Delta Re-Run Election: Omo-Agege, Edijala Show Interest To Contest
Delta state is preparing for its re-run election following the nullification of the April 14, 2007 governorship election by an order of the Court of Appeal, which ended the unexciting and conservative governance of unpopular Emmanuel Uduaghan. The two key candidates in the April, 2007 governorship election in Delta state, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru of Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) are the major contenders in the forthcoming re-run election in the state.
Even as the polity in the state remained heated with supporters of ousted and erstwhile governor Uduaghan and his foremost contender in the annulled election, fish magnate Ogboru, trying to outsmart one another ahead of the re-run and to heighten his recognition, Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru had reportedly met with President Goodluck
Jonathan in Aso Villa, Abuja, a presidency source has confirmed. The source said, 'It is Chief Ogboru that sought to meet with Mr. President, they did not discuss much, he wanted to meet Mr. President as the leader of the country and greet him. It was a very quiet meeting'.
But the ugly side of the political game is about to rear its head as too many cooks (aspirants) may spoil the soup (re-run election), hence some governorship aspirants, known to have either chickened out of the race in 2007 or watched the blazing trail from hiding have now indicated interest to contest in the re-run election.
Ovie Omo-Agege (ACN)- Chief Ovie Omo-Agege, Delta State gubernatorial aspirant under the Action Congress of Nigeria, recently declared that he would contest in the upcoming gubernatorial fresh election ordered by the appeal court in the state.
Addressing members of the Omo-Agege Political Movement in Orogun, he told his supporters to shun the rumour making the rounds that he is not interested in the election. 'There is a supreme court decision to that effect in Labour Party versus INEC. It is well established in that case and in this provision that only political parties have the right to contest election. There is no room for independent candidacy in Nigeria under our electoral law.
'Now having established that, the next prong is that only the political parties that participated in the 2007 gubernatorial election that have the right to present candidates again for the 2010 re-run.
'Then moving from that, only the original candidates who participated in 2007 election that can represent themselves for the 2010 re-run, unless, one of them were to die or voluntarily withdraw from the race in which case, the political parties that fielded them will have the right as enshrined in section 33 and 35 of the Electoral Act 2010 to feed a new replacement provided it is done within 45 days.
'I am confident that INEC will consult widely, there is no reason why they would not, and they will receive good counsel. We have researched on our own, we have the best brains, legal minds in the country to take a look at it and we are confident of our position that we are going to run in this re-run.
'This is our moment and we intend to seize it. My message to my supporters is clear, we were in this race and we have been in this race for over three and a half years to win the governorship of Delta State. We enter this race predicated on the premise that the elections were going to come up in April, 2011.
'But God in his infinite wisdom, has fast forwarded the process by bringing the election to sometime in December this year on January next year. We are prepared to seize the moment, we are going to Government House with confidence and nobody can stop us.' Abel Edijala (Labour Party)- The Labour Party governorship candidate in Delta State, Olorogun Abel Edijala, has also said that the strategic alliance between the Labour Party and Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, in Delta State will deliver the state to the Labour Party in the re-run election, just as he has dusted his manifesto in readiness for a re-run election campaign.
Speaking recently, he said 'we presented a well thought out manifesto which we offered to Deltans in 2007, all we need to do is to dust that beautiful document and represent it to Deltans again'.
He told Deltans to pay attention to programmes and projects that parties are to offer otherwise they would continue to wallow in the fallacy of choosing leaders based on charismatic prejudices as against global practices of where people look at what plans are on the table.
He maintained that Labour Party had consulted widely and had decided to go into a strategic alliance with the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, towards mobilizing Deltans to vote for Labour Party candidate in the re-run election.
'Labour Party and ACN will take over Delta State in the re-run election that is why the alliance we are coming up with will galvanize across the board to see that PDP does not return to power in the state'
Edijala described the annulment of the 2007 governorship election in the state as a welcome development. 'It was a judgment Deltans and Nigerians are proud of because it is an opportunity to sanitize the Delta State political landscape'.
Reactions to Appeal Court ruling :
Nigerians have continued to react to the Appeal Court ruling which set aside the April 14, 2007 governorship election in Delta. More to it, is the innumerable interpretations of the landmark judgement.
Chief Great Ogboru: Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru, Democratic People's Party (DPP) governorship candidate in the April 14, 2007 election in Delta state, expressed satisfaction over the judgment.
He dragged the PDP candidate, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan to the Tribunal in Asaba and later to the Appeal Court in Benin. He won the former Governor Uduaghan at the Appellate court which nullified the election on grounds of gross electoral irregularities and fraud.
'We suffered a great deal at the lower tribunal. Four times we were beaten to the game. You can see now that everybody is happy and the state has been completely liberated.'
Professor B. I. C. Ijeoma : Professor Benedith I. C. Ijeoma, a social scientist is an elder of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Delta state. 'The party does not have a say in this because the court has given the final decision to go and conduct elections within ninety days, and it is going to be between Dr. Uduaghan and Ogboru.
'There will be free and fair election. If Ogboru wins we will welcome him. If Dr. Uduaghan wins we will welcome him, but we are all involved in Dr. Uduaghan's ticket because we are leaders of PDP. And we can not stand by and let another party wins.
'If the PDP wants to field a goat, PDP will suffer the loss, not INEC, INEC is an umpire to make sure that the process of selecting that goat is in order, but they cannot tell who is going to carry its flag. PDP can say we want a woman to go. If majority of the people do not like a woman, then PDP will lose the election. It is simple, very simple'.
