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Published On: Tue, Sep 2nd, 2014

Delta 2015: Omo-Agege, Urhobos and Others

Delta State Peoples Democratic Party, Governorship aspirant, Obaisi (Barr) Ovie Omo-Agege


By Ovasa Ogaga
LAGOS SEPTEMBER 2ND (URHOBOTODAY)- If the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) primaries were a coronation, Obaisi (Barr.) Ovie Omo-Agege, who came second in 2006 primary at Ogwashi-Uku would be one of only two men in contention to succeed Governor Uduaghan in 2015. The other would be the current Deputy Governor, Prof. Amos Utuama who has not indicated interest to succeed his boss. Both men are from Delta Central senatorial districts populated by the Urhobo people, who are the majority tribe in Delta State.
Utuama’s absence from the race would have been enough to ensure Ovie Omo-Agege’s coronation. But as we know, the PDP primary is not a coronation. All eligible Deltans can compete. Not even the much talked about zoning and power rotation of the PDP has excluded anyone or any section of the state from the race. It is an open contest. So far, over twenty aspirants have declared interest in the race. More are expected to join before the door is shut by the National Executive Committee of PDP, which will soon issue it’s guidelines for the primaries.
The crowded field notwithstanding, Ovie Omo-Agege is gradually emerging as the frontrunner. Since entering the race in May with a vow to “pilot the affairs of the state with a pan-Delta mindset” he has seized the momentum and he is not letting it go. His strong showing in his just concluded consultation visits to the leadership of the PDP in the 25 local government areas of the state has now given hope to Delta Central that they could reclaim the governorship in 2015.
Chief Ighoyota Amori, the Political Adviser to Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan and Chairman of Urhobo Political Forum, a powerful political pressure group in Delta State PDP could not hide his joy when he told members of UPF during Omo-Agege’s consultative visit to the group that “Omo-Agege has made us proud and with him Urhobo can go into the battle of 2015 with confidence.”
Before now Delta North which has about 12 PDP aspirants in the race had thought that they will produce Governor Uduaghan’s successor on the basis of an assumed power rotation. The Aniomas had hoped that since Chief Felix Ibru and Chief James Ibori from Delta Central and Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan from Delta South have governed the state since 1992, it was now their turn to produce the governor.
But 2014 has been unkind to the Aniomas. Series of events that occurred during the last eight months have made the emergence of an Anioma governor an unlikely proposition. And with Omo-Agege now firmly in control of the race, the hope of the Aniomas is gradually disappearing. Not even the desperate attempt by the Aniomas to smear him in a recent cartoon in a national newspaper has altered the dynamics of the race in anyway. That is due largely to the fact that the odds against the Aniomas are very huge and mounting.
First, the evidence on ground indicates that contrary to what the Aniomas believe, there was never a time the governorship position was zoned. All previously elected governors were challenged by contestants outside their senatorial zones.
Second, there is no evidence of marginalisation of Delta North in political appointments to justify that the governorship should be allocated to them as a form of compensation.
Third, the proposed creation of Anioma state by the National Conference has further made the task of convincing the people of Delta Central and South to support the Anioma agenda even more difficult.
Fourth, the major contenders have either stumbled or ran out of steam. In fact there is a school of thought which believes that the Aniomas began their clamour too early.
Finally, the way the Aniomas waged their campaign did not help matters. Political analysts believe that their campaign was deeply flawed with an overdose of sense of entitlement which infuriated and alienated many people including the Secretary to State Government, Comrade Ovuozorie Macaulay who publicly debunked the claim by Delta North that the governorship position was zoned to them. Macaulay who confessed that he was initially very enthusiastic about an Anioma Governor further revealed that “with the way they are going about it, I am afraid that people like us will not support an Anioma person for the governorship as we are scared.”
