The signs that the ethnic nationalities in Delta State are still not very comfortable living together under the same name, came to fore once again, when Deltans from across the three geo-political zones sent in strong requests to the recently concluded Senate Committee on the review of the 1999 constitution demanding for as much as eight new states to be carved out of the present Delta State.
The states which have been demanded for are; Anioma State by the movement for the creation of Anioma state, Urhobo state by the Urhobo Progressive Union, Warri state by the Itsekiri Model, Coast State by the Ijaws ans Itsekiri’s leaders forum, New Delta state by the movement for the creation of new Delta state, Ado State by the Isoko people and Ethiope State by the movement for the creation of Ethiope state. An eight state, Toru Ebe state intends to accommodate Ijaws from Delta, Edo, Ondo and their kinsmen around the South western penninsula, just like Bayelsa did with Ijaws from the Old Rivers, Bendel and later Delta states in 1996.
According to the report summarizing the memoranda submitted to the Senate Review Committee in respect to the creation of new states, the South South region actually top the list with 17 demands and Delta state alone is leading with the demand for at least Seven states.
Since the creation of Delta State by then President Ibrahim Babangida in 1991, the disquiet and pronounced anger which greeted the contraption woven together twenty one years ago, has not really died down completely, despite the efforts of politicians, especially those seeking the governorship position, to create the impression of unity and togetherness amongst the ethnic nationalities.
Prior to the 1991 creation, there had been the predominant agitation for two new states from the old Bendel State. They were; Delta State and Anioma State. The signs that new states would be created was heightened after the Gideon Orkar led Coup d’etat of April 22, 1990 and the bids from the agitators of Anioma and Delta states were so strong that there was little doubt the two states would be created in the next tranche of new states.
But General Babangida suprized every one and angered a substantial segment of the new bedfellows, when he created Delta state but put the capital in Asaba, the heart and proposed capital of the Anioma agitation.
It was a strange decision by Babangida, which many say was influenced by his late wife Maryam and in response to this unsolicited companionship, the rest of the new Delta state simply refused to set down roots in the new state capital for several years, preferring to visit and conduct their business with the administrative seat of power and returning to their bases in as short a time as possible.
The situation was so tense at that time that it had to take the courage of Comrade Ovuozuorie Macaulay to bridge the gulf and by becoming the first non Anioma in a recognized top public office to build a house in Asaba, thus creating a friendly atmosphere for others to at least re-consider their apathy towards the new capital.
But for over eight years Asaba remained in the doldrums of underdevelopment even with its status as a state capital under a military regime and it was not until 1999, when Chief James Ibori won the election as the governor of Delta State in the new political dispensation, that some cosmopolitan structures began to emerge. A new government House was built, a couple of new roads snaked out and some new areas were opened up to allow people who believed in Ibori’s expansive and accommodating spirit to buy land and build.
Ibori opened up Asaba but by then, the message was very clear and the obvious scenario was that the agitation for the creation of new states from Delta state would always be pursued once the opportunity arose.
Politics also contributed to further heighten the agitation for new states as the issue of power rotation amongst the three geo-political zones, Delta Central, Delta South and Delta North became a major talking point, especially during the run up to the 2007 governorship elections when no one was quiet sure where the power would shift to after Ibori’s reign.
When Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan emerged as the next governor of Delta state, his supporters and loyalists quickly upheld the power shift argument and tied his victory as a Delta South candidate to the actualization of power rotation from Central to South.
But those who followed that election know that Governor Uduaghan, despite his sterling public service credentials as Health Commissioner and SSG, was simply selected and anointed by his cousin James Ibori as the next governor, especially against the backdrop of the fact that three of the leading candidates; Ovie Omo-Agege, Godswill Obielum and Ifeanyi Okowa had come from the Central and North.
Governor Uduaghan, since he assumed office in 2007, has actually exhibited a greater zeal to develop Delta State. The Asaba International Airport stands out as the stellar project of his administration and there have also been impressive achievements in the Health sector, Micro-Credit, Education and Special Infrastructure amongst others, but the fact that most Deltans may not have been very impressed with his leadership style was revealed during the governorship re-run election of January 2011 and indeed the general election of April 2011, which he may have won with a landslide but in which the opposition in Delta State finally made tremendous gains for the first time since 1999, over the his ruling PDP where he is the leader of the party in the state, especially in Delta Central and some parts of Delta North.
In fact, the opinion on most streets in the state and across the three geo-political zones is that Delta State is actually comparatively worse off now in the five years of Governor Uduaghan’s administration than at any other time in the twenty one year history of the state.
The indices for this conclusion are mainly empirical, especially the roads in Asaba, Warri and other major towns and cities. Delta State Commissioner for Information explains this situation by arguing that for the first time in the history of the state, things are now been done properly and the Uduaghan administration has embarked on constructing drainages first before fixing the roads so that they will last longer and certainly beyond the next rainy season and these things take time to complete.
