By Annabel Ogheneganre
The crowd was massive. Effurun was practically shut down. It was like a Presidential rally. The sea of heads that graced the occasion was unprecedented. They came from all parts of Delta State. They were ordinary voters hungry for change. They came to identify with their hero and man of the moment. And they came in their thousands, singing and dancing to beautiful music, either improvised or well written and delivered to add exhilarating colour to the occasion. From Anioma area in Delta North, Oshimilli, Ika and Ndokwa, they came with lots of excitements expectations; from the Isoko axis they flocked to the venue chanting solidarity songs; thousands came from the Ijaw axis and Itsekiri nation, all hungry for one thing and that is to birthe the change in Delta State.
Every nook and cranny of Urhobo land was well represented with lots of fans and supporters waving the brooms and raising banners of hope to announce their preparedness to take over Delta State. The event was the formal declaration of the Obarisi of Urhoboland, the Deputy President of the Nigerian Senate, His Excellency, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege to run for Governor of Delta State in the 2023 general elections. And the message was crisp, catchy, inspiring, convincing and clear: Delta is ripe for change and APC has come to take over the reign of governance of the state.
Ovie Omo-Agege did not mince words. He made it clear to all and sundry that the incumbent Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s time was up and by 2023 he shall be handing over to Senator Ovie Omo-Agege. Omo-Agege apologized to the mammoth crowd of supporters who had arrived at the Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effurun, football field as early as 7 am, for the delay in starting the programme having visited the palace of the Ovie of Uvwie earlier in the day. He expressed joy that despite coming so early the supporters remained patient which he said was an indication that APC was ready to chase away PDP from the state. He observed that the mammoth crowd that attended the declaration is proof that Delta State is not a PDP state as held in some quarters.
Omo-Agege said he would transform Delta State in less than four years, saying that even as a Senator he had done lots of projects in his constituency and that if elected governor he would ensure that the three Senatorial districts are developed. “I brought a lot of development to Delta central Senatorial district, I also want to replicate them in Delta North and South districts. Very soon you’re going to hear that a new federal University of Agriculture has taken off in Delta North. Delta North contributed a lot to the state but Okowa has marginalized them. If you go to Burutu, Patani, Bomadi and other places in Delta South there is also nothing there to show in Delta. So, Okowa’s government has underdeveloped the state”, he declared.
He said he used his influence as DSP to bring a federal polytechnic, a university, gave transformers to needy communities, and connected many communities to electricity, amongst others. He promised to do more when elected governor. He lamented the plight of many young graduates in the state who he said had turned into tricycle (Keke) riders out of frustration of unemployment and several pensioners who have been pauperized or died prematurely. According to him, these narratives were being recorded in Delta State due to misplaced priorities by the incumbent government “at a time when the governor is spending N2bn every month on non-issues whereas our youths have no job and our pensioners are dying of frustration. Today, I offer myself as a candidate for the office of governor to right the wrongs in Delta State.” The declarations elicited thunderous ovation from the crowd of enthusiastic supporters from across the state.
He added that he intended to build a new Delta on the four pillars of Employment and Empowerment, Development, Good Governance and Enduring Security (EDGE). “Having reflected and prayed fervently for God’s guidance on our state, I am, like many of our people, convinced that for our greater good and the sake of future generations, it is indefensible to abide in comfort zones, while the PDP unrepentantly accelerates the destruction of our state. I am also convinced that I can mobilize our great minds from all walks of life to add great value to the governance of the state we love so much. We can stop the continuing slide towards existential disaster.
“I am compelled by my passion to serve our people well by standing for what is right to make our state what it ought to and can be. As governor, I will humbly lead our common effort to rescue and rebuild Delta State by example – putting the people first and their well-being above petty politics and personal interest,” Omo-Agege said.
He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his support in ensuring that the dividends of democracy gets to the people of Delta Central and other senatorial districts in the state, with the establishment of a new Federal Polytechnic, a Defence Space School, a campus of the Nigeria Law School and soon, Federal University of Agriculture and Technology, all in Delta State.
Governors of Kogi and Imo states, Alhaji Yahaya Bello and Hope Uzodinma, were represented by their deputies at the event. Also present were members of the APC National Working Committee, including Victor Giadom, vice chairman, South-south; youth leader, Bayo Israel and the national publicity secretary, as well as Chairman, Delta APC, Elder Omeni Sobotie, former APC governorship candidate in Edo State, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
Other political heavyweights are founding Delta APC leader, Olorogun O’tega Emerhor; the senator representing Delta North, Peter Nwaboshi; member representing Udu, Ughelli North and South Federal Constituency, Francis Waive; APC stalwarts, Chief Frank Kokori, Chief Lucky Esigie, Chief Ayirimi Emami, Michael Johnny and Doris Umar, and many others.
The declaration has sent a strong warning to the PDP family in Delta State that 2023 will not be business as usual. APC is knocking on the door of Denis Osadebey house so vigorously and what is in the eye of Ovie Omo-Agege indicates that these people will not take no for an answer. If PDP refuses to put their house in order, the door will be brought down and APC will take over. However, APC too still has lots of work to do. The absence of Festus Keyamo, Victor Ochei, Cairo Ojuogbo and a few others is an indication that APC is not one family yet. The crowd is an indication that APC is prepared but serious work still needs to be done. Governor Okowa is taking the PDP for a ride, testing the boiling waters with impunity and his fingers may get burnt. 2023 shall be interesting and Omo-Agege appears to be the candidate to beat.
Annabel Ogheneganre writes from Garki, Abuja. (SMS only or email@example.com)