“A genuine leader is not a searcher of consensus, but a moulder of consensus.
— Martin Luther King, Jr.
After the presidential election of 2015 was won and lost, while some parts of the country were in jubilant mood, South-South mourned. The oil-producing region became bewildered and disillusioned—not as a result of violent militancy or environmental degradation orchestrated by crude oil exploration, but the painful loss of presidency through the defeat of then President Goodluck Jonathan; an illustrious son of Niger Delta, at the polls by Muhammadu Buhari of the APC. South-South lost the grip of the nation’s highest office. It seemed like the zone was permanently displaced politically from the center, and political leadership in the region became rudderless. The ship of the zone lost compass, and started to derail.
As a result of Jonathan’s exist from Aso Rock, Niger Delta retreated into regional politics and metamorphosed into the stronghold of the opposition, the PDP. For four consecutive years, South-South lost its voice in corridors of Aso Rock Villa, which created a huge communication gap between Abuja—the nation’s seat of power, and the oil-rich region; ravaged by leadership deficiency, as seen in gross underdevelopment across the area. The aftermath of the election was as if the political bridge linking federal government and the region got severed, and no one had the political sophistication to reconnect the zone with mainstream politics, until Senator Ovie Omo-Agege emerged the deputy president of the senate—riding on bipartisan mandate.
The elevation of Senator Omo-Agege to senate number two seat has changed the political hemisphere of Niger Delta. It has inspired hope and reawakened consciousness among the people of South-South. And the Urhobo-born senator has immediately filled the leadership void which was created by the Jonathan’s exist from power. He has begun fixing the broken political bridge linking the region with Abuja, and has become the APC’s rallying point in the South-South geo-political zone. The goose that lays the golden eggs of the Nigeria’s wealth like Niger Delta, should not be far from the meeting table where critical national decisions are being taken, which is akin to playing second fiddle where one should be the navigator.
South-South, as the economic life-wire of the nation cannot afford to play opposition to the central government for long, especially when the opposition politics has become counterproductive and injurious to the growth of the region. The mainstay of the country’s foreign exchange earner cannot be disconnected from the center as a result of opposition politics. This implies that the zone, as a matter of political expediency, should be well-represented at the central government.
This is the new school of thought Deputy President of the Senate Omo-Agege is propagating in the region. And this, he has been doing with vigor, even when it was not politically correct to be identified with the APC in Niger Delta—prior 2015 elections.
It is crystal clear that the PDP has dominated the politics of the zone since 1999. Five of the six states of the region are presently being controlled by the opposition. Even the only APC state in South-South, Edo, is hanging in balance owing to protracted feud that has pitched Adams Oshiomhole, the APC’s national chairman and his estranged godson, Governor Godwin Obaseki.
The emergence of Senator Ovie Omo-Agege as the country’s number six citizen under the platform of the ruling party, has consequently strengthened the foothold of the APC in the Niger Delta. It has provided a rallying point for the supporters of the party in the zone; hitherto was never there.
The birth of formidable leadership encapsulated in a consummate shepherd, like Senator Omo-Agege, has attracted more sheep to join the progressive train of the APC in South-South—like never before. As we look forward to 2023 transition, the APC leadership should entrust more responsibility of repositioning the party in South-South in the able and tested hands of Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, in other to give the PDP a good run for its money in the geo-political zone. He has the witt, charisma and clout to shoulder the responsibility. Gone are the days when the PDP will be allowed to have a free reign in the region, because absolute power without virile opposition corrupts. The electorates should be given credible options, not a situation where the ticket of the ruling party in the state equals to electoral victory.
The emergence of Senator Omo-Agege as deputy president of the senate, which makes him the de-facto political leader of the zone, is growingly creating fears in the camp of opposition, especially the PDP governors in the region. They are being put on their toes to deliver dividends of democracy to the populace that elected them. It is no longer going to be business as usual where the PDP reigns supreme in the zone, irrespective of the performance of its governors and legislators. Senator Omo-Agege as deputy president of the senate, has strategically positioned him as the APC’s anchor-man in Niger Delta, of which will benefit the region immensely, in terms of attraction and execution of key projects vis-a-vis political appointments.
He is capitalizing on this privileged office to reconnect the politics of South-South zone with that of Abuja. And he has begun showing leadership where it mattered most, of which is governance.
Providing needed checks and balances to the PDP in the zone by strengthening the APC in the Niger Delta, is another added advantage to the ruling party. With Senator Omo-Agege as Senate’s number two man, the voice of South-South—with its corresponding interests, will not only be heard and protected—but will be projected as well, because he is serving as unofficial liaison officer between Niger Delta and the nation’s powerbase; Abuja.
Nwobodo writes from Lagos