But it is doubtful if his explanations have managed to convince Deltans, who complain that the Uduaghan administration is rather slow to respond to the situation and address the obvious pains which the people are going through and many of the sceptics are fully convinced that one sure way to address the development challenges which now exist in Delta State is to be given their individual states.
Another act which further motivated the demand for the creation of new states was the decision by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo to legally compel the national Assembly and by extention the oil producing to pass a law establishing Oil Producing Areas Development Commissions in all the Oil Producing States of the country, which will be entitled to 50% of the 13% derivation revenue accruing to such states from the federation account.
This led to the establishment by law of the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission, DESOPADEC and with the sizeable chunk of half of the 13% derivation revenue going to the Commission the polarities between Oil Producing and non Oil Producing Communities became more pronounced, not just amongst the Oil Producing Communities themselves, but indeed within the ethnic nationalities that constitute some of the communities.
The fact that both Delta Central and Delta South, which make up the key oil producing communities are actually asking for six new indigenous states, while Delta North has maintained its demand for the one and only Anioma state, speaks volumes for the impact a Commission like DESOPADEC has created in the demand for new states amongst Deltans.
The argument now, according to a school of thought is that given what is presently happening in Delta state, any zone that eventually succeeds in producing the next governor, will only develop its region at the expense of others, so the best way to go is to ask for new states.
In fact, at the just concluded Zonal Advocacy Workshop on Economic Diversification and Enhanced Revenue Generation (South-South Zone) Organized by the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), in Asaba the feelers indicate that the core Oil producing Communities are so unhappy with the way the 50% from the 13% derivation is been managed by the state governments, that they are now asking for either an amendment on the existing law setting up the oil commissions or a new legislation by the national Assembly where the money would be paid directly by the federal government into an account made up of and controlled by the Oil producing Communities instead of the Governors. The sequel to this, once it is achieved, will eventually be the intensified agitation for the creation of a core Delta or Coastal state in the near future.
Many Delta watchers also believe that the heightened demand by Deltans for the creation of new states may also have been influenced by the political uncertainties that surround the outcome of the 2015 general elections in the state.
The obvious scenario in Delta State today is that only very few people are actually convinced by the power shift ideology on which the Uduaghan loyalists anchored the victory of their principal in 2007 and 2011. Besides, that argument is only tenable in the ruling PDP, and with the emergence of President Goodluck Jonathan, the new interpretation now is that the power balancing structure can only be defined after the top job had been taken, which implies that the governorship in 2015 is for all comers and only those who are serious enough, as Chief E.K Clark has clearly pointed, can get it.
So, once that is settled, the other geo-political zones and ethnic nationalities that lost out can now be factored into the subsequent positions, like the SSG, the Speakership and others.
There is no doubt that against the back drop of these scenarios and indeed the many more that are likely to unfold before the 2015 general elections, the agitation for states creation will continue to be a burning in our national life, even when some of the agitations appear quite unrealistic.
The Federal House of Representatives had in the previous Assembly, affirmed that new states would be created in 2013 and indeed Senate President David Mark, who is a staunch advocate of Apa State, from the present Benue State has already said that new states will be created soon.
Indeed, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu sums up the debate for the creation of new states thus: “If Nigerians agree that there is need for more states and that there are injustices that needed to be addressed in area of state creation, and they believe that the imbalances need to be adjusted in all parts of the country where there is dominance against the other, we must address it. So if Nigerians agree in that regard, I am sure we can build consensus around it and go ahead to create the state. I think it is something we are going to give a trial because there are valid requests there that need to be addressed,”.
So will new states be created in 2013?
Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan has once again emerged victorious at the Elections Petitions Tribunal. His latest victory came on July 25, 2011 when the Delta State Re-run Tribunal sitting in Asaba, upheld his victory at the January 6, 2011 Delta State Governorship re-run election and dismissed the petition of Chief Great Ogboru, who had challenged the results of the elections and asked the Court to declare him winner.
Amid massive security presence surrounding the Court premises and environs and an atmosphere of huge uncertainty and tension amongst party supporters and Deltans both inside the court room and across the state, the Tribunal, headed by its Chairman, Hon. Justice Doris Uzoamaka Ogwurike and members justice Ogbonna Okereke and justice Bello Duwale ruled that the petitioner, Great Ogboru, did not provide substantial evidence to support his prayers that elections did not hold in the contentious 8 (eight) Local Government Areas in Delta state and that he scored the highest number of votes in the January 6, 2011, re-run election.
Recall that the petitioner, Chief Great Ogboru had stated specifically in his petitioner that Elections did not hold in 8 (eight) Local Government Areas of Delta state and had on the strength of this submission prayed the Court to nullify the results from the said Local Government Areas and using the remaining votes from the remaining local government areas declare him the winner, having satisfied the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 (amended) and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2009 (amended) and scored the highest number of lawful votes cast in that election.
