The stage is now set for a theatre of war among the flag bearers of the major ruling parties in Delta State.
The major contenders are Senator Ifeanyi Okowa of the Peoples Democratic Party; his counterpart in the All Progressives Congress, Chief O’tega Emerhor; and Chief Great Ogboru of the Labour Party.
While Ogboru emerged as the consensus candidate of his party, Okowa defeated 24 others in a keenly contested primaries to emerge as his party’s candidate.
Emerhor defeated Chief Fidelis Tilije to emerge the APC’s candidate.
The duo of Emerhor and Ogboru are presently causing upset in the Delta Central Senatorial District of the state over who should be adopted as the consensus candidate of Urhobo ethnic nationality of the state against Okowa of the PDP, who hails from the Owa axis of Ika North East Local Government Area of Delta North Senatorial District.
Unperturbed, Okowa, a medical doctor turned politician, popularly referred to in the political parlance as the “Ekwueme of Delta North politics”, has since rolled out his Okowability blueprint, tagged: Prosperity for All Deltans, to defeat whoever the Urhobo Political Union, the umbrella body of the Delta Central Senatorial District people, adopt as their consensus candidate.
Since 2006, Okowa has remained undeterred in his quest to be governor of the state, but Emerhor, an Ughelli born retired banker, has since vowed to end PDP’s 15 years misrule in Delta State.
For Ogboru, who is said to be currently holding the highest record of election disputation in Nigeria, the prevailing political atmosphere in the state is characterized with fraud, hence, the wind of change must be urgently blown against former Governor James Onanefe Ibori’s age-long hegemony.
Although, there are about 30 registered political parties in the state, it is obvious that Ogboru has lost his popularity across the state, especially now that he has collapsed his Democratic Peoples Party structure into the Labour Party.
While it is therefore doubtful if he can garner the kind of sympathy votes lavished on him during the January 10, 2011 Court of Appeal ordered rerun election and April 24, 2011 governorship election in the state, the Labour Party he decamped to is not popular in the state because it has never won any of the 29 seat in the state’s House of Assembly, neither has it won any seat in the state’s 25 council areas.
It is believed he can’t fly high in the contest.
On the other hand, Okowa’s unstoppable moves since he stepped down for the incumbent, Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, after placing a remarkable second during the 2007 PDP primary elections, his body language and political brinksmanship has left no one in doubt that he is grounded in grassroot politics. This is regarded as awesome.
Since Okowa formerly declared for the race on October 20, 2014 in a mother of all rally, he had maintained his stand that: “I am determined to create a virile civil service whose full potentials will be developed through proper recruitment and focused capacity building,” vowing: “The people of the state shall be blessed and improved upon in the tenure in which I am Governor of Delta State.”
His ambition received a new boost based on this position. Okowa’s chances of winning the race is very high because apart from being a loyal member of his party, he has been tested, proven and trusted.
How? In preparation for the return of the country to democratic rule in 1998, he pitched his tent with the party, coordinating the Grassroots Democratic Movement and the James Ibori Campaign Organization.
Owing to his unbroken service as a council chairman and Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Water Resources Development and Health to Ibori before he was appointed the Secretary to the State Government in 2007, the position he held until 2011 when he picked the Delta North Senatorial District form to replace Senator Patrick Osakwe, who spent 12 years in the Senate, he is viewed as someone who has a clinical understanding of Delta State.
With the 12 bills, including that of the Management of Sickle-Cell and those bordering on National Health, which has passed through third reading, which he sponsored at the National Assembly, the senator, who just completed over 40 months in the National Assembly, told his teeming fans: “Delta State is just springing forth to glory.”
Pundits have adjudged his campaign blueprints for the development of the state as one of the best so far.
Again, as a great mobilizer, his stronghold on grassroot politicians may see him through the governorship race. No wonder he has insisted: We have been able to conquer as a party and we shall continue to conquer through the challenging moments of our country. We may have fallen with loaded challenges, we shall prevail since the world has not come to an end.” It is obvious that he has fallen apart with Governor Uduaghan.
The Eagle Online gathered that Okowa allegedly incurred the wrath of Uduaghan when he allegedly connived with the former acting Governor of the state, Rt. Hon. Sam Obi, who replaced Uduaghan in the wake of the November 9, 2010 Court of Appeal verdict which ordered a rerun election in the state, and compelled him to pay the billions of naira contract money the state was owing him.
Pundits are of the view that he has to settle scores with the governor for effective campaign in 2015. Unperturbed that Okowa won his party ticket, Emerhor, who lost his Delta Central Senatorial District bye-election to replace late Senator Pius Ewherido of the defunct Democratic Peoples Party to Senator Emmanuel Agwuariavwodo of the PDP, but has now won the governorship ticket of his party after beating Tilije during his party’s primary election, has maintained an “enough is enough” stance on PDP domination in the state since 1999, promising that “all the wrongs and starvation the ruling party have inflicted on people of the state will assuaged by next year”.
Besides flaying the selection of Governor Uduaghan by his predecessor, former Governor James Ibori, he explained that Uduaghan’s trade is not to be in politics, “but he was foisted on Deltans to cover up for the 15 years of PDP barrenness, sinister umbrella politics and its voodoo, mere cosmetics and media propaganda administration in Delta State”.
He said the favourable time to redeem the state has come, vowing that after defeating Okowa, Ogboru and the sole candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, Chief Emmanuel Ibordor, next year, “dirty tricks, unholy alliance, corruption and conspiracy in the governance of Delta state, which the state is known for across the world, will give way to all-inclusive cum people-oriented government”.
Emerhor said Okowa will not only lose but his party also. He added: “Ruling party can lose elections and PDP will lose to APC in 2015 because the people have decided to retrieve their common patrimony from the conquistadores. If the elections are not slow or late and specifically free and fair in the best interest of democracy and top government functionaries do not hijack the elections for Okowa, I will defeat all opponents.”
Emerhor’s chance of succeeding Uduaghan next year is very, very high.
The political arrangement of the Urhobo Political Union, a pressure group that allegedly foisted Chief David Edevbie on Uduaghan at the last minute of the PDP primary before he lost, favours him.
The Urhobo bloc that constitutes the majority ethnic nationality in the state may in protest offer him their votes because they are bent on producing the next governor and Emerhor is credibly their son, not minding his political affiliation.
Also, the PDP is aware that Emerhor’s footprint in the neighbourhood of politic is not just by accident, especially going by the way he turned around the party’s self-imposing secretariat along the West-End axis of Asaba, the ruling party will not take him for granted.
The political atmosphere in the state is currently charged, following the titanic battle ahead in 2015, especially now that Okowa has not only boasted that his party will replicate the victory it has gained in the state since the advent of democracy in 1999 in 2015, but has gone ahead of other candidates to inaugurate a 71-man campaign council to midwife his electioneering process.
“This is the first time we (PDP) are going to the polls nationally with a strong opposition but with hard work, PDP will surmount the challenges and be successful,” Okowa said.
According to him, the gubernatorial aspirants who contested with him and has since keyed into his campaign organization “deserve commendation”, especially for not allowing their personal interest to override the interest of the state after they were defeated.
Okowa said: “PDP in Delta state has always done so well and I believe that we will do better in the elections that are coming up in 2015. All the aspirants have called to congratulate me. Besides appreciating them, I appealed for their cooperation and support of all party faithful to further move the party forward.”