By James Nwachukwu
The die is cast. On Saturday, March 11th, just some five days from today, Nigerians will file out to elect 36 men as governors of the 36 states in the country. It has become a ritual which Nigerians have looked forward to every four years, in the last 24 years of the present democratic dispensation. However, there seems to be more at stake in this year’s elections, in terms of expectations, determination, eagerness and anxiety, on the part of the people. This accounts for the unusual large number of registered voters, mostly youths, for the elections.
In Delta State, Nigeria’s richest oil producing state, the battle promises to be fierce. The ruling People’s Democratic party (PDP), whose Governor Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, the defeated PDP Vice Presidential Candidate in the Presidential election of February 25th, is literally roaring like a wounded lion, determined, at all cost, to snatch victory, for his Party and Sheriff Francis Oborevwori, the Candidate, perhaps, as compensation.
However, Okowa and Oborevwori, have the erudite and charismatic Senator Ovie Omo-Agege and, indeed Deltans, to contend with in their aspiration and determination to retain the Government House, Asaba. As a two term Senator, Ovie Omo-Agege, who is the current Deputy Senate President (DSP) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a political juggernaut, one whom the late flamboyant politician, Dr. Kingsley Ozumba Mbadiwe, would have described as a *”man of timber and Calibre,”* for his intimidating credentials and records. Ovie Omo-Agege has transversed the political landscape like a colossus over the past two decades, acquiring, in the process, very rich experience in both the Executive and Legislative arms of Government. These experience and exposure have, without doubt, placed him head and shoulder above his main opponent, Sheriff Francis Oborevwori, a man currently having issues in the courts over his true identity and educational qualifications.
In addition to experience and exposure, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, is well read. A brilliant lawyer, who holds a master degree in law, he is an astute and articulate administrator, a quintessential law maker and an eloquent debater, whose outstanding performance in the Senate has earned him wide accolade and recognition as one of the most decorated and celebrated Senators in the present Senate.
Again, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, has demonstrated, beyond rhetorics, that in addition to law making, the legislator, whether at the State or Federal level, has the responsibility to attract the dividends of democracy to his or her constituents. This, he has successfully done through the establishment of relevant and viable projects across the eight local government areas of Delta Central Senatorial district, which he represents. Today, there’s no gainsaying the fact that Deltans have come to love Ovie Omo-Agege with uncommon passion. They see in him a man sent by God to deliver them from Okowa’s eight years of misery and slavery, the same way God sent Moses to deliver the Israelites from bondage in Egypt. Indeed, Deltans see in Ovie Omo-Agege, someone who can be trusted to run a transparent government, devoid of sectionalism, parochialism, tribalism, favouritism, mediocrity and segregation; a Government which will treat all Deltans equal and seriously, realistically and wholistically address the many challenges presently confronting the State and return it once again to the part of growth and development.
It can be safely concluded that the odds favour Ovie Omo-Agege, who is running on a track record of performance, to carry the day. On the other hand, Okowa and Oborevwori, are faced with a record of poor performance in office. Okowa’s Government will no doubt go down as the least performed Government in the State in the last 24 years. Despite the almost five trillion Naira that has accrued to the State in his eight years in office, in addition to the over 800 billion Naira he borrowed, the Okowa Government has no tangible or corresponding projects on ground, to show for all the monies. Roads across the State, both inter and intra, are in a terrible state of disrepair. The people are groaning under the heavy burden of taxations, including unbelievable and wicked increase of fees in all tertiary institutions in the State from 25,000, to 250,000, in addition to the prevailing hunger and hardship in the land. Worst still, the State Government is owing pensioners more than five years arrears, amounting to more than 100 billion Naira. This has led to protests by the retirees almost on daily basis.
Faced with this reality, Okowa and PDP are said to be relying on brute force and unorthodox tactics to win the election. In a meeting with all his political appointees last Wednesday in Unity Hall, Government House, he was reported to had berated them for allowing the Labour Party (LP) and the APC, to take over the State. Labour Party won the Presidential election while the APC won two of the three Senatorial seats. He was said to had been livid with anger. It was also said that he lamented the huge funds deployed for the elections, and accused the aides of sabotage; that they either worked for the opposition or kept the monies they received to themselves.
The Governor was reported to had categorically told the appointees that the March 11th Governorship and House of Assembly elections, were a must win. He reportedly asked them to go and do everything possible under the sun, to win the elections. He assured them that sufficient funds would be provided, while adequate security arrangements have been made with the military, through a top military officer friend of his.
The stakes, no doubt, are very high in Nigeria’s oil rich Delta State. The political actors are not leaving anything to chance. However, going by the indices on the ground, come Saturday, all roads will very likely lead to Orogun, the ancestral home of Senator (Barr.) Ovie Omo-Agege, the APC Governorship Candidate, for a grand victory party.
– Nwachukwu, a Public Affairs analyst, wrote in from Asaba, Delta State
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