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2023: Okowa Is Not Uduaghan

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By Annabel Ogheneganre

Governor Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa is not the ordinary politician you know. He is one of a kind. He knows how to play the game very well. He will not make those mistakes Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan made in not getting a successor for himself.

Okowa will get a choice successor through the party primaries and also do everything within and outside the books to get him through the general election. He understands the game through and through. He will not support a candidate that cannot carry his own cross. Okowa knows the importance of self determination and personal clout. He will support a candidate that can face anybody in the general elections. He knows the strength of all the aspirants, their pedigree or political antecedents, their contacts and reach as well as the forces around their immediate environments and their innate abilities to deliver when the chips are down. He also knows APC will represent big headache in the coming polls, and so he will not lower his guard.

Much as I do not want any candidate to be imposed on Delta central without the input of our people, it should be understood that the present condition of things within the PDP does gives much credence to the incumbent in pushing his way through with ease. Under Uduaghan, the governor was in the midst of foes from within and without. The control of the PDP under Uduaghan was in Aso Rock which was under former President Goodluck Jonathan, an Ijaw man whose kinsmen in Delta State where determined to rubbish Uduaghan with everything at their disposal. Uduaghan was not in control of anything. Abuja dictated the governorship and senatorial primary elections and that was why Uduaghan, a sitting governor could not secure his party ticket to run for senate. The primaries that brought Okowa to power was overtly seen to be free and fair but the undercurrent political whirlwind decided the fate of the aspirants before the real contest.

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In the present circumstance, there are no forces outside Delta State that would decide the outcome of the PDP primaries. In fact, Okowa is the ‘god’ of the PDP in Delta State under the current arrangement. Uche Secondus does not reflect a compelling grip on the PDP governors rather, the governors run the show in their respective states. There are no National powers to defer to unlike under Uduaghan when the then governor helplessly sat over the affairs of the party in the state while Abuja ran the show. Okowa will decide who gets what in Delta State as far as the PDP tickets for 2023 is concern. Urhobo people must therefore work with governor Okowa to ensure men after the heart of Urhobo emerge PDP gubernatorial and senatorial flag-bearers.

This writer is concerned about the next gubernatorial flag-bearer because it is not every Urhobo man who dons the traditional regalia for ceremonies and events that could be classified as a true son or daughter of Urhobo. Speaking the language is not even enough also. When the North shops for presidential candidates, they don’t always pick just anybody from the Northern states. They watch out for certain traits in them. The Northern political block usually consults with the traditional and religious tendencies to determine the character that could suit their preferences. Urhobo should look very deeply into the content of the characters of those in the race so as to work with Okowa to produce a PDP candidate that could protect her interests.

Governor Okowa too will also come with a shopping list of the ideological content and political disposition of the next governor in line with his preferences. Okowa will not support a man who would be governor only to undo those landmark projects he undertook under his administration. The three Universities established by the governor, institutions and agencies, the Teachers Institute in Owa-Alero for instance amongst many other projects and programmes will have to be protected by his successor. Urhobo and Okowa should meet with respective shopping lists and determine the way forward. Okowa will not sit down and allow any aspirant rock his political base with impunity and Urhobo too should not sleep over the project of producing the next governor of Delta State. Both forces should strike a balance so as to be carried along in the final analysis.

By April 2023, the general elections would have been over and the next governor known. Just as the North are already regrouping to determine the shape of things in 2023 as it affects their presidential interests, Urhobo political leaders must now start a process of making impacts in 2023. To wait for Okowa to take a step before crying foul may be too late. Now is the time to begin a pan-Urhobo movement to determine what becomes of Urhobo in post 2023 political realities and not the narrow window of Okpe ambition as represented by the so-called OSU Movement.

The OSU Movement is narrow and parochially selfish. The first and most crucial focus of the 2023 struggle is to ensure the rotational arrangement on senatorial basis is respected by all. The narrow ambition of the OSU Movement to the exclusion of the rest of Urhobo is designed to undermine the project. Okpe people should not provoke the rest of Urhobo into a combustive political civil war that could only aid those working against Urhobo in 2023. This writer shall take time to address the import of Okpe struggle shortly. However what is of paramount concern now is for Urhobo to rise as one body to fight for honour.

The time is almost becoming late but not too late. Urhobo political leaders and the UPU in the background must begin such a movement now so as to trim the shopping list of aspirants and present same to the governor. It is only when Urhobo suggests for Okowa and he refuse to accept the suggestion that one can assess his level of regards for the people. But if Urhobo does nothing and the governor exercises his discretion on the way forward, nobody should complain. Uduaghan was naïve and he lost his honour and place. Okowa is smart and calculating. He knows when to strike for maximum impacts. But Urhobo will do well to work with the incumbent to produce a governor that will protect her interests in post-Okowa era.

Urhobo should approach 2023 with tact. The next governor will determine whether Urhobo will still retain her honour in the comity of ethnic nationalities not only in Delta State but Nigeria at large. Under James Ibori, Urhobo was a towering shelter for many. Today, Urhobo cannot be said to have taken her rightful place in Nigeria. But for Ovie Omo-Agege’s personal charm and force, Urhobo would have been reduced to nothing by now. Over the years, Urhobo had shrunk in size, splendor and dignity. No true Urhobo man will doubt what I am saying. Everything cannot be expressed in black and white. 2023 provides another opportunity for Urhobo to bounce back and take her rightful place in the state. Whether under PDP or APC, we must get it right less Urhobo relapse into many years of regrets that will span decades to come.

Annabel Ogheneganre writes from Garki, Abuja. (09030558731 SMS only or [email protected])

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Akpobomeh.O

    May 17, 2021 at 7:05 pm

    Well scripted. A proactive thought worthy of note

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