By Omos Oyinbode, Asaba
As the general elections begin on Saturday, March 28, there are widespread indications that the oil rich Delta State is perfectly in the grips of President Goodluck Jonathan. Although there are some very infinitesimal dissenting voices, especially from the Urhobo minorities, the campaigners for President Goodluck Jonathan are in their hundreds of thousands in the state. Groups and individuals are moving round the state to solicit support for the emergence of President Goodluck Jonathan in the big contest. This contest since the emergence of democracy is the most critical and intriguing of all the campaigns since 1999.
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan
But one very fact in Delta is that the state is predominantly a PDP state and the party has been winning the elections since 1999. In 1999 when Obasanjo contested, the PDP won with a landslide victory, beating other parties to the second fiddle. In 2003, when he also contested, the party also won. Also, in 2007 and 2011, the party has never failed as far as Presidential election is concerned. In the present election which involves President Jonathan and the APC’s General Muhammadu Buhari, the state is perfectly prepared to deliver Jonathan on March 28.
Facts emanating from various are indicative that Delta is fully prepared to ensure the victory of Jonathan at the polls. From the Delta North to the South and around all the local councils, the footprint and structure of the leading party are very much on ground. Though the contest is between Jonathan and Buhari, in Delta, it may not be wrong to conclude that it is a one horse race following the multitude of persons who are calling for support for the President. In all the local governments and villages, there are representatives of the president in them.
So many political pressure groups are working relentlessly, printing posters, billboards, organizing rallies and chanting solidarity songs for the President. In all the council areas, besides Emerhor and the APC campaign council, no individual Deltan is attached to the Buhari propaganda in Delta. The song of change is only the gospel of Emerhor and his team but for the average Deltan, it is the transformation programme of Jonathan and the “Prosperity for all Deltans” agenda of Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, the state PDP Governorship candidate. The presence of Jonathan is felt everywhere in the state due to his foot soldiers on ground.
Other political parties in the state that have candidates for the State House of Assembly, House of Representatives and Senate are all campaigning for President Jonathan. The Labour Party whose Governorship candidate is Great Ogboru and all his campaign council, including his faction of the Urhobo Progress Union, led by Joe Omene, are all in support of Jonathan. This is even the home of the Urhobos who seem to be in the opposition. The Accord Party whose Delta North senatorial candidate is former Speaker of the House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Victor Ochei, is powerfully campaigning for the President. Ochei had, on several fora made it clear that he is campaigning for Mr. President. All other political parties, besides the All Progressive Congress (APC), are behind the emergence of President Jonathan.
Goodluck Support Group, Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN) and the Presidential Campaign Organisation are busy combing every nook and cranny of Delta for the President. Coordinator of TAN in Delta, Prince Ned Nwoko, had said TAN had prepared the ground for the election in the state. Nwoko hinged his support on the good deed of the President. He said besides the education sector and the roads, agriculture and railways, Goodluck Jonathan is focused. He has promised that he will do more particularly in the agricultural sector as well as in education, power and security. So, he will continue to serve Nigerians and he will do a lot better than he has done so far.
According to Nwoko, Jonathan has done so much for Nigeria. He said “look at the power sector, look at the roads. The second Niger Bridge is already in progress, most of the federal roads are wearing new faces, agriculture is being revamped, education is receiving its needed attention. In the South East, he has just commissioned a railway line running through Enugu to Port Harcourt. He has all Nigerians in mind. He has good plans for every Nigerian and to actualize all the good plans he has, is to go back for the next four years.
“If you vote for Buhari on the other hand, you are taking us to 14 years back. APC will start from the scratch. Nigeria is in a hurry to move forward. We cannot afford to go back. It will take them more years to be where we are today. We all pray to be old and wiser but Buhari is an old man already. What does he have then to offer Nigerians? For now, we don’t need expired ideas. We need new, brilliant and fresh ideas from the younger generation to move Nigeria forward. Jonathan is the man Nigeria needs now and not Buhari. A vote for him for the next four years will bring more transformation programmes for Nigeria”.
Youth groups in all the council areas are very much on ground for the President. At the presidential rally in Delta, not less than 600 groups with their placards received the President at the state capital. The crowd was large and there was powerful testimony to that effect from the President and his campaign team from Abuja.
An activist, Smart Asekutu, President of Niger Ijaw Peace Movement and a top brass of the PDP in Delta, said Delta will support Jonathan. He said Jonathan has performed creditably well and as such he needed the support of all Nigerians to complete his transformation programme. According to him, there was initial pessimism over the possibility of him performing, considering where he is coming from, but today he has beat expectations in areas of infrastructure, roads and even in the economy, he has done wonderfully well.
He also said in the Niger Delta region, the issue of insecurity and militancy has given way because Jonathan initiated the process that guaranteed peace and security in the region. He added that oil companies are operating unhindered and production has increased, and based on this, Asekutu said “if somebody is performing, he should be giving opportunity to continue and consolidate on what he has done for Nigerians”.
