Published On: Sat, Oct 30th, 2021

Delta Gov 2023: A Glance At The Aspirants

By Tony F.E. Nwaka, Ph.D

While it is likely that some of the said aspirations are mere speculations, subterranean consultations by many of the contenders are intensifying across the state.

Accordingly, I have attempted below (in alphabetical order) to crystallize some of the public opinions expressed about these gubernatorial hopefuls. I must emphasize though that this aggregation of popular impressions is narrowed to the orbit of PDP, and is strictly interpreted from my own pedestal. Therefore, the postulations may not necessarily be representative of actuality.


Pros:  Two-time commissioner for works. Young, calm and humble. His candidacy might appeal to those desirous of a departure from the 1999 pool of political leadership in the state. His Okpe origins also align with the argument for equitable recourse to the parts of Urhobo that are yet to occupy the office of governor.

Cons: Might be considered by the 1999 group as “yet to be fully prepared” for the burdensome responsibilities that come with the office of Governor of Delta State. Might also be caught in the crossfire of supremacy between two eminent Urhobo leaders.


Pros: Former local government council chairman and Commissioner for Agriculture. Easy going, debonair, and profoundly detribalized. He has been around since the founding days of PDP and could draw tremendous political capital from old associations. His Ijaw origins might be an added advantage if the current contentions over the principle of zoning are settled on the order of ethnicity.

Cons: Although his political roots run deep in the 1999 soil, his long detachment from the machinery of governance might constitute crucial challenges to his aspiration.


Pros: There appears to be a general agreement that, in terms of cognate qualifications for the office of governor, he stands head and shoulders above all other contestants. Commissioner for finance under two administrations, former chief of staff to the governor, former principal secretary to the president of Nigeria (the equivalent of COS), and consummate management professional. A decent character that operates above the dross of petty politics.

Cons: A victim of his personality. Numerous opinions seem to suggest that he is too professional, decent, and detached from the mud of Nigerian politics. Then, again, the Ughelli axis, his ancestral base, may pose a problem. Some say that if DC-23 is anchoring its argument on a sustained rotation of the governorship, then such rotation should also logically apply at home among the different regions of the Urhobo nation. They say the Ughelli area has had its fair share of Delta governorship. But beyond all that, the memories of Edevbie’s 2015 gubernatorial adventure appear not to have quite died down in Delta North.


Pros: Retired Auditor-General (local government) of Delta State, with an unimpeachable record of public service. Has not been tainted by the vicissitudes of politics. Although he is as fresh as you can get from the pool of aspiring politicians, he is not a stranger to the dynamics of governance.

Cons: Having not swum much in the waters of politics, he might find it difficult to get the support of traditional politicians, especially in Delta Central where they are determined to retake control of the levers of power. Many people suspect that Esievo’s entry into the governorship race could be another “Obuh Experiment”, and are wary of its corollary consequences.


Pros: A successful businessman with a generous heart and the confidence to take on challenges. Proofs of his industry and enterprise are visible across the Delta landscape. He is expected to bring a business and corporate orientation to governance.

Cons: He does not belong to the mainstream of Delta politics. Then, even if the governorship position is eventually micro-zoned to the Ughelli axis, Gbagi might find the other formidable “in-house” aspirants from the zone quite a handful to contend with.


Pros: A jolly good fellow who has seen many political battles. A former commissioner with extensive contacts across the state. Majemite could also count on the formidable political machine of his wife; herself a former chairman of Ethiope East, her ancestral local government council.

Cons: Just like the other aspirants from the Ughelli axis, he would deploy his most potent political skills to contend with the voices clamoring for equitable rotation within Urhobo component groups. But much more crucial could be the disposition of many unforgiving spirits who may not have completely forgotten some of his 2014/15 political alliances.


Pros: One of the founding fathers of PDP with a massive and incomparable political experience. Indeed James Manager possesses a frightening pedigree. Commissioner for Sports in the administration of Gov. Felix Ibru. Delta State PDP Chairman. Commissioner for Works in the administration of Gov. James Ibori (Ministry of Works at the time included Housing, Energy, Environment, DLA etc). He has been in the Senate for about 20 years, gaining strategic insights into the dynamics of national politics. Of a truth, Manager has seen it all.

