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Published On: Mon, Apr 28th, 2014

Delta 2015: The Bitter Truth About Zoning

By Ese Onajite
LAGOS APRIL 28TH (URHOBOTODAY)-AGREED, equity is fair, equity is justice. This is the pillar on which those from Delta North have hung their demand for the position of Delta State governor to be given to them. However, fairness and justice demand that proponents of zoning must be told the bitter truth that there has never been zoning in Delta State and never will such be.
Many will argue that Governor James Onanefe Ibori’s first term sign-posted the return of democracy in 1999, hence it was an all comers’ affair. But considering that some of Ibori’s most determined challengers for his second term were people like Cairo Ojougboh and Ned Nwoko from Delta North, Anioma’s current argument for zoning is not sincere and falls flat on its face. If Governor Ibori occupied Government House to take the Urhobo turn, what were Ojougboh, Nwoko and others from Delta North thinking when they ventured into the race to slug it out with Governor Ibori if it was truly the turn of Delta Central?

If we assume Governor Ibori was not a pure beneficiary of zoning, what about his successor — Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan who faced serious challenge from Ifeanyi Okowa, Godswill Obielum, Cairo Ojougboh, etc, from Delta North in the PDP primaries in Ogwashi-uku in 2007? To bury the lies of the existence of a zoning arrangement because it exists only in the minds of Delta North people, let us take a look at those who battled it out against Governor Uduaghan during the re-run election in 2011 from the three senatorial districts to show that if there was truly a binding zoning arrangement, the contestants from Delta North and Central would not have run against Dr.Uduaghan from Delta South.
* Accord Party, AP – Peter Oghenerwogaga (M) and running mate, Akinagun Fedelis E. (M)
* African Democratic Congress, ADC – Chief Ngozi Ogbogo (F) and running mate, Michael Akiele (M)
*All Nigerian People’s Party, ANPP – Chief Veronica Bamutumtu (F) and running mate,Prince Omughele (M).
*Citizens Popular Party, CPP – Chief Onokpite Ogbe (M) and running mate, Egho Rossy Arogoghene(M)
* Democratic People’s Alliance, DPA – Mr. Emmanuel Mafiana (M) and running mate, Michael A. Sugo (M).
* Democratic People’s Party, DPP – Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru (M) and running mate, Fidelis Tilije (M)
* Justice Party, JP – Donald Chukwuemeka (Esq) (M) and running mate, Felix Ovogun (M). *Labour Party, LP – Abel Omama O. Edijala (M) and running mate, Obed Onwochie (M).
* Movement for the Restoration and Defense of Democracy, MRDD – John O.Aje Boghuku (M) and running mate, Enibashi Michael (M). *National Majority Democratic Party (NMDP) – Okeya Ojamoro (M) and running mate, Dr. Partick Ikenwayo (M).
*Peoples Democratic Party, PDP – Dr. Emmanuel E. Uduaghan (M) and running mate, Prof. Amos Utuama (SAN) (M).
*Progressive Peoples Alliance, PPA – Mr. Jayu Sumonu Isichei (M) and running mate, Chief Erobuke Alordiah (M).
13. Peoples Redemption Party, PRP – EgbiniOdafe Emmanuel (M) and running mate, ErhuvieOhuvieOhinoavwoma (JP) (M). •Republican Party of Nigeria, RPN – Barrister Ovie Augustine Omo – Agege (M) and running mate, Mrs. Carol Chukwudu Mebi Enuha (F).
Note that I did not mention Mr. Peter Okocha from Delta North who spent millions to challenge the election of Governor Uduaghan up to the Supreme Court. So where lies the claim that Delta State has always practised zoning? The likes of Governor Uduaghan’s Chief of Staff, Dr. Festus Okubor, an aspirant from Delta North who said recently that PDP in Delta fully recognises zoning must not drag Delta State into this power rotation madness that can only guarantee mediocrity.
Even if we must accept that there is zoning in the PDP constitution, all discerning minds will quickly agree that it has never been implemented even at the national level as in all occasions since 1999, the party presidential ticket has been contested by aspirants across geo-political zones. Suffice it to say too that the emergence of President Goodluck Jonathan made a mess of whatever form of power rotation existed and the ascension of Aminu Tambuwal Waziri as the Speaker of the National Assembly finally buried the PDP’s so-called zoning arrangement. Can the current proponents and advocates of the zoning principles in Delta North see that they have been left behind by the progressive wind of change? Little wonder former speaker of the Delta House of Assembly, Mr. Victor Ochei, who supported Okowa in 2007, stated clearly that he is not in support of zoning. So too is Senator Okowa himself who said recently that PDP “itself has not come out to speak about zoning”, and that power rotation should not be used to determine the next governor of Delta State.
Governor Uduaghan’s success at the polls was pure political artistry and mastery of the game by the master himself – James Ibori and not the efforts of any particular tribe. If anyone must be allowed into Government House, it has to be on the basis of qualification, competence and most of all, integrity.
