Delta 2015 Guber: Who picks the Pdp ticket tomorrow?

Politics State News

The jostle for the gubernatorial ticket of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Delta State has become very intense yet clearer. About 26 ambitious aspirants have so far bought the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) nomination form for governor in Delta state. With this high number it seems the PDP field looks characteristically crowded. But it is not as messy as it looks.

What is unusual about the 2015 field is that there’s no clear and real front-runner yet.

The onus of choosing the right candidate lies with delegates at the party primary which has been rescheduled for tomorrow in Asaba, the state capital. But it is an undeniable fact that the outcome of the primaries will be determined by the interests and actions of four very powerful men in the party namely Chief James Ibori, Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, Chief E.K. Clark and of course President Goodluck Jonathan whose interest, in the long run, will be the key determinant.

The actions of the Urhobo Progress Union (UPU), a major interest group whose support is crucial in the general election would impact the process that throws up the candidate too.

These are the unseen hands behind the scene and many political analysts believe that the PDP contest will boil down to which of the contestants wins the most support within this elite group.

GOVERNOR EMMANUEL UDUAGHAN

Though, Governor Uduaghan has repeatedly denied his involvement in the Obuh project.

Before Obuh’s entrance into the race, government appointees and elected officials were forbidden by the governor from associating with aspirants. But all that has changed. His campaign organisation is peopled by people in government. He just resigned from government and his supporters claim this explains why government people are always with him.

A surface scratch will conclude competence on the part of Obuh because of his years in the civil service.

CHIEF JAMES ONANEFE IBORI
Senator Ifeanyi Okowa flanked by his wife and Professor Sam Oyobvbaire during his governorship declaration in Asaba, Delta State.
Senator Ifeanyi Okowa flanked by his wife and Professor Sam Oyobvbaire during his governorship declaration in Asaba, Delta State.

The Odidigborigbo of Africa as Ibori is fondly called was the PDP governor of Delta State from 1999 to 2007. He is the head of the Ibori political family. Against opposition, Ibori with the help of former President Olusegun Obasanjo made it possible for Uduaghan to become governor in 2007.

Reputed for his firm grip on Delta politics, Ibori’s interest in the 2015 gubernatorial election is the continuation of his dynasty beyond 2015. To achieve this, Ibori has thrown his support behind Senator Ifeanyi Okowa who served in his administration as Commisioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources (July 1999 – April 2001). Ibori is helping Okowa through his influence on the National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu.

Should Ibori succeed in installing Okowa, it will cause Mr President the votes of his Urhobo kinsmen who have vowed to vote only for the party that gives it’s ticket to Delta Central.

URHOBO PROGRESS UNION (UPU)

The Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) has no vote in the PDP primary but as the umbrella body and mouth piece of the Urhobo nation, what UPU says and does matters. As the fifth largest ethnic group in Nigeria and the largest tribe in Delta state, the Urhobos are the largest voting bloc. It is therefore safe to say that UPU cannot be ignored by any political party in Delta state. The UPU has warned that the Urhobo people who are well known for their bloc vote will vote against PDP should they be denied the party’s gubernatorial ticket.

The Urhobo are unmistakably disillusioned with President Goodluck Jonathan for good reasons. In 2011 presidential election, the Urhobos gave Mr. President over 800,000 votes accounting for over 60 percent of the votes the president got in the state. In return, they got nothing in terms of federal appointments until two months ago when Dr. Steve Oru was appointed Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, while Delta North that gave the president less 150,000 votes got over 17 very powerful positions including the Minister for Finance and Coordinating Minister of the economy and the Central Bank governor.

The implication of the UPU position is that should PDP unwisely deny Delta Central its gubernatorial ticket, President Goodluck Jonathan stands to lose the block votes of the Urhobo nation which could amount to over two million votes nationwide. The opposition parties especially the All Progressive Congress (APC) and Labour Party are praying and hoping that PDP gives it’s ticket to the Aniomas in defiance of UPU.

Crucially, the UPU supports Obaisi (Barr.) Ovie Omo-Agege. Among the short-listed aspirants recommended by UPU to Mr. President, Omo-Agege is number one on the list as the preferred candidate of the Urhobo Nation. He is experienced in governance having served as Executive Assistant to the Governor, Commissioner for Special Duties, Government House and Secretary to the State Government. Omo-Agege was second in the PDP primaries in 2006.