Prior to her ruling, which lasted for the better part of three hours, justice Uzoamaka Ogwurike first set the preamble for her judgement by citing all the evidences and witnesses tendered by all the parties in the trial proper, identifying each in accordance with the examinations and cross examinations carried out by the petitioners and respondents, in the course of the trial.
In her ruling justice Ogwurike said: “The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) substantially complied with the provisions of the 2006 Electoral Act and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended in the conduct of the January 6, 2011 re-run election. The petitioners are not entitled to any of the reliefs being sought. “The petitioner did not score the highest number of lawful votes or the total of the lawful votes cast in the contended eight local governments of Delta state for their return at the election”.
Ruling further, Justice Ogwurike asserted that all the witnesses and evidences presented by the petitioner that elections were not conducted in eight local government areas of the state were rebutted by the respondents’ witnesses and documentary evidences, which outweighed the petitioner’s claims.
“Accordingly, this petition is hereby dismissed,” She ruled.
In other words, while Chief Ogboru tried very hard but could not provide sufficient proof to substantiate his claim that elections did not hold in the 8 (eight) Local Government Areas, Governor Uduaghan, the PDP and INEC were able to prove with substantial and sufficient documentary evidence and witnesses, including ballot papers, voters registers, voters cards and indeed the voters themselves, who came to testify before the court, that elections actually held in those Local government Areas.
Reacting to the judgment, a victorious Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan hailed the ruling as an another judicial success which will surely restore the confidence of the people in the Judiciary.
Speaking through his media aide, Phrank Shaibu the governor described the ruling as “a cast-iron victory for truth and a clear cut expression of the electoral wishes of the good people of Delta State.”
Said Governor Uduaghan, “I am proud of the courageous judgement. Truth and electoral wishes of the people have prevailed. I congratulate the judges on the tribunal who acted like modern day Daniels, for their courageous judgement.” Governor Uduaghan further said that, ” despite the victory at the tribunal, there is no victor no vanquished, adding that, “Deltans should put aside their political differences and join him in the task of building a new Delta state that will be the envy of all”
In his reaction, Turner Ogboru, a DPP Chieftain and younger brother of Chief Ogboru, said, “There is a misconception in the burden of proof to no voting instead of no election, in the judgement that has been delivered. That was where the judges got it wrong and when that is corrected at the Court of Appeal, like it was corrected on the November 9, 2011, they will lose again. This is clearly a case of the battle between the stone and the water and as very know the water will win in the end. The petition has only been kept in suspense. The petition is alive and we will go to the Court of Appeal.”
However, Counsel to Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan Mr. Ken Mozia Esquire, was charitable in victory, describing the judgement as painstakingly prepared, and giving kudos to the legal team of the respondents who prepared for the case with dedication and plenty of hard work.
According to him, “The judgment was well prepared by the Tribunal and we were also very ready for the case even though we were rushed sometimes, in view of the time limit allotted for the case. We prepared a good case and we were sure of our case”
Speaking further, Mozia chided the Petitioner thus, “They have said they will go to Appeal and i want to tell them that the Road to Benin is free. We will to meet them at the Appeal Court in Benin and the ongoing April 26, 2011 election petition tribunal in the state. The issue here is the Delta state governorship and they really have to make up their mind on what they really want. You cannot be fighting several battles on the same front. What is in issue is office of the governor of Delta state. You cannot be pursuing in the Tribunal, Federal High Court and everywhere. You need to make up your mind on which one you want to face and you face it diligently instead of dissipating too much energy.”
In his own reaction, the Delta state commissioner for information, Barr. Chike Ogeah lamented that the legal battle has caused a lot of distractions to the development agenda of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan.
“Whether you like it or not, these distractions are all over the place and once this is going on, it departs from what we, in the executive are trying to do for the people of Delta state, who we believe deserve and must get the best form of government”, Ogeah said.
Reacting to the ruling, Delta State Commissioner of Works and erstwhile Secretary to the PDP Delta state Campaign Council Hon. Solomon Funkekeme simply said metaphorically that,“ It is impossible for the back Tyre to overtake the front Tyre”.
Prior to the ruling the Tribunal had earlier entertained an application from the Delta state governorship candidate of the National Conscience Party (NCP) Prince Collins Eselemo who had sought to join the matter on the grounds that both Governor Uduaghan and Chief Ogboru were “playing a cat and mouse game with Deltans”.
According to Eselemo, Uduaghan is accusing Ogboru of rigging in Delta Central while Ogboru is accusing Uduaghan of rigging in Delta South but i am complaining that both of them rigged me out of victory in the 25 Local Government Areas. The Tribunal subsequently dismissed his application on the grounds that he was not a necessary party to suit and his application had come too late in the matter.
Recall that the Delta State Re-run elections tribunal commenced sitting on Saturday July 2, 2011 after a delay of several months occassioned by issues of security and inadequacy of the venue.
