It is the turn of Delta Central in 2023.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been in power in Delta State since 1999. There were no magical powers to winning all the gubernatorial elections. The victories were due to the good strategy and policies adopted by the party which were well received across the state. Most of the members are highly experienced in politics. The policies adopted since inception in 1998 have become rules, ethics and laws that are fused into the party constitution, standing as a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the members of the party, especially in situations that call for competitions or election into a highly contested positions as gubernatorial seat or Presidency.
From the archives of the party, the most respected political leader, Chief James Ibori who was then the governor of Delta State and a host of PDP leaders such as Chief James Manager, Chief Pius Sinebe, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, Chief Emmanuel Ogidi, Chief Peter Nwaboshi, Chief Ighoyota Amori, Professor Samuel Oyovbaire and Chief Kenneth Gbagi jointly agreed on an accord that zoning of the governorship position should be adopted and rotated among the three senatorial zones - viz Delta Central, South and North respectively. It was said to be clearly stated that the zoning is strictly on Senatorial districts and not on ethnic basis. By 2023, the first zoning arrangement will elapse and another cycle will begin with Delta Central.
But a voice from the creeks where the Ijaws live is reportedly sounding a discordant tune, demanding for ethnic zoning. This is uncalled for. The PDP in Delta State cannot afford such a costly mistake which has the tendency to change the fortunes of the party. The Urhobos have long regarded the Ijaws as best of friends and have, and are still living in harmony with one another over the years. We cannot afford o rock the boat.
The zoning accord started in1999 with Chief James Ibori of the Delta Central. The zoning accord came into play in the second tenure. Hence, Chief James Ibori was returned unopposed in obedience to the accord. In 2007, it was expected that only the candidates from Delta South, where the Isokos, Itsekiris and Ijaws live, should run for the party's governorship primary. Even though some aspirants from other senatorial zones also ran, the leadership of the party stepped in and the aspirants from the Central and North were forced to withdraw. Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, an Itsekiri from Delta South was allowed to pick the ticket without hitch and to fulfill the electoral procedure, all the delegates that were at the venue of the election, voted en-masse for him and was declared nominated.
The resistance to the zoning accord was again repeated with aspirants from the three senatorial zones in 2015, when the baton was to be handed over to the PDP faithful from the Delta North that consists of the Ukwanis, Ikas and Delta Ibos to present a desirable candidate for the seat. Chief James Ibori who was the initiator of this policy and whose voice was always accepted spoke to support it, even while he was indisposed, of the continuation of the zoning accord. At this time, a large number of Urhobo indigenes who would have voted en-masse for David Edevbie made a U-turn and gave their votes to Senator Ifeanyi Okowa.
In reality, if the Urhobos had resisted and opted out of the zoning accord, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan and Senator (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa wouldn't have been able sit in Government House. Urhobos in Delta Central and Delta South are almost two-thirds of the population of Delta State.
So, the Urhobos must occupy the Number One seat in Government House, come 2023. Any crack on the zoning accord must be resolved on time to ensure the PDP does not lose the prime position in Government House to the All Progressives Congress (APC). Chief Moses Taiga, President General of Urhobo Progress Union is therefore advised to go into the archives to ensure unity among the Urhobos for any eventuality. The unity and spirit of oneness of the Urhobos is beyond party affiliation.
To further strengthen the place of Urhobo in Delta politics, they should move closer to the Isokos and maintain their ancestral relationships. The Isokos should endeavour to align with the Urhobos for a common battle and at any time assist one another especially in contesting positions such as the governorship race, so that when zoning comes to the South, the Urhobos in Delta South and Central will also support them in a brotherly spirit.
It sounds unrealistic that Chief James Manager, an Ijaw and Delta State longest serving Senator who is expected to be seen as father of PDP and political motivator, is set to go into consultation, thereby disobeying the rules of the zoning accord. His will be a futile effort. Similarly, Dr Kingsley Otuaro, another Ijaw PDP faithful and one of the most level-headed Deputy Governors of Delta State should put on hold any interest till 2031.
The leadership of PDP and the detribalized and hardworking Governor of Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa should know that the time has come where many will show to him that they are the best for the seat. There is an adage which says that "Many are called few are chosen'. Many are already on the streets trumpeting their desire to contest the seat. For the interest of the good people of Delta State, he should not fall for any secret accord. On careful assessment of the several aspirants that are already on board, he will be able to know who is serious, prepared and equipped with what it takes to win and institute good governance in the state.
Zoning or no zoning accord, Delta South and North Senatorial zones should stay out of the race and give way for the candidates in Delta Central, where aspirants like Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi, David Edevbie, Peter Mrakpor, Festus Agas, Aguoye, Oborevwori and others are on their feet..
Ogheneakpobo is a PDP Stalwart