The Movement for Stronger Delta, MSD, has read and followed with keen interest, the avalanche of reactions, responses, admonitions, rejoinders, chagrins and exuberances, applause and consternations, arguments and counterarguments and even threats, ultimatums and indeed unflinching vows from sundry quarters, since the adoption of Olorogun David Edevbie, by the Urhobo Progressive Union, UPU, as its sole PDP Guber candidate for the anticipated May 21st, 2022, Delta Governorship Primary of the party.
Of course, we do not know and cannot claim for sure, if this David Edevbie endorsement, also covers him for the substantive Governorship election next year, when the likelihood of the emergence of several Urhobo candidates across other registered political parties that will participate in the general election, is a real possibility. But the UPU has stated clearly that this is its choice, not a PDP endorsement. And perhaps, when they get to that bridge they will cross it too.
But, that is exactly where the lacuna of the UPU endorsement lies and it behooves us in MSD, as a concerned and responsible polity watcher and socio/political pressure group, to attempt to bring a decisive closure to this diversionary brouhaha, quell the cacophonous Greek parliamentarians on social and traditional media and restore some decency and sanity to the Delta political space, with the following few points of ours, viz:
1. Let the truth be told: UPU is not a registered Political party in Nigeria and in as much as its action will receive and enjoy a modicum of socio/cultural attraction and euphoria, its endorsement is absolutely inconsequential, of no effect, and completely of no relevance and perhaps will make minimal impact on the processes that define and determine the election of a candidate in the PDP primary election, as enshrined and succinctly established in the Party’s Constitution and the rules and guidelines stipulated by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
2. While the MSD applauds the authority and audacity of the UPU to courageously seize the initiative and moral high ground, even invoking to argumentative effect, the earlier admonition of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to prune down the number of aspirants from its zone, we would, however, remind the UPU of the inconsequential Uvwiamughe Declaration of 2014, where the body, under the leadership of the late General Patrick Aziza, resolved to support an Urhobo candidate for Governor of Delta State in 2015, with its over 1 million block votes.
A brief analysis of what transpired after the Uvwiamghe Declaration is necessary at this juncture, to establish for those celebrating and gloating over this latest David Edevbie UPU endorsement that is of no effect, how disastrous any such endorsement by an umbrella socio/cultural body, can be in a political terrain, especially if such an aspirant is not popular with the majority of the people and delegates.
To set the records straight, the UPU Uvwiamughe Declaration of 2014, was clearly and incontrovertibly an anti-PDP, anti-rotation, anti-equity, anti-fairness, anti-justice, and pro-opposition inspired and motivated political calculation, for the simple reason that two prominent Urhobo sons; Chief Great Ogboru (Labour Party) and Olorogun O’tega Emerhor, (APC) were the leading and brightest prospects in the 2015 Delta Governorship race, for the Urhobo nation and the UPU which, truth be told, again, never believed in the zoning arrangement for one day and of course, were obsessively terrified by the burgeoning profile of then-Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, who had built and nurtured a formidable, indestructible political machinery that cut across the three Senatorial zones of the State.
Following the passing to glory of Gen. Patrick Aziza, the erstwhile President General of the UPU, the first deputy, Chief Joe Omene, was naturally handed the saddle to steer the affairs of the UPU pending a congress slated for December, 2014. However, Chief Omene reportedly led the EXCO of UPU to pay a courtesy visit to President Goodluck Jonathan where they allegedly pledged to work for him, with a view of returning him for a second term and then work for an Urhobo governor at the State level in another party, with the ambivalent assumption that the Urhobo governor would eventually defect to PDP after winning the election. They did not anticipate that President Jonathan would lose the election. This was widely reported in several national papers.
This arrangement clearly favoured Chief O’tega Emerhor, a first-class Chartered Accountant and sterling economic guru, who had not only taken the Delta political space by storm, after a meritorious corporate career in banking and finance, but had bankrolled the APC into some considerable political relevance. He subsequently snatched the Senatorial ticket in the by-election to replace the late dynamic Senator Pius Ewherido, which he lost to PDP and Chief Emmanuel Edeseri Aguariavwodo of course, but had built a sufficient head of political steam for himself to emerge as the most ideal candidate to meet the requirements of the Uvwiamughe Declaration, under Omene’s UPU leadership.
However, Chief Great Ogboru was having none of that and pulled his tremendous weight as the most consistent Urhobo Governorship Candidate since 2003. But the argument against him then was that his party, the Labour Party was not a national party in the spirit of the Uvwiamughe Declaration, as it did not have any federal representation after the defection of Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State to PDP.
Two factions of the UPU subsequently emerged, divided by the choice between Ogboru and Emerhor, and while the mainstream UPU, led by Omene, went publicly again to anoint Ogboru of the Labour Party as its choice for the 2015 guber election, a splinter group, led by Chief Tuesday Onoge, also went public and endorsed Emerhor of the APC as its preferred candidate. It was therefore little wonder that the Urhobo nation went into the 2015 election with a divided house, because of endorsement.
