WHEREAS the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Delta State, has found it quite complex as at January ending to expeditiously even out who flies its 2023 governorship flag, with leaders and aspirants from Urhobo and Ijaw ethnic groups in Delta Central and South Senatorial Districts still in the trenches, it is not so in the opposing All Progressive Congress, APC, in the state.
Correctly, none of the two political parties has conducted gubernatorial primaries for the 2023 elections to ascribe failure to any side, but off the record, it more or less incontestable that Deputy Senate President, DSP, Senator Obarisi Ovie Omo-Agege representing Delta Central senatorial district, will fly the governor banner.
The ticket used to be the exclusive preserve of the people’s general, Chief Great Ogboru and appears improbable this time around.
Since 2019, it was strikingly conspicuous that DSP as he is fondly called, has been scheming to run for governorship of the state in 2023. His first attempt was in 2007 when he wanted to succeed former governor, Chief James Ibori, his political mentor, then as a member of the Ibori political family under the PDP platform.
Presently, Senator Omo-Agege is 90 per cent in control of the structure of APC at ward, local and state levels in Delta state.
His men hold positions of authority and no intending governorship aspirant can beat Omo-Agege in any primaries of the party in the state.
A controlling organizer, who knew where he was going, he singlehandedly installed the state APC leadership with veteran politician, Engr. Omeni Sobotie, as Chairman in October, last year.
Another knowledgeable politician and one-time Chief Political Strategist to the Delta State Government, Chief Paulinus Akpeki, chairs the party in Delta Central, Ogbueshi Adizue Eluaka in Delta North and Mr. Austin Orighoye in Delta South, all with DSP’s imprimatur.
To accomplish such exploits, that is planting his men at ward, local government and state structures of the party, Omo-Agege sharply outmaneuvered Ogboru, Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, SAN, Dr. Alex Ideh, former Speaker, Delta State, House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Victor Ochei, former Executive Director, Projects, Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh and other leaders in an aggressive battle for power that almost tore the party apart.
Strong backing of Emerhor, Nwaoboshi
DSP Omo-Agege, who joined APC from Labour Party, LP, in March 2017, has the inimitable support of one of the founding fathers of the party and former governorship aspirant, Olorogun O’tega Emerhor and his confidant, Chairman of Senate Committee on Niger-Delta, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi representing Delta North Senatorial district.
Nwaoboshi is complementing Omo-Agege in a power game that has narrowed both of them as the two musketeers of Delta APC.
February, last year, a titanic fight broke out between supporters of Omo- Agege and Ogboru, at a stakeholders’ meeting. During the fracas, Omo-Agege’s loyalists, including his Deputy Chief of Staff, Alex Onwuadimu; party leader in Oshimili South local government area, Ben Onwuka and nine others escaped with injuries after they were shoved by suspected thugs.
Operating under the auspices of Delta State APC Leaders’ Council, which he is the Chairman, Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, SAN, leading Olorogun Great Ogboru, Dr. Alex Ideh, Rt. Hon. Victor Ochei, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, Rt. Hon. Monday Igbuya, who, lately, dumped the party and returned back to PDP, petitioned the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker/ Extra-Ordinary National Convention Planning Committee over alleged commandeering of the party by an unnamed leader (read Omo-Agege) of the party.
Keyamo warned of dire consequences if the situation was not quickly addressed. The party leadership intervened, but nothing really worked in their favour, as DSP has the ears of the national leadership
Court hands-off suit
December, last year, a Delta State High Court, sitting in Asaba, struck out the suit challenging the APC ward Congress in Delta state. The presiding Judge, Justice GB Obriki-Okolosi, said the matter was struck out on the ground that the matter was not justiciable.
Okolosi said the matter was contentious and ought to have come by way of originating summons, adding: “Court would have ordinarily asked the plaintiff to go and refile their pleadings but the matter is not justiciable as it is an internal affair of the political party.” That observably nailed the attempt to stop the powerful Omo-Agege.
Shift grounds, Ejeobo urges DSP
A concerned chieftain of the party, Prof David Ejeobo, speaking for a group in the party, Restoration Agenda, recently, in Warri, said: ”It is our considered opinion that the national body should come in to do all it can to bring back sanity into the affairs of the party”.
“We suggest that the national body should prevail on the leader of the party in Delta state, DSP Obarisi Ovie Omo-Agege, to shift ground by accommodating major stakeholders who feel marginalized and fenced out during the last Congress”.
