Published On: Sat, Oct 12th, 2013

Delta Central Bye-Election:Die is Cast as 843,411 Voters Cast their Votes Today

LAGOS OCTOBER 12TH (URHOBOTODAY)-The Delta Central senatorial by-election will hold today in eight local governments constituting the Urhobo nation, Delta State.
The die is cast among the three major political parties in the district-Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), All Progressives Congress (APC) and Democratic Peoples Party (DPP). After the poll, the candidates- O’Tega Emerhor (APC), Olorogun Emmanuel Aguariavwodo (PDP) and Chief Ede Dafinone (DPP)-will know their fate.
The seat became vacant few months ago, following the death of Senator Pius Ewherindo, who was elected in 2011 on the platform of the DPP led by Chief Great Ogboru.

Many Urhobos have returned home since Thursday in solidarity with the candidates of their choice. According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), 843, 411 registered as voters. The commission has promised a transparent poll. To make it possible, it solicited for the cooperation of the stakeholders.The police command has also given assurance of security during the poll, urging the candidates and voters to abide by the rules.
In this by-election, none of the three candidates can be dismissed with a wave of the hand. But many factors, according to analysts, will shape the poll. Although the PDP has dominated the state since 1999, that power of incumbency collapsed during the last senatorial election in Delta Central. DPP was endorsed as the party of choice by the Urhobo. During this electioneering, that perception changed for two reasons. The APC candidate came with a bold challenge. The Urhobo nation also reckons with him as a great leader, philanthropist and strong personality. Also, his party came with clear manifestos.
Many things may work against the PDP. The cry of marginalisation is loud in Urhobo land. The indigenes have alleged that both the federal and state governments have neglected the ethnic group. Recently, a politician from the area, Chief Ovie Omo-Agege, complained to President Goodluck Jonathan that, despite its huge population, Urhobo has no minister in the Federal Executive Council. Other Urhobo politicians have also complained that the distribution of appointments by the President has always favoured the Ijaw.
However, it appears that the ethnic group is looking beyond the DPP for salvation. In the past, Urhobo distanced itself from the progressive bloc, owing to its deep-seated sentiment against the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the Action Group (AG) Premier of the defunct Western Region, who re-christened Olu of Itsekiri as the Olu of Warri, despite the fact that three ethnic groups-Itsekiri, Ijaw and Urhobo-exist in Warri. But, the people, who had rejected the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) and Alliance for Democracy (AD), have not extended the hostility to the APC, which they perceived as a better alternative.
Urbobo leaders have maintained that the DPP, which produced Ewherindo more than two years ago, had depleted, owing to the defection of some members to the APC. It was evident that a split had occurred in the party before the senator passed on. Many APC leaders were surprised that Ogboru refused to participate in the merger that culminated in the birth of the main opposition party in the country. “DPP is now an isolated minority party, an orphan, and, if it is denied victory, nobody will fight for the party. We have been clamouring for a better political platform and APC has given the Urhobo that platform”, said a politician from the district.
It is a big test for the APC, which has been flaunting its national spread and credential of its governors and national leaders. This is the first major election and challenge the party will confront. Many youths in the district, who assessed the candidates, said that, in a free and fair election, Emerhor may have an edge. According to them, the APC candidate has done much for the district by attracting financial institutions, which generated employment. He is also perceived as a philanthropist, whose contributions have been acknowledged by the Urhobo Progressive Union (UPU). The association recently gave a medalist to Emerhor, who is serving as the chairman of its fund-raising committee.
The PDP is working assiduously, but it has not impressed the people during the senatorial campaigns. Other parties have alleged that PDP intends to rig then poll, an allegation the party has denied. Aguariavwdo is perceived as President Jonathan’s choice. But many have said that he has issues to settle at home. Many Urhobo have not forgiven him for resigning as the Niger Delta Development Commission (NNDC) chairman to contest for the governorship. “As the NDDC chairman, he was regarded as the governor of nine oil-producing states. Many really wanted him to continue in that important office”, a source said. Besides, a section of the PDP is angry that the 2011 candidate, Chief Ighota Amori, should have been compensated with the ticket for his persistent loyalty. During his campaign tour, the PDP flag bearer was harassed by some thugs. To analysts, that has demonstrated that he is not a popular candidate.
In the DPP, the candidate, Dafinone, has earned the appellation of ‘Daddy’s boy’. This is because he wants to repeat his father’s feat as a senator. The elder statesman, Senator David Dafinone, was a senator in the Second Republic on the platform of the proscribed National Party of Nigeria (NPN). The younger Dafinone is facing some challenges. The bitter primaries in the DPP has generated post-primary crisis. But Dafinone has the backing of the majority in the party. The question is whether the chartered accountant can deliver the votes to his party like the late Ewherindo.
Across the eight councils, opinions differ. The total number of registered voters is 843,411. In Ethiope West Council, there are 84,262 registered voters. This is Amori’s stronghold. Unless the people are pacified before the poll, they may turn their back at the PDP. Sapele local government has 95,031 voters. The council is made up of Itsekiri and Urhobo people. The three candidates will struggle for the votes there. But some observers said that, based on the Amori factor, protest votes cannot be ruled out. According to the electoral commission, 90,559 people registered to vote in Ethiope East. This is the home of Ogboru. Definitely, the political king will sway the votes there. In Udu council, there are100,656 voters. If the acrimony that trailed the rejection of Richard Odigbo by the DPP is not resolved, the party may not make headway there. In the local government, the APC state legislator is on ground. In Okpe local government, there are 79,436 voters. It is the home of Prof. Sam Oyevbaire. DPP and PDP will slug it out there. 147, 261 registered in Uvwie Council. It is the APC’s stronghold. Mr. Festus Keyamo and Akpore are from the area. It is the largest local government in the district. Ugheli South, the home of Ewherindo, has 94,811 voters. Ugheli South, the home of Emerhor, has 151, 425.

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