Sword of Damocles: Omo-Agege travails
By Jon Egie
Friends, Romans Countrymen, lend me your ears. I come to bury Caesar and not to praise him, the evil that men do live after them and the good is often interred with the bone. So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus hath told you that Caesar was ambitious and if it were so, it was a grievous fault and grievously hath Caesar answered it…..William Shakespeare
The words of Shakespeare resonate once more in this time of the political evolution of Nigeria as it bears on the inauguration of the leadership of the National Assembly (Senate) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, FRN.
As one of the three arms of government saddled with the responsibility of lawmaking, it acts as a check and balance of power. As representatives of the people, the members wield enormous influence on the policy direction of government with the thrust of protecting the yearnings and aspirations of their constituents. In the Nigerian context, the task, onerous as it should be, also attracts humongous perquisites to the members, unfortunately, with insignificant impact on their constituents.
The 9th Senate of the FRN is due to take off on June 11, 2019 when its leadership will be inaugurated and ambitions are rife on who become who that would occupy the exalted offices of the Senate President and Deputy Senate President. Whereas, the ruling party, APC; with a majority of senators-elect have zoned the office of the Senate President to the North East while the office of the Deputy Senate President has been zoned to the South-South.
Senator Ovie Omo-Agege for DSP
Among the eligible candidates who desire to occupy the office of the Deputy Senate President (DSP) from the APC is Senator Ovie Omo-Agege who by the results of the Feb 23, 2019 National Assembly election as announced by INEC won and was declared re-elected and took the toga of a ranking senator. He is from the Urhobo ethnic nationality that is acclaimed as the 5th largest ethnic group in Nigeria.
During the campaigns for the 2019 general elections, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, based on his relationship with the Presidency was said to had hoped that when victorious, he would aspire for the office of the Senate President but by the dictate of the APC leadership, which zoned that office to the North East, his ambition now settled for the office of the DSP.
Urhobo Political Group opposes
All seemed well for his ambition until recently when a group, the Urhobo Political Group (UPG) came out to declare its support for Senator-elect Orji Uzor Kalu, a former two- term governor of Abia. Abia state does not fall within the geopolitical zone the APC allocated the office of the DSP to.
But the group, while propounding the excellent candidacy of Orji Kalu, argue that although his father is from Abia state in the South-East geopolitical zone, yet his mother is from Delta state and therefore, qualifies to run for the office of the DSP in the South-South zone and hence, Orji Uzor Kalu enjoys their support.
At a press conference, the group’s leader, Hon Jerry Uloho pointed out that the reason for giving their support to Orji Kalu against the ambition of Ovie Omo-Agege, their brother in ethnic affiliation was borne out of the search for credibility, humanity and corporate image of Nigeria.
He told the press that the pedigree of Uzor Kalu coupled with his contribution to the economy of Nigeria and social impact on the lives of Nigerians across board lift him ahead of any other candidate for the seat.
He said the group’s move was not borne out of hatred and tribal sentiment else, they would throw their weight behind Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, their blood brother.
But for the sake of the image of Nigeria before the global community, Hon Uloho said the group would not sacrifice the image of the country and face embarrassment that could be associated with the mistake of electing someone whose personality is controversial in relation to allegation of involvement of theft of the mace of the 8th Senate of the FRN. They therefore, urged all the 109 senators-elect to give their support to Orji Uzor Kalu as DSP.
The reports of the event went virile in the internet, were widely carried by the mainstream media and became issue of debate in the social media, and all hell was let lose in the camp of supporters of the Urhob senator, Ovie Omo-Agege.
Pro-Omo-Agege group resists
On Sunday, June 2, 2019, the leadership of the APC in Delta central senatorial district where Omo-Agege represents at the senate called a world press conference to react to the position of the UPG. Speaking during the occasion which held at the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI) Conference Centre, Effurun; Olorogun Adelabu Bodjor said the action of the UPG was dishonourable. He recalled that in Feb 23, 2019 the Urhobo people demonstrated their love for Omo-Agege by voting overwhelmingly for him to be re-elected into the Senate of the FRN and hence, became a ranking senator.
