IF APC MUST WIN DELTA – By Irikefe Umukoro

okoemeThe  All Progressives Congress, APC, just affirmed its acceptability  as a party to reckon with in the modern day politics of Nigeria through its  victory in Edo State. This was no easy feat as the South-South and South-East states have always shown undying love for former President Goodluck Jonathan and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP over the years. Having asserted itself in neighboring Edo, the next should be Delta as it is not just a South-south state but a sister state to Edo as both were the former Bendel state. Not too long ago, the media were filled with exchanges between APC front liner, Governor Adams Oshiomhole and his PDP counterpart, Governor Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa of Delta State. The debate was on who would win which state.  Oshiomole’s boast was that APC would win Delta from Okowa. Considering the battles Oshiomhole has fought and won, his words should not be seen as mere rhetorics. And given the alleged role Okowa played in the Edo governorship election, this is a personal  fight for Oshiomole. For good reasons, Oshiomhole can afford to be confident. Armed with strong performance in the past eight years, majority of Edo voters cast their votes in appreciation.  And like Edo voters, Oshiomhole can count on the support of majority of Deltans to kick out PDP. However, for the dream of APC to come true in Delta State, serious calculations devoid of sentiments have to be made by the progressives in Delta State and the national leadership. It is no gain saying that the APC has not been fully entrenched in Delta State due to primordial needs and prejudice of the people. PDP has exploited these needs on the principle of zoning and power rotation. The opposition in Delta state has ignored this entrenched desire of the different ethnic groups in the state at a huge cost to the Urhobo nation which has consistently supported opposition candidates since 2003. It is not also news that the Delta Central which prides itself as having the highest population and where the APC has its stronghold, is lagging behind Okowa’s Delta North in terms of number of local government areas and political wards. In elections, especially governorship’s primaries, technicalities such as this matter. In Delta North presently, APC is seen by many as an Urhobo party and a knowledge of the ethnic differences in Delta State will be a strong guide for any politician and/or political party. While it is true that a handful of Anioma politicians is in APC presently, the greater number is and will remain in and support PDP come 2019 if the only choice available to them is Okowa. APC can only have a chance to take the governorship seat in Delta come 2019 if it fields an Anioma candidate.  It must not just be an Anioma candidate. Another political calculation comes in. APC governorship candidate for 2019 general elections must be a candidate who will not only be accepted by majority of the Anioma people but one who would not be clannish like the man on the seat presently. He must also be able to enjoy a reasonable level of acceptance across the length and breadth of Delta, especially the Urhobos. He is going to be the Governor of Delta State after all, not Anioma. It must be one who would not treat the other nationalities as second class. And above all, a man of integrity whom the Urhobos can trust to do just one term. The Aniomas are not politically explorative. Their pacifist nature plays a prominent role. They would always gather round their own from any of the three nationalities – Aniocha/Oshimili, Ndokwa and Ika. The Ikas control a huge number of votes in Delta North. Agbor as a city with non-indigenes and the suburb of Umunede, have always pushed up their votes. The Ndokwas also have great numerical strength and appetizing voter-turnout during elections. Asaba the state capital including Okpanam, in no small measure, shoves up the number of votes that Aniocha/Oshimili churn out. Barring any last minute change, the PDP will give its ticket to incumbent Governor Ifeanyi Okowa. An APC candidate from Anioma will not only divide the votes from Anioma but will totally sway the votes to APC as the Aniocha/Oshimili and Ndokwa nationalities are marginalised under the present administration and will seek change, although not outside Anioma. In Ika too, a reasonable number of votes will come to APC from other towns as Okowa has prioritised his Owa above others. This would be different from the last election where even the party agents of other political parties, aided the PDP governorship candidate because he is one of them. The results are there to jog the memory of APC. Any political  party which plans to take over from the PDP in 2019, must as a matter of necessity and political correctness, choose its flag-bearer from Delta North. This will play on the sentiments of the people who have been stuck with the devil-you-know-is-better-than- the-angel-you-don’t-know mindsets as the angel would also be known to them. It must be put on the front burner of all APC deliberations for Delta 2019 that it’s still the turn of Delta North, irrespective ofh party affiliation. This kills any thought of giving the ticket to any other zone. Irikefe Umukoro a political analyst, wrote from Ughelli, Delta State.okoemerogbo

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