Can the newly registered All Peoples Congress, APC, truly upstage the Democratic Peoples Party, DPP, in Delta State? While many will hasten to say no, others might be slow in answering if they consider a recent remark in the media by Chief Frank Kokori, a former member of the DPP, who was quoted as saying that the emergence of APC meant the possible death of DPP in Delta State. Well, the fact is that the DPP still remains the party to beat in Delta State.
Kokori’s statement is disturbing given his past principled stand against corruption, bad leadership and the ruling elites’ disrespect for the rule of law and cherished democratic principles. Kokori had aligned with DPP, especially in Delta, because of the correct perception of the party as one that stands for justice. It is no longer news that Kokori has now switched camp from the DPP to APC which he considers to be the bigger party.
What worries discerning observers here is the dangerous thinking that might is right. Also worrisome is the fact that nothing else matters to the APC leadership and its new converts in their determination to win the state by all means. In the calculations of the APC’s leadership especially in Lagos, the character, the giant strides and the pedigree of the DPP leadership in the state do not matter.
In fact, the legend and the progressive personality of Chief Great Ogboru, the de facto leader of the DPP in the state, his travails and sustained but dogged battle to free the state, obviously count for nothing as far as the buccaneer in APC is concerned. Democracy is no doubt a game of numbers and Deltans remain the ultimate decider of who leads them after an election.
Long before its registration, the APC had nurtured a renegade group led by the late Senator Pius Ewherido to destabilise the DPP. The late senator was assisted by Akamukali, the clownish delusional political neophyte that now claims the national leadership of DPP despite INEC’s assurance to the contrary. But INEC has since issued a statement reassuring the party’s members that it “has not recognised the existence of any faction in the DPP, please.”
Ewherido, who wanted the APC’s governorship ticket in 2015, had worked assiduously with Akamukali, who was later expelled from the party, to factionalise DPP and finally deal it a death blow. Ewherido’s sudden death however blew this plan apart and threw the likes of Akamukali into disarray. But the DPP’s popularity has continued to soar, a fact that was visibly demonstrated recently in Abrakar when the party held a stakeholders meeting.
APC has two opposing dominant personalities and groups, Buhari and Tinubu, CPC and ACN. Nigerians already know where Buhari stands on any issue and his antecedents speak for him. He remains arguably the most consistent, the most predictable and the most cheated past Nigerian leader. But he has now become more tutored by practical experience as a player in the murky waters of Nigerian politics especially since 1999.
Tinubu is different. He has benefitted more than any other Nigerian in terms of his past positions, his hold on his party and his overbearing influence on his governors. He has also tremendously benefitted financially and has become the godfather to his contemporaries.
Kokori and his co-travellers have to carefully consider Delta’s idiosyncrasy before pitching their tents with any outside political groups especially those who disguise their real intention in the state. They need to be wary of Emperor Tinubu and the inherent dangers in the APC taking over Delta by stealth. DPP is tested and it is the original party to lead the state. The fact is south west is progressive and it supports progressive parties and not individuals.
Kokori is a dogged fighter who should remain steadfast with the progressive DPP. What he needs to do now is to be a long distance runner. Kokori should also not forget quickly how the Tinubu camp abandoned him since the advent of democracy in 1999 despite his contribution to the struggle for June 12. Despite his gallantry on June 12, Kokori has nothing to show, not necessarily in terms of finance or political patronage but in terms of being recognised as a leader in his own right.
Kokori needs to know too that Tinubu, Ibori and Uduaghan are partners and that they are working together to achieve a common political objective in Delta State. It is a known fact that the three of them own the ACN and by extension APC in Delta State. The calculation is to discredit and weaken the people’s preferred candidate, Chief Ogboru, and foist the Ibori/Uduaghan candidate on the people of Delta State using the APC. This was where Ewherido got it wrong, he had by assummed that the APC would give him its ticket in 2015.
Kokori is towing the same line and he might get it wrong too. He needs to be reminded that this was the same strategy employed by the trio in the re-run and the 2011 governoship elections when Omo-Agege, a PDP member had to contest on the platform of the ACN. Tinubu led ACN to Delta to flag off Omo-Agege’s campaign, knowing full well that Omo-Agege was not even qualified to participate in the re-run. But because his spoiler’s role would have facilitated the Ibori/Uduaghan/Tinubu agenda to divide the Urhobo in order to give Uduaghan a head start, Tinubu and the ACN turned the blind eye. The rumour then was that Uduaghan would planned to use the ACN platform to contest the re-run if the PDP had withheld its ticket.
Deltans know what the DPP stands for in Delta State. They also know that the APC’s agenda is to preserve the status quo. While Kokori appears impatient and understandably battle weary, he needs to remember that a known devil is better than an unknown one. DPP is synonymous with Delta.
*Doyin Iyiola, a media consultant writes from London.