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RIGHTSView: 2015 guber poll as defining moment for Delta State

By Emmanuel Onwubiko on 30/08/2014

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Officials of the much criticised Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) recently issued the electoral calendar for next year’s polls and, indeed, aimed towards scoring what seemed like a major goal to win the hearts and minds of the majority of Nigerians when they fixed February 14 (Lovers’ day), as the date for the conduct of the presidential and other elections of national significance.

The symbolism in that epochal date, which hasn't however gone down well with the youthful members of the Nigerian electorate, is not lost on observers of the electoral process, particularly those with a bent towards working to actualise the legendary campaign of achieving gender mainstreaming in the political life of Nigeria. There is no gainsaying the fact that the women folk have suffered prolonged period of political marginalisation by the dominant patrilineal political class.

Campaigners of political equality are also deeply concerned about putting pressure on the political authorities to erect the enabling environment to guarantee equal access to all Nigerians, irrespective of gender and other status to political offices. This is because quality of service and professional excellence is not the sole birthright of the male gender, as other developed democracies have opened up their political space to accommodate all interest groups.

Aside the topical and thematic issue of gender mainstreaming and equality of access to all political offices in the polity, with specific reference to the next general elections, majority of Nigerians are also of the view that there is need for what is generally regarded as the charter of equity to be applied in deciding the candidates to run for the various offices in the land, particularly because of the feelings and bottled-up anger in some states where certain ethnic nationalities that constitute the numerical majority of the population have often always manipulated the electoral process to ensure that only candidates of their ethnic stock run for the important office of state governor.

Some of the states whereby issues of charter of equity and the need to allow the most marginalised segments to produce candidates of the seriously committed political platforms for the coming governorship elections have often cited certain basic provisions of the Nigerian Constitution that speaks to the issue of promoting and protecting equal opportunities such as the much talked about Federal Character component of composition of political office holders across board.

In Imo State, for instance, the Owerri Senatorial zone and the Okigwe Senatorial zone are of the contention that Orlu Senatorial zone has monopolised the office of governorship in over two decades. As a result, Owerri zone seems determined to ensure that it wrestles power from the Orlu political establishment under the ruling Peoples Democratic Party. Delta State is one of such states whereby the Northern Senatorial zone made up largely of Igbo speaking nationalities have never held the position of state governor. So much campaign is in the air on the urgent need for the application of the charter of equity to be respected by the power brokers, especially in the 2015 governorship election. There seems to be a unanimity of opinion among major political stakeholders that the Delta North Senatorial zone should be allowed to produce the next occupant of the esteemed office of state governor.

The first indigenous governor of Delta State since it was created on August 21,1991 and administered between the date of creation up until January 1992 by Luke Chijiuba Ochilor a military officer, is Mr Felix Ibru, who ruled from January 1992 to November 1993. From May 1999 to May 29, 2007 James Onanefe Ibori from the same zone with Felix Ibru became the elected governor even as he handed over to his cousin Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, who will hand over to another elected governor by May 29 next year.

With the above facts it has become increasingly imperative that Delta North Senatorial zone is allowed by the major political platforms to produce their governorship candidates in next year's election. Already highly reputable sons and daughters from Delta North Senatorial zone are already engaged in democratic consultations with the people of the grassroots and leading stakeholders from across the state to convince them on the need for the charter of political and constitutional equity to be applied in the coming primaries of the leading political parties, so Delta North is allowed the opportunity to produce the best hand to run for the next year's election and to build upon the legacies to be left behind by the current administration of Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan. As a consummate party loyalist, Dr. Uduaghan is expected to support constitutional fairness and justice so the Peoples Democratic Party's candidate could emerge from Delta North Senatorial zone, which hasn't done that since the creation of the state nearly twenty five years. 

From Delta North comes such heavyweight political players like Dr (Mrs) Juliet Ngozi Olejeme, Dr. Sylvester Monye, Representative Ndudi Elumelu, among other key players, but majority of people who support democracy and the practice of the constitutional principle of charter of equity are of the opinion that the only lady among the few immensely loyal members of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party with a lot of moral credentials, Mrs Ngozi Olejeme stands many miles ahead and, therefore, should be supported to become the candidate of the party in the coming governorship election in Delta state. 

Dr. Ngozi Juliet Olejeme is said to be a woman of many parts and an an astute  administrator. Ngozi, by dint of hard work and resilience, has achieved the academic and professional prowess as a consummate finance and insurance expert, an entrepreneur, Management consultant, philanthropist, politician, social mobiliser, Human Rights activist, nationalist and a devout Christian.

Reading a particular history of this woman of history written by one of her biographers, one could decipher the facts that she rose from a humble background to national prominence during the military regime of late General Sani Abacha, between 1993-1998, when she fearlessly joined other progressive forces in Nigeria to raise a strong opposition against the military dictator taking cognisance of the fact that military incursion into Nigeria politics is an aberration to democratic ethos.

An alumni of University of Southern California in US, Ngozi is said to be an amazon with much piety and sagacity and has distinguished herself as an exemplary public officer who uses her skills, wisdom, and uncommon brilliance as the board chair of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) and as the Convener of Subsidy Re-Investment And Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) on Public Works to steer the ship of these trust funds to enviable heights among other government agencies.

The Civil Society community in Nigeria are also campaigning that she should be given the opportunity to serve her state, because that vibrant state needs such a professionally competent creator of employment opportunities, given that the majority of graduates and school levers from the state are in need of the enabling environment to become employers of labor. She has what it takes to industrialise that state and also be the much desired environmental vanguard that will vigourously be on the look-out to ensure that multi-national crude oil firms comply with global best practices and the international convention on human and people’s rights, so as to save the environment from degradation and to restore the pride of place for agrarian revolution to take place. This is the view of Abubakar Umar Dankano who spoke with this writer as I was putting pen to paper. The civil society community indeed wishes Mrs. Ngozi Olejeme the best of luck in her party primary election.

RIGHTSVIEW appears twice a week on Wednesday and Saturdays, in addition to special appearances. The Columnist, popular activist Emmanuel Onwubiko, is a former Federal Commissioner of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission and presently National Coordinator of Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA).

Source News Express

Posted 30/08/2014 11:45:02 PM


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