Stella Omu, an Isoko and former Senator representing Delta South in the National Assembly, said Isoko people of Delta South would give Jonathan 100 percent vote on March 28. She urged all Isoko people to work hard and return Jonathan to power. At the rally in Oleh, headquarters of Isoko South Council area, Omu assured Okowa that Isoko people would give him and Mr. President their unflinching support to actualize the transformation and prosperity agenda in Delta State.
Governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Udaughan, is also combing the state, soliciting support for the president. Uduaghan, who lost the senate race to the incumbent James Manager and also failed to deliver his candidate at the governorship primaries, has dropped all those behind and is vigorously campaigning for the President in the state. He has continuously embarked on town hall meetings to shore up support for Jonathan and Okowa. In all major government functions, he has continuously called on Deltans to vote for Jonathan. In a recent meeting, he said “I’m here to convince you to vote massively for Jonathan and other PDP candidates and I hope I will succeed”.
Barr. Eterhisan Oputu, a member of the campaign council in Udu Local Government Area, said the council is not relenting in its efforts to win hearts for Jonathan. He said “the aim of our work is to sell our Presidential candidate for his re-election. We are working to ensure that Mr. President wins with a landslide victory in the election. We have done a lot of work outside to sensitize our people. We’ve done work which exceeded what we did in the previous elections. We have overtaken the opposition parties, we have gone round the local government and our hope is bright.”
In Urhobo of Delta Central with the major opposition party, the APC, youth groups are working for the President. An Urhobo youth group under the aegis of Urhobo Youth Leaders Association, recently converged in Petroleum Training Institute, Effurun, Warri and endorsed Jonathan for the election. Steve Oru, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, who chaired the event, appreciated the youths for the rare support to Jonathan. President of the group, Francis Arhiyor, said they agreed to support Jonathan because the PDP has delivered dividends of democracy to the people. He said “through the transformation programme of Jonathan, he has touched lives of Deltans. The price of petrol has been reduced and he has turned the economy to one of the greatest in the world”.
Prof. Godini Darah, lead speaker at the event, said the event was organized basically to galvanize support for PDP and Jonathan for a second term. He said the senatorial district with over one million registered voters is the epicenter of political activities in Delta State. Darah, a don at the Delta State University, Abraka, added that “no government can perform well in Delta State without the support of the Urhobo people”, adding that “President Jonathan deserves to be re-elected because he has excellent records of performance. He is the first minority politician from the Niger Delta to govern Nigeria. He has achieved more than any other regime in Nigeria since Nigeria’s independence”.
Darah, who was a member of the 2014 National Conference, noted that “in the area of roads and highways, over 25,000 km has been constructed or repaired, including the Effurun-Patani section of the East-West Highway. The Lagos-Calabar railway to be constructed will pass through Urhobo communities of Oghara, Sapele, Effurun, Okuokoko, Agbarho, Ughelli, Evwreni, and Ughwerun. The Second Niger Bridge that is in progress, Delta is a beneficiary of the project. Agriculture has yielded abundance, with 15 million farmers engaged; food import reduced by 50%, and rice revolution is in progress.
“The Nigerian economy has grown steadily; it is the largest in Africa and the 26th in the world. President Jonathan and the PDP administration are trusted by international investors and world leaders. This is why many foreign investors are coming to Nigeria. The Jonathan administration has launched an industrial revolution programme and the implementation would benefit the Urhobo area. It is necessary that the Urhobos vote for Jonathan to finish the unfinished project”.
Besides the home groups, Urhobo groups in the Diaspora have endorsed President Jonathan for the election. Two groups, Urhobo Youth Awareness and Concerned Urhobo in North America, have thrown their weight behind the candidature of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), President Goodluck Jonathan. They also endorsed the governorship ambition of Ifeanyi Okowa and his deputy, Kingsley Otuaro, in Delta State.
The groups’ National Coordinator, Kenneth Uvwo, who resides in Toronto, Canada, said the groups decided to throw their weight behind the PDP after x-raying the candidates of all political parties and their antecedents. According to the groups, “Jonathan and Okowa are dependable politicians that will certainly deliver their campaign promises if voted into office as President and Governor. So we enjoin all Urhobo sons and daughters to vote them massively.
In Delta State, the President has opened vista of opportunities for the people of the state. The Maritime University in Okorenkoko, Warri South, is one big establishment of the Jonathan administration in Delta. The university is for high powered man power development in the maritime sector in the country. Also, the Export Processing Zone at Ogidigben, still in Delta, is another giant project established by the Jonathan administration in Delta. Similarly, the $16bn dollar Gas City is another giant stride that when it becomes fully functional, it will take Delta youths off the streets; hence President Jonathan is needed for second term because he has touched lives and he has put modalities in place to do more for Nigerians.