Ugochukwu Ugwuanyi

Have you heard the scream? It must have got to you since the yell which emanates from the south-east reverberates even in the remotest part of Kano State. By the scream, I’m referring to manner in which parts of the country gained and were cheated in the distribution of additional 29,129 polling units carried out by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. Of a truth, the inequality is one that is screaming for attention. 

Had it been that it called for attention, this column wouldn’t have been distracted from focussing on other troubles our nation is inundated with. But then, it elected to scream for attention. Hence, you cannot deny to have heard it even if you are located around Nigeria’s border with Niger Republic. Though understandably prominent in the south-east, this shout is further re-echoed from other flanks of southern Nigeria as well as those patches of the north inhabited by northerners whose sense of objectivity is still very much alive. 

From my perspective, INEC’s creation of the additional polling units is an ambush. It is akin to what Steve Nwosu of The Sun Newspapers would have included in his list of acts that amounts to ‘tactical manoeuvring.’ It is rightly so because a good number of us by virtue of the commission’s earlier clean-up of the voter register had passed a vote of confidence on Jega’s INEC to the extent that we all went to bed. Unfortunately, that was when the commission chose to take us unawares; coming like a thief in the night! Whether this was an orchestrated act or another instance of our public servants advancing the vague public interest, we shall get to find out as we progress.

Let’s begin with a backgrounder: The electoral body, as earlier pointed out, went about vetting the nation’s voter register- a procedure which helped it detect millions of ghost-voters. The endeavour yielded so much success such that our voter register which in 2011 had some 70 million names as registered voters in Nigeria depreciated to a figure below 60 million. This was all that was needed by most Nigerians to surrender all to INEC and go to sleep. By the time they woke, they were greeted with the new reality that the number of polling booths in the country, which they knew to be 119,973, has now climbed to 150,000.

The furore and disquiet that ensued had nothing to do with INEC spiking the number of polling units. Rather, it had everything to do with the manner in which the booths were distributed among the major divides of the country. It also had a lot to do with the fact that the number of polling units handed the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, surpassed the number of polling booths that the entire south-east got! Note that I’m not referring to Enugu State alone, but the five states of the south-east put together! Pray, what justification can be given for this, even if the rest of us were fools? I bet you can now remember hearing the yell for attention.

How I hate to discuss any issue that would warrant me pitching one division of the country against the other. But, INEC left people like me with no choice. Perhaps, I should just call up the data showing how many of the new polling units were ‘zoned’ to each geopolitical zone in the country lest I be accused of being mischievous. You want facts? Here you have it:

Out of the additional 29,129 Polling Units, PUs, created by INEC, the north (including the Federal Capital Territory) got 20,715; while a meagre 8,414 of the sum went to the south. And this is how it was shared among the geopolitical zones: The north-west cornered 7, 906 of the new PUs; north-east 5, 291 and north-central 6, 318, conversely south-west 4, 160, south-south 3, 087 and south-east 1, 167 while the Federal Capital Territory (which is still a part of the north) getting 1, 200. 

Little wonder the delineation is screaming for attention. The perceived regional bias inherent in it is accentuated by the following home truths: the allocation of 7,906 PUs to the north-west approximates to the 8,412 which the whole of southern Nigeria got. Similarly, each of the north-east and north-west zones got more polling units than the whole of south-west inclusive of Lagos, which is considered the state with the highest number of eligible voters nationwide.

And then the most inciting of the short-change is that the allocations of the new PUs that accrued to the FCT exceeded what went to the entire south-east! The apparent advantage the most recent creation of PUs gave the northern part of the country is without respect to the fact that an earlier clean-up of voter register led INEC into discovering more fictitious voters in the north than it did in the south. 

Zamfara State used to have 2,045,131 registered voters. The clean-up exercise revealed that 1,130,245 of these were ghost-voters, meaning that as much as 44% of the names in the Zamfara voters register were bogus. With this as the case, why would INEC then go ahead to award more PUs to states like this in a fashion that amounts to taking one step forward and two backward? Let’s try to check out the explanations INEC has given for this awkward arrangement.

