By Rev Fr Chris Ekabo, JP
I have painstakingly reviewed and considered the political debate arising from disagreements associated with transmission of political power within the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Delta State, from 1999 till 2019.
Let me state from the outset that I am not a card carrying member of any registered political parties in Nigeria, but I am an eligible voter, one of the spiritual leaders involved in human rights and political matters in the Catholic Church. I usually encourage Christians to participate in active politics and to vote during elections and be voted for.
Democratic politics provides the opportunity for representative government, which is obviously one of the best form of human endeavours to provide good governance. And as a Catholic clergy I have been identifying and will continue to identify with governments at various levels to ensure sustainable democracy, facilitate socioeconomic and overall development of our states and country, Nigeria.
It follows that power rotation arrangement introduced by PDP at both state and national levels is indeed commendable and I strongly recommend that the founding fathers and leaders of the party should do everything and anything within their powers to sustain and improve the arrangement at all levels.
Power sharing or rotation guarantees equity, unity and peaceful coexistence among heterogeneous stakeholders across geographical and political interests in the state. It strengthens our shared political, cultural and socioeconomic interests. We must never loose the grip, which is why I decided to use this medium to add my voice to the sustainability of the arrangement.
In Delta State, it was alleged that power rotation arrangement in principle started in 2007, and that Chief James Ibori from Delta Central had to handover to Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan who served Delta South slot and later handed the mantle of leadership to Delta North, and incumbent governor, Senator Dr Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, has been and still in the saddle since 2015, for and on behalf of the good peoole of Delta North Senatorial District.
However, the power rotation deal has been challenged consistently in time past and now; due largely to the alleged imposition circumstances that led to the emergence of Gov Uduaghan for Delta South and the serious opposition against Gov Okowa of Delta North by some political actors routing for Olorogun David Edevbie in 2015.
These highly complicated political contestation and/or disagreements led to the Ijaw Nation to now question the validity of the rotation arrangement, because in time past, the governorship contest was declared open for all aspirants from the three senatorial districts. For me, the arrangement in time past was neither here nor there. It was not transparent, doable and very complicated.
As complicated as the arrangement may have been, some political leaders claimed that even though all aspirants from the three senatorial districts were declared eligible to slug it out, major musketeers in PDP had put in place certain undisclosed strategies to ensure that the best and most popular aspirant from the beneficiary senatorial district got the party flag for the governorship election.
The above assertion by some political gladiators is not acceptable and no value of political or commonsense attached to it; because the yardstick is not known to aspirants and therefore can be very deceitful and misleading politically.
In the light of the above, I believe strongly that the power rotation arrangement should be sustained but PDP and other stakeholders must of a necessity find ways and means of setting rules and guidelines, such that only the beneficiary senatorial district should field aspirants; while leaders of the three senatorial districts are to consult the incumbent governor on which aspirant delegates should vote for based on competence, experience, character, integrity and other factors.
It is absolutely wrong for the contest to be open to governorship aspirants from the three senatorial districts within PDP. This kind of arrangement cannot and will never meet conditions for power rotation in the state. The time to face reality is now!
I therefore suggest that the governor of Delta State and Delta leader of PDP, Senator Dr Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, state/senatorial party exco and leaders should meet to fine tune power rotation arrangement by setting standard rules, acceptable guidelines, as well as sanctions, so as to put to rest the bitter experiences of the past and move forward.
Among the three senatorial districts, it is clear that each district must wait for sixteen years to benefit from power rotation. And in the instant case, Delta Central is the only district that had waited for that period, from 2007 to 2023, in this dispensation.
Therefore, it is only fair based on equity and good conscience that governor Okowa’s successor in 2023 must of a necessity come from Delta Central. And it will be the turn of Delta South in 2031. This is the way to go and we must collectively place the peace and unity of this state, far and above ethnic or few individuals interests.
Let me also add that 2023 Delta Central candidate must not be imposed on us by any individual. It should be the collective agreement between the incumbent governor as the leader of the party, in consultation with past governors and stakeholders in the three senatorial districts.
I plead with the governor, past governors and leaders of PDP in Delta State, to consider my candid opinion and/or advise. They should do the needful to sustain and to give human face to power rotation in the state based on senatorial arrangement.
Finally, I urge Deltans to continue to give necessary support to our promise keeper, the platinum governor, Senator Dr Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa KSC, so as to finish strong, and he will finish strong in 2023, by the special grace of God.
Long live Delta State, Long Live Nigeria.
The Writer: Rev Fr Dr Chris Ekabo is a Catholic Priest, Chairman of Warri Diocesan Politics Commission and Episcopal Vicar for Public Relations, Politics and Government Affairs