PRESIDENT Bola Ahmed Tinubu finally put a seal on the fortunes of his ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Delta State by his choice of ministerial nominees from the state. His insensitivity to the diversity of the people in the state put paid to any pretences that APC is an Urhobo party. Tinubu first nominated Ms Stella Okotete, a former executive director of NEXIM Bank from Ughelli North Local Government in Delta Central Senatorial District ,in the ministerial list unveiled by President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio on Thursday, July 27, 2023, exactly on the 60th day prescribed in the 1999 constitution (as amended) for a president to submit the list of would be ministers. Similarly, Akpabio unveiled Festus Keyamo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) among the second batch of ministerial nominees submitted by the President to cap the 48 so far nominated, the largest ever in Nigeria’s history. Keyamo hails from Uvwie Local Government in the same Delta Central Senatorial District. More significantly, is the absurdity of the fact that both Uvwie and Ughelli North share a common border.
Interestingly, Delta State has five major ethnic nationalities, namely, Ijaw, Itsekiri, Isoko which make up the Delta South Senatorial District; Urhobo in the Delta Central District and Anioma, consisting of Ndokwa, Ika and Aniocha/Oshimili which is the Delta North Senatorial District. And power rotation among the various ethnic groups and the respective senatorial districts have been consistent. Tinubu’s decision to nominate two ministers from same ethnic stock and senatorial district clearly exposes the mindset that drives the APC and the imagination of the leaders of the party. However, keen observers of political developments in the state are not in any way surprised or shocked by the president’s decision. This is because, it is the same mentality that drives the party. Clearly, some selfish leaders with an entitlement mentality are the brains behind such banality. These crop of selfish leaders had sought, albeit in vain, to hijack the leadership of the rival Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with a view to turning it to their crooked ways. Because they did not succeed in foisting their evil agenda on the PDP, it was convenient to migrate to the APC, which is now a safe haven for them.
Beginning from 1991 when Delta State was carved out of the former Bendel, there were elements who felt Delta was created only for the Urhobo people. These irredentists particularly tried to flex muscles against the ambition of Chief James Onanefe Ibori, who became governor of the State in 1999. Ibori, an Urhobo from Delta Central Senatorial District, undoubtedly, with a pan-Delta mission, brushed aside efforts to foist a primordial Urhobo agenda in 2007 when he joined forces with other well-meaning stakeholders to establish a rotational order that subsists till date. He ensured that power transited to Dr Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan, an Itsekiri from Delta South Senatorial District. In the same vein, it is noteworthy that at the end of his tenure in 2015, Dr Uduaghan handed over to Senator Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, an Ika man from Delta North. This was in spite of the wiles and viccititudes of the same irredentists who desperately wanted to turn the clock in favour of an Urhobo man from Delta Central Senatorial District. With Okowa’s tenure drawing to a close in 2023, it became a battle between the forces of darkness and the disciples of light, with the APC providing shelter for the irredentists, while the PDP became the bastion of hope and inclusivity for majority of Deltans. And there was palpable fear that the state may be returning the den of thieves and men who trade with long knives.
Perhaps, we need to put our postulation in a proper perspective with an insight into the kind of leadership which the APC offered ahead of the 2023 general elections in Delta State. Only such an analysis would help expose the party for what it truly is. Former Deputy President of the Senate, Governorship candidate and leader of the APC in Delta, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, is from the same Ughelli North where one of the ministerial nominees hails from. State Chairman of the party, Chief Omeni Sobotie, is likewise from the same local government just as Dr.Otive Igbuzor, who was Chief of Staff to Omo-Agege while the latter held forth at the red chamber of the National Assembly. Records of Omo-Agege’s achievement point to the fact that most of the projects attracted to Delta were situated in the Central Senatorial District. Some pundits even argue that the said projects were all sited in Ughelli North. Officers of the party from other senatorial districts were only given nominal roles, often gasping for breath out of frustration.
In nominating Okotete and Keyamo as ministers, it is clear that Bola Tinubu has been held hostage by the evil elements who tried to derail the wheel of progress in Delta. It is no wonder therefore that APC was roundly rejected in the last general elections in the state. It is also not surprising that the party is daily going into extinction in the state.President Tinubu must be told bluntly that his choice of ministers hurts the sensibilities of our collective diversity. Similarly, the APC must realise that it’s seeming promising foothold is daily vanishing on account of those it has yielded leadership to in the state.If truth must be told, no party with such divisive outlook like the APC can survive in Delta. No one ethnic group, no matter its claim to being the majority can produce the governor of the state, in the same way no ethnic group can exclusively produce the president of Nigeria. This clearly explains why Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oberovwori won the gubernatorial election of March 18, 2023, winning 21 out of the 25 loca governments in the state.(See the rest on www.tribuneonlineng.com)
- Ofou is Executive Assistant, New Media, to Governor Sheriff Oberovwori of Delta State.
It was a vote for diversity, a vote for inclusivity and progress based on the rotational order established by the founding fathers. Any deviation from this well established pattern is simply a walk into ignominy and nothingness. Irrespective of the case pending at the election petition tribunal, no maximalist or narcissist can triumph over the forces of diversity. I am an Isoko man. I am a minority. That makes me a minority among the minorities in Nigeria. This is also my fate in Delta where the Isoko people make up one of the key five ethnic groups that make up the state. To suggest that no one from my ethnic background can aspire to be No 1 citizen of the state is to sound our death knell. This, we shall definitely resist. Ditto for other ethnic groups.