Cons: As one of the grandmasters of the old order, he may find it difficult attracting many voters who may be looking for fresher political actors and direction. Will Manager succumb to possible pressures to concede to a younger aspirant, if the Ijaw decide to go to battle en bloc with a consensus candidate?


Pros: An outstanding gentleman. Senior Advocate of Nigeria and two-time Delta State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice. Highly organized and not given to frivolities. Whilst his professional competence is not in doubt, so much appears to be happening around him in recent times.

Cons: He wasn’t really an integral part of the state’s political wagon until his appointment as a commissioner in 2015. Many people tend to ascribe his dramatic ascension to political prominence to the formidable presence of his wife; herself a political amazon of no mean order. But opinions are divided as to how much his gubernatorial acceptability amongst his kinsmen actually benefited from his wife’s powerful influence. Was it a two-edged sword? There is the increasing fear that the current rupture in his matrimonial status may bring complications into his gubernatorial dreams.


Pros: A man of free, jovial spirits. He exhudes a finely moderated temperament and a remarkably friendly character. The longest serving speaker in the history of Delta State. Generally believed to be a renowned team player with incredible skills for stability and harmony in inter-group relations. Sheriff could be the desired bridge between the old and new generations of leadership in the state.

Cons: A major stakeholder in Sheriff’s Okpe backyard appears to have his sights on a different direction. Sheriff must be extra vigilant to avoid the carpet being pulled from under his feet in the slippery grounds of parliamentary politics. Then there is the presumption in many quarters that inspite of Sheriff’s pleasant personal qualities, he would require some intellectually competent heads around him to smoothen out potential cerebral gaps.


Pros: A grassroots politician whose experiences traverse the three arms of government. He was a member of the state assembly, a commisioner, a council chairman, and a lawyer. An impressively detribalized character, with long-standing friendships that cut across the three senatorial zones of the state. His previous quests for the No. 1 seat clearly make his gubernatorial ambition the longest lasting among the pack. There was a joke in those days that if your vehicle broke down on any major road in Delta State and you went for a mechanic. By the time you returned you would find “Odebala for Gov” splashed on the body of your vehicle. A testament to the wide reach of his campaign. To the multitude of PDP followers in the lower rungs of the party’s ladder, Odebala could as well be the most popular of all the aspirants.

Cons: Odebala Could be a victim of his elaborate conversational temperament and overly friendly disposition. Although such populist virtues might endear one to the masses, many kingmakers prefer a less vocal aspirant, with unsmiling facial expressions. Incidentally, this presumption appears to feed the tendency to always perceive Odebala’s ambition as a joke. Could this be the hour that his governorship project finally comes of age?


Pros: An accomplished finance professional. Although he was relatively unknown until his appointment as a commissioner in Uduaghan’s administration, he showed a striking proficiency on the job and an admirable willingness to cultivate very warm interpersonal relationships.

Cons: He hasn’t been visible in political circles since the end of Uduaghan’s administration. This might rob him of the vitally needed political capital. But it is possible he could spring a surprise in the course of the contest. You never can tell with politics. At any rate, many people are still wondering from where he intends to draw his electoral strength.


Pros: He is the current deputy governor of the state. His smooth working relationship with the governor suggests that he has been quite loyal to his boss. Beyond that, Otuaro is believed to have very strong links with the forces powering the agitations for a more committed development of the Niger Delta. With the resilient Ijaw push for the No. 1 seat, it won’t be surprising if Otuaro emerges the consensus candidate among the Ijaw aspirants if they opt for an arrow head to advance their cause.

Cons: He wasn’t really in Delta PDP mainstream until his surprising emergence as Deputy Governor in 2015. Some elements of the 1999 class may not be quite comfortable with his candidacy.

Finally, it is important I make some honorable mentions upon whom the wind of fortune could blow favorably, even though their chances may not have been as pronounced as the major players in the preceding discourse. These are Aguariavwodo, Agas, Ayemidejor, Efe Afe, Ofobruku, and Evelyn Oboro. Indeed you never know. The divine pendulum swings in unpredictable ways. More so in the current cloudy political firmament.

I hope you all enjoyed the analysis.

God bless you.

Tony F.E. Nwaka, Ph.D. is former Delta State ALGON Chairman and Commissioner for Education.

Author of ‘Mountain of Yesterday.’

Vanguard News Nigeria


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