Okowa won’t allow crisis in Delta PDP, says Majemite
Legal luminary and two-time commissioner in Delta State, Chief Fred Majemite, is a member of DC-23, a group working for the continued rotation of the state’s governorship seat among the senatorial zones. In this interview with Senior Sub Editor, INNOCENT ANORUO, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stalwart stresses the need for the governorship rotation as it has engendered peace across the state.
At the last DC-23 meeting in Asaba, you declared your intention to contest the Delta governorship seat in 2023.
It is true that I have indicated my interest to run for the governorship of Delta State come 2023. If you look at my antecedents, you would know that I have worked for the party and have remained loyal. I have never jumped to another party at any time. I have attempted the senate (Delta Central) seat twice, but due to the differences within the party and the leadership of the party, I withdrew unconditionally. However, I supported those who were privileged to run in my stead. This time around, we believe that the governorship is coming to Delta Central. And by the grace of God, we have a small lobby group.
For now, we are consulting. Let your leaders know your interest; let them assess you before you can declare formally. We also use this opportunity to tell our brothers in Delta South and Delta North that they should join forces with Delta Central to get the governorship come 2023, and after eight years it will go to the next senatorial district.
A few months ago, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa was quoted as saying that there was no agreement for zoning of governorship in the state. This has generated a lot of controversy. As you embark on your wide consultation, what is the perception of those you visited in other senatorial districts on this issue of zoning?
There is no written agreement for the zoning, and that was why I used the word ‘understanding’. During the administration of Chief James Ibori, there were different groups outside Delta Central such as Equity, G3 and so on. They were lobby groups set up to ensure that this thing moved from Delta Central to other districts. Of course, it did move. Because we said it should move, the candidate from that senatorial district was voted for.
I was one of those people that said it should go to Delta South. Also, after the Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan administration, there was agitation that the governorship should move to the North. I was one of those who supported the agitation. I believe that Okowa is a bottom-up man. You can take everything from him, but not politics. I also know that the governor means well for the people of Delta. Whether you like it or not, Okowa is one man who understands Delta politics. If you recall, in one of those campaigns, he made it clear that the governorship is coming to Central.
As one who is very passionate about Urhobo, how would you deal with the issue of Urhobo unity as far as the 2023 governorship election is concerned?
When DC-23 started the lobby, we started by first visiting the Urhobo monarchs in all the kingdoms. We told them of the need to support an Urhobo son to be governor. We also told them that there is need to work together as a team, and that there should be no division among the Urhobo at all. This is because a house divided cannot stand at all. Unless we are cohesive as a body, we may not be able to get the kind of development we wish for our people. First of all, the Urhobo national anthem, ‘Urhobo Ovuovo’, should always be at the back of our minds.
Once we do that, you will see every urhobo as your brother. By the grace of God, any governor that will be produced from Delta Central come 2023 should ensure that every kingdom is carried along, without shortchanging other local councils in the state.
Are you confident that the DC-23 will be able to come up with a candidate that will bear the PDP flag come 2023, especially against the backdrop of the rumour that the group is being sponsored by one of the aspirants?
I am a pioneer member of that group and also an aspirant. I am not sponsoring DC-23. I am also aware that nobody is sponsoring the group. At our inaugural meeting, nearly all of us that indicated interest to run were present. I think about six of us were present in that meeting. And so, I was surprised when I heard that the meeting was called at the instance of one of us. I laughed because at that meeting, some very serious persons who, most times, were not working together politically were there. Chief Ighoyota Amori was the convener.
Another leader at the meeting was Prof. Sam Oyovbaire. These are people who, naturally, disagree on most political issues. So, who is the aspirant sponsoring the meeting now?
I believe the meeting was called for us to beg our brothers from other senatorial districts to allow a candidate from Delta Central to be the flagbearer of the PDP. That is the whole essence of the meeting.
When we talk about Delta Central producing one candidate, you and I know that it has never happened in any Senatorial district before. But I know that as we get closer to 2023, some people will change their minds because good reasons give way to better ones. In 2003 and 2011, if somebody had told me that I would not be a senator, I would not have believed.
This is because in 2003 when I was running, I was as good as endorsed. In fact, people were already congratulating me. And because of what happened later, some of our leaders even left the party. In 2011, I was asked to go into the race by the powers-that-be. I was called upon to complete the tenure of Senator Pius Ewherido, who passed on. They said somebody from his federal constituency should complete the tenure and I was called upon. They gave away that chance again. But all that is history now. You can see that some of us have made a lot of sacrifices. So, I believe that, if not for anything, they should also consider my antecedent and how loyal I have been and let me run for the governorship.
With two more years to the end of Okowa’s administration, how would you assess his performance so far?
Okowa is one man who prayed and worked to be governor and he got the governorship. Okowa did not just wake up to say he wanted to be governor; he had been preparing himself for the governorship. That was why when he became the governor, he hit the ground running. He tried to consolidate on the achievements of his predecessors. Okowa never abandoned any project started by his predecessors and is still building others. That is the beauty of continuity. Okowa has consolidated on the achievement of his predecessors and has also come up with fresh initiatives, to the extent that it is now difficult to say who between him and his predecessors achieved more. One of the greatest achievements of Okowa is how he has succeeded to manage the peace in Delta. You may not realise it, but once there is crisis, it will be difficult for any meaningful development.
You spoke of how you stepped down for some persons when you aspired to be senator sometime ago. If the call comes now for you to jettison your governorship aspiration for someone else, how would you take it this time?
What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Our people know that Fred Majemite has made a lot of sacrifices and, I doubt, if this time around, they will ask me to withdraw again. If I say I won’t withdraw again, nobody will blame me. I am not going into the race to negotiate. No! When I withdrew the first time, Ibori did not give me any political appointment. Instead, I contributed to the elections of others. I have the interest of the party and our people at heart. I am going there to serve. If the people don’t want me to serve, let them show it at the polls. And if the party does not want me to be the flag-bearer, let them show it at the primary. Besides, let God’s will prevail.
What if Ibori and Uduaghan and Okowa have aspirants of their choice? Won’t this create problem for the PDP?
There is a distinct possibility that the three governors may have interest in different aspirants. But you can’t rule that out because we are all humans. You should, however, know that the situation is very fluid, in the sense that it will get to a point that they will all sit down and agree. It is all about horse-trading; give and take. They will very likely have a consensus candidate in the end. That is because they know that once they are divided, it will cause the party a lot. And they won’t want the party to lose the state. That was why I said that a time is coming when the three of them will sit down and agree.
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