According to Kayode Idowu, who is the chief press secretary to INEC chairman Prof. Attahiru Jega, “The whole purpose of the exercise is to enhance the access of voters to PUs and align the Nigerian system with global best practices. It is also intended to minimise the cost of elections.” I hear! Let’s try to remember that while announcing the creation of the additional polling units, the INEC director in charge of the commission’s secretariat, Ishiaku A. Gali, informed that the creation of the additional PUs was in fulfilment of the electoral umpire’s pledge to decongest polling units across the country in order to make it easier for voters to cast their votes.

And then I asked, is it that people of the north love casting their ballot so much that their PUs are always congested as against those in the south? It is probable that people of the south are so passionate about voting that even if there is just one PU per local government area, they will still persevere through the jam till they have voted for their preferred candidate, hence INEC saw no need in wasting logistics. 

Then again, it may be that the people of the north are not wont to coming out to vote on election days, therefore as an incentive, INEC is merely trying to lure them out by bringing the booths closer to them. All these supposition would be incomplete without this last one. It is already said in some quarters that INEC is merely playing out a script from what the controversial Femi Aribasala termed #Bring Back Our Northern Domination. 

Hear the columnist, “what the North lost by the removal of the fictitious ghost-voters was then re-awarded by the allocation of additional polling-units. For example, Zamfara that was discovered to be the guiltiest state in the inflation of its register with over one million ghost-voters was then awarded 1,000 more polling-units. Given the fact that each polling-unit has a maximum of 500 voters, this means Zamfara was awarded additional 500,000 potential voters as compensation for its loss of ghost-voters. 

“It also means INEC compensated the North with 10, 807,500 potentially new voters; as opposed to 4,206,000 in the South. This is more than enough to swing any election to the Northern advantage,” he posited.

Meanwhile, INEC is not yet done in the defence of its contentious award of polling units. According to the electoral body, “the defunct National Electoral Commission of Nigeria (NECON) created the present structure of PUs in 1996. The present commission undertook a verification of the PUs nationwide and their location in 2010 and ascertained 119, 973 units. 

“A substantial number of these PUs are located in public buildings. But there are some PUs located in public open spaces; and yet some others in the premises of traditional rulers, places of worship, frontage of private houses and, indeed, inside private compounds,

“International best practice is that classrooms or halls of public schools/institutions should be used as polling units. This makes access control and crowd management at the PUs much easier,” INEC explained.

I took my time to present you this explanation from INEC so you can help me decide if it adequately justifies the favouring of one part of the country to the detriment of another in the distribution of polling units. This is because from where I stand, their postulations are sheer balderdash. It is so because I expected them to rather throw more light on that scientific means they used which supported the award of more polling units to parts of the north where insecurity has decimated the population there as against the relatively safer south. They should have also told us how on earth an FCT came to be in a position to get more PUs than the whole of south-east. Basically, the commission should have been more interested in straightening out all the obvious odds surrounding the PUs instead of the lame justification it is putting out.

Not until they give us a better explanation or correct this screaming anomaly, I would want to believe that INEC is merely trying to tilt the scale in favour of the north ahead of the 2015 election. President Jonathan had better intervened by working for a more equitable and balanced redistribution of the PUs for his own sake. 

In a manner of speaking, Ndigbo are to be held responsible for this cavalier treatment their zone got from INEC. This is because their actions and inactions violated the native wisdom which suggests that the more likely your zone is to deliver close to 100 per cent votes for Jonathan in 2015, the less number of polling booths you will get. Ultimately, this remains their Ebele Azikiwe’s battle to fight. I’m just saying!

