Posted by Nelson Dafe, Abraka | 24 March 2015 | 4,248 times
In the university town of Abraka, Delta State, the March 28 presidential election is expectedly dominating political discourse as it is elsewhere in the country.
For Abraka people, the election is being keenly followed because there is a widespread belief that it would have a direct bearing on whether Labour Party’s Chief Great Ogboru (an Abraka indegene and Urhobo man contesting for next month’s governorship election in the state) wins.
News Express investigations reveal an overwhelming support for and hope in Ogboru’s candidacy in this ever-growing town, located in the Ethiope East Local Government Area of the state.
Having unsuccessfully contested for the number one political seat in the state severally, many locals of this Urhobo town believe that Ogboru would be successful at his fifth time of trying.
Where is their optimism flowing from? Many who spoke with News Express said that apart from the popularity of Ogboru (especially in the thickly populated Delta central area of the state), who they maintain had been rigged out in his last attempts at the governorship, there is what they believe is the support from president Goodluck Jonathan for his candidacy.
“Ogboru will become Delta governor. Of this I’m sure,” a middle-aged man told News Express in Abraka. “He has the backing of the Urhobo nation and the president. That’s an unstoppable combination,” he enthused.
This optimism has reached almost an infectious level in the town where the main campus of the Delta state university is located. The belief that President Goodluck Jonathan for some reason has reached an agreement to aid the emergence of Ogboru has made his supporters giddy.
But the challenges to Ogboru becoming governor remain significant. And these border on the two main areas which Ogboru’s supporters rely on to actualise his governorship dreams.
On the one hand, there is Arthur Okowa of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), while on the other is O’tega Emerho of the All Progressives Congress (APC). While it is a tricky game to rely on a president of a political party to support a candidate from outside his party in an election as Ogboru’s supporters seem to be doing, the division within the Urhobo nation between supporting two of its sons in the gubernatorial polls is another stark challenge to Ogboru’s governorship hopes.
This division has led to the suggestions that even in a free and fair contest, the Urhobos, who are the largest single ethnic group in the state, would lose out in the governorship election because of a failure to provide a united bloc.
When News Express asked Ogboru’s supporters in Delta State whether they weren’t concerned about this outcome, their response was assured about the Urhobos being united for the purpose of the ethnic group clinching the governorship.
The plan of the Urhobos according to those who spoke with News Express in Abraka is simple: If Jonathan wins the presidential elections, the Urhobo nation would all line up behind Ogboru, while Emerhor would withdraw from the race to become governor. And if APC’s Muhammadu Buhari beats Jonathan to become president, then Urhobos would switch en masse their support to Emerhor, with Ogboru collapsing his campaign into supporting Emerhor.
It is an interesting arrangement and one gets the feeling that it is a sensible one if the Urhobos are really serious and strategic in clinching the governorship for the first time in many years.
For many Urhobos, it is embarrassing to concede how much their numerical strength has not been able to assure the governorship for the ethnic group in recent governorship elections. A lot of this is a consequence of infighting amongst political leaders of the tribe as well as the perceived absence so far of a true trans-tribal leader who would not have to rely on votes from his ethnic group alone.
•Photo shows Delta State Labour Party governorship candidate, Great Ogboru.
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