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Published On: Tue, Apr 22nd, 2014

Ogboru: Delta 2015 and Uvwiamuge Declaration

Chief Great Ogboru

By Annabel Ogheneganre
LAGO APRIL 22ND (URHOBOTODAY)-On Saturday April 12, 2014, Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru, celebrated his birthday. The admirable Peoples General in the politics of Delta State has been a phenomenon in the political development of the State. I am one of his numerous fans.
To tell the Ogboru story again is to over flog an obvious political thriller. His best moment came in 2011 when his party DPP won a seat in the senate, 2 seats in the House of Representatives and 9 seats in the State House of Assembly with about 10 others blatantly stolen and set for recovery if the judiciary were alive to its duties. Hope rose to its pinnacle just as the people rekindled the fire to fight even more to make the 2011 victory total.

Since then however, Ogboru’s stock on the political front has been on the decline. His party, the Democratic People’s Party (DPP) began a decline when Late Senator Pius Ehwerido fell out with Ogboru and joined the All People Congress (APC). Sensing lack of future in the party other members of the party elected to the state and national assembly began to quit the party one by one and today all have either joined PDP or APC and the party is now in disarray. Others who have left Ogboru to join APC include his running mate in 2007 and 2011, Mr Fidelis Tilije, Chief Frank Kokori, the Director General of campaign, Chief Richard Odibo, and Chief Ede Dafinone who was Ogboru’s candidate in the last year’s senatorial bye election. This declining fortune of Ogboru has forced many of his supporters to give up on him. But his core supporters still remain glue to this political dinosaur most times for reasons they could not even lay their fingers on.
The election of Senator Emmanuel Aguariavwodo to the senate after the death of Senator Pius Ewherido marked further devaluation and final defamation of Great Ogboru’s DPP and with it came the end of any effective opposition in Delta state which is now comatose, totally dazed and fatally brutalised.
Today, what we have as opposition in Delta state is mere opposition in name. PDP has assumed its commanding height as the dominant party, with the mindset of a mentally deranged giant, set loosed from his chains and wielding a sledge hammer about town, seeking whom to devour. When it descended on the opposition during the re-run poll in October 2013, DPP and APC could not remain the same. They survived the challenge but in tatters. PDP operates like the dreaded Mighty Igor, who deals with his opponent so mercilessly and with some dosage of recklessness or ruthlessness.
While I canvass support for the PDP as my first choice in Urhobo quest to be Governor in 2015, I do not think I would support any of the political harlots who abandoned the cause after riding to victory on the back of Ogboru in 2015. Because, if we value our democracy we will allow the opposition to thrive, though not the kind of destructive opposition being played by the APC at the national level.
And so when the Urhobo Progress Union came with a blue-print on how the politics of 2015 should be played by the Urhobo nation to reap maximum benefits from the struggle, I felt and still feel Urhobo has taken the best decision, either to play Goodluck Jonathan’s friend or his enemy depending on how he carries the Urhobo nation as regard the gubernatorial quest. Viewed dispassionately, the UPU took the best decision on this matter. The next question therefore is where is the place of Great Ovedje Ogboru in the picture as captured by UPU? Is the agenda targeted at anybody? What are the reasons for the extreme positions Urhobo has taken? Can anyone defy this resolution and still survive the coming revolution? Why PDP and APC only? Where is Ogboru in this equation?
These are some of the questions a number of our people have been asking ever since UPU made public Urhobo stand on 2015. First, I do not think anyone is targeted by UPU. I believe very strongly that the UPU decision is in line with the wishes of the Urhobo as expressed in the senatorial bye election where the people voted overwhelmingly to return to the ruling party. That vote has made it possible for Urhobo nation to challenge for the gubernatorial ticket of PDP in the primaries. Secondly, Nigeria is moving towards a two strong party system and Urhobo must strategically position itself in either of these two parties to ensure relevance in national politics.
I had expected that a kind of communique would be drawn and published in some National Dailies on the Uvwiamuge Declaration aside the commentaries in local papers. In politics, decisions are not hidden under the lamp-stand. The whole world should know that Urhobo has taken a stand on 2015. Or are we afraid of consequences if the agenda boomerang? I don’t think so. There is nothing any government will do to Urhobo that is worse than our present state. So let us come all out and make our case in the public court. Will Jonathan deny that we gave him 800,000 votes in 2011 and that he did not give even half an appointment to Urhobo? I am glad that we are ready to even scores in 2015.
First, let it be understood that Great Ogboru is still popular and loved by a cross section of the people. The only fear is the question of whether he can take us to the promised land under the prevailing circumstances. From all indications, it appears Ogboru has hit the glass ceiling and no where further he can take Urhobo to after four shots at the governorship. UPU is scared that to travel the same road of a small and unpopular political party without national spread will not yield the expected result. UPU’s fear is real and understandable. I am totally in support of UPU. What it required therefore is for all Urhobo politicians to either be in the PDP or the APC. Is it too late for Great Ogboru to join either party? People are already asking questions about the veracity of the Ogboru political magic, questions considered unnecessary prior to 2011. People have lost a lifetime fortune in the struggles. Can Labour Party or APGA enter Delta State and still retain the 2011 flavour? I do not think so. We have less than 10 months to the next general election. In 2011, DPP was able to spread like wild fire across the State because most disenchanted or disgruntled PDP leaders enlisted in the struggle to unseat the then Uduaghan government. They did their best but felt disappointed that Ogboru could not close the deal. Today PDP is stronger and Uduaghan who was the rallying point of the opposition will not be on the ballot paper. The E K Clark’s Delta Elders, Leaders, and Stakeholders Forum, a faction of Delta State PDP which was a pillar of the opposition in the state is well back in PDP, further weakening the opposition.
