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Published On: Fri, May 2nd, 2014

Delta 2015: UPU and the Need for Unity

By Annabel Ogheneganre
LAGOS MAY 1ST (URHOBOTODAY)-In the past three weeks, I have been the object of attack by people who I believe are so blindly loyal to Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru that they are not ready to subject their beliefs to empirical and realistic evaluation in the ongoing 2015 debate. I have been called names, ranging from a traitor to a bloody sell out. I got calls and text messages from within and outside Urhobo nation with some writing me off as an ethnic chauvinist prig, all because I have refused to be cowed into jettisoning the Urhobo cause. Considering the attack from some of my readers, some of those who know me personally have cautioned that I should be more circumspect in my approach to the 2015 matters. Most of the attacks came as a result of my support for UPU position for 2015. One of my readers was blunt and direct: “How much were you paid to do this?’’ I couldn’t stand it so I retorted: “I got twice of what Ogboru PAID me in defending him over the years!’’. My caller laughed and apologised for the ‘’insult’’ and we had a good conversation thereafter.
Since I started this project two years ago, I have not been paid a dime to do anything against reason and my conscience. I write based on personal conviction, prevailing circumstances and reality. If I give my readers false hopes, then I have failed in my duty to guide our people on the way to go. I have resisted offers upon offers. Three times, I have been promised cars but I refused to see those who made the offers. Those allegations of having been bought have no proof. There is no man or woman in Urhobo land or beyond who can say I received a dime to do his bidding. It is one major reason why I don’t see people. I simply dread another possibility of failure hence I keep crying out for Urhobo to unite, to forget the past and give our people the chance to prove their patriotic essences. To give people stereotypical labels of enemies to Urhobo interest will not help us. Urhobo must unite for 2015!
When I started this series in June 2012, the very first article I wrote was titled: Where does Urhobo stand? Or Where lies Urhobo interest?! In parts one and two of that series, I stated inter alia that “to synergize the political forces in the Urhobo nation therefore the Urhobo Progress Union remains the best platform. In playing this role, the Urhobo Progress Union should not look at the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as the demon or problem. The problem lies in the people. Personalities should rather be evaluated instead of the party. I want to suggest three alternative action plans for the UPU in the onerous task of installing an Urhobo government in 2015. When I say, Urhobo government I do not mean a government with an Urhobo man as governor, rather, a government that would accord Urhobo its vantage place of honour in the affairs of the state. There are some Urhobo people who would be worse than Uduaghan if they are governors. What is paramount is Urhobo interest and progress. I make bold to say that in the UPU action plan, there should be plan A, B and C. Plan A naturally is producing a governor from the ruling PDP who should be a true Urhobo man indeed. Plan B is a governor from the PDP outside Urhobo land, who is an Urhobo man at heart, that is, one who will not deny Urhobo her due. Plan C is for the entire Urhobo nation to move en-bloc into a neutral political party. Such a movement should send the right signals to Aso Rock since it’s going to be total as anyone who chooses to remain in any party outside the one provided by the UPU shall be on his own. That way, the defection will be so massive that the PDP, DPP etc will lose members to the new platform. These are the kind of actions that will make every Deltans come to the understanding that Urhobo have come to register their mark as a people whose only home is Delta State.’’
This is what I wrote in June 2012, unedited. After UPU has decided to do what I recommended, do you now expect me to fight UPU over what I believed and still believe as the way forward? Back then, nobody cried foul. What many of my readers rejected was the option of an Urhobo at heart. In deferring to them and given the current realities, I have completely ruled out option B. As a matter of fact, the mood of Urhobo people dictates that only options A and C, which include locating a governorship candidate from PDP among Urhobo leaders or moving en-mass to another nationally viable political party to prosecute this project, will be allowed.
Now let me refresh our memories on why I recommended PDP as first choice for the coming challenge. It was also clearly stated in 2012 as follows: “The choice of the PDP as first port of call in the search for an Urhobo candidate for 2015 is predicated on the fact that the PDP, despite public perception concerning its performance records and democratic credentials still remains the strongest party in Nigeria and Delta State” in particular. It is clear to observers that the PDP provides the most viable election-winning platform in our state. It is not an exaggeration to say that as I wrote in 2012, “Half of the goodwill and patronage that Great Ogboru commands can make him the President of Nigeria if he were to be in the PDP.” This is because by virtue of being the party in control of the Federal government, the PDP has enormous influence over all the institutions and machineries that are deployed to conduct elections in Nigeria which include the Police, INEC, the Army etc. Our democracy still has a long way to go and it will take a while to wean the system of such influences. This is the reality.
Going forward, the energy and resources invested in the Ogboru/Urhobo project so far would be saved if the PDP is adopted as the party platform for the actualization of Urhobo goals. If through miscalculation, manipulation or a gang up the PDP does not provide Urhobos the platform to achieve its goals, Urhobos should move en-mass as it did in the recent past but this time to the APC which is presently the only viable opposition party to achieve the pan-Delta cum pan Urhobo shared dreams. What UPU did in 2011 clearly shows that they are ready to swim or sink, to live or die together in pursuit of her dreams and in furtherance of what it believes in. The message is no political party in its right mind will trifle with Urhobos, a people endowed with massive electoral power, who are additionally not afraid to dare, to seek alternative political avenues to realize their dreams.
