By Sir Obaro Ikibe
When a man driven by passion and impeccable commitment to deliver the dividends of democracy to the people steps into the foray of politics, he sends jittery into the spines of mediocres and joy into the hearts of the people. Though some political renegades may devise devilish means to discredit his visions and missions to the service of the people, the people not only pray and support his ambition, they stick their neck to see that such ambitions are realised. I dare say that since Olorogun David Edevbie heeded the call by well-intentioned Deltans to contest for the Governorship position of Delta State in the forthcoming elections, some political camps in the state with desperate ambitions have not been comfortable. They are not only frightened by his towering and intimidating pedigree in public service but afraid of the overwhelming supports he has got from the length and breadth of the state.
The recent public endorsement of Olorogun David Edevbie as the CHOICE of the Urhobo in the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) by the UPU, the oldest socio-cultural organisation in Africa is a further testimony to his general acceptance by the entire Urhobo nation. Since the PDP governorship primary is not an exclusive Urhobo affair, UPU has by this move demonstrated that there is the need for the Urhobo people to produce a unified candidate in the forthcoming governorship elections in the state. This move is borne out of the genuine desire to put Urhobo in a strong standing to contest and win the PDP ticket at the primaries. This is not the time for the Urhobo to play into the hands of those who do not wish them well. How does one explain the Urhobos going into a party primary with over ten aspirants against another ethnic group projecting just three?
However, instead of applause and commendation to the UPU heroic move, we read with both constellation and disgust some of the negative commentaries trailing the heroic endorsement of Chief David Edevbie by the UPU in both the social and print media. The bizarre of them all is the outlandish display of ‘low-self-esteem’ by the eight LGA chairmen of Delta Central who, acting on an orchestrated script by Okowa, danced naked under the rain. I bet you, by this move, others would be watching the Urhobos with an enthusiastic curiosity.
What UPU has done is to show a direction for the Urhobo in the face of obvious disequilibrium among the political players from Delta Central. With the plethora of aspirants from Delta Central, many of whom are sponsored by Okowa to cause disunity among the Urhobos, the Urhobos must device a means to avoid disgrace at the PDP primaries. At the last count, ten aspirants from Delta Central have bought forms for the governorship race and three from Delta South. Should they go to the primaries with this number, the Urhobos would have unknowingly perfected Okowa’s hidden agenda to handover the PDP ticket to an Ijaw candidate with Mrs Joan Oyemechi Mrakpor as deputy to spite the Urhobos.
The precarious position the Urhobo currently find themselves in Delta State is the selfish and unpatriotic anglings of the Urhobo political class. In this current political quagmire where the politicians no longer think of the Urhobo collective aspiration but self-interest what has the political class done to reduce the numbers of aspirants to present a strong and united front at the forthcoming primaries? If the political class have failed in this regard shouldn’t the UPU, the umbrella body of the entire Urhobo worldwide steps into the arena to create equilibrium? How can one entrust the Urhobo destiny to an Urhobo political class who eat today that tomorrow may die? A political class that has stooped so low because of party politics to say: “anywhere Okowa go, we go!”
Besides, none of the media comments that trailed the UPU endorsement of Chief David Edevbie ever said anything about his capacity and visions for the overall development of Delta State and compare same with other Urhobo aspirants. It should be well stated here that of all the Urhobo aspirants who went through the DC-23screening which pruned down the aspirants to three and finally the UPU screening that settled on Olorogun David Edevbie, there is none more qualified than him. UPU should therefore be commended for being meticulous. Olorogun David Edevbie is a man with integrity, a young Urhobo patriot who has got the political endorsement of the entire citizens of Delta state to contest for the governorship post of the state. His track records as Commissioner for Finance and Economic Panning in the Ibori administration and as Principal Secretary to the late President Umaru Yar’Adua and as Commissioner for Finance and Chief of Staff to Governor Okowa are there for all to see. Emu oyoyovwi shẹ oma rọye (Good product advertises itself) an Urhobo proverb says. If for nothing, the Amnesty Programme and the Ministry of Niger Delta which he initiated in the Yar’Adua’s administration are enough for the entire Urhobo nation and indeed Deltans to support his ambition to govern the state. It should be well sounded here that no matter the tactics of some irresponsible Urhobo political opportunists to drag him down, the desire of the people of Delta state to choose a leader who will re-invent and advance their collective aspirations cannot be trampled upon.
Moreover, the belief that the person who will become the governor of Delta state in the 2023 election will be determined solely by the incumbent governor alone is erroneous. The role of the people in choosing their leaders should not be downplayed. The people of Delta state are in dire need of a detribalise leader, one who has the plight of the people at heart, one who will use power in a manner that it brings happiness to the populace, one with a vision to build on the legacy of his predecessors and one with efficient organisational skills and positive attitudes towards the upliftment of the standard of living of the people. This is therefore a clarion call to all delegates to put Delta first in their choice for a governorship candidate in the forthcoming primaries.