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Wilson Omene

The attention of the Urhobo people has been drawn to a report in the Vanguard of Thursday September 4, 2014 credited to the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Delta State, Chief (Barr.) Peter Nwaoboshi, in which he made some unsavoury remarks concerning the position of our revered Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) on the question of Uduaghan’s successor in the 2015.  As a proud Urhobo man, I was shocked that the chairman of the PDP could  heap such undeserving insults on the Urhobo nation, in his attempt to defend Delta North’s false claim that it is their turn to produce the Governor of Delta State in 2015.

However, as a concerned PDP member, my first reaction was to engage Nwaoboshi privately despite the gravity of the insults contained in the said report against the entire Urhobo nation. But when he wrote to me in a text message that “I am happy we won despite your people opposition.  We will continue to  win.  Watch the margin of defeat in the next election” after initially writing that “I don’t reply people like you” I decided to do this public reply to set the record straight and put the lie to all the claims by Nwaoboshi. By deliberately falsifying history to justify his flawed position, Nwaoboshi has betrayed a seminal crisis of political memory of the worst form that should not be associated with a party chairman. I reckon that if his claim that “Urhobo did not support former Governor James Ibori and Governor Uduaghan and so do not have right of claim under PDP in the race for the party gubernatorial ticket” was not debunked, it could  destroy party solidarity and cause irreparable damage to the strategic partnership between the Urhobo nation and the PDP ahead of the 2015 polls. I also believe that to ignore the ranting of this misguided political renegade who appears determined to destroy the unprecedented unity in our party in Delta state and wreck havoc on the party ahead of the 2015 general election will be a great disservice to the party. My task here is to educate Nwaoboshi, an abysmally poor student of history and put the record straight for the present generation and posterity.
1. Let it be understood that the statement by UPU is not inflammatory in any way. UPU is the apex organisation of the Urhobo people worldwide and it has the mandate to speak on issues bordering on their traditional, political and socio-economic well being. While UPU will not give directive to non-Urhobos, it has the statutory right to guide Urhobos in Delta Central, Warri South and Patani LGAs as well as all Urhobos wherever they may be on the surface of the earth on their conduct be it political or otherwise. It is in the exercise of that mandate that UPU through its Publicity Secretary Chief Mike Okenini issued the Press statement of Wednesday September 3, 2014, reiterating the decision of the Urhobo nation on the 2015 governorship election popularly known as the Uvwiamuge Declaration taken on Friday March 28, 2014 at the UPU Cultural Centre in Uvwiamuge-Agbarho and calling to order Urhobo politicians who are working against the spirit of that declaration. 
2. In that statement, UPU did not give directive to the Anioma nation to which Nwaoboshi belongs and whose interests he tried, but woefully failed to protect. Neither did UPU give any directive to the Isokos, the Itsekiris, the Ijaws or any ethnic group outside the Urhobo. I therefore wonder what the business of Nwaoboshi is in trying to interfere with UPU’s directive to its own people. On this note, Nwaoboshi should apologise publicly for the unwarranted outbursts against our revered UPU leadership and the entire Urhobo people. I want to emphasise that UPU has every business with PDP not only in Delta State, but also nationally as Urhobo people are major stakeholders in the party as justified by our past support. 
3. The most alarming lie traded by Nwaoboshi in his outburst is that the Urhobos did not vote for PDP in 1999 or in any other election in the state from1999 till date. That is a lie from the pit of hell. In 1999, aspirants from all the three senatorial districts of Delta state contested for the ticket of the two major political parties of the time, the PDP and All People’s Party (APP). James Ibori from Oghara flew the PDP ticket while Chief Moses Kragha from Udu was candidate of the APP. Urhobo voted en masse for PDP as Ibori won in Ethiope West, Ethiope East, Ughelli South, Ughelli North and Sapele LGAs while Kragha won in his Udu, Uvwie and Okpe LGAs. Also the majority of the State House of Assembly and National Assembly seats in Delta Central were won by the PDP. Urhobo also gave PDP the highest votes from Delta State in the 1999 presidential election. 
4. In 2003 when another Urhobo, Chief Great Ogboru of the defunct Alliance for Democracy (AD), challenged Ibori at the polls, the Urhobo people advised the latter to step down for the former. Although, he declined the advice, the people went on to support Ibori who won in 6 of the 8 local government areas in Delta central losing only Udu and Ethiope East. Again, the PDP won all the Delta Central seats at both State and National Assemblies and Urhobo gave the PDP the highest votes from Delta State in the 2003 presidential election. 
5. In the April 2007 poll, Ogboru was Uduaghan’s major challenger and despite the fact that Ogboru is an Urhobo, every Urhobo PDP stalwart including myself worked hard to ensure that Uduaghan won in 7 of the 8 local government areas in Delta Central, losing only Udu LGA with a paltry 8 votes.  