“It is therefore mischievous and preposterous for a handful of persons, for any reason, to work against the interest of the generality of Urhobo people. We, the Urhobo people unequivocally declare that we shall not let them succeed in their wicked and diabolic effort to work against their own brother. We state expressly that the official position of the Urhobo people is that we are solidly behind Senator Ovie Omo-Agege on his bid for the office of the DSP.” Olorogun Adelabu Bodjor who is the chairman of the party at the senatorial district said.
But the declaration of the pro-Omo-Agege group has not lowered the guard of the challenging UPG who sources said have deployed some of its members to the hierarchy of the APC at the national level to lobby and influence the senators-elect on a kill of the ambition of Ovie Omo-Agege come June 11, just as the premises of the National Assembly has been marked as a battle ground where both parties would stage protests, for and against each other on June 11.
It is obvious that no member of the UPG and the pro-Omo-Agege group of the APC has a franchise to determine who the DSP becomes. That franchise is the exclusive right of the senators-elect and it is in realization of that fact that propaganda machineries have been set in motion by both sides to influence the opinions of the senators-elect, for or against their candidates of choice.
Crux of the matter
To fathom the crux of the dispute we need to examine the dynamics of the politics of the APC in Delta state and ferret out the genesis of the intra party dispute that has culminated in dogs eating dogs.
The political party, APC was said to be progenitored by Olorogun Emerhor O’tega in the days of late Senator Pius Ewherido after he left the PDP on which platform he was a guber aspirant. He was said to had single handedly foot the bill of the party and groomed it to limelight hence he is nicknamed ‘Urhukpe’, light of the APC. It was the desire of Olorogun Emerhor to build the party to a formidable force that could contend fist to fist, head butt to head butt, eye ball to eye ball and man to man with the PDP in the state
He contested the primary of the Delta central senatorial election with Barr Festus Keyamo (SAN) and defeated the latter but lost out at the general election. Since then, he has been committed to building a virile and formidable political organization proposed to take over the reins of power from the established authority of the PDP in Delta state. In this course, all seemed well until the duo of Chief Great Ogboru and Senator Ovie Omo-Agege left the Labour Party on which platform Omo-Agege was elected as senator by the grace of the political clout and charisma of Ogboru; to join the APC.
It was a joyous re-union as the combination of the forces of Emerhor, Ogboru and Omo-Agege in the eyes of the layman, was sufficient to send the PDP packing. But right from the onset, those familiar with the Machiavellian operations of Senator Ovie Omo-Agege saw and predicted danger ahead of the party. There were early warnings that Omo-Agge would once more use the potentials of the APC at the national level and the clout of Chief Great Ogboru to feather his nest at the detriment of other actors. The threats were manifested when time came for determination of the control of the structure of the party and the scheming that ensued gave birth to the controversial Consent Judgment that handed the control of the party structure to Senator Ovie Omo-Agege through a factional party chairman, Prophet Jones Erue. By then, the eyes of Emerhor and his followers had become ‘clear’ and they resisted, leading to the formation of the other faction led by Cyril Ogodo and the nitty-gritty, legal and media fireworks, internal quarrel, controversial party primaries, push and shove, bickering and bad blood, betrayal and abandonment became the ground norm of the party.
The hullabaloo and brouhaha recorded many casualties of bloodshed and loss of political offices which though are still under legal quibble, but are overtly in favour of the maradonic political maestro of Senator Ovie Omo-Agege whose complex acrobatic display as a political juggernaut, veiled members of the party and catapulted them to a Disney land of the more you look, the less you see. And by the time the casualties recovered from their reverie, Omo-Agege had gone miles ahead of them, issued Certificate of Return as a Senator of the FRN and comfortably poised to grab the position of the Deputy Senate President.
Casualties of the scheming and tactics of the Urhobo senator were not limited to members of the opposing faction of the party, even his faithful loyalists fell to the goon. Among the publicly recorded casualties were Olorogun Emerhor O’tega, Chief Great Ogboru, Prof Pat Utomi, Sir Victor Ochei, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, Hon Julius Akpovoka and Sir Jaro Movudu Egbo.
