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Published On: Mon, Feb 26th, 2018

How APC Can Stop Okowa In 2019 Election

By Engr. Ajiri Aluta
LAGOS FEBRUARY 26TH (URHOBOTODAY)-With about a year left in the Okowa administration in Delta State, there is sufficient dissatisfaction with his performance among his voters, and it is such that some now regret what they see as the perpetuation of a political dynasty that they had the opportunity to vote out of power in 2015. Frustration with Okowa has been mounting even in his Delta North home-base as many among the Anioma electorate are growing increasingly unwilling to protect him from the consequences of his maladministration. Infact, for the majority of Deltans, 2019 can’t come soon enough to vote out this rudderless government and rescue Delta State from economic, social and political bondage.
This craving for change in the state provides Delta APC a real opportunity in 2019. And as the clamour grows, the fundamental question many ask is whether Delta APC can dislodge the PDP that has woven itself into the fabric of the society and is now quite entrenched. I believe APC can do it, but Okowa’s dismal performance will not be the decisive factor.
In 2015, the two main opposition parties in Delta State at the time, APC and Labour Party, that have now fused their members into the APC platform both fielded candidates from Delta Central despite the persistent Anioma agitation for a governor of Anioma extraction. As a result, the opposition performed worse than ever before. Chief Great Ogboru who won eleven local government areas in the 2007 re-run in 2011 and increased that to twelve, three months later in the general election, won only four LGAs in 2015 despite the introduction of the card reader technology to check over-voting and rigging. Specifically, the LGAs he had won in2011 general election but lost in 2015 include Ika South, Oshimili South, Ndokwa West and Ukwuani from Delta North and Isoko South in Delta South. He lost these areas principally because of the clamour for power rotation which remains very popular among the minority ethnic tribes in Delta North and South. This was the main issue at play in the 2015 election. He also lost Sapele, Ughelli South and Okpe from his base in Delta Central, which is evidence of his declining acceptability, even among his own people.
For APC to win in 2019, it will have to win back a majority of voters in these eight local government areas that Ogboru lost in 2015, and also seek to attract a new set of voters from Delta South. To achieve this APC needs to position itself strategically and broaden it’s grassroots appeal by engaging with the masses much more than it does now, and also partner with them at the polling units where PDP may attempt, as usual, to compromise the elections. If APC fails to partner with the people across the three senatorial districts and decides to adopt the same tactics that failed it in 2015, yet hopes to rely on the so-called federal might to make the difference, then it has to think again because it may just be bound for another rude shock in 2019.
There are two ways the party can achieve this. First, APC must compete well in Delta North and South where it made very little in-roads in 2015 and turn the Okowa base into a battleground zone. There is no better way for it to compete in Delta North and South than to embrace the core interest of the Anioma people which is for the zone to complete its two terms like the two other districts had done.
This means APC has to nominate an Anioma candidate to eliminate the advantages that Okowa enjoyed in 2015. Power rotation may not be a binding agreement but it has its strategic relevance in the political reality of Delta State, and for any party to win in the general election, it must pay due attention to the true yearnings of the people.
More importantly, fielding an Anioma candidate in 2019 will also enable the ethnic groups in other zones to vote on the basis of their own core interests, thereby thwarting any disenchantment related to inequity that APC and Labour Party may have suffered in 2015.
This permutation also has strategic benefits attracting the votes of non-Anioma voters who still support the idea of equity. For example, it will remove any form of disenchantment among Isoko and Ijaw people that are highly desirous of governing Delta State in the nearest future, and who would prefer to cast their votes in favour of sustaining the present order of power rotation. The Itsekiri ethnic group who have already benefitted from the reality of power rotation will not be averse to voting in an Anioma candidate on the basis of equity too.
The bulk of Urhobo progressives that have persistently stood in opposition against the PDP since 2003 stand to gain too. The calculation would be that a victory of the APC candidate of Anioma extraction in 2019 which must be with the support of the Delta Central zone, would encourage reciprocal support for an Urhobo Progressive that emerges to contest as Governor in 2023. This is the obvious and surest path for Urhobo Progressives to ensure that their long sacrifice in leading the opposition to PDP in Delta state does not end up in vain.
