For about one month now, this page has been off the air due of course to some personal reasons. I just decided to take a break and have a well deserved rest which coincided with the fourth anniversary of the column. I started this journey in June 2012 and I have consistently evaluated and interpreted situations and events bordering on Urhobo, Delta state and Nigeria at large. Over the years I have made friends and very many bitter enemies. But I am not bothered about what people say about me and this work. It is my resolve to continue to do the little I can till Urhobo is liberated from the claws of envious neighbours. I had planned to visit several people during my latest visit to Delta State, my first visit to Warri this year. I was in Delta for the burial of my grand-mother, but unfortunately, I learnt the burial was postponed only when I already got to Warri. For that reason, I felt a bit upset and decided to return to Abuja almost immediately. Therefore, to all those I promised a visit during my coming to Delta in June, I must say I am sorry. I really planned to pay a surprise visit to the ‘Patrick Obahiagbon’ of creative writing in Urhoboland, Chief Bobson Gbinije; the UPU President General, Chief Joe Omene on the death of his mother; a friend of mine from Udu called Ejiro, and a host of others. I will make it up to them some other time.
The trending issue in Delta State today is the question of who the Governor of Delta state should be in 2019, the war between Ogbe-Ijaw and Aladja, difficulties in paying salary arrears of civil servants; the challenge posed by the new militant groups in the Niger Delta, particularly the Avengers; the crisis in the PDP house at National level, the judicial madness in Abia state which has resulted in a seeming but avoidable stalemate, the pervasive hunger and helplessness of the federal government to fix Nigeria among other very important issues affecting the people. Another important issue of concern to Nigerians is the running battle between the EFCC and the Ekiti State governor as well as the outburst of Senator Dino Melaye and the threats to Oluremi Tinubu. Back home, one other salient issue that some of my callers have addressed my mind to is the issue of the need for an official code to guide the activities of our traditional rulers so as to elicit greater degree of honour and respect amongst the people and ultimately the leadership question in UPU.
The major topic I wish to address on my return from break is 2019 and the stake of Urhobo in the governorship race. Taking into account, the disappointments and frustrations of the past, occasioned by our own people, I can see that the Urhobo nation has a long way to go in the quest to break the yoke of playing the second fiddle in a state that ordinarily, Urhobo should have a major stake in. In the politics of 2019, only three options are before the Urhobo nation. We either decide to field a candidate that could be accepted across the state on the platform of a political party outside the PDP, preferably the APC, or we concede the governorship to Delta north by queuing behind an APC candidate from Delta north. The other alternative is to forget 2019 totally and openly drum support for the incumbent Senator Dr Ifeanyi Okowa of the PDP. These are the options before the Urhobo people.
In evaluating the options before Urhobo, we have to be as practical as possible without promoting sentiments that cannot help us at the end of the day. My choice of topic for this piece may put some people off. However, I do not wish to shut the door on Urhobo candidates for the polls. What I meant by the topic is that Annabel Ogheneganre will not support any candidate who would enter the field to campaign on the strength of Urhobo political worth or support from UPU. A candidate of Urhobo extraction with political tendons in all parts of the state, promoted by all as a Delta candidate, and accepted across board would be my candidate. But I will not accept and support any candidate based on his being an Urhobo man without proof of adequate arrangement to wrestle power from an incumbent, like Ayo Fayose of Ekiti state has done during his first and second coming. There is none who cannot win or lose elections. The dynamics of political movements and the unpredictability of the Nigeria political environment portend grave danger for the unprepared. Any candidate who rests his hope on 100% block votes from Delta central with little or no visible inroad into the other senatorial districts will not get my support. That is what I meant by this topic. No Urhobo candidate will get my support in 2019, but an Urhobo man, who prepares the ground well, listen to advice and act on them, build formidable structure especially in Ika northeast, the home LGA of the incumbent, and promote a pan-Delta political ideologies would be my candidate any day.
I will not work for or support just anybody from Delta central simply because he is an Urhobo man. But I will support any Urhobo man with visible indicators of adequate preparation and hardwork, a man who have built structures deep enough to cause upsets in 2019. Everything is possible in 2019, especially now that PDP has lost their grip on INEC and the federal government. Only President Mohammadu Buhari and his performance in office could make or mar the chances of the APC in the coming years. As things stand, APC has lost tremendous goodwill at the centre. But a good and popular candidate, widely accepted across the state could bundle Okowa out of government house with ease. But the proper thing must be done for a grassroot man like Okowa to surrender his crown at the polls. It will not be an easy thing to do but it is very possible. The gale of defections taking place today carries both the good and evil winds. Moles are coming into the APC and will soon start to manifest destructive traits which if not checked on time could mar the chances of the APC in 2019.
