By Ajerese Okpo
The 2023 general elections are around the corner and activities woven around them are at fever pitch. The candidates at different levels of political engagements are campaigning and making claims and counter-claims. The scene is rowdy and crowded and at times it is difficult to listen, hear and discern what is really going on. But as the din continues amidst the clashes of interest and opinions, the people who constitute the electorate and for whom politics and governance should be about occasionally pause to evaluate the candidates and what they are promising to offer as well as take a look at their antecedents regarding what they did with past opportunities. Nigeria’s democracy is evolving and the people are increasingly becoming aware that their fate and the key to a stable, just, and prosperous society are in their hands, especially in their votes and ability to discern and make the right decision. The jury is out there in the form of opinions and informal polls regarding who and who the people have affirmed as the election approaches. The people have had to evaluate these candidates and also listened to their campaigns and hear them talk about their manifestos and vision.
The foregoing can aptly be said about the situation of the ongoing politicking in Delta State as it concerns the Governorship election. As things stand, there are four major contenders for the office of the Governor of Delta State namely; Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori, the incumbent Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly and Governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Kenneth Gbagi of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Senator Ovie Omo-Agege of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Chief Great Ogboru of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). These four men have so far been going round the State and telling the people what their vision is for Delta State. Any interested observer and follower of events in Delta State would easily decipher that the majority of the people of Delta State have thrown their weight behind the candidacy of Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori of the PDP. The people have come to see the other candidates as hustlers who are desperately in pursuit of raw power without creed or vision or the ennobling tendencies that will facilitate the development of Delta State.
A recent tour of the State by a select group of fact finders who set out to gauge the mood of Deltans and seek their opinion on the choice of Governor in the next election revealed that the people are expectant and are awaiting the moment for them to affirm their choice of Sheriff Oborevwori as the Governor of Delta State through the ballot. The various people that were spoken to did affirm “Na Sheriff we want as our Governor”. The expression “Na Sheriff” has become a catchphrase which almost every Deltan utters to reflect their preference for his candidacy. Interestingly, a new movement emerged around this idea of Sheriff Oborevwori becoming Governor and the movement is the Sheriffication Movement. It has been gathering momentum across Delta State and those who feel attracted to it are said to be Sheriffied. These are really exciting times for the people of Delta State who have come to see Oborevwori as the ideal embodiment of their hopes and aspirations.
It is just reasonable to explore or explain the reasons why the people of Delta State have come to adopt the idea of Oborevwori becoming the Governor of Delta State as their priority. First among these reasons is that Oborevwori rose and evolved from among the people. Those who dislike him describe him as belonging to the streets. But they forget that the streets are where the people belong and the people identify with Oborevwori as their own. He has made it clear that he is in politics to make life better for the people. He has championed the people’s cause for close to thirty years now and they are convinced that he is their advocate for a better life. Oborevwori has become a grassroots politician who understands the direction of the wind as it affects the people.
His experience in politics which spans the executive and legislative arms of Government also puts him in good stead. He has been consistent and he is among the most enduring names in the politics of Delta State. In both arms, Oborevwori has been able to build a broad base consensus across Delta State. He is seen as a unifying factor, a bridge builder, and mobilizer. His acceptability is reflected in his emergence twice as Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly. He has also served as the longest Speaker ever in the history of Delta State. He enjoys the privilege of being the only Deltan to be twice elected as Speaker and also as the longest-serving. These are not accidental.
Oborevwori’s manifesto which is anchored on the widely accepted concept of MORE puts him shoulder and head taller than the other candidates. Through the manifesto, it appears that he alone took time to think about the development problems of Delta State, her aspirations and strategies to evolving a State that will not be left behind in the race to the New World Order. Oborevwori’s MORE agenda is about Meaningful development, Opportunities for all, Reliable reforms and Enhanced peace and security. The four angles to the manifesto cover every vista of human development such as education, healthcare, security, energy, transportation, agriculture, industrialization, ICT, women and youth development, etc. The manifesto speaks to issues that can leapfrog Delta State in the march to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals timeline.