Yet, hinging a candidate’s ascendancy on prebendal and ethnic concession may have its consequences.

CHIEF EDWIN K. CLARK

Omo-Agege
Omo-Agege

Elder statesman, Chief E. K. Clark who is a father to the President and head of the E. K. Clark political family that unsuccessfully opposed Ibori’s choice of Governor Uduaghan. After the 2011 elections he settled with Governor Uduaghan and since then he has been supportive of the governor.

Chief Clark wants President Goodluck Jonathan re-elected and he is doing everything possible to prevent anything that will jeopardise the President’s interest. He has stated he wouldn’t make any statement on the Delta governorship race until Mr. President declares his intention to run for second term. Now that the President has formally entered the race by submitting his nomination form, it is expected that he will soon make his position known.

This grandfather of Niger Delta, former Minister of Information and Ijaw leader could well be the tie breaker in this deadlocked contest. As a PDP leader and stakeholder, his towering influence in the political space is well understood by the aspirants. Whoever must get the nod of the president will have a great homework to do to secure his fatherly blessing and support.

PRESIDENT GOODLUCK EBELE JONATHAN

President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is the most powerful person in the PDP right now. He controls state machinery and party structure. This is the man that all the aspirants in Delta State will have to court to win his favour and transmit it to electoral victory. They will be fighting over themselves to see themselves as favourite of President Goodluck Jonathan and even his wife. No wonder some of the aspirants are already dropping his name all in the bid to sway party members to their side.

With a quiet physiological mien, he comes across as a man who can’t hurt a fly but he is ruthless when his political interest is at stake. He will play a major role in who becomes the gubernatorial candidate of his party in most states of Nigeria.

As has been reported severally in the media, Mr. President wants candidates that can win, not just the governorship election but also those whose candidacy will help him win a tough presidential election. He also want candidates who will be loyal to him He wouldn’t want a governor who will questioned his authority. He definitely wouldn’t want to have a repeat of that shameful incident where seven governors walked out on him at the Eagle Square during his party national convention to form the New PDP which later merged with other parties to form APC.

VERDICT

So who will fly the ruling Peoples Democratic Party’s flag in the 2015 governorship election? On whose shoulder should the mantle rest? These questions will be answered by the delegates to the state congress who are the only persons who can elect the candidate through the primaries.

For now the race remains a toss-up without a clear favourite because of one simple reason: not all the major stakeholders have played their cards. Governor Uduaghan, Chief James Ibori and to a large extent, the Urhobo Progress Union have revealed their cards while Chief Clark and President Jonathan are still keeping their cards close to their chests.

And among those who have disclosed their preferences, three men have roughly equal support but their support is not decisive enough to make anyone the favourite or force other aspirants to exit the race. The three top contenders at this stage are Sir Anthony Chuks Obuh, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa and the UPU backed Obaisi (Barr.) Ovie Omo-Agege. Barring any drastic changes in the dynamics of the race it is safe to say that any of these three men could emerge as the party’s flag bearer.

The jury is out and no one can say for certain who the winner will be. What is perhaps certain is that the real winner will not be any of the three top contenders. The real winner of the primaries will not even be among the 26 aspirants who will be on the ballot on the 8th of December. The real winner will either be the former governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori or President Goodluck Jonathan who faces a tough re-election battle against the All Progressive Congress (APC).

It now depends on what Chief E.K. Clark and President Goodluck Jonathan do between now and the primary day. Should both men decide to do nothing, the real winner on primary night would be Chief James Ibori because his interest can be located in the candidacy of both Okowa and Obuh.

Delta State would be thrown into political chaos as was the case in 2007. It would be ignorantly handed to the APC and make Mr. President worry about Delta State in his tough re-election battle because his brothers and sisters in Delta State sold their rights for a pot of porridge which may not really taste as it looks.

In the face of these obvious realities, how will Chief Clark and President Jonathan act? Will they take side with the proponents of zoning by supporting the Anioma agenda? Or will both men be more strategic? The options are clear enough but whether Mr. President will do the right thing remains to be seen. Time will tell.

*Shaibu, is a former Consultant on Public Communication to Governor Uduaghan.

Source: http://www.vanguardngr.com

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