Paul Osuyi, Asaba
The recent ward congress of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Delta State has further exposed the seemingly lack of cohesion within the main opposition party in the oil rich state with the resultant disagreement over emerging results.
Although, the chairman of the congress committee, Alhaji Sani Dododo singlehandedly announced the result of the congress without any input of the six members of the committee, most party stakeholders urged APC faithful to discountenance his announcement.
In fact, Dododo’s action has reportedly earned him a sack as the chairman of the committee from the national secretariat of the party which has also named his replacement as Emmanuel Chindah who is to oversee the local government congress.
Daily Sun gathered that Dododo was said to be doing the bidding of the Senator Ovie Omo-Agege bloc of the party in the state, as those returned as party executives whom were announced as winners of the congress are said to be loyalists of the embattled senator.
While Omo-Agege is said to be building a structure to ensure the emergence of his fellow defector from Labour Party (LP), Great Ogboru as governorship candidate in the 2019 general election, the leader of the party in the state, Olorogun O’tega Emerhor is opposed to it.
Emerhor, it was gathered, is very comfortable with the party having its governorship flag bearer from Delta north, obviously as step towards realising his own gubernatorial ambition in 2023.
From Emerhor’s calculation, the plot is to have one of the aspirants from Delta north where the incumbent governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) hails from, to complete the last four years for the senatorial zone before it is rotated to the central senatorial district where both Emerhor, Ogboru and Omo-Agege hail from.
As a result, Emerhor was very quick in reacting to the announcement of ward congress results by Dododo as the outcome with respect to those elected as executives across the 270 wards will not be favourable to building a dependable political structure.
Meanwhile, investigations further revealed that the ward congress provided a platform for power tussle among the contending leaders of the party in the state. With the Emerhor/Enuha bloc firmly in support of a Delta north governorship candidature, the Omo-Agege/Ogboru bloc is bent on scuttling the design.
This, Daily Sun further learnt, has resulted in the alignment and re-alignment of other party stakeholders. For instance, chairman of the party in the state, Prophet Jones Erue who was an ally of Emerhor in his litigation-ridden reign, has re-aligned with Ogboru, his political friend in the then Democratic Peoples Party (DPP).
While also working towards coming back as party chairman, Erue is said to be tacitly opposed to the emergence of a Delta northerner as governorship candidate. In a strongly worded statement earlier in the year, Erue stated that there was no zoning of political offices in the party.
His stance against an unwritten rotational policy was said to have pitched him against Emerhor, hence his re-alignment with the Omo-Agege/Ogboru bloc.
On the other hand, Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu and most of the governorship aspirants in Delta north including Prof. Pat Utomi, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, and Victor Ochei amongst others have thrown their weight behind the Emerhor-Enuha bloc. There appears to be an understanding among the Delta north gladiators to support whoever clinches the party’s ticket.
But the ward congress was a test case to measure how far any of the contending blocs could go in realising their future ambitions. The ward congress, as it were, is a highly manipulative internal power play that only those with relevant contacts in the right places could smile to victory.
Emerhor is said to be enjoying the backing of incumbent National Chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun and some top echelon of the party including Minister for Transport, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, thus, the latest action of sacking Dododo as congress committee chairman.
Omo-Agege, on the other hand, is believed to be enjoying the support of the presidency, and his name has been dropped in some quarters, as the brain behind the appointment of Dododo and the subsequent pressure to announce an alleged doctored result in favour of his cause.
However, the embattled senator appears to be fighting all alone. While battling with the leadership of the senate on another front, his ally in the battle to control the soul of the APC in Delta State, Great Ogboru appear to be lacking in required wit to pull through.
“Give it to him, the ‘People’s General’ as Ogboru is fondly called, is not lacking in street credibility and popularity particularly among his Urhobo kinsmen of Delta central. He has been contesting the governorship seat since 2003 and has not been lucky for once to be declared winner” , one of the supporters said.
“At every election when he stands out to contest, people will always queue behind him, hence, a sizable number of candidates for legislative houses in his former political parties did win their elections, using him as a poster boy.
“To an extent, Ogboru still commands such followership with the capacity to swing the pendulum in a general election, but the present tussle to control the party structure is a different ball game,” another member of his camp volunteered.
As a politician who has never been involved in contesting party primaries, Ogboru, Daily Sun gathered appears to be too “urbane” for the high level manoeuvring and seemingly manipulation involved in the power game of internal politics.
Besides, having contested elections for the umpteenth time, his finances appear to have drained drastically, it was further learnt. This is in addition to obvious lack of contacts with the power brokers at the national level since he was not among the legacy founders of APC.
As it stands, Omo-Agege appears to be alone in the prosecution of this tall dream to control the levers of the party. The state chairman, Prophet Erue has over the years been accused of compromise over alleged involvement in unholy romances with the state government. He too is fighting a battle to remain afloat as party chairman.
But the Emerhor/Enuha bloc can count the weaknesses of the opposing bloc as its strengths. The political players here are not only known to have deep pockets, they have in the past been involved in internal party politics particularly those from the PDP.
Although a technocrat, Minister of State for Petroleum, Mr. Kachikwu cannot be immune from the local politics of his home state particularly when the ultimate goal is to retain the governorship seat for his Delta north senatorial district.
Ojougboh, a former member of the House of Representatives, rose through the ranks of party politics and became the deputy national chairman of the defunct Ali Modu Sheriff faction of the PDP.
Ochei who is a former Speaker of state House of Assembly, was a three-term member of the House representing Aniocha North constituency. Known to be young, vibrant and with deep pocket, Ochei also understands the intrigues of party politics well.
Professor of Political Economics, Pat Utomi is a known figure in national discourse, although he has not been openly involved in partisan politics. But sources within the APC confirmed that when the chips are down, he could activate his contacts to pull the strings to favour his group.
And the leaders of the group, Emerhor and Hyacinth Enuha have kept faith with the APC even after the latter lost out in the senatorial re-run for Delta central and 2013 and the 2015 governorship election in the state.
They continued to build the party by making it attractive to the likes of Ogboru, Omo-Agege, Ochei, Ojougboh and others to join after its presidential flag bearer, Muhammadu Buhari won the 2015.
Obviously as a result of the 2015 electoral feat at the federal level, the party has been boasting that it would take over power from the PDP at the state level in 2019.
In fact, vice chairman of the party (South-South), Hilliard Eta had assessed the performance of the PDP government since 1999, and said the ruling party has been woeful in delivering democracy dividends, describing the state as a low hanging fruit for the APC to plug in 2019.
But the obvious polarisation of the party as crystallized by the ward congress may prevent the APC from plugging even the lowest hanging fruits unless the power brokers agree to harmonise into a cohesive structure, otherwise, the party may once again snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.