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Let Okowa’s successor come from eastern Urhobo

By Tony Enebeli
09 February 2022   |   3:23 am
People from various ethnic divides in Delta State, who support the rotational arrangement, must be appreciated for their agreement that the next governor of our great state should be from Delta Central Senatorial Zone.

Ifeanyi Okowa

People from various ethnic divides in Delta State, who support the rotational arrangement, must be appreciated for their agreement that the next governor of our great state should be from Delta Central Senatorial Zone.

No doubt, Urhobo land with 24 kingdoms is broadly divided into two divisions known as Western and Eastern Urhobo divisions. Western Urhobo Division is made up of Ethiope and Okpe, Sapele and Uvwie, while Eastern Urhobo comprises Ughelli and Udu.

Unknown to many people clamouring for the governorship to go to Okpe in 2023, political offices have always been shared, from time immemorial, between Eastern Urhobo and Western Urhobo divisions and never done along the line of the 24 kingdoms of Urhobo.

It is, therefore, expected that anything that is zoned to Eastern Urhobo will be shared among ethnic groups or federal constituents that make up the division, while that which is zoned to Western Urhobo will likewise be shared among its sub-nations or federal constituencies. Anything short of this will be akin to the present demand of Senator James Manager for the governorship to rotate along tribal and not senatorial delineation.

The struggle for power comes with so much horse-trading and intrigues, but can best be successfully done, if and only if it is based on established and time-tested parameters. In this case, it should oscillate between the Western and Eastern Urhobo divisions and nothing less.

Therefore, it will be a great disservice and oppression against the Urhobo of the eastern bloc, for their governorship slot to be given to Okpe of the Western Urhobo.

Well-meaning Deltans, especially the Urhobo, at home and in the Diaspora are very well aware of this fact and are hereby requested not to stay aloof, but add their voice to clarify and certify these incontrovertible fact and thus enhance the fair, equitous and accepted time-tested sharing formula among the Urhobo nation to prevail. It is the turn of Eastern Urhobo to run for the governorship of Delta. It is very disheartening to most of us that know this fact when we hear the ongoing narrative that the governorship should be zoned to Okpe.

The Urhobo have a rich history and are active in the politics of Delta and Nigeria since the First Republic. In fact, the creation of Mid-West Region in 1963 from the then Western Region was a function of the distinguished role played by politicians of Urhobo extraction.

In the Third Republic and upon the creation of  Delta State in 1991, Senator Felix Ibru of blessed memory became the first executive governor. He was elected from the Eastern Urhobo division and his was very brief.

At the commencement of the Fourth Republic in 1999, the governorship position was zoned to the Western Urhobo and Chief James Ibori from Oghara, Western Urhobo, became the governor through the overwhelming support of all the Urhobo and Deltans. He became the first two-tenure governor to govern the state.

Interestingly, Ibori, in his wisdom, ensured the transfer of the governorship position to Delta South based on an agreed governorship rotational arrangement among the three senatorial zones by leaders of the state.
For peace, equity and growth, the time-honoured political arrangement between Eastern and Western Urhobo divisions should be respected. It is only just and natural for Eastern Urhobo to get the governorship position this time around that a full circle has been completed and the position has, again, come to Urhobo. This is even so in the spirit of ‘Urhobo ovuovo’ (Urhobo is one). If indeed Urhobo is one, then we must maintain our cultural and historical heritage, which allows us to live peacefully, even when it comes to sharing of things, be it political positions or otherwise. Let us not stifle a peaceful and an equitable change.

Already the political atmosphere appears tensed. But before things degenerate to a situation where brothers begin to nurse animosity against one another and mothers begin to fight to ostracise their children, let us, in the interest of peace and equity, work for a governor from Eastern Urhobo come May 2023.
For those who may not understand the sharing formula of political offices between Eastern and Western Urhobo divisions, it must be stated that from 1999 till date, Western Urhobo not only produced the governor from 1999 till 2007, but equally produced the second highest number of House of Assembly speakers.

Clearly, while no Eastern Urhobo has been governor in the last 23 years of this return to civil rule, it has only got Secretary to State Government (SSG), Chief of Staff (CoS), Chief Judge and Deputy Speaker positions. To say, therefore, that Western Urhobo has got a fair share of the governorship and speakership position in this Fourth Republic is stating the obvious.

We must, therefore, allow our good sense of equity, brotherliness and justice to prevail and, as such, extinguish the demand for another Western Urhobo governor in 2023. In fact, the best in the circumstance, and in order to promote unity, peace and togetherness among Eastern and Western Urhobo, the present agitation for Okpe governorship should be discarded with and those saddled with the responsibility of deciding who carries the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), governorship flag. They should pan their searchlight to Eastern Urhobo for a popular, grassroots politician and highly accessible candidate from among the myriad distinguished aspirants.

To do otherwise will be seen as an attempt to short-change Eastern Urhobo of its political due.

We, therefore, call on Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to graciously be mindful of this fact and to generously do the needful, to ensure peace, equity and justice in the state. This is because our governor is an acclaimed democrat and we are blessed to have him in the saddle at this critical time in the history of our state. He is our ‘Daniel come to judgment’. This is the confidence we have that fair and just decisions shall be taken, to carry all stakeholders along.

The people of Eastern Urhobo deserve Okowa’s support and consideration in this matter. This is why Okowa, as well as former Governors Emmanuel Uduaghan and Ibori, should, as a matter of urgency, meet with distinguished leaders from Delta Central to resolve this political imbroglio now because a stitch in time saves nine.

Enebeli wrote in from Asaba, Delta State.