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Oborevwori Versus Omo-Agege: The Die Is Cast (Part One)



Oborevwori Versus Omo-Agege: The Die Is Cast (Part One)

By Annabel Ogheneganre

Now that the primary elections of the Peoples Democratic Party has been concluded with the Supreme Court judgment which returned Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori as the duly elected candidate of the party, the stage is now set for the battle ‘royale’ on the question of who succeeds Dr Ifeanyi Okowa in 2023. It is certainly going to be the battle of all political battles in Delta State. So much is at stake and none of the combatant is prepared to let go. 2023 is a straight fight between Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, Deputy Senate President of the APC and Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori, Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly of the PDP.

In the coming gubernatorial election in Delta State, so many names will be on the ballot but only two will effectively be taken into account by the electorates. Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru of APGA, Chief Kenneth Gbagi of SDP, Chief Ken Pela of Labour Party and a few others are also standing for the election. But they have no electoral weight to give anybody reason to worry. Nigerians are getting new consciousness over electoral issues. ‘Every Mallam to his kettle’ and the candidates will be rated according to the content of their characters. Sentiment without substance is waning while integrity and capability of the candidate is gaining currency. For instance, those routing for Peter Obi for president are doing so because of what they believe he has to offer. It has nothing to do with money or political party.

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In the Nigeria political context, several factors determine the pace of the elections. What ought to be the most important of all is the character of the candidate and what he has to offer. Another factor is the strength of his political party. This is a very crucial factor that has to do with the viability of the party’s structure. Without a viable structure, a good candidate can lose elections. Also of essence in political contest is the disposition of the election umpire. If the electoral officials are bias or decide to work for any of the candidate, the outcome can be unwieldy. Security also plays significant role in election management. Another factor that cannot be wished away is the place of fund in managing or lubricating the electoral process. Some of these critical factors are under the control of incumbent political forces. This is where the APC and PDP are the party to beat in the 2023 general elections.

While the APC is in charge at the federal level, the PDP has been the party in charge of Delta State since 1999. Most of those in the opposition today have had their link to the PDP at one time or the other. The 2023 electoral contest will therefore be between common foes. They know their strengths, their weaknesses and those factors working for their respective opponents. The PDP and APC financial war-chest is strong enough to take on anybody. A look at the two major contenders for the 2023 gubernatorial elections may be instructive at this juncture.

Sheriff Oborevwori: He is from Okpe Local Government Area of Delta State. He has served as SA and SSA to former administrations in the state. He was elected to the House of Assembly in 2015 and was made Speaker just two years into his membership of the House. He is the longest serving speaker of the State Assembly. He has issues with his academic certificates but these have not been able to stop him. He was favoured and backed by the forces that be in the state ahead of the May 25 primary elections of the party. He is an easy-going jolly good fellow. He may not be top on the academic and oratorical proficiency but educated to Master degree level and that is sufficient for the office he seeks.

Sheriff Oborevwori has the full complement of a strong political party behind him with tendons that can withstand any storm. The political war-horses backing him are his major hope in the coming election. There are time-tested political leviathans who are prepared to enter the trenches for him in defense of their investments. This may not necessarily be because of his personal clout and charisma. The Okpe axis and in fact, the Okpe/Sapele/Uvwie federal constituency will be too hot for the APC in 2023. Delta North, the home-base of Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, Governor of Delta State and Vice Presidential Candidate of the PDP will most likely be the impregnable fortress of the party.

While the APC has made some inroad into both Delta South and Delta North lately, Delta Central still remains the battle ground for the coming election.

In terms of individual charisma and performance, Sheriff is no match to Senator Ovie Omo-Agege. But he has a lot going for him as the Council Chairmen, House of Assembly members, Commissioners and thousands of political appointees across the state would be there to fight for him, not just for his own sake but for their own political survival too.

Senator Ovie Omo-Agege: He is the most critical force to reckon with in the coming election. Governor Ifeanyi Okowa knows Omo-Agege and will not leave anything to chance. He is a lawyer of many years standing, sound and cerebrally articulate in marshalling out his points. He has served Delta State as Special Adviser to Governor Ibori, Commissioner and later Secretary to the State Government. He became a Senator in 2015, the same year Sheriff Oborevwori was elected to the Delta State House of Assembly. Today, he is the Deputy Senate President, a position no Delta Senator has attained since the fourth republic. Omo-Agege is the best performing senator ever from Delta State. On the basis of performance in terms of visible infrastructure, Sheriff is no match to Omo-Agege too.

The APC, on which platform Ovie Omo-Agege is running is the second strongest political party in Delta State and the strongest in Nigeria. The APC commends 22 States while the PDP is in charge of 13 and APGA one. He is popular and the party is in all the nooks and corner of the state like the PDP.

Omo-Agege is Chairman of the Senate Committee on INEC and that reposes a lot of control and influence on him with regards election management in Nigeria. One thing is clear, INEC will most likely not undermine his interest in the coming polls for any reason. Anybody who will defeat Omo-Agege has to do so fair and square not through the backdoor. Omo-Agege has visible footprints in all parts of the Delta central he currently represents. The polls would be decided by the ordinary voter who do not subscribe to any political party. Party members may vote along party lines but the apolitical voters will not be hoodwinked into voting a candidate who cannot defend or represent their interest.

On a personal level, Omo-Agege is a stronger force than Sheriff Oborevwori. In terms of clout and political experience, visible attributes and charisma, Omo-Agege is far taller than Sheriff. Omo-Agege has better national and international exposure, he is more confident and firmer on command of government business. Omo-Agege is a stronger character and could do better if elected. But politics is politics. Sheriff Oborevwori is the man with the ball. He is most likely not willing to let go. Both men are proud Urhobo sons and achievers. They will take Urhobo to places. That is our strong conviction and joy. The die is cast. Either of the two men would be governor of Delta State in 2023! Let the music play on.

Annabel Ogheneganre writes from Garki, Abuja. ([email protected])


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