Ogboru, Emerhor alliance to tame PDP ‘behemoth’
Party unruffled, says ex-LP chief is political tourist
Chief Great Ogboru, a four-time governorship aspirant in Delta State stirred the hornets’ nest when he again dumped the Labour Party (LP), which he joined few months before the 2015 governorship election and joined the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), last June.
Later at the party’s secretariat at Udu, APC leader, Otega Emerhor, affirmed that Ogboru and Victor Ochei, a former Speaker in the Delta State House of Assembly were officially members of the Delta APC but he made it clear that their being welcomed to the party to boost its fortunes was not a merger with any party.
But Ogboru is not coming to a Delta APC chapter that is united or without rancor. For, instance, the party does not have an executive body that is accepted by all members in the state to run its affairs and take it to victory in elections.
There has been acrimony within the party since the Prophet Jones Erue-led executive was sacked by the court few years ago prompted by Chief Adolo Okotie-Eboh, who felt he should have had natural control of the APC in the state being the former chairman of the old Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), which formed the bedrock for the birth of the APC.
Also, Ogboru’s arrival, it was learnt, has not been well received by some elders in the party like Senator Francis Spanner Okpozo and Temi Harriman, a former member of the House of Representatives.
It was therefore not surprising that when the news broke that Ogboru had joined the APC, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) joked about the move. In fact, the PDP state chairman, Barrister Kingsley Esiso, was said to have ridiculed the move describing Ogboru as a political tourist moving from one party to the other without any firm plan to achieve success, stressing that the PDP was not rattled at all.
He boasted that the APC would be roundly beaten again in the 2019 general elections. The PDP reiterated that the APC does not have the strategic grassroots structures that would defeat PDP in the state, even though the PDP is perceived by the opposition, as a huge rigging machine without genuine electoral victory.
APC Loyalists insisted that there was a structure in the APC before people from other parties merged with the party in the state and that the structure would remain pending the convention to usher in a new makeup that would drive the APC to victory in 2019. Also, they argued that with Ogboru coming on board, the party’s grassroots structure would be further strengthened and consolidated.
To political pundits in Delta State, Ogboru’s four consecutive failures to win the governorship race in Delta was predicated on his alleged political unsteadiness – that he kept moving from one party to another after every loss. That in the four attempts he has had as a governorship candidate, he campaigned under different parties without tarrying to build a political party.
For instance, Mr. Idi Presley, the national secretary of Ndokwa Youths, said Ogboru joining the APC didn’t come as a surprise to him because that has always been his trademark. He described Ogboru as “a political prostitute”, who moved from one party to another just to pursue selfish interest, saying: “First it was the Alliance for Democracy (AD) in 2003, then to the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) in 2007 and 2011, and later to Labour Party (LP) in 2015 and now to the All Progressive Congress (APC).”
He said Deltans were used to Ogboru’s political itinerancy and the trend showed that he is not consistent. Idi believed that Ogboru moved to the APC because of the “quest for power at all costs” and that the outcome would not be different from the previous moves.
Some observers wondered why after four attempts at the governorship seat Ogboru hasn’t given up his governorship dream and seek for another political position. They accused him of directly contributing to the gaping division within the Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) as the bitter rivalry between him and Emerhor in the run up to the governorship election in April 2015 left the UPU divided.
Still others alleged that Ogboru always come to reap the benefit of a party but rarely developed such party claiming that after Emerhor had single-handedly built the APC structure in the state he has come to reap it. They feared that the rivalry might cost the party the 2019 governorship election again.
Besides, the anti Ogboru campaigners recently pointed out that since he moved to the APC, cracks have emerged within the party that could work against it in 2019. They are particularly worried the two Urhobo gladiators would polarise the party over who between them would be the governorship candidate in 2019.
However, Ogboru’s media adviser, Doyin Iyiola, explained that Ogboru dumped the Labour Party and joined the APC in fulfillment of his ambition of liberating Delta and returning it to the progressive path of massive social, economic and political progress.
He said: “Ogboru is not presently thinking about his personal ambition, he is more concerned about the emergence of a strong opposition in the state by working passionately with fellow Deltans to rescue the state from the suffocating grip of the PDP.
“Ogboru still remains a formidable force in Delta politics. He is a man of stature and he is still very passionate about Delta. In the last 13 to 14 years, Ogboru has worked so hard and he has spent his fortunes to lead a great opposition in the state.
Similarly, Mr. Zik Gbemre, the national coordinator of the Niger Delta Peace Coalition (NPDC) pointed out that if the APC in Delta State really wanted a solid base and foothold in the State politics, they need the likes of Ogboru, who has been in the ‘strong opposition’ against the ruling PDP all these years. He stressed that Ogboru’s doggedness and resilience are character traits that separate him from the crowd, and make him a ‘major plus’ to the APC if they embrace him.
Gbemre said the APC might win the governorship race in 2019, as the PDP has not performed to the people’s expectation in the last 17 years, with the likelihood of Deltans embracing a change of government in favour of APC.
He said, “All around us is evidence to suggest that the ruling PDP in Delta State has lost focus and practically does not have any vision to transform the State or turn things around.
“Be that as it may, the PDP Government in Delta State can work harder because it still has enough time to transform and turn things around for good. So, in as much as the APC stands a better chance come 2019 to ‘introduce the needed Change’ Deltans are desperately seeking, the PDP can still make amends where necessary to turn things around in their favor. So it is a 50/50 thing.”
Another factor that might work out for the APC in the state is the presence of Ochei who in the build up to the 2015 elections was very influential and popular especially in the Anioma axis of the state.
However, his outing in the 2015 governorship primary under PDP and at the general elections where he contested the Delta North senatorial seat, showed that he has to do more to be of electoral value to the APC in future elections.
In addition, PDP has largely remained united after the 2015 elections and the initial fuss between Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and his predecessor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan that threatened the cohesiveness of the party in the state, has allegedly been resolved with both actors coming together recently.
Nonetheless, Idi, argued that the alliance was doomed from day one, insisting that those who thought the alliance would work out smoothly were gullible alleging: “In reality, the alliance was a failure from the first day it was formed. The Ogboru we know is egoistic, always wanting to be in control and that’s what has influenced his decisions of always joining small parties without structure. Even now that he has joined the APC, it is still going to be same old story of his wanting to control the party and this will not go down well with the top hierarchy of the Delta APC; it will cause ripples amongst party faithful.
He summed up the possible political scenario in Delta state in 2019 thus, “we believe that the APC might want to intimidate with their federal might for we all know that Delta is one of the key state they have so much interest in but the people power must always prevail.