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Delta 2023: PDP must produce Okpe candidate for governor

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As Delta State today marks the inauguration of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa for second tenure, one of the thoughts that might be playing in the minds of the political consultants, oracles, kingmakers and fortune tellers in the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) of the State might be who succeeds Okowa as governor comes 2023.

Beginning from the advent of democracy in Nigeria, Deltans have seen a formidable party emerged in the PDP, with strength of the party in the State coming about largely due to politically correct application of zoning formula in the State.

At the advent of democracy, James Ibori from Delta Central Senatorial District emerged governor of the state, and served two tenures of four years each, assuming office as governor for eight years.

He handed over to Emmanuel Uduaghan from Delta South, who in turn served two complete tenures as governor, before the governorship rotated to Delta North, which saw Governor Okowa emergence as governor in 2015.

Comes 2023, given the PDP’s formula, zoning returns governorship to Delta Central.

The question of whether this approach to politics in Delta State has yielded tangible results, that is, paid Deltans deserving dividends of democracy, as really expected, is discussion for another day. However, as long as there is federal character principle in the constitution, zoning has come to stay, because if A has done it successfully, B too can do it.

It would be difficult for any other party to defeat the zoning arrangement in Delta State, especially given that the political configuration favours the people; if for nothing, they get to be represented, they get to have the bragging right to have served as governor.

For Deltans, it is, therefore, difficult to decide on trusting another party to alter this political arrangement that favours them; even if that kind of massive result expected of government had not been in sight. Deltans expect this formula would yield results in the long run.

The onus now rests on the PDP to consult well the oracles in order to astutely decide on a choice of governorship candidate that favours the people in line with the zoning arrangement for 2023.

Since Independence in 1960, four Delta Central politicians from core Urhobo have held the mantle of leadership from the era of the defunct Midwest Region to the present day Delta State. They are Jereton Mariere, David Ejoor, Felix Ibru and Ibori.

Keep Naira clean

From calculations, Okpe and Uvwie that are linguistically distinct from core Urhobo in Delta Central are next to produce governor if PDP is true to the zoning formula. Ibori, being core Urhobo, ‘microzoning’ means governorship cannot go back to core Urhobo in 2023. Even, in the interest of natural justice, equity and good conscience, it is unfair for anyone in Delta Central other than someone from Okpe or Uvwie to eye the governorship position in 2023. But, from a critical look of things, Okpe is more poised for governorship.

Urhobo, being the largest ethnic group in Delta State today, and commanding the political fortune of the State, is for the strength of Okpe. If Okpe should secede from Urhobo, as linguistically, Okpe is not Urhobo, Urhobo will metamorphose into a minority. The Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) and other various Urhobo political organs should understand these political intricacies better.

Also, given that Okpe encompasses Okpe and Sapele Local Government Areas, making it not just the largest Urhobo kingdom; indeed, within the context of the old Delta Province and the present Delta State, Okpe is a force to reckon with. The performance and contribution of Okpe during elections, with which the PDP maintains relevance, should, therefore, not be undermined. In the last elections, Okpe was very instrumental in producing Governor Okowa for first and second term, ensuring that the PDP formidable structure continues to exist.

Given the political strength of Okpe, Okpe turn to produce governor in Delta is long overdue. The onus now rests on the PDP to produce an Okpe governor in 2023 or collapse like the wall of Jericho.

As we march steadily toward 2023, confident that Okpe right to the Governorship is well established, what options do Okpe have? Well, there might be no straightjacket answer to the question, except to consider some potential candidates, who must first leave their shells to indicate interest to become aspirants.

Sheriff Oborevwori

Oborevwori rose from the rank and file of community leadership, as the pioneer Chairman of Osubi community from 1996 to 2003, to become the Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly (DTHA) in 2017.

The Delta State Speaker, who forayed into core politics in 1996, was first elected member of the DTHA in 2015 to represent Okpe State Constituency, and shook off opposition from Harrison Akpojaro of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 general elections to retain his seat. He was elected Speaker of the House on May 11 2017, after the ouster of Monday Igbuya as Speaker of the House.