It is foolhardy for Delta North to disturb our peace with ‘equity is fair’, ‘Anioma bu Ofu’ and ‘Delta North deserves a chance,’ when they have always contested for the governorship in all past elections. As it was in 1991, 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011 where everyone, irrespective of their ethnicity and senatorial districts, fought for the governorship position, so shall it be in 2015. For crying out loud, qualified Urhobo, Isoko, Itsekiri and Ijaw sons and daughters are entitled to aspire to be governor of Delta State in 2015 and no one should use the toga of equity or Senatorial District to rob them of their inalienable rights in their fatherland. As much as the Delta Igbos want the governorship, so other Deltans deserve to be given the opportunity to run for the position. Or are there no brains outside of Delta North at this moment in time capable of governing the state?
Let the Delta North, Delta South and Delta Central bring out their best hands and campaign on the issues and allow Deltans choose and not whip up funny and discredited sentiment of “it is our turn”. If Deltans think it is best to have another person from even the South as the next governor, so be it.
Our people must learn to live above board and promote competence above ethnic mediocrity. Our brothers and sisters from Delta North should give us more compelling reasons why they should be allowed to enter into Unity House only on the basis of fairness equity and justice, despite having the state capital with all its associated paraphernalia in their territory. If equity is fair, the state capital which ought not to be located in Asaba must also be moved to a more central and acceptable location.
Any mistake we make in 2015 will have adverse effects on generations yet unborn and if we care about the future, the devious voices of those screaming zoning at high decibels must be silenced. I challenge Delta North to name the venue where Deltans sat down and agreed that power should be rotated among the senatorial zones or ethnic groups in the state. Every Deltan who believes he has a reasonable chance to win should go to the field to fight for the governorship position.
It is crystal clear that the desperation of Anioma to produce the next governor of the state will be a fatal political error for both Delta South and Central if they allow the Anioma agenda to succeed. This is where I agree with the statement of the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) Ovuozorie Macaulay that the agitation of the Aniomas to ride to Unity House will be a revenge mission should the doors be opened for them. But the big question is this, have they been unfairly treated since the days of James Ibori till now? No! Rather, they have had a fair share of appointments and development projects.
Urhobos should be fully aware that the whole gamut on this zoning is targeted at them, to stop them from contesting, but we must say no to this attempt from Anioma. My position aligns with that of Pastor Power Aginighan, a PDP governorship aspirant in 2007 who said “In 1992, Chief Felix Ibru of Delta Central clinched the Social Democratic Party (SDP) ticket after contesting with aspirants from other senatorial districts of the state, while his opponent Prof. Eric Opia of Delta North Senatorial District won the National Republican Convention (NRC) ticket after defeating aspirants from other senatorial districts. When Chief James Ibori emerged governor of the state in 1999, it was also an all-comers’ contest from the party primaries to the general election. In 2007, over 25 Delta indigenes across the three senatorial districts of the state aspired for the governorship ticket of the PDP. The emergence of the incumbent governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, was not a product of any zoning. The capital of Delta State at Asaba in the Delta North Senatorial District cannot be a disqualifier for an indigene from that senatorial district from aspiring.
The fact that the Central Senatorial District has produced two elected governors in the persons of Olorogun Felix Ibru and Chief James Ibori cannot be a reason to prevent any Urhobo from seeking for the governorship slot. Equally, Dr Uduaghan’s being in power for two terms cannot stop any indigene from the Delta South from aspiring. Any other road to political power can only enthrone mediocrity and engender the culture of impunity with emerging leaders parading themselves as imperial lords and tyrants who see the rest of us as conquered people.”
We should all drum for an impartial Deltan who can rally us as a state, as well as bring out the best in our state, not somebody who will sit in Osadebey House simply because he is a product of zoning. The governorship elections have always been an all-comers’ affair and any attempt by the PDP to short change the Urhobos through indefensible zoning which never applied to the Presidency will not only be met with a stiff opposition but a loss of more than 800,000 votes for the President and the PDP.
The governorship election is not a tea party that can be gotten on a platter of gold. Anioma should forget the back-door of zoning that will award to them the exclusive right to the governorship but produce their best who can match the best from other senatorial districts when the whistle is blown.
Any senatorial district that desires to capture such power must prove its political mettle by rallying all other districts and tribes to vote for their candidate and not whip up sentiments that have now proved to be ineffective.
This baseless and senseless cry of zoning must stop now. Let the best emerge to lead our state to achieve its vast potential. And like Christina Aguilera would say “I should not have to prove my ethnicity to anyone. I know who I am.”
These words, you will remember…
ESE ONAJITE a journalist, wrote from Lagos.

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