The Trial proper commenced on July 8, 2011 after pre-trial hearing and inspection of election materials and ran through to July 16, 2011 amid some intriguing legal twists and turns which saw the Petitioner Chief Greta Ogboru survive at least three attempts from the respondents to have his petition dismissed, the last of which was the Asaba Federal High Court ruling which invalidated his candidature for the April 2007 election.
The fact that Great Ogboru is once again heading to the Appeal Court in Benin, as confirmed by his Lawyer Mogbeyi Sagay, SAN, who expressed dissatisfaction with the ruling, means that the last is yet to be heard of the election saga which started in 2007 and has dragged on now for over four years.
The ruling was greeted with great jubilation from supporters of Governor Uduaghan and the PDP, as they embarked on an impromptu celebratory procession along some major street in Asaba, with chants of “PDP, Power to the people” and other solidarity songs for Governor Uduaghan, renting the air.
Meanwhile, the Okpe Union Worldwide has congratulated Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan on the declaration by the Governorship Election Tribunal sitting in Asaba that he was duly elected as Governor of Delta State in the rerun election of January, 2011.
The union in a statement signed by its Secretary General, Mr. Henry Ebireri assured Governor Uduaghan of the full support and cooperation of the Okpe people in the performance of his duties. The union also asked Governor Uduaghan to settle down and focus on the agenda of transforming the oil rich Delta State.
It will be recalled that Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan is also still embroiled in another Elections Petitions matter with Chief Great Ogboru, who had gone to the Elections Tribunal sitting in Asaba to challenge Governor Uduaghan’s victory over the April 26, 2011 governorship election in Delta state.
The Trial proper for the adjudication of that matter will commence on Wednesday, july 27, 2011.
CHIEF (DR) WELLINGTON OKIRIKA (FORMER CHAIRMAN DESOPADEC), EMBRACES CHIEF FRANK OMARE AS THEY CELEBRATE GOV. UDUAGHAN’S RE-ELECTION AT THE GOVERNOR’S LODGE, ASABA
GOV. UDUAGHAN FIELDING QUESTIONS WITH NEWSMEN AT THE GOVERNOR’S LODGE, ASABA, AFTER HIS DECLARATION AS THE GOVERNOR OF DELTA STATE IN THE 2011 ELECTION
GOVERNOR UDUAGHAN WITH SPEAKER OF DTHA, RT. HON SAM OBI (WHO ALSO WON RE-ELECTION), JOINS OTHER LOYALISTS TO CELEBRATE THE RE-ELECTION VICTORY AT THE GOVERNOR’S LODGE, ASABA.
GOVERNOR UDUAGHAN, FIRST LADY, DEACONESS SHEILA ROLI UDUAGHAN AND DIRECTOR GENERAL OF THE PDP DELTA CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE, CHIEF PAULINUS AKPEKI CELEBRATING THE RE-ELECTION.
GOVERNOR UDUAGHAN, HIS DEPUTY PROF AMOS AGBE UTUAMA (SAN) AND A JOYOUS FIRST LADY AT THE GOVERNOR’S LODGE
THE GOVERNOR’S MEN (L-R); PAUL ODILI, MANAGER COMMUNICATIONS; SUNNY OGEFERE, CHIEF PRESS SECRETARY; OMA DJEBAH, COMMISSIONER FOR INFORMATION; FELIX OFOU, SA MEDIA (LAGOS AND ABUJA); AND SUNNY OFILI, SA, MEDIA ,INFO TECH, AT THE GOVERNOR’S LODGE
At exactly 20.32hrs (8.32pm Nigerian time),on Monday, April 18, 2011, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was declared the President of Nigeria by the national Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and returning officer for the Nigerian Presidential elections, Professor Attahiru Mohhamadu Jega.
Candidate Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP, polled a total of 22,495,187 to beat General Muhammadu Buhari of the CPC, who polled 12,214,853, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu of the ACN who got 2,079,151, and Alhaji Ibrahim Shekarau of the ANPP who got 917,012 .
The INEC National Chairman and returning officer for the Presidential elections declared President Goodluck Jonathan thus: “By the powers vested on me by the Constitution and the Electoral Act, I, Attahiru Muhammadu Jega hereby certify that I was returning officer for the presidential election.
“That Goodluck E. Jonathan having satisfied the conditions required, is hereby declared winner and returned Elected”.
According to the election data, Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) secured 25 percent of the total votes cast in 31 states of the federation namely; Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Benue, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Imo, Kebbi, Kaduna, Kogi, Kwara, Jigawa, Nasarawa, Lagos, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, Taraba and the FCT.
As to be expected, the agents of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and even the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), did not sign the final result sheet. Only the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) agent signed, but this is purely inconsequential according to the electoral laws and does not in any way invalidate the declared results.
