• Why Ojuogboh, Ochei, other Delta North leaders don’t want DSP
By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South
IN 2019, some political strategists and leaders of All Progressives Congress, APC, across Delta North, Delta Central and Delta South strongly believed that the party would edge the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, out of power in the state.
The spin doctors were of the opinion that the incumbent governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, gunning for second term at the time on PDP platform, did not perform well in his first tenure, and since he is from Delta North (Anioma), an APC candidate from the zone would give him the battle of his life.
Utomi, Ochei, Ojougboh stopped in 2018 primaries
Former Executive Director, Projects, Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh; ex-Speaker, Delta State House of Assembly and Executive Director, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Rt. Hon. Victor Ochei; and political economist and management expert, Prof Patrick Utomi, all from Delta North, joined the race for the governorship ticket of their party, APC, to confront Okowa.
They lobbied APC leaders in Delta Central, which has consistently produced Chief Great Ogboru as governorship flag bearer of the party, over the years, to allow Delta North produce the candidate that would fight Okowa.
The contention of many opposed to Ogboru ticket at that time was that he lost to Okowa in the 2015 governorship election and nominating him again in 2019 was not a well-studied option, as two former PDP governorship candidates, Chief James Ibori and Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, also defeated him, making him a whipping candidate of the ruling party.
Astute APC politicians recognized that since Delta Central had governed for eight years through Ibori, Delta South also for eight years through Uduaghan, it was politically justifiable to allow Delta North complete an eight-year tenure which Okowa started in 2015, but agreed APC should field a Delta northerner.
However, the powers-that-be in the party, both at state at national levels, dismissed the strategy and insisted on Ogboru who was declared winner of governorship primary that many adjudged a charade.
Utomi, Ochei and Ojougboh knew who pulled the rug against Delta North and fought tooth and nail to reverse the travesty, but the national leadership of the APC, headed by former Edo state governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, paid them no attention.
Many suspected that the 2019 election was a game plan to finally retire Ogboru from politics, knowing that if he failed once again, it would be difficult to market his candidacy in 2023, thereby paving the way for a younger contender, most likely Deputy Senate President, DSP, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, representing Delta Central.
Since 2019, the party has been bedeviled by disunity and rancor over the prospect denied APC governorship aspirants from Delta North, who maintained that Omo-Agege was the one that worked against their interest.
About two years after, Omo-Agege has revved his political machine to clinch the party’s 2023 governorship ticket. And knowing the importance of Delta North to his 2023 agenda, Omo-Agege teamed up with Senator Nwaoboshi even before the latter ditched the PDP for APC to make inroad into Delta North.
Unfortunately, Ojougboh and Ochei have waged what is patently a grudge war against Omo-Agege. Some APC leaders from the two other senatorial districts, who share their sentiment, contend that it was not even the turn of Delta Central to produce the party’s flag bearer in 2023. They believe that since Central has consistently, in the last 12 years or more, produced the party’s governorship candidate, it should leave it in 2023 for either Delta North or Delta South.
Recently, prominent members of APC from Delta North converged in Kwale with Ochei; Ojougboh; Deputy Chairman, Engr. Elvis Ayomanor; and senatorial Chairman, Delta North district caretaker committee, Ogbueshi Ben Onwuka, in attendance, where objections were raised to the purported dominance of the party by the South-South leader, who happens to be Omo-Agege.
Ojougboh alluded to the 2018 mace-snatching saga in the Senate allegedly spearheaded by Omo-Agege, saying “We support a candidate with a good character. We would not accept someone who can rustle mace as governor of Delta State in 2023.”
Ojuogboh also scowled at alleged attempts by the APC leadership to stop the Delta North stakeholders’ meeting.
On his part, Ochei said the APC would not accept any attempt to browbeat the party into accepting a predetermined person on the 2023 governorship ticket.
His words: “All we are looking for is a person who would occupy the office of governor from the party. We are looking for someone with vision for infrastructural development, not a dictator. APC is not about what Ochei or Cairo wants, it is about the success of the party.”
‘We warned them’
But, a former presidential aspirant of the APC, Alhaji Mumakai Unagha, from Delta Central, who spoke to Sunday Vanguard on the grudge battle between Ojougboh, Ochei on one side and Omo-Agege on the other hand, said: “The issue surrounding the 2023 governorship election under APC is pregnant, nobody knows what will happen.
“To me, APC is not ready and I do not see the possibilities of the party winning the governorship come 2023. I stand to be corrected.”
“There is the possibility of pay back, meaning if at all there is revenge of what happened in 2019. During the 2019 election, some of us from the Olorogun Otega Emerhor group reasoned that for equity, APC governorship ticket should go to Delta North, which they resisted stoutly.
“We did everything possible to ensure that the governorship went to Delta North for a straight fight with the incumbent governor, Senator Okowa, which some persons vehemently opposed that it must be Chief Great Ogboru, a serial contestant.
“We pleaded with them (Ogboru) group as it then was, but they bluntly refused. They used then National Chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, to cause a major political breakdown thereby polarizing the party into what is known as Emerhor and Ogboru factions.
“They eventually hijacked the party pushing some of us, founding fathers, into oblivion, using the former National Chairman.
“We became strangers in the party we had labored to build. With the division, we went into election, and APC lost woefully. Great Ogboru faced the worst humiliation in his political history with the votes he got from the three senatorial districts.
“It was a stab to the political gladiators from the Delta North such as Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, Hon Victor Ochei, Prof. Utomi and many others. “That is why today some of us are on the fence watching because they have succeeded in appropriating the party to themselves.
“You cannot expect a reasonable person from the Delta North to work for you when you worked against their interest.
“It is not only Delta North, some persons from the South and Central still aggrieved and will equally toe the same line with those from Delta North.
“The revenge is because the wounds are still very fresh, except they engage in political persuasion to calm frayed nerves, which I doubt may not be possible”.
APC threatens Ojougboh, others
Delta APC, led by Prophet Jones Erue, meanwhile came hard on Ojougboh over his eruption.
In a statement, July 12, by the Director of Publicity, Nick Ovuakporie, the party warned him and “impostors who are in the inglorious habit of dragging the APC and its leadership into disrepute to desist henceforth from further provoking the party to wield the big stick against their anti-party activities as no one is above discipline.”
It stated that Justice O. A. Musa of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, High Court, delivered a judgment, June 18, 2019, that there was no evidence that Omo-Agege stole the mace and invaded the Senate as alleged, declaring the circulation of such information as the highest height of defamation.
“The party, however, warns these political harlots and impostors that ignorance is no excuse to the committal of crime as any further misplaced action, including acts of mudslinging will be legally dealt with no matter who is involved,” Ovuakporie said.