In 2010, a court of appeal nullified the election of Gov. Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State and instructed that a fresh election be conducted within ninety days, the judgment was a reaction to the appeal filed by Great Ovedje Ogboru of Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) who challenged the outcome of the 2007 gubernatorial election. It took Nigerian judiciary four years to reach that judgment and yet the judgment stated that the accused (which was guilty of election malpractice be allowed to re contest the rerun election). There was widespread jubilation across the state. Deltans finally will have a real opportunity to remove this corrupt and imposed cousin of Ibori called Emmanuel Uduaghan. So they thought.
Great Ovedje Ogboru had the popularity and the goodwill to win the election but he lacked the political structure. Popularity was not enough to win election in Nigeria, political structure was more important than popularity. Ogboru needed a structure and structure could only be built by experienced old politicians and with lots of money. It was in fact almost impossible for a person who was not in government to build or control a political structure. Political structures are funded by government bureaucracy. Emmanuel Uduaghan of the PDP therefore had the structure in the twenty-five LGAs of Delta state but he had become unpopular due to his approach towards governance. It was almost impossible for Ogboru to build such a structure within ninety days. For Ogboru to win the election, he needed to break the PDP, divide it and get hold of majority of its structure. In other words, he needed the corrupt PDP guys to help him defeat Uduaghan. That was his only chance. This is the irony of Nigerian politics.
Before that court judgment, Delta was PDP and PDP was Delta. Every other opposition party worked for PDP, except the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) which was Ogboru’s party. The court judgment revived the opposition party, there was jubilation in Asaba, Warri, Abraka, Ughelli and every other place in Delta State, even in Uduaghan’s hometown of Abigborodo, there was jubilation! Uduaghan was a disaster. Ibori was corrupt but yet progressive, Uduaghan was something else no one understood. For example, as at 1999 there was no tarred road to my village of Delta State. We needed a total of about 40KM of road and a 200m bridge to make my village accessible by road. Ibori took less than eight years to construct the 200m bridge and constructed over 25km of the road. Uduaghan awarded the second phase of the project which was just 13km and with no bridge. It was one of the first projects awarded by Uduaghan’s government but yet four years after, the project was still below 40% completion. We had not seen any sign of even getting public electricity. Even in Uduaghan’s hometown of Abigborodo, he was unable to complete the 11KM road after four years in office. As at the time of the rerun, his own village was inaccessible by road. And so many other issues. My community, just like other communities, therefore had a genuine reason to protest against Uduaghan by supporting the opposition party. So many communities in Delta State had the same sentiment. There was marginalization and protests everywhere. The only way to get out of it was to support Ogboru. So we thought.
We started preparing towards the election. There became a mass decamping of politicians from PDP to DPP, even active politicians were leaving Uduaghan for Ogboru. It meant that Ogboru will not have to borrow much to fund his election. The decamping politicians would fund his campaign and help the party grow. Ogboru was gradually building his own structure within the shortest time. Udughan, through the speaker, Sam Obi, who had become the acting governor, quickly borrowed N20Billion Naira for Delta State for no reason other than to fund the rerun election. Uduaghan and the PDP had enough cash to play around with, coupled with a loyal political structure.
I was for Great Ovedje Ogboru and his opposition party, so were majority of Deltans. I personally wanted everybody in government to get out so Ogboru could bring in new people but with the mass decamping, I knew Ogboru would not make my dream come true even if he won. I still supported him anyway. PDP came up with series of effective propaganda. First was the tribal politics of zoning. The argument was that Delta State is made up of three senatorial districts. Delta North (Anioma -Igboid group which many consider as Delta Igbo), Delta Central which comprises of Urhobos and Isokos and Delta South which comprised of Ishekiris and Ijaws. PDP had a zoning formula which ensured that power is rotated across the zones. James Onanefe Ibori was Delta Central, Emmanuel Uduaghan was Delta South and it was therefore the turn of Delta North to get the slot if only they would support Uduaghan to win Ogboru in the rerun and general elections. Ogboru is of Delta Central. This created serious division and worked in favor of the PDP. Many of us did not like this logic and saw no sense in it so we went ahead to support Ogboru but our political leaders saw a whole lot of sense in the logic and was willing to ensure that Uduaghan returns by whatever means necessary even though they acknowledge that he is a failure. Voting for Ogboru would mean that Delta North might not taste power for another eight years unlike the four years’ time they would have if Uduaghan returns. These are the silent principles that guide Nigerian politics even at the national level.
I have already said a lot. Ogboru, despite being popular, lost the election because he lacked the structure to win. The rigging was blatant and obvious. Uduaghan won 14 out of the 25 LGAs while Ogboru won 11 LGAs. The results that came out from Uduaghan’s riverine LGAs of Delta State upturned the results from the uplands. We were all astonished. Another election was conducted few months again, Ogboru lost again and the rest is now history.
In 2014, there was a new opposition party at the national level called All Progressive Party (APC). The party came to Delta State and met with Great Ovedje Ogboru, begging him to take charge of the party in Delta State. Ogboru rejected the offer giving them two reasons why he cannot work for the APC. Ogboru stated that out of every ten ice fish Nigerians eat daily in Nigeria today, he supplies four! He stated that his fish importation concession business would not have been possible if not for Goodluck Jonathan’s government, so therefore, he could not work against Jonathan in the election. Since decamping to APC would mean that he will have to work against Jonathan, he could not accept to do that. And then lastly, he stated that he could for no reason support an Hausa man against an Ijaw man. For these reasons, Ogboru refused to take leadership role of APC in Delta State during its formation stage. It was a honest decision. In 2015 general election, at the national level, Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP lost the presidential election to Muhammadu Buhari of APC while at the state level, Great Ovedje Ogboru lost the election to Sen. Ifeanyi Okowa of PDP. In 2016, Ogboru decamped from his Labour Party to the All Progressive Congress (APC) and now calls on his supporters to do same.
End of Story.
The moral of the above long story is that NIGERIAN POLITICS IS A BITCH.