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Published On: Wed, Sep 3rd, 2014

Delta 2015: Let Equity and Justice Prevail over Tribal Politics

By Dr Fred Latimore Oghenesivbe
LAGOS SEPTEMBER 3RD (URHOBOTODAY)- I have read several posts in social media and newspaper articles written by some political actors and party faithful who tend to favour Urhobo candidate for 2015 Delta governorship elections. They anchored their quest on the fact that Urhobos are majority in the State, State capital is in Delta North and that Delta North sons and daughters occupy juicy political appointments and positions both at the state and federal levels and therefore do not deserve to produce Governor in 2015. Available checks revealed that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has fingered a retiring Permanent Secretary in the Delta State civil service, Mr. Tony Chuks Obuh, who hails from Agbor in Delta North as its principal governorship aspirant for 2015 elections.
Let me now address issues one after the other. It is true that Urhobos are majority in terms of population in the State. This advantage is divine and a privilege from God. It is not to oppress the minority. That Urhobo ethnic group are majority does not translate to using that numerical strength to relegate minority groups to the background politically. We need to be our brother’s keepers and extend hands of love and politics of inclusion to the minority groups to enhance love, peace, security and unity.
The Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria has been traced to the North’s claim of population supremacy and their divine rights to continue to rule Nigeria to the exclusion of the minority groups in the country. Therefore, President Jonathan’s emergence by the finger of God in favour of the minority has provoked acute anger occasioned by massive bombings and killing of innocent Nigerians. Deltans must learn from the Northerners’ mistakes which has caused this nation untold sorrow, tears and insecurity. Urhobos majority is a divine favour which should not be used coercively on the minority brothers and sisters. I am an Urhobo and proud to be one. We are well known to be peace lovers, friendly, accommodative, reasonable and proactive in balancing life equations. We must not deviate from our golden qualities.
Besides, we must learn to play politics of “always gaining in every government” and not always engage in “fight to lose politics” as has been the case in recent years. Urhobos fought Uduaghan with several court cases after elections in 2007 and 2011 respectively and we lost in all of court cases. Now, some people want us to fight Delta North candidate in 2015. No. We must not do that. We must join hands with Tony Obuh so that at the end of the elections we can look straight to his face and demand for our share of political appointments and equal development across board.
Secondly, we all know that General Babaginda single handedly use his power to cite Delta state capital in Asaba to please his late wife, Mariam. It was never debated in the National Assembly or State House of Assembly. It was by military might and we must put it behind us. The question to ask is that, if the state capital was to be located in Ughelli, for instance, will it be right and justiceable for any Ughelli son or daughter to become the State Governor? The correct answer is YES. Therefore, the issue of state capital does not hold waters. Anybody can aspire to become the governor and move to Asaba to control the affairs of the State. Chief Felix Ibru and James Ibori controlled Asaba and the State as Governor during their tenure as governors of Urhobo extraction.
Thirdly is the issue of the high profile political appointments and Juicy positions occupied by sons and daughters of Delta North both at the state and federal levels. I made it clear in my previous piece that we the Urhobos should not be jealous of the achievements of our brothers and sisters in Delta North; rather we should emulate them by playing politics of “collective progress” and give up the present style of “self and family politics.” In Delta North, they help each other politically by strategically fixing their folks in sensitive positions of great rewards in government. What has our Urhobo leaders in government done to fix our qualified folks in juicy political appointments and in prime places in civil service? We should blame ourselves and not get jealous of prime time political actors in Delta North. Delta North knows the tricks for greatness in governance and that’s why they lobby extensively to fix their people in prime positions in government.
Urhobo political leaders and technocrats should wake up and begin to do the right things by fixing our folks in juicy appointments in government and in civil service both at state and federal levels. This is the cure to our political backwardness and not the threat of invoking “laughable curses” on our people in 2015 as proposed in the undemocratic “Uvbiamuge Declaration” of the Urhobo Progress Union (UPU). The UPU in that declaration seeks to produce Urhobo Governor at all cost in 2015and threatened to issue curses on those who will vote for non-Urhobo candidate which is a clear pointer to the rejection of power shift to Deltat North.
It is strongly recommended that Delta North should produce the next governor of the state and thereafter power will ultimately shift again to Delta Central. The principle of equity, justice and good conscience should of a necessity, in the instant case, override tribal considerations or sentiments. Peace and unity is superior to ethnicity, tribalism or nepotism. The twenty first century political engineering is largely anchored on the sound principles of equity, fairness and justice which I duly subscribe to when it comes to the all important debate as to which senatorial district should produce the state governor in 2015.
The Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) should of a necessity promote politics of all inclusiveness, unity, co-existence and love. Politics of bitterness should be avoided like a plague. It destroys and once acrimony is planted in the state politics it will take hundreds of years to erase it from the mentality and reasoning of our brothers and sisters in Delta North. In as much as the Urhobos want to have power there is also the urgent need to consider the feelings and aspirations of the minority group in the state. We are practicing constitutional democracy and its beauty is derived from freedom of choice by the individual and not choice by threat, intimidation and coercion as UPU now want to impose on its people during the gubernatorial elections in 2015.
All over the world and in modern democracies, the selection of party flag bearer is an internal exercise of the party while the making of a governor or the president is through the instrumentality of general franchise by the generality of the people. Deltans have not been denied of this right to choose their governor and therefore the issue of “political godfatherism” does not arise. PDP as a party reserves the right to look around through the assistance and wise counsel of their elders and leaders to figure out a principal aspirant. The consensus aspirant should necessarily be a party loyalist and a flexible brand to market. A brand that will be less complicated to market is most ideal, such that all other aspirants will easily blend with the principal aspirant to garner victory for the party.
Finally, in constitutional democracies all over the world and in the spirit of loyalty to the party, if your preferred candidate or my favourite candidate did not get the party’s gubernatorial ticket, the best thing to do is to accept the choice of the party and support the consensus candidate. Tribal politics is uncivilized and belong to the 18th century political calculations. I strongly believe that after the turn of Delta North senatorial district to produce the governor in 2015, power will certainly shift again to Delta central senatorial district which will enable the Urhobo nation to produce another governor. As it is today, the district has produced two governors namely; Chief Felix Ibru and Chief James Ibori. Delta South produced incumbent Governor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan. For equity and justice to prevail over tribal politics, Delta North should have it this time around to keep Delta Sate United.
Dr Fred Latimore Oghenesivbe, is a Lagos based political analyst and full member of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA).

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