“The entire exercise and the aftermath have clearly proved that the Ogboru/Omo-Agege faction is unpopular… and not a true representation of Delta APC.”
Paul Osuyi, Asaba
The lingering leadership crisis rocking the Delta State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has taken a hydra headed dimension with the propensity capable of consuming the 2019 ambition of some chieftains of the party.
At the moment, there is an air of uncertainty in the state, following multiple court cases that are bound to go either way. On the one hand is the obvious factional leadership tussle that tore the party apart ahead of parallel primaries for party tickets. There is also the Omo-Agege/Ogboru tendency which has Jones Erue as chairman of the APC in the state, and the Emerhor/Enuha tendency with Cyril Ogodo as state chairman.
But the National Working Committee (NWC) under the chairmanship of Adams Oshiomhole recognises the Erue-led state executive; hence, the candidates that emerged from the parallel primaries conducted by the faction had their names submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
However, Ogodo-led State Working Committee (SWC) which was inaugurated by former national chairman, Odigie Oyegun, appear not to be willing to go down without a fight. It has thus instituted a suit at the Federal High Court, Asaba, to challenge the party’s NWC decision.
In suit number FA/ASA/CS/76/2018, the plaintiffs prayed the court to determine the authentic list of candidates that emerged from the parallel primaries conducted by both factions for the 2019 general elections.
Besides this suit, a former Speaker of the state House of Assembly and leading contender for the party’s governorship ticket, Victor Ochei, also dragged the APC, INEC and Great Ogboru who emerged as the governorship candidate of the Erue faction to the Abuja division of the Federal High Court.
Ochei in suit number FHC/ABJ/ CS/1085/2018 is praying the court to declare the governorship primary of APC conducted on September 30 as illegal and unlawful on the ground that the delegates that voted were unknown to law.
The plaintiff argued that there was a subsisting judgement of the conduct that affirmed the delegates’ list of APC in Delta State, alleging that the national leadership of the party sidelined the said list to use an unknown delegates’ list for the primaries.
Recall that Great Ogboru from Delta central was declared winner of the said controversial primary that held at the permanent site of the Federal College of Education (Technical) on Ibusa road, Asaba.
Other contestants who stormed out of the venue included Ochei, Prof. Pat Utomi and Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, all of whom hail from Delta North, the senatorial zone that was favored by the Ogodo-led faction to produce the governorship standard bearer in line with an unwritten principle of power rotation.
Ochei, Utomi and Ojougboh were among party chieftains that masterminded the emergence of Ogodo as state chairman in a congress that was witnessed by officials of INEC, as the mainstream of the APC in Delta until the emergence of Oshiomhole as national chairman.And in deference to the authority of the national leadership, the trio followed the party’s order on the adoption of the consent judgment that gave rise to recognition of the Erue-led SWC.
They had intended to participate in the governorship primary conducted by Erue but alleged that the entire process was manipulated from the national level to favour the emergence of a preferred candidate.
Utomi who reacted recently to the publication of Ogboru’s name as governorship candidate of APC in Delta State described the governorship primary of September 30 as “a complete farce.”
He further said that “the entire exercise and the aftermath have clearly proved that the Ogboru/Omo-Agege faction, whom the Jones Erue SWC stands for, is unpopular, not credible, without integrity and not a true representation of Delta APC.“
The faction that represents the broader group of APC members is the one led by the Cyril Ogodo which was constitutionally elected through a credible congress and formally inaugurated by the former APC national chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun.“In deference to the authority of the national leadership, people, even me, had followed the party’s directive on the adoption of the consent judgment, before an Asaba Court rejected the authenticity of the consent list emanating from the consent judgment,” Utomi added.
Meanwhile, things have fallen apart in the once tightly knitted Erue-led faction as a result of purported disagreement between the two arrowheads of the faction, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege and the governorship candidate, Ogboru, over the selection of running mate and emergence of some other candidates for the legislative elections.
Incumbent Senator, Omo-Agege and Ogboru came into APC from the Labour Party in the wake of the 2015 election and both politicians who hail from the central senatorial district spoke with one voice at the peak of the factional crisis.Sources informed Daily Sun that Ogboru picked a university lecturer, Abeh Ossai as running mate without consulting Omo-Agege who is also the senatorial candidate of the party, a situation he was said to have described as a political miscalculation.
