THE name of the man who has relentlessly and fearlessly contested the governorship election of Delta State on three separate occasions in spite of extremely arduous opposition needs no introduction.
Chief Great Ovadje Ogboru has been an ever present figure within the political stratosphere of Delta politics for close to two decades. He first appeared on the Delta State political scene in 2002 after being in exile since 1990 following his alleged involvement in the Gideon Okah failed coup to topple the General Ibrahim Babangida led government. Upon his return in 2002, and answering the call of the people of Delta State, he contested the 2003 gubernatorial election under the platform of the then Alliance for Democracy (AD) against the incumbent governor, James Ibori of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). It is no secret that Deltans overwhelmingly voted for their favorite son, Chief Ogboru but the unprecedented manipulations from Federal level denied him the mandate the people gave him at the electoral polls. He found this loss difficult to bear as by this time, Delta State together with its resources was being run to ruins by those in power. Gross recklessness and mismanagement was rife in almost every sector of Delta State and the people as with the state became impoverished.
Fuelled by the mission to recover the mandate, stolen from him at the previous election in 2003 and the need to remedy the near comatose state the state found itself in, he again contested for the 2007 gubernatorial election under the platform of Democratic People’s Party (DPP) against an old foe with a new candidate in the person of Emmanuel Uduaghan. Buoyed by the massive support he received from Deltans, he defeated the PDP flag bearer but the Federal might once again served to deny him an election that Deltans had won for him. This defeat was a bitter pill for Chief Great Ovadje Ogboru to swallow as the Uduaghan administration was characterized by wanton theft and brazen abuse of governmental powers. The state was being dragged down to ruins by the recklessness of those in power and there seemed at that time no one who could stop them.
Because of the overwhelming evidence of oppression suffered by this man, even the Judiciary that has been a suspect in all his previous political travails had no option but to annul the most notorious electoral fraud in the History of Delta State Committed in 2007. It was a similar story in the 2011 and 2015 gubernatorial elections when Chief Great Ovadje Ogboru contested against Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan and Senator Ifeanyi Okowa respectively under the platform of the Democratic People’s Party and Labour Party (LP). He was again rigged out by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
With the emergence of the All Progressives Congress Party (APC) led by President Muhammadu Buhari and the historic dethronement of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), at the Federal level, there is cause for renewed hope for Nigerians but especially the good people of Delta State who have hitherto been cruelly denied the right to be governed by the candidate of their own choosing that a new dawn has come. With the President’s commitment for a free and fair election, there is a palpable level playing ground for all candidates. Gone indeed are the days where PDP will stay in Abuja over bottles of wine and subvert the will of the people of Delta state by randomly picking a candidate they will rig into power employing all forms of electoral malpractices. The only question to be asked is whether the circumstances that played out for President Buhari will play out in favour of Chief Great Ogboru in 2019.
* Eshalomi, a lawyer, practises in Lagos