And although General Buhari of the CPC has said he would not go to Court to contest the results, the caveat he gave that his Party, the CPC has the right to challenge the results in Court is looking increasingly likely, as a petition has already been forwarded to INEC, rejecting the results and a chieftain of the CPC and former Nigeria Information Minister, Prince Tony Momoh has stated categorically that they would have to verify the results from most of the polling units, especially in the South East and South South and conduct a fresh counting of all those ballots, before they will endorse the declaration of Dr. Goodluck Jonatha as the rightful winner of the election.
But all that is elementary now as INEC has formally declared and pronounced Dr. Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe (Mainasara, Omoluabi) Jonathan as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Third democratically elected President in the post-Military rule era of the country, after Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and the late Umaru Musa Yar’adua, respectively.
Congratulations Mr. President. Nigerians have spoken loudly and clearly. Now the transformation agenda of rebuilding a new Nigeria begins…
ANIOCHA/OSHIMILI: This was a clear cut battle between Hon. Ndudi Elumelu and the rest in Aniocha/Oshimili Federal constituency. In the end, Elumelu won convincingly and Delta Focus has it on good authority that he is the PDP Delta candidate for the Aniocha/Oshimili federal constituency. lumelu defeated six other contestants, Benibe Ugboko, Olanrewaju Monu, Nnamdi Onochie, Ben Okonkwo, Theodora Giwa-Amu and Tom Okonma to clinch the ticket.
But there is a palpable threat hanging over his candidature as the Economic and Finacial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has stated categorically that it will not drop charges against any politician, no matter who he is.
It will be recalled that Hon. Elumelu is still in court over charges levelled against him and some members of his ersthwile House of Representatives Committe on Power and INEC has made it clear that it will disqualify any candidate who is indicted for any criminal offence.
Many Delta watchers are therefore looking very closely at the emergence of Alanza Uche Ugbomah, under the aegis of the Accord Party, for the Aniocha/Oshimili Federal constituency. Alanza Ugbomah is a staunch PDP Chieftain and close ally of state PDP chairman Peter Nwaoboshi. He is also said to be a strong loyalist of the Dr. Okowa camp and many pundits are of the opinion that there is more to his emergence under the Accord Party than meets the eye.
The Ika Federal constituency primary matter turned out to be a different kettle of fish altogether. The acrimony which had existed in the run-up to the Delta North senatorial battle between the supporters of the two key senatorial aspirants and political figures in Ikaland spilled over in lower elections. There had been rumours that incubent Hon. Doris Uboh had been asked by the party leadership to step down for a favoured candidate of the party hierarchy. But the equation changed when the Appael Court in Benin annuled the April 2007 governorship elections.
The emergence of Rt. Hon Sam Obi as the acting governor of the state created a new balance of power in the PDP politics of Ikaland which saw former SSG, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa gaining more prominence than the rest. The paramount aim was to return Dr. Uduaghan as governor in the scheduled re-run election, but the political horse trading that follwed saw power shifting to the Okowa camp.
In the Primary for the Ika Federal Constituency, Hon. Doris Uboh was faced with a situation where she was clearly an underdod inspite of her incumbency and she and other like Ben Obuh and Magnus Onyibe were roundly trounced by Barrister Victor Nwokolo, who is reported to be in the Okowa camp.
Nwokolo won with the backing of Okowa as delegates of Ika North East PDP voted overwhelmingly for Nwokolo who is from Igbodo while Ika South PDP members split their votes between Nwokolo, Nwugo and Ben Obuh.
When the votes were collated, Nwokolo got the highest number of votes followed by Nwugo with Ben Obuh emerging third. Hon. Doris Uboh got very few votes. When she read the writing on the wall she stormed out of the venue.
This result was also a big humiliation for Ben Obuh who has lost a lot of political credibility in Ika South because of his unwaivering support for Okowa. It was assumed that Okowa would pay Obuh back by supporting him but a reliable source informed Ikaworld.com that Okowa told Ben Obuh his friend that he (Obuh) is not a House of Reps material. Okowa instead threw his support behind Nwokolo.
In fact the matter had been so sensitive that members of the PDP Ika South and Ika North East had vowed to resist any attempt by leaders of the party in alliance with some clique in the presidency to substitute Victor Nwokolo as the candidate for Ika Federal Constituency and had threatened to cause civil disobedience if the result is tampered with. The aggrieved members, displaying the result of the primary duly signed by INEC agents and PDP officials, claimed that as soon as Nwokolo won the primary, party leaders began to make effort to impose Doris Uboh who came a distant fourth on them citing interest from the presidency.
Many watchers had even pointed accusing fingers at the first lady, Dame Patience Jonathan as responsible for the decision to impose Doris Uboh on the Ika Federal constituency, following the poor showing of Mrs. Sarah Jibril at the Presidential primaries and harsh criticisms that her Womenfor Change Initiative, inspite the nationwide jamboree tours and 35% demand from States Houses of Assembly, had done little to improve the lot of women in the political arena.
