Ogboru has consistently sought to free his people from the stranglehold of tiny but desperate political elite in the state despite daunting odds.
It was exciting watching The Wedding Party 2, an interesting Nigerian blockbuster comedy, on my return flight to London after witnessing another remarkable political event in Nigeria which culminated in the emergence of Chief Great Ogboru as the official flagbearer of the All Progressives Congress, APC in Delta State. The film is hilarious and it offered me the needed escape or rather an opportunity to reflect again on the governorship primary which took place a few days earlier. The enigmatic politician dramatically won the keenly contested primary in a manner that clearly demonstrated his doggedness, dexterity and political sagacity.
What a fantastic movie and what a way to relieve the debilitating stress that followed the primary election. What an exhilarating political experience too and how very instructive a movie can be especially a movie whose messages of love, ethnic and tribal rivalries, persistence and intrigues effectively relate to the political reality in Delta? On the part of the losers, Prof. Pat Utomi, Rt. Hon.Victor O’Chei and Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, the primary turned out to be a classical comedy of errors.
It is even more intriguing when one considers the melodramatic intransigence of a megalomaniac contestant, the vainglorious vituperations of another and the seeming self-acclaimed righteousness and the appalling naivety of a supposed cerebral but an obviously arrogant neophyte who lost in the primary. They all turned out to be bad losers except for one who capitulated and resolved to support the eventual winner.
Chief Ogboru’s abiding love for the ordinary Deltans shone through the primaries and it was equally matched by the patience, incredible and ceaseless support he enjoyed from them. His supporters defied the odds and frustrated the evil plots of the elite cabal that pulled all the stops to truncate Ogboru’s ambition. For almost 24 hours, members of the APC weathered the storm and managed various hiccups to ensure a successful primary that eventually produced Ogboru as the party’s candidate for the 2019 governorship election.
The relevance of the movie, The Wedding Party 2, to the political drama in Delta, lies in its theme of love, forthrightness and a relentless pursuit of a noble ambition that can make people of different socio, cultural, ethnic and racial backgrounds embrace each other in a very remarkable way. Ogboru has consistently sought to free his people from the stranglehold of tiny but desperate political elite in the state despite daunting odds. His doggedness paid off and it led to his success at the primary election.
In the movie, Nonso, an Igbo man from Nigeria falls in love with Deirdre, a white British lady. Despite the initial vigorous refusal of both parents to approve of the marriage, the two lovebirds eventually got married in a very dramatic manner putting to rest the initial skepticism, bigotry and class conflicts from all parties related to the two lovers. At last, common sense prevailed and the two families came together to support the union.
The story of Ogboru’s ambition to govern Delta State has become legendary. By 2019, it will be the sixth time that he will be contesting the gubernatorial election in the state. And each time he contested, he had been expected to win. However, the elections usually ended up in very controversial manner. He has had to embark on various hard-fought legal battles to claim victories but to no avail.
His emergence as the APC’s candidate followed a long tortuous journey from the Labour Party having contested the last governorship election on the platform of the party. Soon after the elections, the party split up and a faction labeled The Light of Labour emerged. Ogboru was the leader of the group which eventually moved to APC to become the Light of APC.
In the 2015 general elections, the Labour Party produced a Senator and a member of the House of Assembly. This followed his earlier successes in the 2011 elections in which his party produced a senator, a member of the Federal House of Representatives and a number of members of the State House of Assembly.
Light of Labour’s decision to merge with the APC was informed by the need to form a broader alliance with other opposition elements in the state. The idea was to have a united front to confront the behemoth that the PDP had become. The plan was for all parties to merge and to share the structures equitably. But that was not to be and as a result, a fierce and persistent battle to control the soul of the party erupted.
First, the contest was first a form of battle for supremacy within the party. But subsequently and in a rather sad turn of events, the internal struggles within the party were woven around the issue of the phony Anioma Agenda. The idea, that is the Anioma Agenda, was to keep, to the detriment of other ethnic groups in the state, the Anioma axis in political ascendancy at least for two terms.
However, the much touted Anioma Agenda proved to be a kind of a smokescreen designed to cover the real intentions of the agitators. To discernible observers, Anioma Agenda was an obvious design to keep and nurture the Ibori political dynasty in the state. This bogus theme played out throughout the primaries as three Delta North candidates challenged Ogboru, an Uhrobo from Delta Central, for the party’s ticket.
On the day of the primary, there were serious arguments initially about which delegates list to use for the primary. There was an authentic list which the party sanctioned and of course, there was the other delegates list which the other side of the divide was brandishing as the right delegates list. However, General Onoja, the chairman of the panel, insisted on the use of the official list which he brought from the party’s secretariat in Abuja.
Eventually, all parties except Pat Utomi, agreed to test their popularity on the field by taking part in the primary after accreditation. But instead of allowing the process to run smoothly, the other candidates especially O’chei employed delaying tactics to frustrate the exercise. The primary eventually held as voting started late in the night till dawn. Ogboru emerged the winner with about 95% of the total votes cast.
But what makes Ogboru tick? Or rather, what keeps Ogboru going? How has he managed to remain the main issue in Delta politics and, in all elections, the candidate to beat? Answers to these questions cannot be far-fetched. Among all the contestants, past and present, Ogboru has remained the most consistent and he remains untainted. To many political observers, Ogboru is a national hero rather than a treacherous villain that his opponents want the world to believe.
Although, there are many people who are qualified to serve as governor of the state, the truth is Ogboru stands a shoulder above the rest. He remains the only opposition leader that can effectively slay the dragon of political oppression in Delta State. To many, he remains a candidate of hope and also a candidate of anger.
The reality in Delta today is the fact that the voters have new expectations that any discerning politician has to recognize. And this is where Ogboru matters. Ogboru symbolizes the dream of an average Deltan. Being self-made, incorruptible and as an astute businessman and leader, he is believed to have the capability to lead Delta on a progressive path. He is able to redefine the whole principles around elections and governance in order to ensure effective and responsive leadership.
Indeed, Ogboru matters because Delta matters. And his message of a new Delta will surely resonate with Deltans. He has a clear agenda which is to reinvent Delta State.
Doyin Iyiola writes from London