Conversely, should the APC field a Delta-Central candidate again, the ill-feelings generated among the minority ethnic groups by such an inequitable course of action will propel the PDP to victory as was the case in 2015. If that happens, the APC and its bulk of Urhobo progressives would most likely lose again in 2023. This is because the Anioma nation would more likely pay the APC back in its own coins in 2023, having refused to field one of their own in both 2015 and 2019 when they believed it was their turn to produce the governor of Delta State. There is also a very high risk that the APC would be tagged an “Urhobo Must Be Governor Party” by the PDP which could easily doom any chances of Urhobo progressives winning in 2023.
If that happens, the Urhobo opposition would become the greatest losers. They would have ended up shutting themselves out of power by their lack of respect to the importance of power rotation to other ethnic groups in the state. This is why it is inthe best interest of Delta Central APC for Urhobo aspirants to wait until 2023 when they will have a brighter and better chance of producing the Governor.
For those who may not yet be fully aware of the dominating influence of power rotation in Delta elections, I would strongly advise that they do not permit themselves to be misled into believing that a Delta Central candidate, no matter how popular, can defeat the combined influence of Okowa incumbency and the widespread support for power rotation. The issue of fair and equitable distribution of power among the three senatorial districts is peculiar and has come to stay in Delta State politics, and it will remain a very potent force in the minds of minority voters. APC cannot wave it aside; if the party really wants to win.
The second issue of importance is candidate quality. Deltans have over the years suffered from maladministration, and they are very desirous of real change in the governance of the State, not just a change of Governor. Therefore, to boost its chances of winning, APC must offer to Deltans a candidate who has the ability to turn around the economy of the state.
What this means is that APC must find and offer to Deltans a candidate of Anioma extraction that the people can trust to deliver dividends of democracy to them. In other words, APC must elect a capable and credible Anioma candidate that it can proudly present and sell to Deltans. This candidate must be trustworthy enough to give adequate comfort to the people of Delta-Central who are definitely eager to return to the governorship in 2023. This is significant because the Urhobo people, who are the largest ethnic group in Delta State, would not support an Anioma candidate of APC that they think would likely seek re-election beyond 2023.
APC, as the only viable opposition in Delta state, could easily throw away its chance to get into the seat of governance in the State if it is not able to resolve these puzzles. Just any Anioma candidate will not suffice for Delta APC to win at the general election. Anioma people have a huge role to play because Deltans in general would be more excited about a fresh candidate without cobwebs in the cupboard; and one with integrity that can be vouched for. They must therefore rally around a candidate that is credible and competent. This is the kind of inspiring candidate that APC would need to win.
The many progressives with governorship ambition in Delta State APC who do not exactly fit the above profile should make the necessary sacrifice by putting the interest of the party, its members and more importantly Deltans above their personal interest.
The big questionnow is will Delta APC be able to find, agree and settle for a credible candidate of Anioma extraction that Delta Central and Deltans in general will sufficiently trust and believe in, or will it let this golden chance pass it by? If it can, then it is on the right path to success. The choice is left to both the leaders and the rank and file of the party, especially its delegates to the primaries to decide. As onewho strongly desire real change in Delta State, I honestly hope APC will take this chance before it with both hands. If not, the future will be more gloomy in it’s quest for Government House Asaba.

Ajiri wrote from Warri, Delta State.

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  1. martins says:

    I agree with d writer 100%. If u look @ d strategy PDP is adopting at d federal level, its a semblance of d recommendations now. Deltans cry for change. It’s obvious in all nooks and crannies. Delta is in bondage. Pdp cohorts will want to entrench their claws deeper in an effort to continually milk d state dry. Delta is their factory & farm land. Pdp has out lived its usefulness & are not sensitive to d pains of its citizens.

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