If the former Secretary to the State Government,Obarisi (Barr.)Ovie Omo-Agege decides to seek the governorship of Delta State in 2015, there will be little political oxygen left for anyone else. I have taken so many factors into consideration to arrive at the conclusion that Omo-Agege who had come second to Delta state two term incumbent governor Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan in the PDP primaries in 2007 will become Delta state PDP’s bestselling candidate, the ultimate game changer as soon as he joins the race.
It has been established beyond doubt that Delta state is a PDP state and will win handily, making the election theirs to lose. To achieve total victory, it will be political naivety of the highest order to discount the fact that in the 2015 elections, the People Democratic Party (PDP) do not just need a candidate who would merely win the governorship election but one whose candidacy would help to deny the APC the crucial 25% in the presidential election. And it is only a candidate of Urhobo extraction that can achieve this for the PDP. First, to achieve this comprehensive victory, it will be politically suicidal for the PDP to ignore the declared position of the Urhobo Progress Union(UPU),that Urhobo will deliver more than 800,000 votes en bloc for the political party limited to PDP or APC that will field an eminently qualified Urhobo man of their choice to run for the office of governor to execute a Pan Delta agenda. Second, it does not require consulting oracles to know that the APC’s governorship candidate in the 2015 elections will be an Urhobo man, Chief O’tegaEmerhor to take advantage of the clamor by Urhobo to produce the next governor of the state. Again, it does not require an oracle to discern that the APC is praying that the PDP will shoot itself in both feet and destroy its chances by fielding a non Urhobo or an Urhobo perceived to be the imposed lackey of Governor Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan. Third, PDP need someone formidable enough to comprehensively defeat the candidate of Urhobo extraction, O’tega Emerhoror anyone else the APC will field in the governorship election.
With the earned towering stature of Omo-Agege, his sterling standing in Urhobo land and with the UPU, combined with the unique position of his appeal to all major stakeholders in the politics of the state, he is the man who will achieve the two crucial goals of winning the governorship election and flattening the APC to the extent that they will not get the desperate 25 percent of the votes in the Presidential election. Let me stretch this point a little. The APC stands no chance in Delta state and will consider getting the crucial 25 percent of the Presidential votes a significant victory.But if the PDP decides to take an uninsurable risk and ignores UPU and Urhobo, the Urhobo will vote en masse for APC, gifting the APC extraordinary wins in both the governorship and the Presidential elections in Delta state.
During the 2011 general elections,Urhobo delivered more than 800,000 votes to President Goodluck Jonathan. If the PDP endorses OvieOmo-Agege whom Urhobo will support wholeheartedly, those votes will also go to the PDP governorship candidate but if the PDP loses the plot to be electorally wise and decide to play Russian roulette, Urhobo have made it abundantly clear they will give their votes to the APC in both the governorship and presidential elections and send electoral seismic shock waves of unrivaled proportion across the nation. The question is, will the PDP take unnecessary risks and fall on their own sword?
Even though Omo-Agege has not declared interest in running for election, there is a rapidly unfolding inevitability of the fact that he is the only one who can secure total victory for the PDP as the party’s governorship candidate. There are some who still think that Omo-Agege and Governor Uduaghan will not be able to work together for the greater good of Delta state. Their thinking is framed by what they think they know about both men.Omo-Agege and Governor Uduaghan, both eminent sons of Delta state reconciled in 2011.Omo-Agege as a devout Catholic and Governor Uduaghan as a fervent Baptist set worthy examples that reflect the word of God that forgiveness is not complete until it is put into action which they did privately and publicly, working seamlessly together during the Senatorial bye election in October 2013 to deliver victory to PDP to the cheered pleasant surprise of supporters of PDP and shock of followers of APC. It is therefore a tested winning combination and partnership that should be repeated to secure victory in 2015. This is why I believe Governor Uduaghan will support and own the process that will eventually endorse Omo-Agege as the governorship candidate of PDP. This will further cement their relationship which Omo-Agege will never sabotage because he is a principled man whose word is his bond and will not under any circumstance work against Governor Uduaghan’s interests and legacies. In fact, only a PDP victory will protect Uduaghan’s interests and only candidate Omo-Agege will make the PDP victory a sure thing.
