Monday, February 9, 2015
WHY URHOBOS SHOULD VOTE FOR OKOWA
By Alex O. Akpodiete Atawa”
Some years back, I wrote a piece titled “The Dilemma of the Urhobos.” This was right before the 2013 Delta Central Senatorial By-election and after my return from America. The outcome of the election brought Urhobos back to the majority ruling party of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Subsequent to that, Dr. Steve Oru was also appointed as the Minister for Niger-delta Affairs.
Last year, the Secretary to the Delta State Government, Comrade Ovuozourie Macaulay was greatly misunderstood when he talked about zoning. Those of us that came to his defense clearly pointed out the ills of zoning. Nonetheless, some of us still believed in the issue of equity and power shift, just like we understood the underpinnings of the Federal Character that is enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria.
Some years back, our American friends (who our 1979 and 1999 Constitutions are modeled after) had to deal with issues of affirmative action. Affirmative action in its purest sense was meant to correct injustices perpetrated against the minority created by years of racial discrimination against blacks (African Americans). It was an equitable remedy that brought some semblance of security and social justice. Equity and power shift can be likened to the American Affirmative Action because they both foresee a situation where a particular group of people will be disenfranchised without a policy that allows them to be a part of the government and participate in determining their destiny.
The reality is that Nigeria as a Nation has not fully developed to a situation where we can have people voted on without ethno-religious considerations. A Muslim-Muslim, Christian-Christian, South-South or North-North Presidential ticket is currently not palatable.
One of the alleged dangers of zoning is the possibility of fostering mediocrity. However, in the recently conducted PDP primaries, we saw the amazing caliber of aspirants from Delta North Senatorial District, with Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, emerging as the flag bearer. In fact, I can categorically state that Dr. Okowa was the most qualified of all the aspirants. He had been a medical Doctor, Local Government Councilor. Chairman, 3 times Commissioner, SSG and Senator. No other aspirants had these qualifications.
Prior to the PDP primaries, the apex Urhobo Umbrella issued a declaration that Urhobos must produce the governorship of Delta State and that all Urhobos should go into PDP or All Progressives Congress (APC) and fight for the gubernatorial ticket. Several events have happened since the famous Uviamughe Declaration. Of course, David Edevbie did not succeed in PDP, while Chief Great Ogboru obtained the ticket of Labour Party (LP), and Olorogun Otega Emerhor was given the APC ticket. Unlike the PDP primaries that was highly contested, the LP and APC primaries were tantamount to endorsement as the candidates that emerged faced virtually little or no opposition.
UPU is now faced with only two options to maintain any form of credibility. It must either wholeheartedly endorse all APC candidates from presidential to House of Assembly. Alternatively, it must withdraw the now famous Uviamughe declaration. Any attempt to endorse President Goodluck of PDP and Great Ogboru of LP will be the height of hypocrisy and will make UPU lose its respect that our forefathers have worked hard to achieve. Prudence will dictate that the Uviamughe declaration should be withdrawn with explanation that the Urhobos as Nation has decided to support PDP because it will be in the best interest of us as a people. I believe all Urhobo kingmakers should muster up enough courage to do this and ensure the marginalization of Urhobos stop now. Let us elect Dr. Okowa, who is a friend of the Urhobos that will not marginalize us. As an Urhobo and a former aspirant for House of Representatives, I was cautioned against writing this piece by someone because they claim it will be political suicide. The reception received so far by the PDP campaign train in Delta Central shows that PDP will win.
Let me quote from my article on the Dilemma of the Urhobos”
“History as they say is written by victors. The Urhobos, the fifth (possibly 4th) largest ethnic group in Nigeria, must now decide how to handle the perceived and obvious marginalization at the national level. The history of the Urhobos, as it relates to position of power at the national level appears to be written by the detractors who believe that they were in opposition to the government of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, CON in the last election. This is apparently because the Urhobos voted en masse for Democratic People’s Party and its flag bearer, Chief Great Ogboru in the 2011 gubernatorial elections. The dilemma is that in a democracy, you should be able to be in opposition, while not being afraid of political repercussions. However, it does not work like that in Nigeria. Usually, the list of ministerial appointments comes from the head of the party in the state, which is usually the Governor, in consultation with the State Chairman of the party.”
Urhobos cannot afford to be in the minority again. This is now another opportunity for the Urhobos to make a statement and carve out our niche or stake in the coming eight (8) years as we prepare to take over from Delta North. We should ensure we actively participate in the upcoming election and vote en masse for the ruling PDP. Delta State is a PDP State and currently, Nigeria is a PDP country at the national level.
Urhobos should vote for Okowa and wait to take over the mantle of leadership again.
Think about it!
*Rev. Atawa Akpodiete, a public affairs analyst writes from Asaba. He is also a member of Media/Publicity Committee of the State PDP Campaign Organization. Contact him on 08138391661 or Profatawa@gmail.com,