DElTA 2023: Urhobo Must Hold Together

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By Udueme Onovughe

The Delta Central for 2023 lobby group has maintained that the three aspirants that emerged from its screening process is its final presentation for the Peoples Democratic Party primaries ahead of the Delta Governorship election in 2023.

The Pruning/Screening Committee which began the trimming from 13 to five, submitted its final report last Sunday, recommending Olorogun David Edevbie, Barr Chief Kenneth Gbagi and Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori. At the same time, Senator Emmanuel Aguariavwodo and Chief James Augoye were dropped.

Some of those screened out now insist they will participate in the PDP primaries despite the report, claiming the process violated their political rights. However, Deltans are questioning the integrity in turning around to criticise the process only when they did not scale the final hurdle.

A prominent Delta Central PDP chieftain explained that while the idea of pruning was in heeding the advice of party leaders, the process was explained to all the aspirants and they signed up and submitted to it without coercion.

“It is ridiculous that any of them would reject the outcome. The process was explained to all, they ratified the criteria, signed and submitted themselves for the screening. They agreed to maintain mutual friendship and work together before, during, and after the screening, into the primaries and the election proper, to ensure the emergence of a Delta Central candidate as the Governor.

“The aspirants had a forum. They first met at Ughelli, and those in attendance signed. At their next meeting in Sapele, Augoye and some others signed before they proceeded to Sapele Athletic Club for the first screening on November 21, at which some of them advanced into the top first five. Curiously, they did not complain then. It is unfair. Is it because they did not make the final list? I think they should join hands with those selected because they are all still members of one family and they still have their place in the political environment.”

Urhobo Map

During the week, the Chairman of the Delta Central lobby group, Chief Ighoyota Amori, said there is no going back on the selection.

“From Delta Central, these are the three aspirants we have chosen. We have examined, we have put all parameters into consideration and these three people meet our minimum requirements to become Governor of Delta. This is our final position,” he declared.

“We are re-emphasising, all those who have been supporting A, B, C or D should now key into and collapse all their support into the structure of Olorogun David Edevbie, Barr Chief Kenneth Gbagi and Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori. That is the way we have structured it. That is the way they have been recommended and the way we adopted them. One of them will definitely become Governor of the state. Key into anyone. I don’t have any special person. The three aspirants are the aspirants of DC-23, and we so recommend.”

That seems fair enough just as the criteria were fair.

“First of all, we subjected all aspirants to the Nigeria constitution and the party constitution. They all met the requirement. Then we took other considerations. They are not political neophytes. If you look at the three names, they have been there from the very beginning.

“You don’t expect somebody who is just coming and says he wants to become Governor, but I know there is a place in history for them. It is not that they were not chosen because they were not qualified but, somehow, in any examination, somebody must come first, second and third. Fourth, fifth and sixth are not within our plan; hence we did the screening to choose 1,2,3. Even if two people have first-class, there must be a first within the class.”

A PDP Chieftain who was close to the process said though David Edevbie scored the highest in each of the criteria, Oborevwori was a distant second while Senator Aguariavwodo scored unimpressive marks in all categories.

“Edevbie scored distinction in development strategy, capability, Pan-Delta disposition, integrity, credibility, acceptance and accessibility. That cannot be surprising given his background and experiences working with almost all the Governors, at the Presidency and his professional career in the private sector. But Sheriff (Oborevwori) was on his heels on integrity.

“Aguariavwodo scored the lowest in Pan-Delta disposition, and that might not be unconnected with his attempt to take over from Ibori in 2007, not minding that they are both Urhobos. He also had issues with his development strategy and preparedness, integrity and acceptance, in which he also scored very low. Gbagi, who came third behind Sheriff, had serious issues with integrity where he scored the lowest.”

It is trite to say the Urhobos should stand firm with DC-23. The group organised themselves and took the gauntlet to transverse the state to ensure the understanding of various other parts for power rotation to restart from Delta Central rather than on the basis of ethnic groups, the complexity of which will throw up unending squabbles.

Again, no one can challenge the personality and integrity of any of the screening committee members who assessed the aspirants. They were treated to the same questions and there is no way they would all have emerged with equal scores.

It has also always been said that in as much as we agree on rotation, the zones must endeavour to present their best hands.

Having adhered to all these and having come this far, the DC-23 cannot now become villains simply for advancing a process to ensure the actualisation of a Governor from Delta Central which will also help to maintain order in the rotation process across the state.

It is more so when it was advised by the Governor and the aspirants submitted to and ratified the criteria.

Onovughe is a social activist from Uvwie.