The flagbearer of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the Saturday Isoko South Constituency I bylection, Mr. Michael Paul Emumena popularly known as MC Paul, has responded to the insinuations in some quarters that he betrayed his former party, the All Progress Congress (APC) with his dumping the party for the SDP. MC Paul is seeking to replace the late Hon. Kenneth Edafe Ogba, former Member representing Isoko South Constituency I in the Delta State House of Assembly, who died recently.
Speaking to newsman recently in Oleh, headquarters of Isoko South, MC Paul said he clearly defeated Dr. Ogaga Ifowodo in the party’s primary election held on and that the mandate freely given to him by party faithfuls in the constituency was snatched and handed-over to Ifowodo by the Deputy Senate President, Sen. Ovie Omo-Agege, who Emumena claimed was on a mission to recolonize Isoko.
“No one can boldly say it to my face that I betrayed the party. Instead, it was the party that betrayed me. I won the primary election in a landslide. Those who stole my mandate and handed it over to an unpopular candidate knew very well that I was the peoples choice.” He said.
Narrating what transpired during the controversial primaries, the activist cum politician said prior to the primary elections, the party in Irri and Emede wards were magnanimous enough to allow the flagbearer emerge from any of the Oleh wards, and that the leader of the party in the ward, Hon. Lucky Okperi thereafter called a meeting of all aspirants to his house to select a consensus candidate to save the party the rigours of primaries.
He said that at that meeting, six aspirants including Ifowodo indicated interest to contest the election, and after the entire exercise, he emerged as the concensus candidate for the position. Dissatisfied with the outcome, Ifowodo insisted that the party must go for primary election, an election he won clearly.
“The people of Irri and Emede, our brothers that we owned this Isoko South Constituency I together were magnanimous enough to say Oleh APC, bring someone for us, to complete the tenure of your brother. At the end of the day, APC Oleh went for a mock primary. In that mock primary, leaders of the party, the state chairman in particular, the LGA chairman and all the party leaders in the state mandated a leader of Isoko Nation in APC, Hon. Barr. Lucky Okperi, to oversee the process. They asked him to go to his home and bring a sellable candidate for the party. Six of us indicated interest to run. Dr. Ogaga Ifowodo was one of them, Caleb Christopher Okperi was another, Dame Alice Okpokpor was another, Mr. Umukoro Great was one of them and Comr. Julius Mallam-Obi. At the end of the day, I emerged as the consensus nominee from Oleh. The two ward chairmen, Vincent Egbogbo from Ward 1, Ojo Michael from Ward 2 including our LGA leader, Hon. Lucky Okperi, the executives of the party among other leaders raised up my hands and declared me the consensus candidate of the party and the photos were everywhere”, he said.
MC Paul noted that the consensus arrangement did not go down well with some of the candidates prompting them to petition the process to the party’s leadership, and at the end of the day, the party asked those who were dissatisfied to go for primaries.
“At the primaries, only two of us bought the form. Dr. Ogaga Ifowodo and myself. The primaries were fixed for Thursday 19th August 2021. It was a direct primary to be conducted in each of the wards. All registered members of the party were eligible to vote.
“When the umpires came from Abuja, they addressed us. It was late already and it was raining as well. We agitated for the primaries to be shifted and the committee told us that it cannot, that if shifted, APC will not be having a candidate for the election. At that point we told them that if that be the case, since you cannot shift the primaries, why don’t we have the primaries in one place for easy monitoring especially considering the fact that you are just six in number and you do not have the manpower to station at all the wards simultaneously. They said no that it was a direct primary and it must be held in each of the wards. At that point we accepted and then the election started.
“We went to Oleh Ward 1 which was Ifowodo’s ward. He got 96 and I got 56. The records are available both in paper and video. They came to Oleh Ward 2 which is my ward, I got 168 and my opponent Ifowodo got 5. At Emede a neutral ground, I got 92 and Ifowodo got 7.
“When the umpires saw the way the contest was going, because they have a premeditated agenda, they refused to go to the two Irri wards to conduct the election. My supporters had to start chasing them that day and they were running with the materials. They chased them down to Iyede and they were able to double-cross the escort van. The main vehicle (Jeep) escaped. My supporters only wanted to bring them back to Irri because party faithfuls were gathered at the venue of the primaries and they were ready to vote. There was video evidence that there were no primaries in Irri. They waited under the rain till about 7pm before the crowd dispersed.
“Now, since the primaries did not take place, we were then expecting that APC as a political party will be progressive enough to declare a final result with the results of the 3 wards where the primaries took place. Ifowodo scored barely 108 votes or so, while I was having over 300 votes from the 3 wards where the election took place. But surprisingly and unfortunately, the party announced Ifowodo having 612 votes. We were shocked and it was very disappointing. There was no election in Irri and they cannot produce a result in Irri. They did not tell us how many people voted in irri. There was no evidence of voting whatsoever in Irri. The facts are there and you can go and investigate.
“So it was the party that betrayed us and this is the handiwork of one man, the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-agege. He never wanted me to fly as the candidate of the party. He swore that he will never allow me to fly the party’s flag even if I won the primaries. I have evidence. A lot of people went to tell him that I am on ground and that I have the popularity to win the general election, yet he is determined to choose a candidate for us.
“They stole the mandate of the people. And let me say this. The DSP, Olorogun Senator Ovie Omo-agege is not from Isoko South Constituency I. He is not an Isoko man. He has no power whatsoever to choose the flagbearer for the people of Isoko South Constituency I. We have enough leaders in Isoko to decide our fate. Not an outsider. It was a direct primaries and the people ought to decide who is their candidate. This people voted for me, and this man think that he can impose an unpopular candidate that the people have refused to identify with. Omo-agege should stay clear of Isoko South. This is the reason why I left the party and I left base on the will of the people. The people told me clearly that MC Paul don’t sit down. We gave you this mandate, and if they refused to allow our will to stand, you should go to another party and we will stand by you. That was why I left.”, he said.
Adding that, “they say party is supreme and I asked them, how can party be supreme in the absence of the will of the people? It is the will of the people that makes for the supremacy of the party. It is the will of the majority. In democracy, majority must be allowed to have their way and the minority their say. One man’s will cannot override the will of Isoko South constituency I people. It is an error and the people are ready to correct it on Saturday.
While expressing confidence that he will emerge winner of the election come Saturday, the 33years old politician said the youths have woken up to the challenge of taking over the mantle of leadership from the older generation. He said he is a man of tomorrow and will not want to squander an opportunity to build his future.
“I am here to cause a positive disruption in the system. You cannot be given a mandate to represent the people and you immediately become a leader. A messenger cannot be bigger than those who sent him. The people are the real leaders. I am in touch with the people and I know what they need. I will speak for them and speak their minds. Successive representatives have only represented themselves and a cabal, completely separating the people from the process. If they elect me, I will return power back to the people. That is where it rightly belongs.
“I will propose peoples-oriented laws that will change the society positively. I will bring development to the people. The youths will be the focal point of my administration. I will challenge and correct the total relegation of the youths in the scheme of things. The youths will no longer be used only during the elections and dumped thereafter. The youths will occupy their place of pride. A lot can be achieved during this short period. I will prove naysayers wrong. Through me, it will be clear that truly, the youths can lead”, he concluded.