It is very painful that that since the inception of Democratic Rule in Nigeria from May 1999, of all the States in the country, Delta State has turned out to be one State where fraudulent electoral practices of great proportions that have robbed the people’s desire in the mandate, they wanted, and electoral tribunal cases injustice have become the norm. This has made Delta State, and majority of its people, to be one that has come under not only political slavery, but also under economic slavery and at the mercy of a ‘ruling class’. Delta State is currently under siege by self-centered political class who have held the State under captivity for about twenty years now. Delta State has become a State where political, economic, judicial and electoral issues, often unheard of in other States across Nigeria and different parts of the world, are allowed to thrive with reckless abandon and impunity; all to the detriment of the general masses in Delta State.

The situation in Delta State is so sad and pathetic that one can only hope for some divine intervention or the miraculous, for any major change to take place. Delta State is a practical example of the unfortunate status most African countries find themselves in; where the political leaders over the years have practiced “wuruwuru-democracy” by using every trick they can muster to remain in government circles and refuse the peoples’ voice, votes and interests to count or matter in their development. And when the people are denied the right to choose their preferred political leaders, what we have evident over the years are political leaders without vision and sacrificial commitment. Hence, the democratic attributes of ‘transparency’ and ‘accountability’ embedded in ‘good governance’ have practically eluded Delta State in all ramifications within the past two decades. This has made Delta State Government to be branded by well-meaning Nigerians and social critics as a “self-perpetuating government” of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), which ultimately makes whatever the government does, a well-decorated ‘white lie’ specifically designed for ‘deception’-for the benefit of some few and to the detriment of many.

Very soon, I am sure these set of political class in Delta State will bring out the drums, role out the red carpet in celebration of another ‘stolen mandate’ with their usual fake Thanksgiving Services across different parts of the State. The so-called Pastors, Clergy men and Bishops have made a duty to always receive these obviously corrupt political leaders in the name of such Thanksgiving, as a way for them to share from the national cake. But what sort of election victory will they be celebrating when the election results declared, showed that the population of voters in remote villages are more than those in the densely populated urban cities?

The saddest part in all of this is the fact that majority of ignorant people in Delta State who keep talking about development, are however unwilling to stand up boldly to condemn some of these anomalies. Rather, they have accepted the wrong things as right. Many of them have sold their birthrights for a plate of rice to eat today, while mortgaging their future and the future of the younger generations to come. When will our people wise up and see the realities facing them, and then wholeheartedly reject this obvious oppression by some selected few? Why are they comfortable with such manipulation? Why are Deltans comfortable with this oppression? Why are they not willing to do something to free themselves from this captivity? Who are those who voted Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa and the PDP Government to continue with their bad leadership? How on earth do we expect a State like Delta to develop with so much ignorance being exhibited?

I have made up my mind a long time ago not to deceive myself with ‘sentimental statements’ to please popular public opinion or any particular school of thought for that matter. Agreed that I am an Urhobo man from Ughelli South LGA, Delta State, but that does not mean I should turn a blind eye or pretend that the atrocities and negative impact of the PDP Government in Delta State is not there, or that it does not matter.

To anyone who cares, just take a careful look in and out, and around the different sectors of Delta State’s economic wellbeing, and see where these people have dragged the State into in the last two decades. Just observe the economic and business atmosphere in Warri and its environs for instance, and see that the once ‘commercial bubbling oil city’ is now a shadow of itself as a result of the enormous exit of oil multinationals and oil servicing companies, all of which happened under the PDP Government. Is that the type of Government that any sane person would want to return for another term in office? The chunk of the internally generated revenues, plus the 13 percent derivation money accrued to Delta State since 1999 under the PDP Government in the State till date, are in the pockets and personal bank accounts/estates of Delta State politicians and their cronies, families, friends and fronts. Are we all going to pretend that we are not experiencing the poverty, hardship in the State and the decaying infrastructure in Warri and environs? Shouldn’t we hold those in Delta State Government all these years responsible and accountable for this?

Our youths are seen daily roaming about the streets without jobs, and they have resorted to all kinds of criminal activities from doing ‘yahoo-yahoo’ (cybercrime and ritualists), to all kinds of extortion and using ‘Deve’ and what have you to survive. Any sane and well-meaning Deltan should be agitated and pained by all of this? The ‘Praise-singing’ of non-performing Politicians in Delta State will not do the State any iota of good. It will only end up making us remain a mediocre and underdeveloped State and a people living in the midst of plenty but yet poor. A situation where majority of our young men are seen idling-away, lazy and not wanting to work, learn a craft or legitimately make a living, was encouraged and grounded under the PDP Government who usually use the youths to foster their political ambitions as they shower them with stolen public funds. This has made many young men in the State only go after ‘quick money’ from the political class. That is how many of the young men in the State are made to see life. I still maintain that the PDP Government, right from 1999 till date, are the ones that have rendered the State far worse than they met it.

We all know that States like Lagos is being governed by the APC, but we all can see the sort of development strides that have been taking place in Lagos State. The once Maroko swamp has been turned into a modern city, and Lagos State has been turned into the business hub of sub-Saharan region. We all can see what they use their tax funds to achieve in Lagos State. Meanwhile, the Niger Delta elites and big men have been relocating their families to Lagos because of the level of development and security assurance there. But why are they running from the region to live in Lagos? Why can’t they bring about the same level of development and adequate security they see in Lagos to Delta State and other parts of the Niger Delta region? Delta State has all the natural seaports like Logos State to make the State the business hub of this region. Why don’t we talk straight about these things and stop deceiving ourselves!

All I am asking and advocating for is for Delta State to be made an industrial and tourist destination for all. And the only way this will happen is for the people to wake up from their slumber and reject these set of political class that have proven not to have the vision that can transform the State. If we expect that Delta State will experience any serious form of development and transformation under this present Okowa-led PDP Government, then we will be deceiving ourselves and not telling ourselves the bitter truth.

Gbemre, a public commentator writes from Warri, Delta state