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2019 Delta guber race: Contenders and pretenders, as APC plots a shocker

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Ifeanyi Okowa, Delta State Governor


For the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) the issue of who will fly its flag in Delta State in next year’s governorship election is almost a done deal, with Governor Ifeanyi Okowa favoured by the leadership of the party for a second term. More so, as the office has been zoned to Delta north senatorial zone, where Governor Okowa hails from.

All Progressive Congress (APC), hitherto bogged by internal wrangling, has recently resolved the question of who the authentic chairman of the party is. That settled the party’s challenge now is who among four major governorship contenders to pick from, all four being from same senatorial zone as Okowa.

The are; Rt. Hon. Victor Ochei, former speaker of the state House of Assembly, who was a staunch PDP member until 2014 when he lost narrowly to Okowa during a hotly contested guber primary. He defected to APC soon after.There is also ex-House of Representatives member, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, also a former PDP chieftain who left with the Modu Sherrif faction for the APC; though many see him as a paperweight in this contest. Prof. Pat Utomi is another factor that many see as an outsider in the Delta State political equation.

The biggest of them all is Chief Great Ogboru, who has contested the governorship seat on several occasions. Ogboru had teamed up with Senator Omo-Agege, to give the party’s 2015 flag bearer, Olorogun O’tega Emerho and Engr. Hyacinth Enuha, leader of Delta North APC, sleepless nights until their matter seemed to have been settled recently. Apparently, the party’s national Secretariat had to wade in to allow them have a formidable front to face the challenge of 2019.

But another battle APC may have to contend with is whether or not to zone the party’s gubernatorial ticket. This same issue was responsible for emergence of the two factions that jostled to control of the party’s structure, with the ultimate goal to produce the flag-bearer. Aligned to Emerhor’s camp were Petroleum Minister (State) Dr. Ibe Kachukwu, Rt. Hon Victor Ochei, Prof Pat Utomi, Dr. Ojougboh, Chief Hyacinth Enuha (leader of the Delta North APC), Dr. Leroy Edozien, Hon Doris Uboh, and others.
Senator Ovie Omo-Agege led a fierce opposition with Chief Great Ogboru, then factional chairman Mr. Jones Erue, Chief Frank Kokori, Mariam Alli, Ike Odikpo and Veronica Ogbuagu, among others.

Their point of departure is that while Emerhor/Enuha group favours a strong candidate from Delta North to challenge Governor Okowa who is also from Delta North, thereby maintaining the existing zoning arrangement to appease Delta North electorates, the Omo-Agege/Great Ogboru faction wants power returned to Delta Central, despite enjoying power from 1999 to 2007 with Chief James Onanefe Ibori. Delta South had their turn with Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, from 2007 to 2015. Both zones have enjoyed two tenures respectively.

This much was explained by Olorogun Emerhor in his welcome address, while receiving Prof Pat Utomi, who was on a consultative visit at his country home in Evwreni, Delta State recently. He said, even when he still has the capacity to run for the office, he chose to allow for equity so that Delta North enjoys its fair share.

His exact words: “As an individual, I have decided along with committed APC leaders who really want change in Delta State that we will not do things the same way again this time, because the opposition in Delta has not had this type of opportunity that is available to us today. You will recall that in 2015, I ran for the governorship, and still have the capacity to do that now. But I took a decision not to run because the environment supports a different formula.”

Great Ogboru on his part has not pretended about his political ambition, with his billboards adorning all strategic areas of the state, poised to do battle for the plum seat as he banks on the Omo-Agege/Ogboru faction’s numerical strength of the Urhobo ethnic nationality of Delta Central, and his statewide popularity to wrest power from the PDP.

However, a very reliable source within the Emerhor faction said: “If Ogboru from Delta Central contests and wins the 2019 governorship, it will mean eight more years for Delta Central that has already done eight years under James Ibori (making a total of 16 years), thus leaving Delta North with just four years. The sensitivity of voters from Delta North to this issue will only mean a loss to APC.”

That apart, the recent directive by the APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole for feuding members to recognise Jones Erue as the State chairman until the consent judgment obtained by the Agege/Ogboru faction is vacated has further escalated tension within the party, with some party leaders unwilling to accept the directive.Meanwhile, Governor Okowa, though worried about Great Ogboru’s threat, according to insiders, has fallen back on his achievements in areas of infrastructure development, security and employment to make the difference.

Okowa during his recent quarterly media briefing spoke on his achievements, saying, “Delta state has largely been peaceful, and because of that we have been able to carry on with the business of governance. A lot has been achieved on infrastructural development across the state: both in upland and at the riverine.” He said so far, 745 persons have benefited from his government’s job creation programme, just as the second phase is targeting over 1000 job seekers.

In education, he said much emphasis will be given to the sector in 2019, while courses at Delta State University, Abraka, mainly in Law school, Medicine and Engineering, have achieved over ninety percent of accreditation. However, those of the colleges of education are at the verge of getting full accreditations.On the Asaba International project, the governor expressed joy at the quality and spate of work done. His words: “Airport project is progressing, and the runway is ready. NCAA is coming for inspection, and they are happy with the runway.”

Still on major capital projects, Okowa said the Storm Water project, designed to end the perennial flooding of the state capital, especially the Okpanam/DBS Road axis, “is ongoing with ten by ten feet width and height, at some points, and will be completed by February 2019.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Utomi who is very knowledgeable about developmental issues and could easily take on Okowa for some debate, is struggling to disclaim an online publication that presented him as working at cross purposes with the APC. Notwithstanding, Utomi has recently inaugurated a Think-tank for the rescue of Delta State,

For the 2019 general elections, the burden to ensure that PDP remains intact in Delta State has become a big challenge. It is a fact that Delta is home of PDP since 1999. The trouble with the PDP is that those who left the party often assist other parties to reap protest votes. And that is what the opposition is banking on as another round of primaries take place. Other political parties are already waiting to harvest those who will feel disgruntled with the outcome of the primaries. It is up to the PDP to put its home in order and for the opposition to also plan well.


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APCIfeanyi Okowa.
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