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Depleting Ranks of Delta PDP Featured

Sunday, 29 November 2015 00:00 Written by  Published in Politics Read 706 times
Goveror Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State Goveror Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State

Ajalakpo Oweh writes that opposition is really building up against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Nigeria’s deep southern state of Delta, as the All Progressive Congress (APC) waits to take over.

Delta state is a unique state and its uniqueness springs from the many tribes that occupy that political space. During the 2015 governorship election, the PDP campaigned on the mantra of power shift to Delta North senatorial district with the valid and sustained argument that the former governors of the state: Chief James Ibori and Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan were from Delta Central and Delta South senatorial districts respectively.

They argued that equity and fairness demand that the people of Delta North should produce the next governor. Those in favour of the power shift argument failed to realise that the capital, Asaba is situated in Delta North while the majority of the population, the Urhobos are in Delta Central and some parts of Delta South. The Urhobos were not persuaded and they fielded their own in the Labour Party and the All Progressives Congress. The electorate voted instead for Senator Arthur Ifeanyi Okowa who campaigned on the political reality of Pan-Deltan agenda and prosperity for all Deltans.

Today five months after the election of Okowa, his prosperity agenda and Pan-Deltan agenda is leaving a sour taste in the mouth as most prominent members of his party are defecting in drove. The big blow that hit the Delta State PDP is the move of the prominent Ijaw leader and a close confident to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Chief Edwin Clark who said recently in Abuja that he was leaving the PDP to play the role of a statesman. But it was his critique of Jonathan that pierced the heart of PDP at the national and the state level. This is how Clark explained his reason for leaving the PDP:

“Jonathan did not have the political will to fight corruption. He is a gentleman. Drivers of yesterday are living in palatial buildings under his government. In advanced countries, when you are living above your means, people query you. That is not so in Nigeria. Former governors and lawmakers are not asking for immunity..... Some of us were worried when Jonathan conceded defeat. We were worried. If a man who contested election conceded defeat, who are you to say no”. The truth of the matter is that majority of Delta PDP members are worried about the national defeat and some of them remaining in PDP are committing a political suicide. Clark leaving the PDP will have a domino effect on the political run of the state as he is seen more of a political deity with a large cult-like followership.

During the governorship election in the state, any governorship aspirant of note made it an article of faith to visit the grand old man at his country home in Kiagbodo for the traditional blessing and eventual endorsement. His Ijaw people in Delta South senatorial district still value his counseling and stance on national and state matters. His son is also a chairman of a local government area. It would be an uphill task for the members of PDP to find a replacement for Clark and seal the gaping political hole. Before the Clark`s movement out of PDP, some notable members of the party led by the colourful and charismatic Chief Paulinus Akpeki also explained why they were leaving the PDP for the APC. Those that defected from PDP to APC are Barrister Misan Kubeinje, a notable Itsekiri man; a former commissioner and state legislator, Chief Ebifa Ijomah; a former commissioner from Delta North and a scion of Prof B.I.C. Ijomah, Mr Ayiri Emami; a prominent politician who bankrolled the governorship ambition of Mr Tony Obuh, the failed anointed son of Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan and Mr John Akwara.

The defection of these political heavyweights sent a shiver down the spine of PDP despite the posture of the leadership of the party. Akpeki alluded to the fact that their defection was a prelude to the coming of the big masquerade to the party. This is  Akpeki’s prediction of the political future of the state:

“We are just John the Baptist, Christ is coming. He has sent us, his disciples out to come and see. And he is somewhere smiling. Christ is coming soon and we shall seize power from the PDP in this state. There are more commissioners and House of Assembly members coming to join the APC. When we started, we told Ayiri to pave the way and tell us when to join. So we are going to brief the Christ what we have seen. PDP has no programme. When a governor comes on the platform of the party, he draws his own agenda. Ibori came with his own agenda, Uduaghan came with his 3-point agenda which I was part of and I am proud of it. Okowa has come with his own SMART agenda”.

But the chairman of PDP in the state, Chief Edwin Uzor in his reaction to the gale of defections said that the party was not perturbed and shall continue to be the main party in the state. He described the defectors as lazy and hungry politicians that lack character and the political will to advance the cause of any political party. He alleged that the defectors do not have grassroots base and that they were mere political jobbers and fair weather politicians.

“These same persons who did not contribute anything to the victory of the APC at the centre have suddenly realized that Delta State must not be in opposition even when the APC did not win one local government area in the state in the general elections”.

On the rumoured impending defection of Uduaghan to APC, the state chairman has this as a reply: “The relationship between the leadership of this state and the former governor is still very cordial. We have no issues and we can never have issues. He is one of our own. He is 100 per cent a PDP man”.

Despite the claims of the PDP state chairman, the political clout of Akpeki in Delta Central in general and in Sapele local government area is simply phenomenal and it would be politically unwise to dismiss him with a wave of hand. Investigations carried out by this reporter revealed that the political fortunes of Honourable Monday Igbuya, the speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly nosedived with the defection of Akpeki.

Similarly, feelers from Isoko North and Isoko South local government areas is that majority of PDP members are quaking with the prospect of Comrade Ovuozourie Macaulay, a former secretary to the state government defecting to the APC. Despite the serial denials of Macaulay of his rumoured intention to join the APC, this reporter’s checks indicate that Senator Spanner Okpozo, a leading figure of APC in Delta State remains a stumbling block to Macaulay’s entry into the APC. Okpozo’s opposition stem from Macaulay’s disposition in Isoko land during the former SSG’s zenith in power.

While the spin doctors and the propagandists of the Okowa administration are saying that those who defected did that because they could not be appointed into government, some critics of the government maintain the political high ground that Okowa had derailed so early in his administration. They point to the unconstitutional elders’ peace committee of 32 members and the appointment of more than 200 aides without any job description as an example of a drifting leadership. They also maintain that most of the aides of Okowa are from his Ika ethnic roots and that even some Ika people are imposed on the deputy governor as aides. By subjecting the deputy governor to the indignity of not choosing his political aides, argued the critics, the Pan-Deltan agenda of the government has already hit the rocks.

Despite these claims and counter claims, one thing is clear, the political rug is being removed from the feet of the Okowa’s administration by the defection of these prominent members that contributed to the building and political vitality of the PDP. The gale of defection, if not checked, may earn Governor Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa one term tenure as the APC is poised more than ever before to upturn the fortunes of PDP. It is a political revolution in the womb of time.

Ajalakpo Oweh

Ajalakpo Oweh, is a seasoned journalist who writes in from Delta state. He covers the southern sub-region of Nigeria for the magazine.