That confession got many Deltans especially from Delta Central and South thinking again about the prospect of an Anioma governor. The personal attacks which Macaulay’s comments elicited from the Aniomas did not help matters either. Though, the chairman of the party, Chief Peter Nwaoboshi, who is from Delta North, later apologised to the SSG, the damage to Anioma agenda was done, as the public mood soured against Anioma governor in 2015. The backlash was so great that even Hon. Ndidi Elumelu, a governorship aspirant from Delta North was forced to concede that zoning was not a do or die thing for the Aniomas. In a bid to further pacify the revolting public, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa and Peter Okocha also spoke against zoning and power rotation. Though the zoning rhetoric has since toned down, the downward slide in the fortune of the Anioma agenda has continued unabated.
Standing between Anioma and Osadebe House even though it is located in their territory is the Presidency. Dr. Goodluck Jonathan has a tough re-election fight in his hands and his interest and by implication the interest of PDP will be best served if the major opposition party, the All Progressive Congress (APC) is denied the constitutional requirement of 25% of votes in the presidential elections in South South and South East states. A PDP gubernatorial candidate of an Anioma extraction cannot achieve this for the party in Delta State.
Ironically, the likes of Prof. Monye, Dr. Olejeme, and Hon. Elumelu from Delta North are depending on the presidency to secure the party ticket. It is inconceivable that anyone in the presidency will push for an Anioma candidate given these realities.
Elder Godsday Orubebe’s declared ambition and the rumoured interest of Senator James Manager in the governorship of Delta State are also doomed by the interest of the president. Chief E K Clark has said severally that it will be wrong of him to ask other ethnic groups in the state to vote for Jonathan, an Ijaw man for president and another one for governor.
That leaves the coast cleared for Delta Central. In 2011, Delta Central gave President Jonathan over 800,000 votes. They have vowed to support the president again in 2015 but this time on the condition that PDP gives them the party ticket.
Historically, the Urhobo people always vote with the governorship in mind, voting for the party in the presidential election that protects their governorship interest. That was the case in the second republic when they supported the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) which gave its ticket to their son Chief Daniel Okumagba. The Urhobo nation was also in the corner of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) when another of his son, Chief Felix Ibru was the governorship candidate in the 1992. In 1999 they voted PDP when Chief Ibori was the candidate of the party. The only exception was in 2007 and 2011 when they voted PDP in the presidential election even though the party’s flag bearer in the governorship election was from Delta South. Even then Governor Uduaghan got about 109,000 votes from Delta Central, compared to about 89,000 votes he got from Delta North.
In the last presidential election, the Urhobos voted overwhelmingly for PDP despite their disdain at that time for the party, partly because President Goodluck Jonathan who was PDP candidate was considered as one of their own and partly because there was no viable alternative.
But now there is a viable alternative in APC, which is posing an unusual threat to the PDP grip on the presidency. Determined to reclaim the governorship after 8 years of minority rule, the Urhobo’s through its apex body, the Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) have made it very clear in what is now known as the Uvwiamuge Declaration that their preferred party to achieve their goal of producing the next governor is PDP. But in the event that PDP fails to give its ticket to their preferred candidate, they have lined up APC as an alternative route.
It is for this reason that it is increasingly becoming inevitable that PDP would give its ticket to an aspirant from Delta Central. In fact, anyone who continue to advocate for the PDP gubernatorial ticket to be zoned to Delta North or retained in Delta South could be tagged as anti-Jonathan because there is no way APC will not get the 25% of the presidential vote in 2015 if the Urhobos decides to support APC in the unlikely event that PDP unwisely give it’s ticket to any of the aspirants from Delta North and Delta South.
Should the PDP decide to look to Delta Central to produce its flag bearer, which I believe they will, Ovie Omo-Agege would be an obvious choice? As the leading aspirant from Delta Central, Ovie Omo-Agege is the most viable option and a safe bet for the People Democratic Party. He is a grassroots politician, somebody who is well known to the party establishment and the rank and file of the party. He is also well grounded in Delta politics.
At every stop of his consultation tour to local government executive members of the party, no introductions were necessary for the former Executive Assistant to the governor, Commissioner for Special Duties and Secretary to State Government. At Ughelli South, Udu, Ethiope East, Ethiope West, Sapele, Uvwie, Warri South and Warri North, the campaign train was received by mammoth crowd of supporters with encomiums being poured on him.