Of all the casualties, the ones that felt most hurt are the common folk of Deltans comprising of market women, civil servants, Okada riders, league of unemployed youths and in fact, the impoverished masses who saw hope in the combined forces of Ogboru led by Omo-Agege to oust the PDP out of the state. They are still pained that Omo-Agege, through his scheming as alleged, somersaulted Ogboru, betrayed him and paralyzed his political fortunes and future in favour of the PDP and for his personal political interest. The interest was interpreted to be hung on his governorship ambition for 2023 and for which reason all the aforesaid casualties were slaughtered at the altar of the 2019 polls.
Smarting from their wounds, especially those inflicted on Hon Julius Akpovoka who claims he won the primary election of the Udu/Ughelli federal constituency for the Feb 23, 2019 National Assembly election but was allegedly manipulated out in favour of Rev Francis Waive; and Sir Jaro Egbo who also claims he was the rightful candidate of the party for the Ughelli constituency 11, Delta state House of Assembly election held on March 9, 2019 but through legal somersault, though still contested legally, was shoved aside to the benefit of Mr Moses Anaughe, the Personal Assistant (PA) to Senator Ovie Omo-Agege; and grieving from the overt defeat, they drew a battle line and this gave birth to the formation of the Urhobo Political Group that was determined to lower, instead of helping to hoist the sail of the ship of Senator Ovie Omo-Agege on course to the port of the Deputy Senate President. Like wounded lions, they are fierce and beaming with fire and fury to stop Omo-Agege’s Deputy Senate President Ambition.
“You cannot mess with me and go free the way you messed with Ogboru and went free” Sir Jaro Egbo was quoted to have said.
Pound of flesh
They are not alone, the Delta state PDP family are said to be also vexed with the political profile of Senator Ovie Omo-Agege who they see as the arrow head of the APC challenge to the PDP perpetual hold on the reins of power and governance in Delta state. He is seen as a potential and credible threat and must not be allowed to grab more powers at the national level in the politics of Nigeria and thus, he must be brought down.
Another unavoidable hurdle that Senator Ovie Omo-Agege faces is the factor of the President of the 8th Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki and his boys particularly Senator Dino Melaye. Senator Ovie Omo-Agege was a Sword of Damocles to Dr Bukola Saraki just as the latter was to the former while the 8th senate lasted. During the valedictory session of the senate held recently, Senator Dino Melaye did not hide his disgust for Senator Omo-Agege who he described as a mace thief and accused the Urhobo senator of leading criminals to desecrate the hallowed chambers of the senate. He promised to have a good time with Senator Omo-Agege in the 9th senate of the FRN and sure, the body language spoke of his readiness to stop Omo-Agege from becoming the Deputy Senate President. It was obvious that Saraki, though out of the senate as Dino Melaye lamented, would guide his many loyalists in both divides, APC and PDP, and with Dino physically present, just like the Urhobo Political Group, demand a pound of flesh from Senator Omo-Agege.
Also in the kit is the sharp razor of the immediate past national chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie Oyegun who was disgraced out of office by the ambition of HE Adams Oshiomhole and was seen to be supported by the likes of Senator Omo-Agege. It was said that the confidence and influence Senator Ovie Omo-Agege enjoyed from the national leadership of the APC was derived from his very cordial relationship with the incumbent chairman, Adams Oshiomhole who is now equally facing an imminent disgraceful exit following what his predecessor called “Agbero” style of engagement with members of the party that has led to an avoidable depletion of the membership strength of the APC. Surely, Oyegun has his loyalist and with Oshiomhole at the danger of being pushed down the cliff, the consequences on the ambition of Senator Ovie Omo-Agege could be untoward and unpalatable.
So, here we are in a memory lane of the primary school morning devotion assembly ground and we are marching into our various classrooms with the usual parade song: “You shall reap whatever you sow, You shall reap whatever you sow, Up on the mountain, Down in the valley, You shall reap whatever you sow”. We march on as the drums beat and the outcome of June 11, 2019 inauguration of the 9th Senate shall show case the harvests.