By Joe Aminah
The declared result by the Delta State Independent Electoral Commission (DSIEC) of victory by the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), at the recently conducted Local Government election in Sapele has been attributed to the re-emergence of the party’s lost and found chieftain, Chief Felix Uruemuesiri Anirah – the Udukpoi of Okpe Kingdom, said to have been brought on board to stir the ship of the party at the local level from its stormy waters.
The announcement of the return of Chief Anirah, which was seen as the result of umpteenth efforts by the party hierarchy, especially the State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa and Sapele homeboy, Chief Kingsley Esiso, among others begging for the hands of Anirah to return to the party and eventual yielding, was however earlier received with mixed feelings by a cross section of the political divide in Sapele.
They (the political class) could not immediately conjecture the reason for Anirah’s action, based on their belief of the Chief’s integrity, indefatigability, doggedness and one considered as a trusted and tested politician and astute businessman.
PDP as the ruling party in the state, left no stone unturned in the wooing of Chief Anirah, as the drums were rolled out with music, amusement, dancing and drinking to the health of their lost bride at the party’s secretariat, (Obule Complex) on Sapele–Warri Road, while in his characteristic show of political extravaganza, the Ugo of Okpe Kingdom, Chief Paulinus Akpeki embarked on a long solidarity march with multitudes of his followers along major streets of the town to Chief Anirah’s palatial villa.
The event which caught the fancy of PDP’s who Is who in the state, attracted the Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa and host, PDP Chairman, Chief (Barr.) Kingsley Esiso at a lavish reception hosted by Chief Anirah and his amiable wife, Chief (Mrs.) Eunice Anirah.
While the litmus test of Anirah’s popularity was quickened to the admiration of his new groom, PDP, with his involvement in the peaceful conduct and eventual victory of the party, over other oppositions, with special focus on the main opposition party, All People’s Congress, APC, a salient question comes to mind of what prompted the successful business/politician to leave APC and go back to PDP.
While licking his wounds from the ill-fated PDP primaries in 2015 between him and deposed Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Hon. Monday Igbuya, Anirah tried desperately to sustain the tempo and maintain his huge followers by decamping to the All Progressives Congress, APC, where he fought gallantly for the coveted seat but lost ultimately to the powers that be.
Without the hindsight of opinion poll, conducted by this journalist, Chief Anirah is said to have endured with APC for over two and half years, after falling out with PDP, and according to sources, tried as he may with endless sacrifices, was given knocks rather than kudos, even from relentless crowd pulling, huge expenditures incurred in attending to party (APC) activities nationwide and above all, over two years of feeding and fending his huge number of flocks.
While there are wrangling among his devotees in APC of the fear that Chief Anirah may have compromised his hard-core principle for the purpose of enriching himself and being compensated for the huge losses in both 2015 PDP primaries and his electioneering campaign under APC, others see him as a man, who, having licked his wounds, is posited to still affect his people and the community at large, as PDP new leader to address the nagging issues of socio-infrastructural neglect of Sapele.
Another question is who gains or losses by this development in Sapele, and the answer is, neither party – APC or PDP with PDP concentration in Delta unquestionable and any attraction of socio-economic and infrastructural development by Anirah is sure to benefit the generality of Sapele people irrespective of party leaning.
Sources also said, Anirah’s decision to go back to PDP was borne out of the infighting within the party, a situation that give room for fractionalization and split of the party’s leadership into four fractions besides alleged account of his (Anirah’s) marginalization and lack of consultation by the assumed leadership of APC in Sapele, notwithstanding his untiring efforts to establish the party in the local government.
Imagine, a situation where the State Deputy Chairman, APC, Mr. Cyril Ogodo being credited in a sponsored newspaper report that Anirah, while contesting the House of Assembly election of April, 2015 under APC against his PDP opponent, Chief Monday Igbuya did not score up to three thousand votes.
According to Anirah, it is unfortunate that the number two executive of a party is not in tune with the scores involving the election of his candidate, explaining with a copy of the petition of his (Anirah’s) score of 7,089 votes recorded in his favour against his opponent in PDP during the election tribunal.
His grouse in a telephone conversation, among others, are the alleged double standard of the presidency over discrimination in the anti-corruption agenda pursuit of the Buhari led government under APC and administrative incapability on issues of state and appointment of persons, popularly referring to seven dead persons that were recently appointed erroneously.