What Omo-Agege lacked when he was a governorship candidate in 2011 was the support of UPU and Urhobo. As an astute politician, he learnt from that setback and re-strategized to rectify the problem. He is presently the national chairman of the formidable Urhobo Political Congress which enjoys huge following, trust and confidence of Urhobo and UPU, effectively erasing all doubts that he will harness the support of UPU and Urhobo who vote as a group for the PDP to harvest a comprehensive victory. Just as our economy was recently rebased to become the biggest in Africa, Omo-Agege rebased his political worth and today currently stands shoulder and head above other politicians from Delta Central Senatorial district and beyond.
As a key member of the government of the still widely adored James Ibori between 2003 and 2007, Omo-Agege will be acceptable to the Ibori political family that still dominate the party’s establishment in the state. As a member of the Delta Elders, Leaders and Stakeholders Forum between 2007 and 2010, Omo-Agege would be acceptable to this important group within the PDP and get the crucial support of the group’s venerable leader, Chief (Dr) E K Clark who regards him as one of his political sons.
OvieOmo-Agege is a quintessential team player which was clearly demonstrated with his selfless support of the candidate of the PDP during the Delta Central Senatorial bye election in October 2013. He campaigned so tirelessly in person, through adverts in the print media and with financial support it was easy to think he was the candidate standing for that election. By the way, Chief O’tegaEmerhor was the candidate of the APC during the October 2013 Delta Central Senatorial bye election.
During that Senatorial bye election, Omo-Agege gallantly deployed the formidable alliances he had built over the years through political bridges he had constructed and continues to build across the state and beyond, connecting different interests including across party lines, showing an inborn ability to create the kind of Pan Delta coalition required to secure victory in 2015. Additionally, of all the possible candidates, he is the only one with the experience of having run in governorship elections, invaluable high pressure experience that money cannot buy, a vital advantage in what will be a keenly contested election during which the PDP should take no chances in whatever shape or form.This is not to suggest that he alone will deliver the votes but as a team player, the practiced ability to carry everyone along will stand everyone – the President, the state governor, E K Clark and all others in good stead.
Some people will wonder at my absolute audacity to single out Omo-Agege as the only man who has the capacity to win the governorship election for the PDP in Delta state. It is because I have cast my mind far and wide to find another politician of Urhobo extraction who come close to Omo-Agege in stature and electability,who enjoys the respect, and trust of Urhobo and UPU but found none. Amongst those who are speculated to be interested are Chief Kenneth Gbagi, a former minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria;the incumbent Deputy Governor of Delta state, Professor Amos Utuama and Chief Paulinus Akpeki who is presently Commissioner for Housing in Delta state. Based on my assessment, my verdict is that none of these three or anyone else who may join the race to become governor has what it takes to lead the charge and deliver comprehensive victory to the PDP in Delta state.
Omo-Agege has always stood up to be counted. For instance, during the troubled days of Goodluck Jonathan’s Vice Presidency when President Yar’Adua was gravely sick, Omo-Agege stood on the side of constitutionality which demanded that Vice President Jonathan become acting President, a stand he took along with other patriotic Nigerians that eventually gave rise to the historic doctrine of necessity. Again, when the President General of Urhobo Progressive Union was about to be removed through unconstitutional means, Omo-Agege stood against the plotters. In both instances, when men of lesser ethical fibre wilted, he showed a consistency in remarkable character that will serve Deltans and the larger Nigerian society well.
Omo-Agege is a fine and polished gentleman both in his bearing and learning and exudes class, the pleasant kind that draws people to him. He has served meritoriously at the highest levels of government. Two time British Prime Minister in the 18th century, Benjamin Disraeli once declared that ‘the secret of success is for a man to be ready for his time when it comes.’ There is no doubt that Omo-Agege is ready and will hit the ground running once elected. To paraphrase Benjamin Disraeli, the secret of success is for a state to be ready when its time comes. Omo-Agege is ready to be governor, Delta state is ready and I have no doubt Omo-Agege will deliver a Pan Delta agenda and performance that will be acclaimed by all as phenomenal.