6. In 2011, Ogboru did better in Delta Central but this was not limited to Delta Central alone. He even won in Nwaoboshi’s Oshimili North, where PDP lost the House of Assembly seat to Accord Party as a result of Nwaoboshi leadership failure which traded off the fortune of the party through his garrison approach to politics, being manifested again in the statement under contention. It is significant to note that in spite of having an Urhobo in the race in 2011, Delta Central gave Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan 102, 725 votes against the paltry 84, 985 votes he got from Nwaoboshi’s Delta North. 
7. In the same election, Delta Central voted overwhelmingly for the PDP Presidential candidate, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, posting an impressive 824,000 votes of the I, 368, 851 total votes cast in the state.  Delta North gave a meagre 149,000 votes and Delta South accounted for the rest votes. The implication is that Delta North and South which Nwaoboshi wants to rely on in 2015 to deliver President Goodluck Jonathan, should he decide to seek re-election, which I believe he would, could not produce as much as 40% of votes cast in 2011. The figure above is beside the votes of Urhobos in Warri South LGA who are over 80% of the total voting strength of the LGA as well as Urhobos of Patani LGA. Can Nwaoboshi tell us how many votes he secured for President Jonathan in that election. He certainly cannot because he lacks the rigour and vigour to work for the party’s electoral fortune.
8.  Unlike the apparent electoral weakness of the Anioma people in Delta North, the Urhobos in Delta Central command more than 50% of the voting strength of Delta State. Urhobos also have a substantial voting population in Patani and Warri-South, making them the most significant voting bloc in Delta state. Only Nwaoboshi is ignorant of the fact that Urhobo is very strategic to PDP electoral fortunes in Delta State. Nwaoboshi’s apparent lack of strategic thinking is the only reason why he will not recognise the strategic positioning of the Urhobo nation in the politics of Delta state. Need we remind Nwaoboshi that Delta Central gave PDP about 80% of the vote cast in the senate bye-election of October 2013 whereas PDP almost lost the Delta North Senatorial election to DPP in 2011 because of his gross inefficiency which is tantamount to dereliction of duty.   
9. Now, between the Aniomas and the Urhobos, who has the right of claim to the PDP gubernatorial ticket in 2015? Has Urhobo not done noble for the PDP contrary to what Nwaoboshi’s warped imagination is spinning? To say Urhobos have no right of claim in the PDP is an affront on the Urhobo nation. There is no justification for Nwaoboshi’s claim that Urhobos have always been opposed to PDP. To the contrary, Urhobo allegiance to the PDP is unparalleled and can never be matched by Delta North while they remain part of Delta State. Urhobo’s support for PDP since 1999 has been consistent and overwhelming especially in the presidential elections. Yet when it was time to enjoy the dividends of their democratic choice, the Aniomas hijacked 14 appointments compared to only 2 which Delta Central got. 
10. The Urhobo people are overwhelmingly with the UPU in strongly affirming the creed of the UVWIAMUGHE DECLARATION which is premised on an Urhobo winning the Delta Guber election in 2015 through a free and fair election. Urhobo is not holding PDP to ransom, rather we are entrenching the tenets of democracy by advocating a level playing ground for all. We are opposed to imposition, zoning and exclusion, concepts that constitute anathema to democracy. In fact, since 1999 the governorship has never been zoned to any senatorial district or ethnic group in the state. Aniocha, Ijaw, Ika, Isoko, Itsekiri, Ndokwa, Oshimili and Urhobo politicians have always contested for the seat. Why cry for zoning now? Democracy demands that every eligible candidate can stand for election. Why disenfranchise some as Nwaoboshi is inclined to do?
11. Let us ask Nwaoboshi if he has ever paused to ponder why governorship aspirants all over the state fall over themselves to appoint Urhobos as Directors-General of their campaign organizations if not for the strategic electoral value of the Urhobo people? Nwaoboshi is certainly not the stuff a party chairman is made of. A failed lawyer, Nwaoboshi’s only means of livelihood is political philandering. 
12. Additionally, we recall that only recently, Nwaoboshi physically assaulted a distinguished Deltan, Dr(Mrs) Maryam Alli, a serving member of the PDP Board of Trustees. Before that, Nwaoboshi’s lumpen character was demonstrated with his verbal assault on Comrade Ovuzorie Macaulay, the present Secretary to the State Government (SSG) for daring to say the truth that there is no zoning of the governorship position in Delta State. Nwaoboshi’s assault on Macaulay received widespread condemnation and like a dog he ate his vomit by apologizing to Macaulay. These actions of Nwaoboshi which have brought his office to disrepute are enough to call on him to commit political hara-kiri by resigning as the state party chairman or allow party members to remove him. His continued stay in office especially during this critical election season can only cause further disaffection in the party and damage the party’s chances of retaining power in Delta State and Nigeria.  
13. The time for Nwaoboshi’s kind of politics is up in Nigeria. It is time for Nwaoboshi to go so that elected political office holders in Delta State will heave a sigh of relief from his financial extortion. Or has he not done enough harm to the party. All PDP stalwarts must begin the task code-named “Nwaoboshi Must Go”. The time is now before he does more damage to the party. An insensitive “oracle” lacking in vision and restraint is a candidate for the rubbish heap and not the elevated Senate Nwaoboshi is deviously scheming to join. It is TIME FOR PETER NWAOBOSHI TO GO!



