BY SUNNY AREH
In Delta State, the regular refrain among the elites of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) that have called the shots in the state since the birth of the fourth republic is that Delta is PDP and PDP is Delta. It is a cliché they have used to maintain the party’s stranglehold in the state. The seeming love affair is not the product of a mutually beneficial relationship. It is not a reflection of PDP’s faith in the power of the electoral process. Rather, one party has denied the people the ability to determine who will run the state using all known unorthodox means of intimidation, brigandry, thuggery, etc.
The other, the electorates, just lie hopelessly prostrate.
For the purveyors of the cliché, they hold firmly to the fact that the leaders of the PDP have held the state by the jugular and would always “win” any and every election in the state. And they have. All the election cycles have always gone the way of the PDP. All the five election cycles since 1999.
But they failed to reckon that the people cannot be fooled all the time. The renaissance came with the February 25 Presidential and National Assembly polls. On this day, Deltans felt they have had enough and wholeheartedly told the PDP that their time was up. Aided by the Obidient movement, they tossed PDP aside in a poll where Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s tale of having him inside Aso Rock as a spare tyre did not resonate with the people. The people knew the path to the desired change in their fortune does not lie with a vice president who can only be as busy as the President wants him to be in far-flung Abuja. The solution, they rightly reasoned, lies with draining the swamp that had drowned all sense of development and responsibility in leadership through PDP’s unbroken 24 years of running the state.
February 25 was a threshold in the history of Delta State. Despite having Okowa on the ballot as PDP’s presidential running mate, Deltans went for Labour Party’s Peter Obi.
The stunning result woke up the leviathan in the PDP and its enormous rigging machinery was promptly revved into top gear. The additional week added to the two-week interval between the presidential and National Assembly elections with the poll to elect leaders in the states provided the PDP in Delta State with the time to muster its array of resources to obviate the gains of the application of the Bi-Modal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) in the federal election. What happened subsequently on March 18, 2023 was an electoral heist of unprecedented proportions. Vote buying, voter suppression, violence and manipulation of election results characterized the exercise. Using state resources, a compromised state INEC and security operatives, PDP overnight “won” from it’s overwhelming rejection by the people barely three weeks earlier.
Having witnessed how the heist was executed, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege who is primed to give Deltans a breath of fresh air and the leadership of the state APC and convinced that it is incumbent on them to aid the people realize their quest for change decided to contest INEC’s declaration of Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori as winner of the gubernatorial contest.
For a party that snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, albeit dubiously, PDP ought to be celebrating that it won the big one. Rather, the party is now enmeshed in a fracticidal war in a tragic search for answers on how it lost the presidential election. In effect, the party has learnt no lessons and will continue on its old disgraceful path of imagining that everything and everyone revolve around them. For the next four years if the fraudulent result is not reversed, the welfare of the people will not matter to the PDP. It will seek to evolve into a closeted and narrow group of buccaneers sipping the life out of the depleting resources for developing the state.
The battle the APC in Delta State is engaged in is a critical one that will determine the medium and long term developmental trajectory of the state. Beyond party affiliation and loyalty, Deltans and all peoples that love the state and its amazing people should sign up to fight alongside the APC to bring back hope and faith in the capacity of the state to launch itself into a new beginning.
The danger in not checking the brazen attack on the sovereignty of the people and their right to choose their leaders is an inevitable mortal loss of faith in the electoral system. As Peggy Noonan noted, “our political leaders will know our priorities only if we tell them, again and again, and if those priorities begin to show up in the polls.”
If after telling the politicians what they want repeatedly through voting and nothing happens, the people may stop participating in the electoral process outright. At that point, democratic governance may cease. The implications will be all too tragic to imagine.
.Sunny Areh is Chief Press Secretary to the Deputy President of the Senate and Delta APC Governorship Candidate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege.