- Say Sustaining Zoning Principle Key To Political Stability In State
- Group Not Parallel To PDP, Not Confrontational To Okowa — Amori
Urhobo politicians have been urged to reach out to politicians from other Senatorial districts by building bridges and create alliances in a bid to actualize the objective of Urhobo to produce the next governor of the state.
The advice was given in the key note address delivered by Prof. Sunday Awhefeada on the occasion of the inauguration/swearing-in of Board of Trustees and National Executive Council of Delta Central 2023 at the PTI Conference Centre on Saturday May 22, 2021.
The New Diplomat had recently reported that the gentleman zoning arrangement among the three senatorial districts in the state has been generating rancour in the Delta State PDP, following Okowa’s recent comments and seeming opposition to the power rotation principle.
The Delta governorship seat has rotated along the following order: Chief James Ibori (Central; 1999-2007), Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan (South;2007-2015); and Dr Ifeanyi Okowa (North; 2015-2023).
Upon the completion of Okowa’s two term in 2023, it is expected that it would be Urhobo (Delta Central) turn to occupy the governorship seat in 2023 in line with the zoning principle.
The guest speaker, Prof. Awhefeada, while tracing the history of the leadership position of Urhobo from the days of Western Region House of Assembly till date, noted that DC-23 is a product of the desire of the Urhobo to use 2023 to also provide another unique leadership opportunity by way of producing the next governor.
According to Awhefeada, Urhobo leadership role in the state is dated back to 1947 when Mukoro Mowoe won election to represent Warri Province in the Western House of Assembly in Ibadan, adding that since then, Urhobo has maintained that role till date.
He stated that Urhobo leadership role has never been through violence, but by dialogue, persuasion, population, common language and centrality, adding that it is now time to also take advantage of these gifts to sell the Urhobo message of leadership to the rest of the State.
“What we did in 2007 and again in 2015, is a testimony to the fact that we considerable, we are accommodating, we are tolerant and that we recognize the right of every person in the state. And that is the most important justification that come 2023, it is the turn of Urhobo to produce the next governor.
“Now, there are challenges. We must not shy away from the fact that there are challenges. There are stories of one or two persons outside Urhobo wanting to run. Let us use the power of persuasion and the power of dialogue. I know that the probability of it all is in favour of Urhobo.”
On the issue of zoning and rotational principle, Awhefeada said that it is not negotiable, adding that it is embedded in the constitution of the PDP. He alluded to the fact that Delta State has been one of the states with a stable political environment, noting that it was because of the power of rotational governorship.
“So much has been said about zoning and rotational governorship. Having given it up in 2007, having given it up in 2015, equity, fairness and justice demand that it should be Urhobo turn. Let us use the power of dialogue, the power of appeal and the power of persuasion. And I know that the probability of it all is in favour of Urhobo.
“Delta State is one of the most stable states in Nigeria and the reason for that is the rotational and zoning formula. And who are the proponents and the champions of that, it is the Urhobo.
“And I want to appeal that we should build bridges, we should build alliances. We can move it to Delta South, we can move it to Delta North. I’m sure they are waiting for us”, he said.
Earlier, the chairman of the occasion, Prof. Sam Oyovbaire, while presenting his opening speech, said that zoning or rotation of the governorship position in Delta State has been on the basis of senatorial district and not on ethnic basis, adding that it has so far engendered peace in and political stability in the state.
He appealed to the NEC of DC-23 and BoT members to ensure that they conduct quiet and undramatic dialogue with their counterparts in Delta North and Delta South Senatorial districts, adding that the primary purpose of DC-23 is firmness and humility to dialogue with other stakeholders from other zones of the state.
He said: “The issue of rotation or zoning has always been there in the affairs of the PDP. How it plays out at the national level has its own character. How it plays out and continues to play out at the state level has its own character. Even at the local government and ward levels, rotation has always been there.
“For us here in Delta State, this is the third phase of our transition. We have a transition in 2006/2007. All of us know that even when a constitution or a written agreement has not been entered, there is a basic understanding that the governorship of the state should go round senatorially.
In 2014/2015 which is our next experience, Okowa was elected not just because he was competent, focus and an Ika man, but because it was the turn of Delta North.”
“The rotation does not stop anyone else from another district from contesting, but only favours the next senatorial district on board to benefit”, he said.
The national chairman of the DC-23, Chief Ighoyota Amori, while delivering his acceptance speech, made some clarification on the objectives of the Urhobo body, adding that it is neither a parallel body to the PDP in the state nor antagonistic to the governor of the State, Senator Dr. Arthur Ifeanyi Okowa.
He said: “DC-23 is neither a one-man show nor a political party. It is a pressure group within the PDP in Delta Central with a single objective of delivering on the governorship project in 2023.
“It was put together by prominent by reverred and elders and leaders of Delta Central political class.
“The DC-23 is not formed to be a parallel body to the PDP in Delta State. DC-23 is not formed to be antagonistic to our amiable governor of Delta State, His Excellency, Senator Dr. Arthur Ifeanyi Okowa. DC-23 is not formed to promote disharmony among the three senatorial districts in the state. Rather, DC-23 was formed to support our amiable governor to enable him finish strong, to promote inter-senatorial peace among the three senatorial districts, love and unity in Delta State and to create enabling environment for the succession of the governorship in Delta State.”
He thanked the members of giving him the opportunity to serve, adding that he will deliver his duty as a chairman of the group to the best of his ability.
“I want to assure you that I will not disappoint the good people of Delta Central, by the grace of God”, he said.
He said that the task before the group “is not to be confrontational but persuasive”, adding that “we shall go round our people in Delta Central and appeal to them for support.”
“We shall go round our brothers and sisters in Delta South and Delta North and appeal to them for support. The watchword is to appeal. We shall go beyond Delta State, to Abuja and all parts of the Universe where we can find people who would be of help to us…”, he promised.
Fielding questions from newsmen shortly after the ceremony, Olorogun Fred Majemite expressed support for the group and its objectives, stressing that it is formed to promote Urhobo cause in pursuit of the governorship of the state in 2023.
According to him, the group has tried to demonstrate to the governor that it is not dramatizing but rather very serious in its goal to produce the next governor.
Highpoint of the occasion was the inauguration of the executive members of the DC-23 with its national chairman, Chief Ighoyota Amori and the members of the Board of Trustees with its chairman, Barr. William Etubebi.
Present at the occasion are leaders and stakeholders of PDP from across the eight local government areas of the state.