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Will Okowa pay the price for PDP jockey? by Francis Onyema

Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa 

Since the creation of Delta State in 1991 and a return to full democracy in 1999, PDP has remained at the helm of affairs in the State. They have seen the baton of the State's leadership exchange hands between Chief James Ibori, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan and Sen. Ifeanyi Okowa, the incumbent governor.

The emergence of the past governors of the State and the incumbent governor meant one man was constantly at the losing end - Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru. Although it emerges Ogboru did not lose all of the elections he contested in but was robbed of victory because of national support for the then ruling party (PDP), at the centre.

Read Also: The poor are under attack as Okowa plans to ban the use of Keke in Asaba, Warri

The PDP struggle by every available means to capture and consolidate power was embodied in the party's mastery of the rigging act, the intimidation of voters, vote buying and violence. The PDP got away with what they wanted with the backing of the federal might wielded by the party. All these made the party invincible for more than a decade. However, in 2015 the narrative changed. The PDP were roundly defeated by the APC albeit not without the support of some notable PDP decampees.

Today, most of the PDP stalwarts blame former President Goodluck Jonathan for betraying the PDP ideology of ‘retain power at all cost’. Despite the enormous pressure on Dr Jonathan to hold on to power against the popular will of the masses, the former varsity lecturer did the honourable thing by congratulating the President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari and subsequently handed over the helm of affairs of the nation to him. The PDP much bragged about capacity to retain power for a century, at the national and state levels, was eroded.

Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, the incumbent governor of Delta State, benefitted from the PDP domineering tendency as he strolled to power as the governor of the State in 2015. Again, this was not without the election irregularities in the State that is the sine qua non of the PDP.

Great Ogboru, the APC Gubernatorial Candidate 

However, it is no surprise that the APC, led by Adams Oshiomole, earmarked Delta State as one of the States the APC must win, in 2019. The goal is to erode the structure of the PDP in the State. Delta State is perceived to be one of the pillars of the present PDP. The party won more than 85 percent of elections contested in 2015. Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa knows, without an iota of doubt, that he faces a tougher battle in 2019. The indicators are clear enough.

Of note, Okowa goes against Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru, the popularly known People's General whose adversaries in the previous contests now allege that he had been rigged out of the past electoral contests. An ex-Speaker of Delta House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Emmanuel Igbuya ascertained that “It is true, Ogboru has been winning all governorship elections in Delta State”, as reported by Vanguard, when interviewed by newsmen.
Interestingly, Ogboru now enjoy the support of these power brokers in the State and a major political platform, the All Progressives Congress (APC) to pursue his gubernatorial ambition. Of the many years Ogboru contested the governorship elections against different PDP candidates, he did so with the little support of the real political juggernauts. However, it is entirely a different game in 2019.

The Delta State chapter of the APC recently inaugurated its campaign council with Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan the chairman. In his brief remarks, Uduaghan said: “Chief Great Ogboru was not Governor in 2015 because he doesn’t know road”. This statement elucidates the uphill battle Okowa faces in the coming weeks.

Interestingly, the Uduaghan-compass might be a veritable tool that could have the most significant impact on the outcome of the 2nd March Gubernatorial Election and guide Ogboru to victory. The question remains, however, what will be the Uduaghan-compass? Would it be to implore the FG to deploy its arsenal against the incumbent governor? Perhaps it would be to checkmate the PDP rigging machineries headlong so that the party's illegal maneuvering of election outcomes is put to an end in the State. Whatever the case is, would Okowa pay the price for PDP jockey?

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