“The disagreement between the senator and the governorship candidate has to do with greed and selfishness. What value will Ossai add to the chances of APC in trying to defeat Delta PDP that is a behemoth?
“The Ogboru/Ossai joint ticket cannot win election. It is a major political miscalculation from Ogboru who did not consult the senator before making his choice. He should engage political strategists to read the winning lines. PDP are not sleeping,” the source said.
Investigation revealed that Ogboru is simply rewarding Ossai with the position on the basis of a long standing political relationship built on absolute loyalty.
Although Ogboru hails from Abraka, Ethiope East council in Delta Central senatorial district, a town that is a stone-throw from Ossai’s hometown of Obiaruku, Ukwuani council in Delta north senatorial district, the proximity of the two communities, according to concerned members of the party, cannot guarantee victory for the party.
“Yes, Abraka is in Delta Central while Obiaruku is in Delta north but the proximity of the two communities defeat the choice of Ossai as a running mate. Again, Ogboru maternally hails from Umukwatta community in Ukwuani council, a town that is less than 15 minutes drive from Obiaruku.
“Ogboru’s father, is from Abraka and the mother, is from Umukwatta community in Ukwuani council with a running mate from same Ukwuani council, this is indeed a major political miscalculation making APC look clannish in political patronage,” a member of the party stated.
The party member, who pleaded not to be named further alleged that Ogboru in a bid to build his own structure within the APC fold, allegedly manipulated the processes to ensure that his Private Secretary, Eze Umolu, a native of Obiaruku emerged the standard bearer for state House of Assembly for Ukwuani constituency.
“If Ogboru settled for Ossai as running mate, he should have allowed either Dav Ochonogor or Emeke Ossai both from Umutu, the next thickly populated community to Obiaruku in Ukwuani council to fly the flag for the House of Assembly and not his Private Secretary.”
“The implication of this is that Ndokwa West council that is enjoying greater number of voting strength, according to INEC records was ignored. Ideally, Ogboru should have gone to Utagba-Uno in Ndokwa West for running mate. Utagba-Uno is the most populous clan out of the 36 clans of Ndokwa nation with a spirit of supporting their own for their integrity.
“An Utagba-Uno man as running mate for Ogboru will give Rear Admiral Mike Onah, Azaka Azuka, Sen. Patrick Osakwe, Ifeanyi Osakwe, Emeke Ukpe, Festus Ochonogor, Sam Osasa, Sir. Monday Onyeme, a run for their monies.
“Outside Ndokwa West, another important bloc in the Ndokwa nation is the Ndi-Oshimili people, called the Ndokwa East council. Ogboru confessed to me, before a gathering of APC members from Ndokwa East, that he has never won elections in that locality.
“Outside Ndokwa nation, did Ogboru reach out to top leaders of APC in other parts of Delta North before choosing Ossai? Did he consult Cairo Ojougboh, Iyke Odikpo? Did he liaise with Hyacinth Enuha to recommend a running mate from the Ogodo faction as a way of healing the wounds?” the source queried.
In Delta Central, Ogboru is said to have pitched tent with former governor of the state, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan who emerged as the Delta South senatorial candidate, to undermine Omo-Agege in the choice of candidates for the three House Representatives seats in the area.
For instance, while Omo-Agege would have preferred a consensus option in favour of Halims Agoda as APC candidate for Ethiope Federal constituency, Solomon Edojah shocked the senator when he emerged as the candidate with the tacit of support of Ogboru.
The imbroglio further reared its ugly head in Uvwie/Okpe/Sapele constituency which has the immediate past Speaker of the state Assembly, Monday Igbuya and Henry Baro, former Chairman of Uvwie council as contenders.
While Omo-Agege wanted Baro to emerge, Ogboru worked with Uduaghan to ensure that Igbuya had his way.
Meanwhile, in an attempt to assuage the feelings of aggrieved members of the party, the state chairman, Jones Erue has set up a 21-member reconciliation panel with a long standing associate of Ogboru, Richard Odibo as chairman.
Will this reconciliation heal the wounds and brighten APC’s chances ahead of 2019? It seems only time will tell.