Who calls the shots?
An Ogboru supporter, Mr. Efe Ukpe, who viewed the entire affair as a calculated plot to deprive Ogboru of governorship, asserted: “Ogboru has been in the race for a very long time, now that the governorship slot is coming to Delta Central, Ogboru stands a better chance being the most acceptable candidate.”
“He contested against Ibori, who is from Delta Central; Uduaghan, who is from Delta South; and Okowa who is from Delta North. Now that it is coming back to Delta Central, who are the persons likely to contest in the APC? The most likely contestants for the ticket are: Ogboru, Omo-Agege and Keyamo.
“Among the three persons, Great Ogboru will be the most accepted to the people especially Delta Central and Ugheli North in particular where Omo-Agege comes from. In a genuine election, it will be difficult for Omo-Agege who hails from Ugheli to beat Ogboru who hails from Abraka in Ugheli.
“Omo-Agege is just smart politically. At a point, the Urhobo nation was not comfortable with him. It is because of his position as Deputy Senate President that makes it look as if the Urhobos have changed their minds,” he opined.
Truth, however, is that in APC, Delta, today, Senator Omo-Agege calls the shots and nobody can muscularly challenge him for the 2023 governorship ticket.
Pointlessness of challenging cabal — Egbo
A governorship aspirant, who, last week, dumped APC and abandoned his 2023 gubernatorial ambition, Olorogun Jaro Egbo, yelled that a political cabal had hijacked the party.
”The APC in Delta State is now a one -man affair that brooks no alternative opinion. The party we all worked to build in Delta state has become a new APC, Alibaba Political Cabal, which has now rendered the tickets of the original Delta APC as a worthless piece of paper that cannot win any election in Delta state.
“It is, therefore, my conclusion that it will amount to futile exercise to vie for the governorship or any elective position under the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Delta State.
“I am, therefore, withdrawing my expression of interest to vie for the governorship or any elective position under the All Progressives Congress, APC.
“I will henceforth deploy my resources and my HI voltage political platform in working towards the emergence of a visionary pan-Deltan governorship candidate who will move Delta state to higher levels of development,” he said.
The rise of Omo-Agege
Omo-Agege, who reverted from the United States of America in 2001 was not known politically in Delta state until former governor, Chief James Ibori, threw him into limelight with his appointment as Secretary to the State Government, SSG, in the twilight of his tenure in 2007. Before then, he was Commissioner for Special Duties.
The lawmaker really demonstrated his political sagacity when he emerged as Urhobo Political Front, UPF consensus candidate for Delta Central in the 2006 governorship primaries, which former governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, won.
In some way, Omo-Agege did not quite connect with Uduaghan and with the political travails that forced Ibori out of the country for over eight years, he left PDP for Labour Party in 2015, where through the instrumentality of Ogboru, who accepted him, he clinch the party’s senatorial ticket and went ahead to win the Delta Central senatorial election in 2015.
His electioneering breakthrough in Delta Central was no doubt a fallout of Ogboru’s general acceptance and he assisted Ogboru by all means to secure the party’s governorship ticket in 2019 against all odds.
Having won the Delta Central senatorial ticket back to back to the Senate in 2019, he was strong enough as a two-time senator to gun for the Deputy Senate President position, which he won by dint of his hard work, a position he holds till date.
But, what has ingratiated Senator Omo-Agege to the people of Delta Central in particular is his capacity to deliver democracy dividends. Knowing his plan for 2023, he has provided transformers, street lights and renovated schools for many communities in his district.
Currently, he is the highest APC political office holder from the South-South and leader of the party in the geo-political zone.
Quit notice to PDP, Okowa
Senator Omo-Agege, son of a former Chief Judge of Delta state, October, last year, boasted that the reign of the ruling PDP in Delta state would end in 2023. Speaking while receiving defectors from PDP into APC in Oviri-Ogor and Ughelli urban, Ughelli North local government area, said everything has an expiry date.
Holding that the terminal date for the PDP in the state was already very near, he parodied: “Although 2023 is still far, Omo-Agege is coming. What we are going to use their eyes to see, they will not believe it. APC has already won the 2023 election, PDP and Okowa know.”
His friend, Senator Nwaoboshi, who radiates the same buoyancy also informed this writer that APC would hit PDP like a thunderbolt in the 2023 governorship election. When he fell out with Governor Okowa, last year, the Delta North senator made it clear that they had the resources to checkmate Okowa.
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