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Published On: Tue, Feb 18th, 2014

Delta 2015: Power Shift or Credible Leadership?

By Bobson Gbinije
LAGOS FEBRUARY 18TH (URHOBOTODAY)-“Our object in the construction of the state is the greatest happiness Of the whole and not that of one class” Plato
“All well governed states and wise princes have taken care not to reduce the nobility to despair, nor the people to discontent” Niccolo Machievelli

To expurgate the Byzantine tentacles of politico-socio-economic gallimaufry from our society, leaders are elected and democratically mandated to wield power in the interest of people. The power so vested, is expected to be executed on the lucent plinth of constitutionality, fair play, justice and equity. Indeed, the essayist, statesman and philosopher Thomas Jefferson said in his historic Maryland speech in 1809 that, “the care of human life and happiness and not their destruction is the only legitimate object of good government”.
But the inability of our leaders past and present to practice the Aristotelian concept of the pursuit of the greatest good for the largest number, altruistic commitment, failure to see the Nation, State and Local Government Area as one constituency under their leadership etc has given rise to what sociologist call structural distrust, mistrust and fears. The people now believe that the only way development can come to their areas is only when their kinsmen, townsman and tribal cohorts are in power. This has given rise to the clamor in most nations and states etc for power shift, which is seen by some political analysts as one of the taboos to pure and modern democracy.
Today, in delta state the power shift Syndrome has attained an unthinkable political crescendo, so much that, it is already setting the stage for a great political mélange and Salmagundi in 2015. The Aniomas, Ijaws, Isokos, Urhobos etc are already strategizing. Delta state is a melting pot. It is a mini Nigeria with 25 Local Government Areas and over 8 ethnic groups. It is a consequence of Willinks Commission (1957/58), which became superimposed in the old Mid- Western Region chipped off old Western Region then in 1963, it came into Bendel state until it finally gained the long sought-after autochthonous status in August 1991, as Delta state (the big or is it the finger of God)?
The Urhobo ethnic group in terms of demographic data constitutes about 51.4% of the state. Indeed, they enjoy numerical superiority over all the ethnic groups in the state and they have had two democratically elected governors ever since the creation of the state- chief Felix Ibru and Chief James Onanafe Ibori and they are clamouring for an Urhobo Governor in 2015.The question arises, for how long will the Urhobo ethnic group continue to hold on to the Governorship position in Delta state? Is the Governorship position the exclusive preserve and birth right of the Urhobo people? Will other ethnic groups, exclusive of the Itsekeris continue to be political underdogs in Delta state because the Urhobos are in vast majority? Will there be peace, progress and tranquility under such a system. The answer, without slips of prolixity is a resounding and outright capital No.
One of the tragedies of power is in its ambrosial insatiate. When you are at an advantage you want to consolidate your hold on to power with peremptory magistracy, but when you are at a disadvantage you vociferously assert your rights to that position. This instinctual edacity and natural desire to hold on to power have continued to be a troglodyte and Paleolithic idiosyncrasy of man. But there must be a balancing through political synchronization aimed at ensuring equity through adequate representational participation in the wheels of governance.
In the old western region the Edo’s clamored for power shift to forestall the yoke of Yoruba’s domination. This ultimately led to the creation of the old Mid-Western state and later Bendel State. The political metamorphosis continued until the creation of Delta state. You will observe that once a New state or status quo is created there always emerges a dominant group. In our peculiar situation in Delta state the Urhobos are now the dominant group. Are the Urhobos in a political dilemma over power shift?
Will power now shift to the Delta Central Senatorial District, the North or South Senatorial District? Was there an amicably agreed functional formula to that effect amongst the political parties? It will however be tantamount to political escapism and despotism for the Urhobos to say that politics is a game of numbers only, and that the minorities should have their say and let the majority have their way.
The concept and practice of majority rule or numerical superiority does not mean the dominance of the polity by tribal, clannish and parochial intents, it is the prevalence of enlighten votes cast in the passing of bills in democratic settings to ensure that the ballot and not the bullet holds away. This is consistent with the fundamental proposition of Marxian dialectics that “All boundaries in nature and society are conventional and mobile, that there is not a single phenomenenon which cannot under certain conditions be transformed to its opposite”. The minorities in Delta state deserve equity.
But those who go to equity must come with clean hands. Do these minority groups comprising the Delta North and Delta South Senatorial districts have the right caliber of leaders to carry Deltans along? Are they prepared for leadership albatross? Are they aware that the Delta Central Senatorial District where the Urhobos dominate, although they cut across virtually all the senatorial districts, have only had two slots at the Governorship- one truncated by a military coup and the other had eight years. Is not too early for power shift in Delta state? Is it the power shift that is crucial for Delta state now or credible leadership?
We are aware that Urhobos have twenty-three kingdoms and two of these have had the opportunity of ruling Delta State. It is clear, that the other kingdoms, which constitute part of the Urhobo collectivity, are also crying of marginalization, oppression and for power to shift to them, even when an Urhobo had been
Governor of Delta state.
The proclivity and nature of man is so horrendously greedy when it comes to power and money, that no amount is sufficient for him.
We will not all be calling for power shift if we had leaders who are credible, patriotic and altruistic.
Let our leaders and political aspirants look upon the whole, not the part, let us remember the past and look forward hopefully to the future, let us march forward in solidarity and unity of purpose and together build a Delta state and a Nigeria ever more united, greater and stronger. The concept of power shift will die natural death if our leaders decide today to be committed to the tenets of good leadership. If we find a good leader we will not ask for power shift. After all Plato said “democracy is a charming form of government, full of variety and disorder, dispensing a kind of quality to equals and unequals alike”.

•Gbinije wrote in from Warri

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