The national PDP was reported to have ordered a re-run of the primary as well as the Senatorial primary, but as at press time Delta Focus could not confirm if that ordered re-run was conducted, as most of the delegates who would have participated, including Victor Nwokolo, were at the Cenotaph in Asaba, for the Senatorial primary, which Okowa won.
In a further twist to the tale,Victor Nwokolo’s lawyer, Barrister Festus Keyamo issued a statement to emphasize the victory of his client. The statement reads thus: “Our attention has just been drawn to the misguided rumours making rounds that our client, Barrister Victor Nwokolo, the lawful candidate of Peoples Democratic Party, having won the PDP Primaries held on 9th of January, 2011, has stepped down for Engr. Doris Uboh, who scored only Nine (9) votes as against our client’s Two Hundred and Fifty Eight (258) votes in the said primaries.”
According to the statement: “The said rumour has no truth in it but a calculated propaganda being paraded by agents of falsehood in order to divert the attention of well meaning Nigerians to the obvious futility of the so-called re-run primary election taking place in Asaba, Delta State.”
Going further, the statement said: “May we reiterate that our client, Barrister Victor Nwokolo is still and will continue to be the lawful candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party for the House of Representatives in Ika Federal Constituency. Our client has deliberately refused to participate in the purported re-run primaries knowing fully well that such event is not only illegal but an exercise in futility and our client is not and will never be part of such an illegality.
In conclusion the statement categorically affirms that: “The general public should be informed that our client is still much in the race and will never sell the mandate of the good people of Ika Federal Constituency. To defend this mandate, he has since filed a suit in the Federal High Court, Abuja in Suit No.:FHC/ABJ/CS/85/2011, which was duly served on both INEC and PDP”, adding that; “Nigerians should therefore discountenance any rumour or statement to the effect that our client has stepped down for anybody as such statement is obvious falsehood, malicious and calculated to divert attention of the reality on ground.
So will Nwokolo be the candidate of the Ika Federal Constituency?
Controversy Trails Ochei’s Victory in Aniocha North; Mrakpor Clears Aniocha South; Okonji Wins Oshimili South, but… ; Sam Obi, Martin Okonta Win Ika Amid Protests
The House of Assembly primaries in three of the four constituencies of Delta North all ended in controversy. The primary in Aniocha North was particularly acrimonious as incumbent member of the Delta state House of Assembly, Hon. Victor Ochei, found himself in hot battle with the political leaders of the local government, who were bent on unseating him.
Ochei had been embroiled in a supremacy battle for the leadership of Aniocha political structure with Hon. Ndudi Elumelu after the dismantling of the Godswill Obielum political camp in 2007 and things came to a head when both men were declared winners in their respective elections.
Both men also had a very cordial relationship with Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan in their different capacities, but Elumelu soon achieved the upper hand and consolidated his grip on the power structure by empowering several young politicians in his stable to take over the party leadership at the grassroots in the Aniocha axis.
It was little wonder therefore that when the time for primaries came Ochei was faced with some very formidable opponents. Emma Dibia, Emeke Ohaegbunam, Osi Okocha, Steve Mmah and Ejimofor Anazia had all been in the running and were seen as the real contenders. In fact Ochei had been reportedly voted out of reckoning in the mock primaries of the Local government House of Assembly seat and the main contenders were said to be Osi Okocha and Ejimofor Anazia.
However, word had gone round that the leadership of the PDP in the state had insisted on returning Victor Ochei as the party’s candidate for the April 2011 election. Impeccable sources told Delta Focus that some finacial leverage had even been provided to ensure compliance by the delegates but it was later learnt that the delegates were short changed and given far less than what had been suggested. The delegates got wind of this greedy act and decided to disobey the leadership of the party.
But on the day of the primary, a different scenario played out. According to the chaiman of the party in Aniocha North local government, Chief Namadi Mohanye, in a letter written to the national secretariat of the party, no primaries had been conducted in Aniocha local government for the nomination of candidate for Delta State House of Assembly.
He said that the congress for Aniocha North local government area failed to take place on Saturday, January 8, 2011, because the INEC returning officer who was delegated to conduct the primaries appeared at St Martins Primary School, Issele Uku, without the original result sheet which was the reason for rescheduling of the election.
The letter by Chief Mohanye further stated that the attempt by Hon. Ochei to unilaterally impose himself on the people by claiming that he was the winner of an election that did not take place was an insult on the intelligence of the people.
In a related development, an Abuja High Court also issued an injunction restraining Engr Victor Ochei from parading himself as the candidate of the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party for Delta North local government in Delta State House of Assembly.
Ochei, who represents Aniocha North is also restrained from commencing any form of campaign directly or by proxy until a substantive suit challenging his purported nomination has been disposed off.
One of the aggrieved aspirants Mr. Osi Sam Okocha, had instituted the suit challenging the propriety of Hon. Ochei to parade himself as a candidate for the April election on the platform of PDP when he did not contest the primary as stipulated by section 87 of the 2010 electoral act.