Fejiro Oliver

A very dependable source who just returned from London where he paid a visit to former Delta State Governor, James Onanefe Ibori has confirmed to us that the much headline news of Sir Anthony Obuh emerging as the next governor of Delta State will never see the daylight.

Speaking authoritatively to us, he revealed that the political warlord is set for a showdown with his maternal cousin, Emmanuel Uduaghan for bringing up Obuh in the political equation of the State when there are other tested hands who stood by him during his travails.
We had earlier reported that Obuh was taken to London by the governor Senior Special Adviser on Political Matters, Ighoyota Amori for introduction, but we reliably gathered that the governor who shares the same cell house with one Julius Onyinyechukwu Owali refused to come out to see him, which made them disappointed, but they have refused to tell Uduaghan their fruitless effort, thus giving him hope that his political benefactor is in support of his choice.
Ibori who will be the major decider of the 2015 election we learnt is disposed between a frontline for the guber candidate of Anioma extraction, who is currently a serving Senator and a Obaisi Ovie Omo-Agege. According to our source, the governor has sent words to his political loyalist, Ayiri Emami to stop every funding of the Obuh campaign as well as withdraw himself from him. This directive we can report made him stay away from the first outing of Obuh when he visited the Ijaw leader, Edwin Clark.
Our source further revealed that rather than have Obuh as a governor, Ibori would rather let Mrs Patience Jonathan have her way in installing Dr Ngozi Olejeme as the first elected female governor. According to him, Obuh is not a member of his political family and it will amount to betrayal for them to bring him into the race when better and trusted hands who have served him are available.