Again, the above captured the essence of what I wrote in June 2012. I was applauded. So, why am I now accused of being a sell out? Is it because the time to act in that direction has come? Must Urhobo pointlessly be in the opposition to be considered democratic? What is the benefit of fighting and losing always if there is the opportunity to obtain the prize through the major political party of our time? If PDP is given the opportunity to give Urhobo its party ticket and fails, then we can be angry and fight with all our strength. But for now, all I am saying is that we should collectively give PDP a chance.
Another portion of part two of the series under consideration is what I recommended in 2012 as a possible way of getting a popular candidate from the PDP in Delta central. I still stand by what I wrote at that time as follows, “The 2015 project is a serious one and should be handled with all the seriousness it deserves by UPU as in the 2011 project. The coming political push is a make or mar one. Urhobo has suffered enough and the project must be taken seriously by all stakeholders. First, UPU should give PDP leaders in each local government area in Delta Central, the opportunity and assignment of identifying at least, three viable persons suitable for the office of Governor in 2015. Age, qualifications and political experience as well as connection in both high and low places should be among the criteria. Those who are interested should be considered first. For instance, in Ughelli South, names like Prof. Amos Agbe Utuama SAN, Sir Emmanuel Edesiri Aguariavwodo, Dr Chris Oghenechovwen and Dr Patrick Fovie should be considered. In Ughelli North, the likes of Obarisi Ovie Omo Agege, Olorogun Ominimini Chris Obiuwevbi and Mr Sunny Unuesoke could be considered. In Udu, names like Elegbete Moses Odibo, Chief Andrew Orugbo and Evelyn Oputu of the Bank of Industry are possible materials. Uvwie has the amazon – Hon. Evelyn Oboro of the Federal House of Representatives; Sapele has the likes of Chief Paulinus Akpeki, Chief Ufuoma Obule, Bar Ejaife Odebala; Ethiope West may throw up the likes of Dele Otubu, Chief William Makinde, and Chief Ighoyota Amori while in Ethiope East, names like Hon. Chief Akpodiogaga-a Emeyese, Chief Love Ojakovo, Chief Efe Akpobi (now late), and Chief Anthony Oboro comes to mind. Okpe has Chief Tom Amioku, Prof Sam Oyovbaire and many others as resource materials for 2015. The list is by no means exhaustive as the assignment from UPU will help each local government area to locate the very best to be presented to UPU for screening or examination.’’
What I said above in 2012 was only a recommendation under option A. I have not endorsed anybody for 2015 because that is not necessary, at least for now. Nobody has properly indicated interest in running for 2015, which is worrisome to me. What I wrote about Obarisi Ovie Omo-Agege was, considering the patriotism and love for Urhobo he showed during the 2013 Delta Central Senatorial bye election, he essentially should be given the opportunity in the build up to 2015. I stand by my word. If you say Amori is not important to our 2015 struggles, then we are not serious. If we hate Olori Magege and write him off as of no importance at all, he may spoil a lot of things for us. My stand is that we need all the Ogborus, Olori Mageges, Omo-Ageges, Amoris, Emerhors, Dafinones, Odibos etc in our quest to take over government house in 2015. And PDP remains the best bet and first choice. I still stand by my words.
I am not bothered by the attacks on me but I am bothered by the stereotyped mindset of the people and what it portends for 2015. I am afraid we are not prepared to build bridges. In 2011, we went into the election with the hope that all was well. We did not believe anything could go wrong. UPU threw everything into the ring and fought for Ogboru/Urhobo like never before. We did everything possible yet we lost. We lost not because some people sabotaged our efforts at home, we lost not because Amori or Omo-Agege did not support Ogboru, we lost not because Delta north and south ganged-up against Ogboru. No! We only lost because the powers that be in Abuja turned the table against Ogboru. Ogboru won in about 20 local government areas in 2011 as against Uduaghan who won in just about 5 local governments with a small margin. Ogboru won on ground but lost at the political engine room of INEC. Do we want to travel this road again? Sometimes, we label some of our people traitors for want of what to say. They are not the real enemies. Our enemies are the principalities and powers that control INEC and the other institutions of government. On the last day, Uduaghan will stand before God Almighty to tell us how he won the 2011 polls. But that will be too late. In 2015, do we still want them to put pepper in our eyes, again?
This is why I am worried. I had prayed and wanted Ogboru to join PDP but he had his reasons for not joining even though he is best of friend to President Jonathan. If President Jonathan can help Ogboru to win the 2015 polls under Labour Party, why can’t he help him now to get the PDP ticket so that we can all go to sleep and stroll into government house? Which one is easier, getting the PDP ticket for him or helping him to win against the candidate of his own PDP? Can’t we face reality for once? Can’t we see that another grand deception is in the works to give us false hope? I do not believe President Jonathan will during a general election help Ogboru to victory in another party because it will be the equivalent of political suicide for President Jonathan. Most of those attacking me over my stand do not love Ogboru more than I do. I used my pen to campaign for Ogboru between 2012 and last year. But the reality on ground is giving me grave concern. Things are no longer what they were in 2011 or 2012. Things have changed and if I fail to be realistic in my analysis, discerning minds will also blame me for childishly misdirecting the people.
Let us come and reason together. Cheap blackmail and name calling will not help us. Let us be focused on getting the prize. Urhobo is on the match again. Let us explore option A because it represents the best option for us and see what we can get out of it. The fact remains that nobody has shut any door against anybody. Urhobo is on course and nothing has gone wrong. If we remain united, we can make it. It is possible, yes we can!

Miss Annabel Ogheneganre writes from Garki, Abuja. (08092569702 SMS onlyorananabel4christ@hotmail.com)

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