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Published On: Tue, Apr 1st, 2014

Much Ado about Power Shift in Delta State

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By Prince A.Abugo
LAGOS APRIL 1ST (URHOBOTODAY)-The agitation for “turn by turn” rotation of the office of Governor through “power shift” is the political issue today. Since Felix Ibru and James Ibori from Delta Central served two terms and Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan from Delta south is about to complete his two terms, agitators believe equity and justice demands Delta North is next. When Chief Felix Ibru contested in SDP, he had a strong opposition from the three senatorial districts within the state before he triumphed as a candidate. Same with Chief Eric Opia from Delta north in NRC, under the two party system decreed by General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida.
Chief Ibru won but would Opia have stepped down for Ibru if he had won because of power shift agreement? In 1999 Chief James Ibori emerged as the PDP Governorship candidate while Chief James Kragha emerged the Governorship candidate of then A.P.P, these two candidates faced stiffest internal party primaries from aspirants across the state. If the aspirants that lost had won as party candidates and elected Governor of the State, would they have stepped down because of an imaginary power shift?
The state P.D.P chairman Chief Peter Nwaoboshi, could not allow his heart to control his head when he betrayed emotions on power shift controversy. He would have played the statesman and remind the party structure and political appointees in the state of the need to support Gov. Uduaghan the present occupant instead of heating up the polity, and conclude that when we reach the bridge we shall cross it. He would have reminded both aspirants and Ovuzorie Macaulay that leadership is about competence, character, drive and experience not the dehydrated virus of power shift, he would have expanded on the values the P.D.P stands for in selecting the best to deliver. The SSG never believed Delta north cannot produce the Governor of the state but that patriotism should drive aspiration and ambition, that competence and knowledge of the state rather than reliance on “power shift” should be the issue. We need the best no matter where he or she comes from, those who are jostling to rule a state as diverse as Delta on a concept of power shift are lazy, bereft of ideas and are encouraging ethnic division and promoting mediocrity above competence. Governor Uduaghan never relied on this puerile concept; he was driven by self confidence despite the turbulent political battle waged within and outside the P.D.P to unseat him.
In the P.D.P Ogwashi-Uku primaries that divided the Party in 2007, Uduaghan contested against candidates across the three Senatorial districts before Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa the current senator representing Delta North who came second stepped down to save the party from a re-run and further acrimony. After the elections, the opposition was intensified and he had to face another election when the electoral tribunal in 2011 annulled his election. When Uduaghan sought a second term in 2011; the same indices were at play. Babangida created a state for Delta State agitators without a capital and created a capital for the Anioma agitators without a state. Since then, the two state agitators have always lived in suspicion of one another, the agitation for Anioma state stems from this, recently a delegation of Anioma traditional rulers visited the National Assembly and some opinion leaders, armed with two requests: the need to create Anioma out of Delta State and for them to produce the Governor of Delta State in 2015.
Then the agitators from Warri province wanted Delta state with capital at Warri, Ughelli or Kwale, while Anioma parts of Benin province wanted a state with a capital at Asaba. Unfortunately, since Babangida foisted the two provinces as a state, no effort has been made to bridge the gap, so politicians as vultures fed on its flesh to advance their interest. Any person who wants to rule Delta State must base his campaign on issues, pedigree, competence and knowledge of the state and its people, we cannot throw away our best simply by where one comes from, we must rely on pedigree, character of a leader the state can see to be above ethnic and sectional consideration. This is where success starts, we need a Governor who will be father to all, acceptable and cannot be tied to power shift that encourages sectional interests. The outburst of Nwaoboshi were retrogressive, a leader of his position who wants Delta North to produce the Governor in 2015 must be reconciliatory, he should have used the opportunity as a bridge of understanding across Delta South and central, he should have shown competence and maturity because what the SSG did was telling the truth when tradition forbids the truth to be told. The King is sick yet the SSG defied tradition by stating that the King is sick. I would advice any aspirant who is genuine from any part of the state not to commit suicide by drinking from the vinegar cup of power shift, if he desires to be Governor. Uduaghan who hails from Delta South has his roots in Delta South and Central and used this to his advantage. The cultural affinity, trade and commerce, inter ethnic marriages and treaties between the Urhobo, Isoko, Ijaw, Itsekiri and Ndokwa are age long that cannot be divorced. Their history cannot be complete without a reference to Ndokwa nation, The Urhobo of Orogun speaks dual languages of Urhobo and Ndokwa, and also many Isoko communities speak Ndokwa in addition to their mother dialect. It is this eternal affiliation that makes them see Warri as their eternal capital, a home with a soul of indivisibility.
Governor Uduaghan cannot divorce himself from his origin, he was brought up among them and understands their sentiments, when his tenure ends; he will come back to them. Therefore, the age-long understanding of Delta south in electing their senator should not be to the barren agitation for power shift. What we need is a bridge builder, a leadership that will steer us from the current agitation of Anioma state to the realization that we must live in one state where though tribe, tongue and culture may differ in brotherhood we stand. We need a leader from Delta North whose heart is in Delta South, home in Delta Central and by blood Delta North. A leader whose zeal of building bridges of understanding across the state discards sectionalism and use the office to advance the state and its people. I have met some Deltans who are uncomfortable with the ethnic politics of Ohaneze in parts of Delta north, especially when Amb. Ralph Uwechue became the President-General of Ohaneze. Also when MASSOB re-surfaced in parts of the state, it gave credence to the crisis of identity. These differences are so entrenched that we need a leader in the mould of Mahatma Ghandi, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jnr. who can transform these perceptions, worries and fears into trust, peace and unity, this is the dearth of ideas in the politics to succeed Uduaghan.
Delta north aspirants must put on their thinking cap because it is not exclusive to any section. What have they done to reach other parts of the state? What have they done to appeal to traditional institutions, socio-cultural groups, women and youth groups in other parts? What have they done to win confidence and trust of opponents within and outside PDP? Aspirations must not end in billboards and posters alone; it must go beyond this because our differences must be understood and addressed. The illusion that Governor Uduaghan will give anyone that comes from Delta north, the Governorship seat should be replaced with “work and pray” because even Governor Uduaghan and his predecessors never benefited from such “Greek Gift”. They laboured, toiled with sweat and tears to realise their ambition. This may be Delta north time but they stand a chance of bugling it because power shift agitators are political weaklings hunted by inferiority and incompetence. Power shift has given a platform to political sycophants whose desire is to acquire power for sectional goals. Felix Ibru, James Ibori and Emmanuel Uduaghan emerged not through sectional goals yet developed the entire state. We can rise from this drunken fantasy and begin a process where an aspirant is judged by character, competence, pedigree and acceptability. Unless this is done, sycophants will continue to distort political leadership.

Prince A. Abugo Wrote from Uzere Delta State

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