“We know him as a friend and as a brother. He will get the support of Ethiope West. We have confidence in his capability to govern the State. ‘Who the cap fits, let him wear it’.” said the Chairman of the PDP in Ethiope West Local Government Area, Mr Felix Oritsebome who further described Omo-Agege as a man of the people.
The chairman of the party in Ukwani Local Government Area in Delta North senatorial district, Mr. Monday Ossai confirmed Omo-Agege state wide appeal when he declared that “Omo-Agege is a household name. Your father made many friends in this locality and he created another ward for Umutu without us doing anything about it. We will not leave you. We will vote for you, we will encourage you.”
Collaborating his counterpart in Ukwani Local Government Area, the PDP chairman in Isoko South local government area, Chief Obi Eneruvie, described Omo-Agege as a grassroot politician, saying “it is only a stranger that will say he does not know you. You are a household name in Delta.”
On his part, the Chairman of the party in Ughelli South Local Government Area, Chief Francis Agwonigho expressed the preparedness of his executive to reach out to the people on Omo-Agege’s governorship bid, saying “we know you have the capacity to give good governance to the people of the state”.
The Chairman of the party in Udu Local Government Area, Mr. Sam Uhwujohwovwo said, “nobody here will go against Omo-Agege’s aspiration”, while the Chairman of the party in Sapele Local Mr. David Oghenekevwe said they would work with him to ensure his victory at the poll in the 2015 polls.
The outpouring of support from the party leadership at the local government levels proves that Omo-Agege is somebody who can rally the party for the challenge of denying APC the 25% of votes in the presidential election.
Omo-Agege faces challenges in Delta Central from Olorogun David Edevbie, a former Commissioner of Finance in Delta State and Principal Secretary to Late President Umaru Yar’Adua, Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi, a business mogul and former Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Chief Paulinus Akpeki who is currently the Commissioner for Housing in Delta State. But there is growing realisation among the Urhobos that Omo-Agege is the man that can get the job done.
The renowned and well respected public commentator and Urhobo political analyst, Miss Annabel Ogheneganre described Obaisi Ovie Omo-Agege as the Delta Central best hope to clinch the PDP gubernatorial ticket for the 2015 general election, adding that “after a careful study of all the Urhobo aspirants in the race for the governorship ticket of PDP in the 2015 gubernatorial polls, I am convinced that Obaisi Ovie Omo-Agege is the aspirant with the best chance to win the ruling party ticket from Delta Central and urged Urhobo Progress Union, UPU, to adopt him as the sole candidate of the Urhobo nation in the PDP primaries immediately.
In the statement entitled; ‘Our Preferred Aspirant’, she held that “UPU should look in the direction of Omo-Agege during the Urhobo apex body selection exercise. I wish to state that of all the aspirants running for Governor on the PDP platform from Delta Central, Obaisi Ovie Omo-Agege has the brightest chance of winning the PDP ticket.
“He is indeed Urhobo’s best hope to win the governorship. Omo-Agege is also the choice of my readers. In a poll I conducted to determine their choice, Omo-Agege won 92 percent of the votes”.
Continuing, she said; “Omo-Agege is not just the best for Urhobo, he is also the best for PDP. Omo-Agege stands tall among all the aspirants jostling for the PDP ticket; all that he needs to do Urhobo and Delta state proud is the home support from his Urhobo people which must now be given to him.
“With Urhobo support, Omo-Agege can deny APC any foothold in the politics of Delta State by delivering a landslide victory for PDP in both the governorship and presidential elections.
“Omo-Agege is divinely prepared for a time like this. Although, other aspirants are qualified but Omo-Agege is better in terms of electoral value than the others; he is the best material and practical political leader who can deliver if supported by the Urhobo people. He possesses all the attributes of a goal getter.” she added.
Annabel recent endorsement of Omo-Agege proves that he has the momentum as we approach the primaries and it is doubtful if anyone can race ahead of him before the finishing line. As the most viable aspirant from Delta Central in the PDP field, Omo-Agege chances of finishing what he started in 2006 appears to be very bright and his candidacy will surely deliver for PDP what the party so much desire, which is to reduce APC to nothing in Delta State in 2015.

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