Paul Osuyi, Asaba
FOR a long time, the Delta State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) wallowed in factional crisis that proved very costly for the party during the just concluded general elections in the state.
As a result of the crisis which started with the conduct of congresses to elect executives for ward, local government and state levels in May, 2018, the party could not provide a formidable opposition to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state.
It even lost the chance to probably take power from the PDP that has ruled the state since the inception of the present democratic dispensation in 1999.
The crisis pitched the founding party leader and its governorship candidate for the 2015 polls, Olorogun O’tega Emerhor against the senator representing Delta central, Ovie Omo-Agege and Chief Great Ogboru who became the party’s candidate in 2019 in controversial circumstances.
Omo-Agege who won his senatorial election in 2015 on the platform of the Labour Party (LP) and Ogboru who was the governorship candidate of LP that year, defected to the APC after the party’s victory at the presidential election in 2015.
They were considered as joiners just like several other bigwigs from the state PDP that also defected in the wake of the victory by President Muhammadu Buhari. But the duo soon warmed their way into the hearts of the national leaders of the party.
At the state level, the congresses led to the election of factional executives with Cyril Ogodo as the state chairman of the Emerhor faction also known as the Mainstream Delta APC while the then incumbent chairman, Jones Erue retained his seat to lead the Ogboru/Omo-Agege group.
The crisis worsened after the emergence of Adams Oshiomhole as national chairman when he replaced the Ogodo-led State Executive Committee (SEC) earlier inaugurated by his predecessor, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun with that of Erue executives, sighting the existence of a consent judgement by an Abuja High Court as basis for his action.
Attempts at harmonisation of party executives before the primaries for the 2019 general elections failed, leading to the emergence of parallel candidates for elective positions, before Emerhor engineered the Ogodo faction to institute a suit at the Federal High Court, Asaba, seeking to be recognised as the authentic state executive members.
Although, Ogodo got a favorable judgment in March this year after the elections, the Court of Appeal, Benin Division upturned the decision, giving room for the appeal at the Supreme Court by Ogodo.
During the pendency of the appeal at the apex court, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege who was re-elected in the February National Assembly elections emerged as the Deputy President of the Senate after he was endorsed for the position by the APC and the presidency.
Omo-Agege, being the first Urhobo indigene to occupy the exalted office of Deputy President of the Senate, pressure from stakeholders in Urhobo land was said to have been brought on Emerhor for the appeal to be withdrawn because should it succeed, Omo-Agege would be one of the greatest losers, analysts say.
Emerhor caved in to the pressures and recently announced his intention to withdraw the appeal from the apex court.
In a letter to members of the Mainstream Delta APC entitled: ‘Even a Good Fight Must Come to an End,’ the state party leader said he consulted with critical stakeholders to reach the decision.
“Your leadership has come under intense pressure to terminate the appeal at the Supreme Court in order not to jeopardise the standing of the DSP at the Nigerian senate. This pressure has come from elders, leaders and Clergymen of Urhobo nation, from well wishers and family members of Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, from APC party leaders of the South South, and indeed, from the presidency.
“Upon the election of Senator Ovie Omo-Agege as the DSP, and with the reach out from the various interested persons mentioned above, your leadership has indeed agreed, in its usual reconciliatory manner, to seize the opportunity to again push for a party reconciliation and unification deal that can produce a win -win situation for Delta APC and properly position it.
“Our earlier terms for party exco harmonisation and sharing of federal appointments to all groups in Delta APC were once again put on the table as the panacea for bringing lasting peace to APC Delta State. Unfortunately, even with the best efforts of those who intervened to seize this moment as a last minute effort to bring peace to reign, again no traction was achieved.
“At the same time, our case in the Supreme Court suffered a setback. As against securing an accelerate hearing consequent on it being a pre-election matter, the suit is currently adjourned to October 14, 2019. It has been in our contemplation for the case to come to a closure in July 2019 and allow peace and unification to come to Delta APC at last.
“Under the above circumstances and in full recognition of the pressures that have been brought to bear and also in appreciation of the legal arguments as to whether we could still achieve the objectives of the suit when it comes up in October or not, your leadership has decided and indeed unconditionally agreed to withdraw our appeal from the Supreme Court by filing a notice of discontinuance.
“Your leadership believes this is for the best. We have fought a good fight and even good fights must come to an end! We don’t need to fight on till October and beyond! We don’t need to force others to the table anymore and or forever.
“I, therefore, on behalf of the Mainstream of APC in Delta proclaim an end on our part in the factional fight for the control of APC in Delta State. We also seize the opportunity to recognise Senator Ovie Omo-Agege as our Senator and congratulate him for his election as DSP of the Nigerian Senate. We in the same breath recognise and congratulate other elected legislators of APC in Delta State.
“We do this with zero expectations from those who are now the ‘victors’. We will, however, be wildly surprised if they seize the moment and strive for the unification of the party in the interest of a stronger Delta APC,” Emerhor stated.
But the state leadership of the party has come hard on the leader describing his latest move for peace as a face saving measure, noting that it was clear from proceedings at the apex court that the appeal will fail.
In a deriding statement by the publicity secretary, Sylvester Imonina, the party said Emerhor was merely deceiving the people, adding that the party leader “is stuck in blind.”
“Predictably unwilling to just admit he has lost, Emerhor has been desperately trying to find a way to secure a soft landing. First, he requested a sit down with the Deputy President of the Senate to negotiate deal which he didn’t get. So he has now come up with a ploy to hoodwink the media and the general public into believing that he is withdrawing the case in response to pleas to by well meaning Nigerians.
“You will recall that Emerhor has done everything he could to stop Senator Ovie Omo-Agege’s re-election ensuring he lost in his (Emerhor) unit and ward during the national elections in February.
“He has also tried to steal the mandate in court, claiming to be the senator-elect on the basis of Asaba High Court judgement that was later upturned by the Court of Appeal sitting in Benin.
“Not deterred, Emerhor appealed the judgement to the Supreme Court in further attempt to stop Omo-Agege at all cost.
“He even worked against Omo-Agege emergence as Deputy President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by sponsoring protests and articles against Omo-Agege and in support of his rivals in the race for Deputy President of the Senate to no avail.
“Emerhor has been adamant in pursuing the case to the end but his about-face started last week when it became obvious that the matter was dead,” he stated.
Although Omo-Agege is yet to react to the latest development in the party in which he has become its state leader by virtue of his position, a party faithful loyal to his course, Christopher Akpojotor Agaga, was elated that the adversaries have been defeated.
Akpojotor said he was convinced that Emerhor and his co-travelers will be dead politically and “thrown into the evil forest of political extinction” after the June 11, 2019 inauguration of the National Assembly and election of principal officers.
“This man has now find himself placed in a state of full political miseries by craftily wanting to fake a claim of withdrawing the appeal filed by the Cyril Ogodo-led factional executive from the Supreme Court in the interest of Urhobo and Delta State,” Akpojotor said.
As at the time of filing this report, Daily Sun could not immediately confirm if the application to withdraw the suit from the apex court has been filed as planned. The said application was meant to be filed on Monday, July 15. From all indications, it seems only time will tell when the back and forth over the Delta APC crisis will be resolved.