By Annabel Ogheneganre
The primary elections of the major political parties for the 2023 general elections have been done with. The Peoples Democratic Party has produced the Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori while the All Progressives Congress has Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege as candidate paving way for all Urhobo candidates for the polls. Even our perpetual candidate, Great Ovedje Ogboru has picked the ticket of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA for the polls. Senator Dr Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa has kept his words. Head or tail, Urhobo will be governor in 2023.
Prior to the PDP primary election which was won in a landslide by Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori, his major opponents devoted more of their time and energy to campaign of calumny and mudslinging. In fact instead of canvassing for votes, most of David Edevbie supporters devoted more time to the alleged certificate issues around Oborevwori. They left the campaigns and focused on the certificate scandals while the man continued to strategize on how best to grab the PDP ticket. Some of the missiles were hurled at Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as many conspiracy theories were weaved into the narratives. Several options were allegedly on the table for Okowa’s consideration and that Okowa will never honour any path with the Urhobo nation. There were stories of how Okowa intend dropping Sheriff Oborevwori yet the man was not deterred and he eventually won in the final analysis.
Though his adversaries may have shifted to the law court in their quest to discredit Hon Sheriff Oborevwori for not being academically and administratively suave as David Edevbie, what should not be lost on the people is that political power is not dispensed or appropriated based on academic prowess, international exposure, financial probity or administrative capabilities otherwise, President Buhari will not be President today neither the likes of Yahaya Bello, a certified thug and empty head will not be governor, harassing the sensibilities of Nigerians with a vaunted ambition to be president in 2023.
The primary elections have come and gone. The main campaigns will commence soon. It is most likely going to be a two-horse race between Senator Ovie Omo-Agege and Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori. Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru is not going to be of any huge political value in 2023, not anymore. The man has attained political menopause and his street credibility tested, weight and found to be of no use anymore.
Those hoping to climb on his shoulders to power must work extra-hard because the Ogboru myth has been so defiled over time that Deltans are now weary of his face on the ballot. The man has been running for the same position for 20 years without considering taking another route to power. If, for instance, he decides to run for Senate under APC with Omo-Agege as gubernatorial candidate, that would have been a walk over for him. But he will not consider anything beside his vaunted gubernatorial ambition, hoping to ride on some imaginary support from the hapless and election-weary Deltans who have moved on to form better and more profitable alliances.
With Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru out of the APC, there shall be massive defections from different political parties not for love for the man but for want of political platforms capable of serving personal interests. Many aggrieved aspirants from the major political parties are sure of defecting to other parties ahead of the general elections. Now the real defections will start happening. Chief David Edevbie’s agent in last week PDP gubernatorial primary election, Chief Julius Akpovoka has allegedly moved to APGA to secure the party ticket for House of Representatives. Many disappointed House of Assembly aspirants are considering leaving their respective parties, APC or PDP to join APGA or Peter Obi’s Labour party to test popularity in the coming election. Chief Kenneth Gbagi, former Minister of Education has also moved to the Social Democratic Party to be in the ballot in the race to government house. At least, with introduction of the BVAS in the electoral process, there shall be true test of popularity in 2023. There shall be no ’Sokoto’ votes and those ‘Tilapia or toxic votes’ from Warri South West and other Riverrine communities would be reduced to the barest minimum in 2023.
Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori would be banking on support from his Okpe people, the entire OSU Federal Constituency and Okowa’s Delta North as well as support from Chief Michael DIden, aka Ejele to secure victory in the coming polls.
Oborevwori will not be a push over, not necessarily because of his personal clout and sagacity but because PDP remains the strongest political party in Delta state as at today. Majority of the House of Assembly members and Council Chairmen would be working for personal survival by delivering Oborevwori in 2023. It is going to be a tough call but he stands a good chance of being the next governor of Delta State. Governor Okowa will do everything to ensure he gives Delta North to Sheriff. Prior to the PDP primaries, many thought Okowa had lost grip of the delegates but when the result was announced, it became obvious that Okowa was in firm control of Delta North. PDP will face their first and real test of popularity in 2023 with Ovie Omo-Agege as flag-bearer of the APC. It will be war for war, naira for naira, propaganda for propaganda and it is not going to be easy predicting the outcome of the coming polls.
Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, the man legions of devious forces wanted to bury for defending his party and his political future in the Mace saga, is the man who would give PDP the biggest challenge in 2023. Omo-Agege will not take no for an answer. He wants to be governor and he will do everything humanly possible to achieve that goal. He has positioned himself for the ultimate challenge. He is recruiting his foot-soldiers from all the political parties ahead of time. The recruitment is still on-going and PDP will lose some big names before the elections. AS the goal-getter he is, all the landmines that could be detonated to exacerbate PDP in value and electoral worth are already in place. Those who understand the import of the Electoral Act which set the whole nation on edge during the party primaries should know that what is bigger than the rat has entered the hole. 2023 will not be business as usual. Our people refuse to read and study our laws and rules of engagement pertaining to the election. PDP must watch out for landmines because Omo-Agege is ready and anybody who takes him for granted will realize too late that the Orogun born political Maradona, meant business when he said ‘’Na me write am’’.
The magic that will give Great Ogboru victory in 2023 is simply not there. He attained his peak in political splendor in 2011. Since then he has dropped in worth and his crowd-pulling effect has evaporated. Omo-Agege is in control of federal might and this he will use generously to his advantage. One thing you cannot take away from Omo-Agege is that the man knows how to use power. 2023 is his best bet to be governor of Delta State and this man will not leave anything to chance. PDP will likely go to court after the 2023 gubernatorial elections and that will be too bad for the party. The stage is set for battle royale. Boons would be broken, people traded off and there shall be heart-breaking hard-tackles capable of changing the face of Delta politics in 2023. Many will go down while fresh hands will come on board. Even within the PDP family, a revolution has started with many incumbent House of Assembly members losing return-tickets. In the general elections too, there shall be revolutions. Integrity will jam the spirit of Methuselah in political participation in the streets and the mightier force will prevail.
Even the senatorial elections will be a tough one too. Those who think 2023 will be a walk-over for Senator Ighoyota Amori may be in for rude shock. APC has Ede Dafinone, a man with clean slate as candidate, APGA has Peters Omaruaye of Ughelli South as Senatorial Candidate and by the time the campaigns begin, Urhobo will make their choice based on integrity and ability to defend Urhobo interest without cutting bigger deals for self. Delta 2023 will be an interesting game. The journey to Denis Osadebey House has begun. The interesting thing about the gubernatorial contest is that it is an all Urhobo affairs. I will not kill one Urhobo son for another. Let the better prepared and best material that can defend Urhobo interest in government house win in 2023. Party interest may come to play but let Urhobo larger interest prevail. We have been played into a second fiddle in a state that ordinarily belongs to Urhobo. Affliction must not arise a second time. We must get it right in 2023. Let the music play on!
Annabel Ogheneganre writes from Garki, Abuja. (Send reactions via email to firstname.lastname@example.org)
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