Oborevwori, who would be 60 years of age by 2023, could boast of a wealth of leadership experience going into the 2023 governorship election in Delta. He was Special Assistant to the Governor of Delta State on Youth Development from 2003-2006. Between August 2007 and September 2010 he was appointed Special Adviser to the Governor of Delta State on Land Security.

Also, between 2009 and 2010, he served as the State Coordinator of the Amnesty Programme. He was appointed Senior Special Assistant on Security to the Executive Governor of Delta State from 2012 to 2014. He had also been elected as Councillor in 1996, and subsequently appointed the Supervisory Councillor for Works in Okpe Local Government Council.

With this wealth of leadership experience, and with a Masters degree in Political Science, Oborevwori is the candidate to beat comes 2023. Meanwhile, how he plays his cards to see that he retains Speakership of the House will go a long way to show what fight he could put forward as a potential candidate.

Monday Igbuya

To become the Speaker of a State House of Assembly, many political gimmicks come to play. Igbuya must have played his cards well to emerge as member representing Sapele constituency and then emerge as Speaker of the House, before his impeachment.

To be ousted as Speaker shows some level of failings on his part, but the strength of Igbuya cannot be underestimated in the politics of Delta State.

Igbuya who was impeached in May, 2017 by 22 out of the 29 members of the House over his alleged high-handedness and unacceptable leadership style, tried his luck by running for House of Representative to represent Sapele, Okpe and Uvwie federal constituency, after picking the APC ticket.

Even though he lost the contest to Efe Afe, Igbuya still commands a number of loyal followers, and could prove a threat if he eventually rejoins the PDP, and especially considering a governorship ticket is a different ball game entirely.

The former Delta State Speaker, who was also former Chairman of Sapele LGA, could decide to remain in the APC to pull his weight from the opposition; however, with the likelihood of Senator Ovie Omo-Agege vying for Governor in 2023 very high, and given that the political terrain of the APC in Delta is muddy, it is yet to be seen if Igbuya could pass in the party. And if Igbuya goes ahead to pick the governorship ticket from the opposition, Okpe votes would have been soured, if an Okpe candidate eventually emerges from the PDP.

James Augoye

The story of Augoye in politics is more akin to the story of former President Goodluck Jonathan in politics. If the biography of Augoye is written, it will read similar to that of Jonathan.

Unlike Oborevwori and Igbuya, Augoye has consistently ridden on the wings of appointments in politics, with works commissioner under Governor Okowa as the recent of those appointments.

Just like the man whose palm kernel has been cracked by benevolent spirits, Augoye has been rumoured as being pedalled for the position of Secretary to State Government (SSG) for Okowa second term, with the view to placing him at the corridor of governorship comes 2023.

Given his romance with Prof. Sam Oyovbaire and Ibori, the power brokers, oracles and political consultants of PDP in Delta State, Augoye stands a better chance of emerging PDP governorship candidate for 2023.

But, Okowa might surprise many dumping his first tenure work commissioner in the bin.

Howbeit, as works commissioner, and having transverse the length and breadth of Delta State, Augoye could have easily passed to the grassroots as a household name. But, Augoye was largely considered to be apolitical as a commissioner. It was not seen if he brought political footprints to bear as works commissioner. Even, Augoye had been said to have not really built any political structure on ground, leaving his political ambitions in doubt.

Many others

Former member of the DTHA and House of Representatives member-elect, Efe Afe, who defeated Igbuya in race for the House of Representatives, and Ejaife Odebala, former Chairman of Sapele LGA and now former commissioner representing Okpe, Sapele and Ethiope West LGAs in the Board of DESOPADEC are also in prime position in the race for governorship comes 2023.

Also, immediate past Chairman of Okpe LGA and now former SSA to Governor Okowa on Conflict Resolution and Community Development, Godwin Ejinyere, and Efe Uko, current Chairman of the PDP in Okpe LGA are well positioned for the race.

The governorship primaries of the PDP for 2023 would be, of course, well contested, with many surprises expected to spring up, but for the purpose of equity, governorship cannot go back to core Urhobo in 2023. PDP must then produce an Okpe Governor for 2023, otherwise, the highly rated, indefatigable political structure of the party in the State will shrink, cave in like in a tsunami, and collapse like the Wall of Jericho.

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