Ironically too is the fact that, in what can only be described as a gluttonous, yet appropriately intentioned effort to eat its cake and still have it at the same time, the UPU quickly clutched the chance, like a drowning group, when David Edevbie was dramatically thrust into the political cauldron in PDP and promptly endorsed him as the Urhobo candidate of choice, even over and above Ovie Omo-Agege, who also participated in that PDP primary and in total negation and disregard of the so-called zoning arrangement in the PDP.
The rest, as they say, is history, but the lessons of endorsements still ring loud and clear in the present.
3. As for those who have glibly and with warped logic, invoked Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and the Anioma Congress into their misleading narrative, we can only say that they have been economical with the true picture and it suffices to set the records straight once again.
Yes, the Anioma Congress, as the Apex socio/cultural umbrella body of the Anioma nation, conducted a mock primary, in 2014, supervised by some of its best statesmen and women, ostensibly to determine a consensus candidate from the crowded field of Anioma aspirants not just for the PDP primaries, like the UPU has done, but indeed, to bring forth a consensus Anioma candidate, man or woman, for the 2015 governorship election.
And yes, the then-Senator Ifeanyi Okowa emerged victorious in that mock primary as he did in a few more less reported mock exercises too, but that is where the similarities between what Anioma Congress did then and what UPU has done now ends, for two simple reasons:
i. Despite the fact that Senator Okowa emerged victorious in the Anioma Congress mock primary, he did not go about gloating and celebrating and attempting to justify the decision and result of Anioma Congress, but rather even intensified his campaign as a Pan-Delta candidate, touring every nook and cranny of the State to continue to assure and secure his Delegates, lubricate his political machinery and consolidate on his already established credibility as the candidate of choice for all Deltans.
ii. And inspite of the result of the Anioma Congress mock Primary, about 17 other Anioma aspirants picked up the PDP Guber nomination form and entered into the party primary with Senator Okowa. Infact, one of them, Rt. Hon. Victor Ochei even emerged third in the PDP guber primary, to show how determined they all were to dismiss and disregard the Anioma Congress endorsement.
Okowa of course coasted home in the PDP Primary against the UPU endorsed aspirant, the same David Edevbie and subsequently won the Governorship election against another main UPU endorsed candidate, O’tega Emerhor, who even placed third behind Chief Great Ogboru in the election.
4. It is interesting to note that in 2014, David Edevbie was the only notable PDP guber aspirant, being touted as the assumed choice of the Delta Political godfather, and since Omo-Agege was regarded as unserious due to his jumping from one party to another in his quest to fulfill a vaunting political ambition. The other credible aspirants who actually believed in the Equity, Justice, and fairness of power rotation, had displayed impressive maturity by sensibly and with great dignity and integrity, resisted the lure of UPU to join the race.
Today, there are about 10 distinguished, highly qualified, outstanding, over-endowed aspirants, with impressive financial war chests and overwhelming capacity and capability in the political, business, administrative, professional terrains, as well as possessing an impressive command of the most important ingredient in political acceptance, which is street credibility, which connects them as one with the people.
We have no issues with UPU endorsing anyone of its choice as a candidate, but that is where the relevance and impact of the endorsement end, especially in a field filled with so much capacity. It happened to Anioma in 2014 and of course, PDP had the final say in the matter.
5. That is why we in the MSD are a bit disappointed with the very appropriate and yet contextually unnecessary reaction of the PDP in Delta Central to call out UPU over the endorsement. Of course, we understand the dire need for the PDP to caution the UPU over its dubiously intended meddlesomeness into the internal affairs of the party, which has the real potential of heating up the polity dangerously, but one would have expected the PDP to overlook the mischievous intent of this particular endorsement, as it did with the even more meaningful 2014 endorsement.
It is already common knowledge that UPU is not a political party and its action is totally inconsequential and of no moment to the forthcoming PDP primary. What PDP has done is to inadvertently give some political relevance to the UPU on this matter, especially since the improbable tale of coercing the party and Council Chairmen to debunk the endorsement, has been widely spread by desperate politicians.
But happily, this relevance is only for a few days anyways and the endorsement is now regarded with scorn and disdain and has already lost whatever meagre political value it may have promised initially.
6. We must equally applaud the other aspirants in the PDP guber race, who have resisted the temptation to be drawn into this desperate and convoluted strategy and had even already made up their minds, since even after the emergence of the DC 23 selected shortlist, to soldier on with their campaigns and rev up their consultations with delegates as the primary election approaches.
We are quite impressed with the commendable fact that not only have they declined to join issues with the UPU over its endorsement, they will rather do what the smart and confident Anioma politicians did in 2014, by participating in the free, fair, and transparent primary of December 16, 2014.
May 21st, 2022 has now been fixed as another remarkable date with history for Delta PDP, and given the fact that our own gentle, astute, articulate, and strategically endowed Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, “Ekwueme gburugburu'” has already pledged to deliver a level playing field and a free and fair primary, we are urging all PDP guber aspirants, who have bought their expression of interest and nomination forms to participate fully in all the processes, negotiations, consultations and agreements that will define and determine the primary, endorsement or no endorsement.
PDP is fully in charge, not UPU; and the delegates will determine who becomes the flag bearer of the party. That is what the PDP Constitution says and that is what will happen. Party is Supreme, always.
That is the beauty of democracy and that, as we say in MSD, is the SIMPLE Agenda.
MOVEMENT FOR STRONGER DELTA, (MSD)