Ozoro mega rally and imperatives of Delta PDP reconciliation
By Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi
Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. Mark 3:24, Matthew 12:25.
If there is any factor/actor that has kept the People Democratic Party (PDP), as the dominant party in Delta state in the well over two decades of democratic experiment in the country, it is the existence of one robust, indivisible and united political family.
Again, if there is any reason that presently works in favour of the party in the state as the nation braces up for the 2023 general election, it is the superlative performance of the incumbent Governor of the state in the person of Senator (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa. Many believe that the administration’s performance particularly in the areas of infrastructural development and promotion of technical education in the state dwarfed that of his predecessors. These efforts on the part of the Governor contributed appreciably to why Delta State was ranked the Best State in Human Capital Development in the 2017 States Peer Review by the National Competitiveness Council of Nigeria, and also in 2020. It is also responsible to why Delta as a state was adjudged to be the Second Least Poor State, coming only after Lagos, Nigeria’s business hub, according to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
Despite the validity of the above claim, there are troubling developments within the party and painful signs that currently, there exist visible cracks, gully of division and deep seated animosity among members now of different actions. All is visibly not well with the party in the present circumstance.
Aside from the recently held mega rally in Ozoro, Isoko North local government area of the state to receive decampees from the opposition political parties, which was boycotted by prominent party leaders such as former Governors James Ibori, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, Senator James Manager, representing Delta South, Barr Kingsley Otuaro, Deputy Governor, Chief David Edevbie, governorship aspirant and others, coupled with the fact that there was no official unveiling of the Delta PDP governorship candidate as was the tradition, so many other events in recent past supports this assertion. Random sampling of events in recent months shows that all may not be well for the party in the present circumstance.
Without going into specifics, some believe that the whole gamut of ‘restiveness’ within the party stems from the PDP governorship primary held May 25 which the Current Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Sheriff Oborevwori had won but his closest rival and former Commissioner of Finance in the state, David Edevbie asked an Abuja High Court for Oborevwori’s disqualification on grounds of discrepancies in the certificates he presented and same prayer answered, others are of the view that current waves of division within the party stemmed from mindless exclusion, injustice political deprivation that recently characterized the party in the state.
While those of us who believe in the unity of party may not agree with campaign or campaign of any group or ethnic nationality to dismember the party in the state, random sampling of opinion of these group and their supporters indicates that they have template to, and rock-solid belief in their cause and are even prepared to give their lives to actualize it. They believe that in no distant future, it will be realized.
The current administration in my opinion will continue to find itself faced with difficulty accelerating the economic and political fortunes of the party in the state until they contemplate uniting all warring factions within the party in the state. Notably, not doing any of this, or continuing on this order will amplify the painful consequence of strategic mistakes made by the People Democratic Party(PDP) led Federal Government in 2015 general election- a mistake which led to President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan losing to President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressive Congress(APC).
In fact, there are so many documented accounts as to why the current fears expressed by the author cannot be described as unfounded.
First, a few months ago, Delta state based GbaramatuVoice, an important and well respected media platform that connects Niger Delta communities and the world in communication, and has to its credit , ten of thousands of followership, conducted an opinion poll about the forthcoming gubernatorial election in the state. The outcome of that process should be a reality for all lovers of the party in the state to worry about as it gave victory to the major opposition party in the state, the All Progressive Party (APC).
Indeed, one may conveniently argue that such outcome should not be trusted as public opinion do not always provide clear-cut policy guidance, and even when it is clearly in favour of a certain course, may be decided otherwise -particularly when they realize how uninformed, superficial, and changeable most opinions really are. Yet, looking at the caliber of people that voted in that process, their comments, and recent endorsement of the gubernatorial candidate of the major opposition party in the state, the outcome of that exercise should not be allowed to go with political winds. The Governor’s handlers should monitor, analyze and predict the consequences of the present situation if allowed to thrive.
Yes, I join my faith with Governor Okowa who at the Ozoro mega rally among other things declared that ‘ the people will come out to vote for PDP in all the local government areas in the state, that whatever is going on is a normal democratic process, that we should be Atikulated, that Atiku gave one of our own running mate, he has done well for the South, particularly South-South’.
That faith or comment notwithstanding, I am equally of the views that as a general rule, the first step to solving a problem is to recognize that one exists
Like every other fair-minded individual in the state, this author would continue to characterize the Okowa’s performance in the state as historic.
However, there is an urgent imperative also to feel concerned about the recent declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Delta State was yet to have a candidate for next year’s governorship election. INEC, according to news reports, had earlier in the day released the names of candidates and running mates of various participating political parties to state offices with that of the Delta PDP candidates missing. Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of INEC in Delta State, Monday Udoh-Tom told newsmen in Asaba that there were presently no particulars of any candidate for PDP.
“We have no particulars of any candidate for PDP as far as the governorship is concerned because they are in court. It is when the matter is determined that we will now have the particulars of one of them. “You will recall that there was a court judgement that disqualified one of them, and he filed for stay of execution and also appealed the judgement. “As a result, we cannot act on the case of the PDP for now until the Appeal Court delivers judgement,” Udoh-Tom said.
Looking at these endless occurrences in the state that daily depletes the party politically and in numerical strength, this piece draws the attention of the Governor to a research result carried out to unravel why leaders make bad decisions. In that report, Sydney Finkelstein, a Steven Roth Professor of management at the Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College, United States of America, underlined; the presence of inappropriate self-interest, distorting attachments and the presence of misleading memories as factors/red flags that fuels deformed decisions. Flawed decisions start with errors of judgment from individuals, he concluded.
In line with the above facts coming from these great scholars, I hold the opinion that the hour has come for the Governor to seek real victory via dialogue and not through conquest, victory that will render further rift and aggression unnecessary.. He should work out ways to help the people enjoy durable peace anchored on justice, fairness and equity!
To the warring/aggrieved members, it is time to underline that the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at the time of challenge and controversy’’. It is my humble submission that this time is auspicious for all in the interest of the party to allow sanity prevail over emotion and personal interests.
To avoid a fall, the party must not go to that electoral contest as a divided house!!!
Utomi Jerome-Mario is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He could be reached via: firstname.lastname@example.org/08032725374.