The plaintiff is praying the court to direct the Delta State Peoples’ Democratic Party to hold the special congress and conduct primaries in Aniocha North Constituency for the position of member of Delta State House of Assembly.
The litigant aver that the Peoples’ Democratic Party has no right to foward the name of Hon. Victor Ochei as its candidate for the April 2011 Election for the Aniocha North Local Government when INEC failed to conduct a valid primaries or special congress between January 8, 2011 to January 12, 2011 when shoddy preparations on the part of INEC officials created rooms for unilateral and self declaration of Hon. Victor Ochei. Also joined in the suite is the Independent National Election Commission which botched the proposed primaries.
Mr. Osi is asking the court to direct INEC to conduct a proper primary for the area and give the indigenes the opportunity to exercise their fundament human right to choose their representatives as it customary with constitutional democracy.
And as if all these were not enough trouble for Ochei, the former deputy governor of Delta State, Chief Benjamin Elue, who was once regarded as Ochie’s political godfather but has since fallen out with the Honorable member, also expressed anger over the alleged imposition of Victor Ochie as the PDP candidate representing Aniocha North Local Government Area of the state as candidate for State House of Assembly election in April 2011.
A youth leader in the area, Mr. Peter Odah who attended a meeting where Elue expressed his worries said Elue “was even surprised to hear that Ochei’s name had been forwarded to PDP national headquarters in Abuja.”
In his petition to PDP national secretariat, the youth leader said: “Youths of Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State are clamouring for justice, while threatening to decamp to opposition party if the primary election is not held. So let us act fast to avert this for the interest of our Great Party PDP,” Odah told PDP national chairman in his petition.
The petition, it was learnt, came on the heels of the alleged involvement of the state Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan in the said imposition of Hon. Ochei for the House of Assembly polls in the area.
However, the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to Gov. Uduaghan, Mr. Sunny Ogefere denied the alleged involvement of his boss, saying: “His Excellency does not impose anyone on any constituency.”
However, as Deltans await who INEC will endorse as the PDP Aniocha North House of Assembly candidate for THE April 2011 polls, many will be wondering if Governor Udughan will keep the promise he made, during his meetings with political office seekers in Delta state, that he will not endorse anybody for the polls, will be fulfilled.
ANIOCHA SOUTH: Hon. (Mrs.) Joan Onyemaechi Mrakpor, the incumbent member representing Aniocha-South Constituency of the Delta State House of Assembly, coasted home to a convincing victory in the Aniocha South primay. She scored 106 votes to defeat the incumbent chairman of the council, Mr. Emmanuel Soroku, who had 50 votes while Isaac Anwuzia polled 15 votes. Chris Nwauokoni scored 18 votes and Nathaniel Igbadi had 5 votes.
However, some sources told Delta Focus that the sound of what was suspected to be gunshots were heard at the venue of the primary and these sources claim that eye witnesses reported that a particular candidate hired some hirelings who allegedly disrupted proceedings and scared away potential delegates as a ploy to allow for multiple voting by sympathizers of the said candidate. This report could however not be substantiated and as at press time the only recognized candidate for the PDP Aniocha South seat is Hon. Joan Mrakpor.
OSHIMILI SOUTH: What appears to be a major upset was recorded in Oshimili south when incumbent Hon. Emeka Okonji was reportedly defeated by Hon Peter Onwusanya, in a primary that also featured incumbent Council chairman, Izuka Okolo. The exercise, according to eye witness reports, was acclaimed to be largely free and fair except for a few moments when some hirelings, said to be recruited by one of the aspirants, attempted to disrupt the process through violence.
But reprts reaching Delta Focus, suggest that the name of Hon. Okonji may have been the one forwarded by the state PDP to INEC as he is seen as the favored candidate of the leadership of the party. But there is also another dimesion to the matter. Peter Onwusanya is said to belong to the camp of Dr. Mrs Mariam Ali, while Okonji allegedly belongs to the Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa camp. Mrs Ali is the favoured candidate of the party in the state instead of Okowa and analysts opine that there may be a likely harmonization arrangement where some people will be harmonized out of the list in order to accommodate a balance of equal representation in the final list. This will however be possible if both Mrs. Ali and Dr. Okowa agree to the terms of any harmonization arrangement and analysts believe that they will never agree. So the die is cast for Okonji and Onwusanya.
OSHIMILI NORTH: The peculiar case of Oshimili North is that the incumbent member of the House of Assemblyn Princess Pat Ajuduah belongs to the Accord party. However, the arrangement between the PDP and Accord party which gave her victory 2007, has since been diluted and although she has enjoyed a cordial relationship with her fellow members of the Assembly as Minority leader, she has however remained in the Accord party and feelers reaching Delta Focus indicate that the recent disgraceful attitude of party chairman Peter Nwaoboshi, who is from the Local government area, over the PDP Senatorial primaries, has led the key political figures in Oshimili North to flock to Accord party in droves and adopt Princess Ajuduah as the new political leader in the Local government area.
