge the potency of the Ibori and Okowa political blocs. One thing you can expect from this rivalry is a fallout,” the source said. He, however, stressed that the APC was not ready and properly positioned to benefit from such fallout while noting that the party is on its own fragmented and disjointed.
He went on: “The Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege hijacked the party structure without recourse to other leaders with grassroots supporters. Major opposition leaders in the state, such as Chief Great Ogboru who was very instrumental to the emergence of OmoAgege as senator, have obviously fallen out with APC and may be on the way out of the party. No one can dismiss the huge support base of Ogboru.
He is loved. “When you also look at the governorship declaration of OmoAgege at Warri, you see a crowd of people without leadership. Hon Minister Keyamo from Uvwie, Hon Victor Ochei and Dr. Cairo Ojougboh from Delta North as well as Hon. Joel-Onowakpo Thomas from Isoko were not there and a host of others. “These leaders have a measure of grip on their respective areas.
How will Omo-Agege get enough votes and secure them in those places? Let’s not forget that many of the crowds we see at political rallies can easily be rented or bought over because what they want is daily bread.
They can trade anyone away. The only thing that counts when the chips are down are the ideological or interested leaders who can hold their respective followers to do the needful.”
He noted there is a herculean task ahead for Omo-Agege and the APC, especially in the area of getting all the stakeholders onboard to be fully committed to the 2023 project, if the party wants a chance of winning the governorship.
“Otherwise, APC is faced with a big mountain of impossibility as long as the 2023 Delta governorship election is concerned,” he added. Other PDP aspirants in the race are Comrade Donald Awolowo Egbo (Isoko), Deacon Chris Iyovwaye, Chief Kenneth Gbagi, Ediri R. Idimi Ubiomor (the three are Urhobo) and Senator James Manager (Ijaw) among others.