According to him, I am unhappy over the insensitivity of the federal government, especially the endless killings of Nigerians daily by Fulani herdsmen in Plateau, Benue, Nassarawa and other parts of the country with no arrest made, while the Sultan of Sokoto is blowing hot and calling for arrest of those behind the killing of a Fulani chieftain in the North.
Why Anirah questioned, is the Federal government shielding some top Nigerians from being tried, especially the alleged corruption charges against the former Secretary to the Federal Government (SFG) and the Nigerian Intelligence Agency – NIA boss, a clear case of double standard.
Anirah said, the ship of APC is drifting and is on the verge of being sunk, explaining that he tried as he may to bring harmony among the party leadership in Sapele, his efforts were in vain while there are growing overtures to him by the PDP Chairman and the State Governor to return home to his former Party – PDP.
It is close to five months now and I have been carefully weighing the options, apart from the spread hands of a new fellowship, I also discovered that PDP leaderships have changed and had the assurance that all past anomaly will be corrected, that is why I yielded to a more receptive and appreciative hands under the leadership of Chief Esiso and the sound and competent Governor of the State, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa.
Anirah said that while there was no point wasting his time with a fractionalized party, he is optimistic that Sapele is going to have a true leadership, assuring the people of Sapele Local Government to expect a true representation that is going to build a formidable and united front for the development of the area.
Over 170 projects, he revealed were awarded by the State government, DESOPADEC and NDDC in terms of schools, roads and other infrastructures in the past eighteen years but there is nothing to show for it, owing to insincerity of the of the representatives of the area and government personnel that are engineers issuing certificates of job completions.
Whereas there are evidence of these project in other local government areas of the State, like Uvwie, Ughelli and Warri, Sapele has remained a local government of little or none performance, while it is on record that huge numbers of road construction and infrastructures were awarded to political office holders, paid monumental sums and abandoned, but I believe this will be corrected with his presence and binoculars beamed on any projects this time around and review of the past ones.
Can Anirah undoubtedly, a man with a loyal clout, a grand pillar, a mobiliser, a resolute politician and sincerity by his departure from APC to PDP affect the fortunes or otherwise of his former party APC, leaves an affirmative answer, that the man with a Midas touch is carrying majority of his followers with him, evidence of the reception in his honour, where a tumultuous gathering of his followers declared, wherever you go, we go.
Fitting into the system of his old but new found love – PDP, the former local government chairman, known for his uncompromising of truth, fairness and justice, said his pedigree is there for him to protect and the Governor, (Okowa) and the party Chairman (Esiso) know the stuff he is made of, by resisting any attempt to get him mired, into any Augean stable that will bring him into any form of disrepute in the eyes of his people.
While the released result of the local government election recorded an unprecedented vote casts of 77,090 in favour of PDP against APC 4,533, opinion poll have it that it was Solomon (Anirah) come to judgment by his astute supervision, of ensuring peace while encouraging the electorate in Sapele to come out and vote peacefully, devoid of violence and any form of aggression.
Anirah, is not a showman as such, but rather a renowned politician that most times, stood his ground and damned all other consequences when it comes to personal integrity, he is not a man given to the lure of easy lucre, a hardcore, indefatigable and most uncompromising, these traits are the attributes that has endeared him to the multitudes of followers, especially those that are not themselves easily swayed by the fantasies of modern politics, his fans cut across those who want to see real dividends of democracy, in terms of socio-political development and its attendant economic growth of the area.
But the question that has remained unanswered since the Udokpoi’s return to PDP is how can Anirah cope with the seemingly Augean system of PDP, with a slogan “Share the money” team at the detriment of his ideals by throwing his integrity to the winds, let us see.
What lesson has Anirah cross-over taught other political parties, especially the major opposition APC, more to say in Sapele and Delta State, seen from the fact that a big fish like Chief Felix Uruemuesiri Anirah is not easily available and when a party is blessed with such a personage, should be listened to, be reached for decision making, be consulted on crucial issues and should not be shielded from any political gain of the party.
From the look of things, APC seemed to have shot itself on the foot again even when the party is yet to come to terms with its fractionalized groups and assumed leaders jostling for its control in the state like the Emerho-Otega, the Omo-Agege, the Ogboru factions, and others trying to hold to the reins of power and control of the party.
Well, the show goes on.
Joseph Tobias Aminah is a Sapele based Journalist/Media Consultant.
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