In the PDP congress held in Ika North East 8th January 2011, Hon. Sam Obi was re-elected to fly the PDP flag for Delta State House of assembly in the April election. However, one of the aspirants who lost in that primary, a certain Mr Odiase, has castitigated the way and manner Hon. Sam Obi emerged and directed his legal council to write to that effect.
The story in Ika South was even more controversial as the incumbent and one time Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Martin Okonta, sought to reclaim his seat. Delta Focus learnt that Dr. Cairo Ojougbo had withdrawn his support for Martins Okonta for the House of Assembly, before the primaries and thrown his support behind one Barr Nwaolokor. However, a reliable source in Ika politics revealed that Gov. Uduaghan had allegedly insisted that Martins Okonta should be returned. This did not go down well with the people and in the heat of the moment Dr. Ojougbo and Martins Okonta almost exchanged blows, according to eye witness reports at the venue of the primary.
Many pundits aver that Dr. Cairo Ojougbo may have seen the writing on the wall and his change of mind may have been influenced by what appears to be the overwhelming rejection of Martins Okonta by people of Ika South. However, Hon. Martin Okonta won the primary and it is anybody’s guess how that can be changed now that the list has been submitted.
Our source also revealed that the performance of the DPP in Ika South during the recent Gubernatorial re-run may have emboldened some disaffected PDP members to start making moves to decamp to DPP. These include the Hon. Noye Philips (Agbokigboro) who although participating in today’s congress is not happy with the internal PDP politics that could cost him his current seat. This disaffection was also said to have been exacerbated by news that Delta State PDP Chairman Barr. Nwaoboshi asked all aspirants for the House of Representatives to step down for Hon. Doris Uboh but that was flatly rejected. But the aspirants refused and insisted that the people should elect their representative.
Controversy Over Amori in Central; …As Manager, Mutu Emeyese Others Win
In the Delta Central Senatorial District, Chief Ighoyota Amori (JP) was reported to have defeated Honourable Halim Agoda and Chief Charles Obule at the Senate primary election held at the Ughelli Township Stadium, in a primary that was reportedly marred by gross violence and irregularities perpetrated by one of the candidates.
Protests ensued immediately after the primary and the PDP national secretariat had to order a re-run, which also ended in fiasco, following the invasion of the Ughelli township stadium venue of the exercise by armed youths suspected to be supporters of one of the contenders.
Delegates, officials of the PDP who came from Abuja to conduct the elections, scampered for safety, following sporadic shooting by the aggrieved armed thugs.
According to eye witness reports, the rampaging youths dared the heavy presence of security agents, forced their way into the stadium, undermined the presence of the State Deputy Governor, Prof Amos Utuama and four local government council chairmen and had a field day with their disruption of the exercise. Although no casualty was recorded, reports had it that only Uvwie Local Government Area had voted when the protest that stalled the election started.
Eye witness reports confirm that trouble started when the list to be used for Sapele local government, was outrightly rejected following the allegation raised by Chief Charles Obule, Hon. Agoda, Chief Elizabeth Ogbon Day and Chief Bernard Edewor that the delegates list was doctored from Abuja and should not be used in the rerun election.
However, the members representing Okpe and Sapele Local Government constituencies in the Delta State House of Assembly, Chief Efe Afe and Chief Monday Igbuya argued that the list was not doctored, saying that it was the list of the party’s 2008 congress.
According to them, the party in the State had not conducted another congress after the 2008 congress and thus the authentic list was the one drawn from that congress of 2008.
The intervention of the State Deputy Governor, Prof Amos Utuama who was present at the primary election could not save the situation as the contestants engaged in hot exchange of words, pointing accusing fingers at one another.
With this development therefore, it is only logical to conclude that Chief Ighoyota Amori may have clinched the ticket for the Delta central senatorial seat and his name may be the one forwarded to INEC as the candidate of the PDP for the April 2011 polls.
Other results show that Mrs. Evelyn Ojokhavo was declared winner in Okpe/Uvwie Federal Constituency, former Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Mr. Frank Enikhorogha is the party’s flag bearer for Burutu, Olorogun Akpodiagaga Emeyese for Okpe, Mr. Solomon Ahwinawhi for Ughelli/Udu; and Mr. Daniel Reyeneaju for Warri federal constituencies respectively.
Mrs. Irene Imilar won in Warri-South 1, while Mrs. Omawumi Udoh won in Warri-North and Mrs. Faith Majemite in Ethiope-East.
In the Delta South Senatorial District, incumbent Senator James Manager was declared the winner, Mr. Leo Ogor for Isoko; Nicholas Mutu, who is running for a fourth-term in Bomadi/Patani Federal Constituency; and former Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Mr. Frank Enikhorogha, who is the party’s flag-bearer for Burutu.
All the other members in the Delta state House of Assembly who were seeking re-election were reported to have all been returned in their Delta Central and Delta South constituencies.