If an Urhobo man must be governor in 2019, our people must learn to de-emphasize money politics and critically evaluate the chances of all those that would be interested in running. First Urhobo must look inward and take a firm decision on what to do with 2019. The fights over endorsement from UPU should be de-emphasized while the aspirants enter the field, and on time, to sell their candidature to the people, particularly party leaders ahead of the primaries. Nobody has indicated interest in running yet but we know those with the charisma, political verve and reach to create the needed push for impressive outing. The APC which ordinarily should be the best alternative to the PDP in Delta state, must take several factors into consideration before short-listing candidate for the polls. Senator Ovie Omo-Agege and Chief Otega Emerhor, if either of the two will not run for governor, will play prominent roles in determining the fate of Urhobo in the politics of 2019. If our leaders are not selfish, if we could humble ourselves enough to recognize the strength and weaknesses inherent in each of our leaders, if we could sincerely pursue the agenda of promoting a sellable and popular candidate without going behind to undermine the popular choice, APC will go places in 2019.
Our biggest problem is the leaders, political and community leaders. They are the ones who would be visited Nicodimusly with Ghana-Must-Go bags stacked with crisp hard currency to compromise them towards dancing shamelessly on the political dance floor against the interest of the people. The common man would always deliver just as they have done over the years. The problem is with the elite class. I have no problem with PDP other than that the party had more often than not promoted its partisan and selfish interests above the general interest of the people. I will go into specific details in subsequent writings. Suffice it to say that I will only support a Delta project and not Urhobo project in the build up to 2019. Any Urhobo man who succeeds in making appreciable inroads into all three senatorial districts in the state will have my blessing. I am not under obligation to support anybody and I will not take money to drum support for candidates I strongly believe have no chance in the race. I will stand by what is right to guide the process with my little knowledge of the game.
It is interesting to note that alignment and realignment of forces have been going on ahead of the coming polls. Great Ogboru and Victor Ochei have been formally received into the APC fold. More defections will follow ahead of 2019. The PDP too is not resting on its oars. The party is waiting to reap from the abysmal performance of the Buhari-led federal government. The people are hungry and disenchanted. The propaganda that preceded the 2015 polls has not abated even when the then opposition party has formed government. The presidency is at war with the National Assembly over fears that Buhari is not sure of the needed cooperation from a Bukola Saraki leadership of the senate. This too portends grave danger for government and the APC as there are fears that APC may break up soon if Saraki is pushed too hard against the wall. It is obvious that the Saraki we know cannot go down without causing collateral damage to APC. Saraki is a fly that perched on the APC scrotum and the party has not properly managed the situation so far. In my personal observation, APC’s future is predicated on Buhari’s performance in the next three years. The party has played more of vindictive politics than real governance and this has not helped Nigeria. We pray Buhari and his team sit up and make APC more attractive to Nigerians.
Let me reiterate the options before the Urhobo nation. We either support an Urhobo man as candidate of the APC, or someone from Delta north on the APC platform for the north to complete the supposed 8 years for Delta north going by the argument for power-shift and thirdly, Urhobo may wish to allow the incumbent complete his second term and wait till 2023 to enter the game for full-blown politics of who to succeed Okowa. The three options are viable. We shall flesh out the implications are arguments for and against the choices before Urhobo in subsequent writings.
THE UPU SAGA: I am ashamed to hear that till date, nothing tangible has been done by stakeholders to resolve the logjam in the leadership of UPU. These are the issues that contributed to the abysmal performance of Urhobo in the last general elections. We have refused to learn from history. We are already in July and by October, Chief Joe Omene and Chief Gabriel Ofotokun would set modalities in motion for UPU parallel Congress to be conducted in early December. When that happens, I will continue to drum support for the Omene mainline and elected UPU leadership. We have barely five months to the end of the Omene leadership and nothing has happened in the area of either asking Ofotokun to step down or prevailing on Omene to go ahead of the December Congress. If this logjam continues, nobody should blame Omene if he decides to conduct the election, contest and be returned for a second term. I have consistently persuaded Omene not to stand in for election again, not because he is not qualified or has failed Urhobo but simply because Urhobo has been too divided under him. However, if we fail to put our act together and put the crisis behind us before December, I will campaign for and support Omene for a second term so that we continue the war amongst ourselves till 2019 and end up in more heart-breaks. It is the way you prepare your bed that you must lay on it. Urhobo has not been fair to Joe Omene and if he must go in December, the matter must be resolved now as a precursor to a post-2016 united UPU and Urhobo nation.
Miss Annabel Ogheneganre writes from Garki, Abuja. (08092569702 SMS only or [email protected]).