Prof. Itse Sagay : For human rights activist and Lagos lawyer, Prof. Itse Sagay, 'the recent court of appeal judgment in Benin which annulled the election of former Delta state governor Emmanuel Uduaghan is tricky but bold.
'The judgment did not follow the pattern of other court judgment that dwelt much on technicalities leaving the substance. I commend the judges for outstanding courage and suggested that the judgement should serve as a benchmark for future judgment on electoral malpractices
'We are actually coming to terms with democracy and justice so that in the future, elections should be free fair and credible'.
Mr. Femi Falana : Mr. Femi Falana, ex-CLO boss and Lagos lawyer blames the court over its failure to invoke section 149 of the 2006 Electoral Act and advised the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and people of Delta state to head back to the Court of Appeal to ask for variation of the order of the court.
That, according to him, would enable them to reduce the cost of conducting governorship election twice in less than two months in the state. 'Since general election would be held nationwide in 2011, it became necessary for the Court to extend the tenure of the Acting Governor till April next year.
'Section 149 of 2006 Electoral Act has imposed a duty on the Judiciary or the tribunal to recommend the prosecution of those who are found wanting in the conduct of the election, describing as unfortunate the fact that since 2007 no court in Nigeria has invoked that provision of the constitution.
'Dr. Uduaghan and his collaborators have been allowed to go scot-free. In fact to worsen matters, to complicate illegality, the court has curiously allowed him to take part in another election. What lesson are we teaching that it pays to be fraudulent?
'Another problem I have with the ruling is that, it is going to be wasteful and too costly to run two governorship elections between now and April next year in that state because if Dr. Uduaghan wins again, his tenure will end in May 2011.
'In other words, there have to be fresh election in that state next year, like other parts of the Country. For this reason one will like to advise INEC and other concerned people in Delta State to head back to the Court of Appeal to ask for variation of the Court order, so that the tenure of the Acting Governor, the Speaker can be extended to April to allow one election.'
Benin National Congress: The Benin National Congress (BNC), a socio-cultural body based in Edo State, said 'although the Congress and Nigerians with good conscience had expected this judgment much earlier, it is often said that 'it is rather late than never'.
'Ogboru had pursued his case (violation of the electoral act) with vigor not minding remote allegations orchestrated against him by some unseen state-actors, with a view to imprisoning his conscience and struggle, he was unperturbed.
'The point the Congress is making is that rather than becoming an entrepreneur of violence; like most aggrieved Nigerian bourgeoisie would resort to over their perceived victimization, the Fish Magnet was steadfastly committed to peace and justice.
'Nigerians across all social strata should emulate Ogboru because he has always risked his life and business for purposeful struggles including the recent struggle to ensure free and fair elections in Delta State.
'The lesson the political class should draw from the Delta debacle is that any act of political irresponsibility will be uprooted by the law, time notwithstanding. It is very clear that the 2007 election was the worst election known to Nigeria's political history.' Barrister Felix Ayanruoh : President Delta Professional Forum, North America, Barrister Felix Ayanruoh Esq. described the judgment as a land mark judgment and victory for democracy. It is with great joy that I welcome democracy to Delta State. Deltans should put hands together to move democracy to government house Asaba. There is a reason why people are celebrating this annulment. The people of our great state have for too long have been subjected to the politics of selection, intimidation and suffering. This is a victory for democracy.
Comrade Emmanuel Igbini: Comrade Emmanuel Igbini, a governorship candidate of Redemption Peoples Party (PRP) in the Delta state 2007 said, 'It is a very welcome news as I have insisted that election never took place in Delta state and indeed anywhere across Nigeria in April 2007 and all others thereafter till date. The re-run election under Prof Jega will also not be any different from all I have seen in this INEC.
'Prof. Maurice Iwu led INEC was only compelled to announce figures as desired by highest bidders, money bags and their political godfathers across the nation. This was the case in all the so-called leading political parties, Delta state and PDP was not an exception. How can there be an election when, I, as guber candidate in that supposed election in Delta state I did not see a ballot paper let alone cast a vote. It is very unfortunate that the election tribunals and previous court of Appeals had to cause Deltans and Governor Uduaghan such unwarranted psychological torture for almost four years. How can we explain a situation where a case of outright unlawful exclusion of Action Congress (AC) governorship candidate, Chief Peter Okocha by INEC was declared by judges of tribunals and courts of Appeal as lawful despite established ruling by Supreme Court on similar case on Atiku vs INEC in April 2007? This is the height of judicial rascality and total disregard for the Supreme Court by the Judges of tribunals and Courts of Appeal. I demand that all these Judges of these tribunals and courts of Appeal who presided over Chief Okocha's case must be summarily dismissed for disobeying the Supreme Court ruling. They are not worthy of Presiding over cases in Niger as they have proved beyond doubt that they indeed constitute the major threat to our nation's peace, unity, security and progress.'
Bar. Peter Nwaoboshi: Barr. Peter Nwaoboshi, state Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said 'the party received with shock the judgment of the Court of Appeal which nullified the election of the former Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, and quickly enjoined all supporters to remain calm and go about their lawful activities. We are ready for the re-run.
'If the state PDP goes for election two times, pick a goat as its candidate (God forbid), we are going to win, though not in violence or thuggery but through one man one vote
Mr. Chike Ogeah: Mr. Chike Ogeah, Director of Public Affairs, Uduaghan Campaign Organization (UCO), said 'The court's decision is indeed a testimony that our democracy is taking root and firmly being established. It is an experience that is part of the process to strengthen and deepen our democracy.