All these factors combined makes it doubtful if Ogboru can deliver victory in 2015 after four previous attempts ended in failure despite the overwhelming support he got especially in 2011.
This brings me to the question of what constitute basic factors in electoral victory in Nigeria. Those factors that make for victory in Nigeria elections are basically popularity, Abuja connections and the system. Popularity accounts for 20 percent while the system and connections account for 80 percent of the factors of electoral victory in Nigeria. Ogboru has the 20 percent of popularity in his kitty but has not shown a convincing proof of possessing the needed contacts, connections and support of the system. The factors that constitute the system are control of INEC, the Police, Army and the Judiciary. When a man is favourably connected to personalities that influence decisions at the top-most echelon of political powers in the country, a lot can work in his favour. PDP or some big elements within the PDP control INEC and the military. During the senatorial re-run poll for instance, some opposition leaders who made provision for security cover were disappointed because of ‘’order from above’’. Such orders usually come from the PDP. The opposition can only win when the candidate is loved and supported by disgruntled PDP elements who will deploy the PDP machinery to favour the chosen opposition candidate. Otherwise, if PDP works as one family, victory for the opposition is near impossible. This is a fact I have come to understand. The APC success in western Nigeria is a case in point.
This is one problem with the Ogboru phenomenon over the years. In 2011 when PDP decided to vomit Uduaghan, casualties followed and the governor almost lost the game. In fact he lost at the poll but won at the level of politics within the ‘’system’’. It was the system that disappointed Ogboru in 2011. Has Ogboru taken care of his system problem? I do not think so and moving to another small party will not solve this obvious barrier to Ogboru ambition. That is one big question that may be bordering the UPU hence the decision to direct everybody to join the major political parties in Nigeria. This is more-so when it is now more than ever before difficult, if not impossible for Ogboru to convince the ordinary voters that he can close the deal this time around if supported. The support he got in 2011 is no longer there. He got the peak of support in 2011. Many of those who stuck their neck out for him in 2011 have moved on. He remains loved and popular. But that popularity can only make sense politically if he can translate it into victory. He wasn’t able to do just that in the past and he has so far not given us any reason to believe that 2015 will be any different.
Ogboru is my political hero. But in practical terms, if Urhobo wants to be governor again, can Ogboru lead Urhobo to victory? That is the big question. If we continue on the path of sentiment without a realistic probe into our common course for recovery from Uduaghan’s punitive reign, where do we go from here?
Nobody has rejected Ogboru. I love Ogboru and nobody can ever change that. But on the 2015 governorship we cannot afford to gamble. What I am after is that Urhobo must produce the next Governor, whoever he may be. Last week, I wrote to ask that Omo-Agege be given a chance to play his part in the coming struggle. He may or may not run for Governor. But he is high up there among Urhobo politicians with the capacity to deliver victory for Urhobo. That is the reality today and I will not destroy one person for another. We need every one, especially those who are committed to working with UPU.
I had consistently maintained that the problem is not PDP or any party for that matter. The problem is in the character of those who are driving the system. It is in all of us. Prior to this time, I also expressed serious reservation with Prof Amos Utuama, the Deputy Governor of Delta State who is from the same Ughievwen area with this writer. I opposed Utuama on account of age and what I consider to be his failure to fight for Urhobo in the Uduaghan’s administration. The same applies to Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi, who I consider to be a ‘’political hooligan’’. But now that everyone has been mandated by UPU to make contributions to this project in the two main political parties, all hands must be on deck. And my hope and prayer is that at the end, Urhobo will be united to work as one under the leadership of UPU. On Uvwiamuge I stand and wherever UPU goes, I go.
However, as a lover of Ogboru, my heart tells me that it must be Ogboru, but based on the realities of the moment, my head tells me Ogboru can’t make it. The stakes are so high for Urhobo that I am inclined to go with my head because what Ogboru needs to close the deal we don’t have to give to him. And it is for these same reasons that I believe that PDP is the best platform for the realisation of our goal.
All we need is a person who understand the system enough to offer us the 80% which the system support and connections account for in sealing the deal which Ogboru obviously lacks.
Clearly, the options available to Ogboru now are do as UPU has directed by joining either PDP or APC; or defy UPU and join Labour as been rumoured. None of these options are palatable at this late stage in the electoral cycle. For me defying UPU is not an attractive option at all. It will be political suicide to do so. Ogboru will be better served by being on the side of UPU, if only to show his appreciation for the support which UPU and the Urhobo nation gave to him in the past.

Miss Annabel Ogheneganre writes from Garki, Abuja. (08092569702 SMS only or ananabel4christ@hotmail.com)

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