Some Delta compatriots who think it is their turn to produce the next governor should know that in the absence of any valid zoning arrangement that is acceptable to all, an Anioma PDP gubernatorial candidate cannot achieve the twin goal of winning the governorship and denying APC 25 percent of the votes in the presidential election.In fact, given the prevailing realities, the inconvenient truth is that an Anioma PDP governorship candidate will not win the governorship election and will also deny President Jonathan victory in the Presidential election in Delta state because of protest votes by Urhobo who will switch en masse to the APC, not the DPP.
Therefore, if they have their way to field an Anioma man or woman as PDP governorship candidate in Delta state, the Aniomas who have benefitted so much in the current dispensation through appointive positions which include Dr.NgoziOkonjo-Iweala who is the Coordinating Minister for the Economic and Minister of Finance; the incoming Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria,Godwin Emefiele;Nigeria Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Joy Ogwu;Special Adviser to the President on Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation, Professor Sylvester Monye; Chairman of the board of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fundand member of SURE-P sub-committee on public works and Road Rehabilitation,Dr.NgoziOlejeme;Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, Nigeria Communication Commission,Dr. Eugene Juwah; Chairman, Export Processing Zone, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh; Director General, Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency, Mr. Peter Idiabor; Director General of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Professor Epiphany Azinge; Managing Director of Federal Roads Maintenance Agency, Engineer Gabriel Amuchi;Special Adviser to the President on Inter Governmental Relations, Mrs. Mariam Alli andDr. Esther Uduehi who is the Chairman of the board of the National Commission for Mass Literacy, Adult and Non Formal Education,will cost President Jonathan and PDP victory in Delta state and damage the President’s over all chances of re-election.
The idea of zoning was put to the sword by the Secretary to the State Government, Comrade Ovuozorie Macaulay when he said in very clear terms that there is no zoning arrangement in Delta State. Because it is not possible for such a very senior government official to air such explosive views without clearance from the state governor, he was believed to have actually spoken the governor’s mind. As the debates developed and swirled, two prominent politicians – Senator Ifeanyi Okowa and former Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Victor Ochei, both from the Delta North Senatorial District zone which is trying to ride on the back of zoning to the governorship position, publicly backed the views of the Secretary to the State Government, dealing the argument in favor of zoning a death blow.
It is therefore not a fallacy to declare that there is no longer appetite for power shift to Delta North because those who pushed vigorously for it to hitch an unfair ride on its back lost their argument largely because it was based on a lie that there was a zoning arrangement. The spectacular collapse of the Anioma quest should present them and students of political science lessons on how not to seek elective public office.
It is fairly easy for President Jonathan to back a candidate chosen by Urhobo and backed by UPU who will deliver votes to him.It should never be said or written that during the watch of President Goodluck Jonathan and Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, because of unnecessary political risks Delta state unforgivably became an APC state.
I have read in some newspapers that Omo-Agege is in the running for a Ministerial appointment with the backing of the Urhobo Progress Union. The question is, why will Urhobo trade off an eight year governorship position for a much shorter Ministerial appointment? Why will the President make the man who will deliver the governorship seat of Delta state and Presidential votes sufficient to deny APC the vital 25 percent of the votes, a Minister? It does not add up. It does not make sense. Therefore,Urhobo should reject the Ministerial offer and concentrate on the governorship anchored by Omo-Agege who should become the PDP governorship flag bearer because it will best serve their interests, the President’s interests and that of all Deltans.
The even bigger question is, will Ovie Omo-Agege run for the office of governor? The mother of all questions is, if Omo-Agege has not made up his mind to run, will the PDP at the highest level which include the President and state governor wisely prevail upon him to run? If they do, total victory for the PDP in Delta state will be taken for granted without taking anything for granted.
Ovasa Ogaga, Senior Correspondent of Advocate writes from Warri. (08087951040– SMS only or firstname.lastname@example.org)