The Urhobo people of Delta central senatorial district is in a crossroad. The trouble is not necessarily that of any crisis with whosoever but an internal crisis that is tearing the unity of the Urhobo people into shreds. While 2019 is still a year away, the battle for who flies the PDP flag for the senatorial election is getting out of hand. This is even as the incumbent senator representing the area in the national assembly, Obaisi Ovie Omo-Agege, of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is being seen by the PDP as an inconsequential figure who could be rooted out of the senate in the 2019 general elections.
To the PDP members in Delta, there is an unwritten assumption that anyone who flies the party’s flag for whatever election may not need vigorous campaigns as receiving the party’s flag may as well mean a mock swearing into the office under contention. This belief is sweeping across the state as it may be evident in the January 6, 2018 local government elections in the state. This has been the case all the years beginning from 1999 when the party won the governorship election bringing former Governor James Ibori to limelight.
From 1999 till date, the PDP has held Delta state in the jugular, unwilling to let the state go and give way to another party to take over the realm of power and allow the people of the state feel the impact of another party. This was evident when Great Ovedje Ogboru of the defunct Democratic People’s Party (DPP) battled Emmanuel Uduaghan of the PDP and was believed by many to have won the 2011 election but was allegedly overpowered by the big goons of the PDP. While other parties, especially the party at the national level, the APC, has men on ground, the PDP members are brandishing the strength of number in the state.
Now, the people of Delta central are enmeshed in crisis of who will represent the PDP in the 2019 senatorial election. Two big political fishes are rearing their heads to slog it out with Ovie Omo-Agege of the APC for the senate. Ighoyota Amori, former senator who was booted out by the appeal court in Benin to give way to Omo-Agege of the APC and Evelyn Oboro, member representing Uvwie, Sapele and Okpe federal constituency at the House of Representatives are having running battle over who flies the PDP flag for the senate.
For over two terms, Amori has won the PDP ticket but could not clinch the coveted senatorial position, losing it to the opposition party in the area. In the last 2015 election, Amori won the election under the PDP and was eventually sworn in as senator representing Delta central in the national assembly. But in less than 8 months, the Appeal court sitting in Benin, Edo state, threw him out of the senate, declaring Omo-Agege, the Labour Party candidate who later defected to the APC as the authentic winner of the election. The judgment was a big blow to both the PDP family and Amori who was savouring in the euphoria of being a member of the national assembly and representing his ethnic nationality.
In the funfare that greeted Amori’s senatorial experience, photographs emerged from the United States of America showing Amori having fun with women of easy virtue and him standing in the midst of them. The photographs went viral and the Urhobo nation was set ablaze because the action of Amori was judged by many as not in consonance with his calling as a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Critics of the senator capitalised on the action and fired shots at Amori. Right thinking members of the Urhobo nation and other Nigerians felt slighted by the action of Amori. That action held the cyber space ransom for a period of time. This was the biggest undoing of Amori in his few months in the senate. However, a few folks were optimistic that he would have delivered the dividends of democracy to the people of the area if he had continued in the senate.
Born on August 8, 1952 in Mosogar, Ethiope west local government area of the state, Amori has been a part of Delta state government since its creation and has aided in the weaving of the politics of the state. He had been commissioner for education (1999-2003) and commissioner in the ministry of water resources & development (2006-2007). He has also been Delta state deputy chairman of PDP (2008-2010) and Delta state coordinator of Yar’adua/Goodluck Presidential Campaign (2007). He was also the senior political adviser to former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan.
He attended Evbonogor Primary School in Mosogar. In 1967, he joined the Academy Grammar School in Sapele after spending three years waiting for the construction of the bridge that connected Sapele with Mosogar as Sapele was not accessible then. He graduated from the University of Benin with Geology in 1979 and had M.Sc in Geophysics from the University of Ibadan two years later.
But in the wake of the campaign for ‘not to young to rule,’ many Urhobo young people have seen Amori to have outlived his usefulness in the senate. Many are of the view that Amori had wasted several PDP tickets given to him by the people of Delta central, hence it will be a colossal mistake to give him the same ticket again for 2019 senatorial election. They argue that Amori is no longer of electoral value to the area having been in government for years. They are of the view that Amori should rather be a statesman and a godfather to the growing generation and offer his fatherly advice to the young and upcoming politicians in the area.
But another school of thought is of the view that Amori still has much to offer to the people of Urhobo. They argue that having been in government for so many years and with his wealth of experience and love for the Urhobos, he is in a better position to champion the cause of the Urhobos in the national assembly. His followers believe that Amori is Urhobo and Urhobo is Amori. This was buttressed by an aide to a senator in the national assembly who said that most senators in the national assembly would not accept greetings in their mother tongue but only Amori would do so when he was in the senate. He would respond immediately he discovers that the individual is from his ethnic nationality.
However, Evelyn Oboro, born on December 24, 1972 and representing Okpe, Uvwie and Sapele at the federal House of Representatives is greatly pursuing to also represent the senatorial district in the national assembly. A good number of the Urhobo people are powerfully behind Oboro for the fact that she is young and vibrant. Facts available to Emeraldng.com show that between 1999 and 2002, Oboro was a councilor, between 2004 and 2007, she was council chairman, she was a member of Universal Basic Education Board between 2008 and 2009 and member of Delta state waste management board in 2010.
Educationally, Oboro started her education at Alegbo Secondary School where she graduated in 1988, had B.Sc Education from Delta State University in 1997, got MPA in Public Administration in 2002 and had her LLB in Law from Delta State University, Abraka in 2009. As the 2019 senatorial election is gearing up, a large number of Urhobo people are queuing behind her for the senate. Those trusting her for the senate are of the opinion that she has served well in the House of Representatives. According to them, having done excellently well in the Reps, she is fit to go for the senate and will do better for the people.
Majority of the Urhobo people are supporting her aspiration. To them, Amori has got the PDP ticket for over three times, hence he is no more relevant for the senate as giving him the senate will amount to a waste of PDP ticket. They believe if given the ticket he may lose it as he did in the previous years. Another school of thought is also of the opinion that a woman has not represented Delta in the senate, hence the aspiration of Oboro is a welcome development in that direction.
Her supporters listed various projects she has executed in the area believing that if she is sent to the upper chamber, she would do better than what she has done in the lower house. Although a group has hinged on her not being with a husband as a drawback saying a woman without a husband cannot be given ticket to run for the senate.
Both Amori and Oboro have toured almost every community and power brokers in the area. There is heavy competition in the visitations. Both have got endorsements from the big fishes in Urhobo land. Chief Ibori has endorsed her for the senate. Amori has also been endorsed by the former governor of the state. Beside Ibori, other political bigwigs in the area have endorsed both for the senate. The endorsement of both by the politicians in the area has made mess of the entire system.
Supporters of the two camps are ascribing victory to each other even when primary elections are still months away. Some are of the belief that she has more experience than Amori while another group believes that Amori, having been in the senate and with his experience as a senior politician will do better if given the mandate. As it is now, the coast is yet unclear who will finally clinch the ticket. This is because both have the support of the power brokers in the area and experience in the business of politics.