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15 In Race For Governor Of Delta State

Delta State governorship aspirants have begun mobilisation, ahead of the next general elections. In two years’ time, Delta State Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan will vacate office, af ter the completion of his second term.

No fewer than 15 Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftains are scheming to succeed him. In other parties, there are also some aspirants eyeing the position.

The number of aspirants may go up, following the registration of the proposed All Progressives Congress (APC). The PDP aspirants are basking in the euphoria of the power of incumbency. However, opposition aspirants have said that this will crumble during the elections because there will be alternative routes for the voters to explore.

In Delta State, there are the serious aspirants, the not-so-serious and the pretenders. Campaign offices are being set up. Structures are being fortified. But the primaries will seperate the wheat from the chaff.

The aspirants

The top contenders for the governorship include Senator Arthur Okowa, Dr Festus Okubor, Hon. Victor Ochei, Elder Godsday Orubebe, Ben Williams, Navy Commander Onabu, Senator Pius Ewehrido, and Chief Great Ogboru.

Okowa

He is the senator representing Delta North District in the Upper Chamber. Okowa has intimidating credentials. He was the Chairman of Ika South local government, Commissioner of Health and Secretary to Delta State Government. He was defeated by Uduaghan during the 2007 polls. He is a grassroots mobiliser and a towering personality in Delta politics. He has a large followership in Delta North District, which he represents in the National Assembly. But he also has appeal in other senatorial distrits. In fact, he has structures across the three zones. Many believe that he can rebuild his political structure he used during his failed 2007 governorship bid. But he faces a stiff opposition from some influential politicians in the state, who still believe that he cannot be trusted. To them, he accepted to become the secretary to government when he had the opportunity to discredit the controversial PDP primaries that threw up Uduaghan, press for a new shadow poll and smile away with the ticket. His critics maintained that he should have aligned with the other aggrieved aspirants to protest the alleged imposition of Uduaghan, instead of jumping at the prospect of becoming the Secretary to Government.

Others have chided him for ethnicity, recalling that that he has not risen beyond being the champion of Ikaland. They alleged that Okowa is always eager to defend the interest of his native Owa Aliero, in utter insensitivity to the interests of other towns and villages in the senatorial district.

Okubor

He is an orator. He is former Governor James Ibori’s Commissioner for Information. Currently, he is the Chief of Staff in the Uduaghan Administration. in 2011, Okubor was the Deputy Director-General of Uduaghan Campaign Organisation. He is perceived as a dark horse in the race for the top job. However, many believe that his closeness with Governor Uduaghan may tilt the balance in his favour. They arrive at this conclusion because Uduaghan is interested how his successor will emerge. But, the governor’s support may be a double edged sword. Unless those who were injured by the imposition of Uduaghan in 2007 are pacified, they may resist Okubor’s emergence. There is the pervading feeling in Delta State that Ibori, who is in jail abroad, will determine who succeeds Uduaghan.

Besides, Okubor has some weaknesses. He does not seem to have a deep purse to run an effective state-wide campaigns. Also, the presence of his kinsman, Arthur Okowa, in the race may split Anioma votes. Okubor lacks the required experience to survive in the rough and tumble of Delta politics because he has never sought elective office before.

Ochei


He is the Speaker of the House of Assembly. He has endowed his office with visibility. He also enjoys cordial relations with the governor. enjoys immense visibility in his current job. Ochei is a three-time legislator representing Aniocha North Cnstituency. He is a wealthy politician and philanthropist who commands the respect of his constituents. If wealth alone is all it takes to become the governor, Ochei will win the governorship with mimimal effort. But Delta politics is treacherous and unpredictable. Ochei‘s critics accuse him of arrogance, But he rejected the label, saying that his self-confidence has been uncritically confused with arrogance. Until recently, when he divested his shares in Davnotch Nigeria Ltd, he has received a lot of bashing for allegedly using his influence as a top politician to corner lucrative contracts from the government for his company.

Orubebe

The Minister NigerDelta Affairs hails from Delta South Senatorial District, the same zone that produced Uduaghan. He is from the Ijaw extraction. Ordinarily, with zoning in place, Orubebe’s name should not come up for mention. But tongues are wagging. With the recent rapprochement between Uduaghan and Chief Edwin Clark, his ambition cannot be ruled out. Orubebe is a protégé of Clark and, with the rising sentiment in some quarters that zoning should be jettisoned, analysts believe that he has a good chance. A major challenge he has to surmount is that he comes from the minority Ijaw tribe. Also, if he becomes the PDP candidate, then, zoning is dead in Delta State. The only alternative is for him to defect from the PDP. But will Orubebe defect?

Ewherido


He is from the Delta Central District. He is a formidable politician beloved by the Urhobo. The senator was a member of the House of Assembly between 1999 and 2007. He also served as the Acting Speaker. Ewherido is major player in Delta politics. His is popular in his zone. Against all odds, he contested against the PDP for the Senate on the platform of the mushroom party, the Democratic People Party (DPP). That was after he lost the governorship primaries to Uduaghan in the PDP. He had gone underground, following his failed governorship bid, only to resurface and daze the PDP at the senatorial election. Urhobo has a superior numerical strength and, if the tribe supports him, he will shake the state in 2015. The ethnic group has been in the political wilderness in the last eight years, shopping for a credible candidate. But a major minus for Ewherido is his perceived independent mind.

Ogboru

Ogboru is a millionaire-businessman and veteran governorship aspirant. He loves power. But it has eluded him since 2003. In 2011, his party, the Democratic People Party, made a frantic attempt to prove that Ogboru is popular in the state. The party won eight seats in the House of Assembly. It also won a seat each in the House of Representatives and Senate. The “People’s General”, as he is fondly called by supporters, appears to be battle weary these days. He seems to have slowed down. But his supporters inisist that he is a crowd puller and a factor in Delta politics. But can Ogboru still count on the support of the Urhobos, especially with the emergence of Ewherido? Only time will tell.

Williams

Williams, fondly called “the Ben Lion Heart of Delta”, is running on the platform of the proposed APC. The retired Airforce Sports and Physical Education School instructor is from the Delta North. He is busy setting up campaign structures across the local governments. He is an advocate of power shift. Williams had boasted that the APC will dislodge the PDP in 2015. “The die is cast between the APC and PDP in Delta. PDP has failed and APC is now the saving grace. It is only the APC that can avert the disintegration of the country. It is only APC that can reposition Delta State”, he said.

Keyamo

Lagos lawyer Festus Keyamo has also joined the race. He is a pro-democracy activist and radical lawyer. The structure campaigning for him is the ‘Delta Frontiers”. The youths and students are rooting for his candidature. However, Keyamo has not announced his political platform. His associates have ruled out the PDP. This means that he he will jostle for the ticket in the APC or other smaller parties.

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