Why the traditional politicians will always take the lead in Ughell South
By Godwin Utudoye
IT was a scholar who once said that Nigerian governor’s and politicians are stupendously rich to the extent that some are making efforts to bargain things with angels, agents of the devil. With huge financial resources at their disposal, they are able to entice and assemble a crop of hungry grassroots political activists from the diverse zones, wards, or nationalities in their various states whenever election time comes.
Most of them knew it that those at the grassroots know very well how to play politics the Nigerian way, but they are hungry, jobless and financially stranded, and so it is so easy to mobilize them with little cash to become their pawns. It is on this premise, I want us look at the forthcoming 2019 Delta House of Assembly, Ughelli South Constituency.
The geroncrats have the money because they have been accumulating so much since the inception of the present democracy. How then can a new comer, a neophyte or the younger ones who are fresh either from the university or have been unemployed for number of years after graduation dare present themselves for such an elective office?
Without mincing words, capable young hands with brilliant ideas cannot win elective position or offices. They will be schemed out when the judgment day come because they lack the resources to throw around.
The traditional politicians have circled themselves with a click of who is who in politics that decide the fate of every political office seekers. It is this group of politicians that a scholar once regarded to as, ” traditional politicians”, and so with them, only the wrong, unintelligent, greedy and idea- less politicians can govern and rule while the useful ones cannot and may not taste government all their life.
In addition to these groups, are those born with ‘Silver Spoons’ and into notable political background. These are the people that can venture into politics as their ambitions have been nod with a hundred percent endorsement from the power that be.
In the case of Ughelli South Local Government Area of the state, one may not need a prophet before deciding the realities. It can easily be predicted that those same old or traditional politicians may still grab it, “I mean the PDP or the APC ticket”. At that point, it may not matter if they have failed before, but having had a taste of the enormous wealth, fame and prestige associated with power, stepping aside is never an option as it is ’till death do us part’. Example of such is a senator from Delta State who is still presently in the 8th Assembly. He has been there over and over again, and if given chance without a strong traditional politician as a rival or opponent, he may still carry the day.
In Ughelli South, we have a number of contenders and with them or in their midst is Hon. Barr. Reuben Izeze. He is the incumbent lawmaker representing the constituency. He is a loyalist of the immediate past governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan. But there are rumours that he is not loyal to the incumbent governor. In another hand, his constituents have been starved of so many dividends that are accrued to the constituency. Many are angry with him but they are also hungry, jobless and so, they could easily be deceived again with little cash reserved for this purpose when the time approaches.
Also in the list of the traditional or silver spoon politicians is the son of a PDP national stalwart and a onetime governorship candidate in the state, Barr. Emuobo Gbagi. His father, Hon. Barr. Kenneth Gbagi was once a federal minister for education during the Goodluck Jonathan administration. He is a diehard traditional politician who has been in politics even before 1999 when Nigeria returned to democratic rule in 1999 till date.
No doubt, there are a lot of cash in his possession to throw around as he is one among the repetitive cycle of Nigeria politicians. He has all it takes to play the Nigeria politics of money. His name causes stir especially to fresh and young unemployed political office seekers. His son too, also has much to spend being an SA to the Delta State Governor on DESOPADEC. Coupled with the silver spoon in his mouth, he is among the traditional politicians.
In the same vein, a two time councilor in Ughelli South Local Government Area representing Jeremi Ward 4, Hon. Wilson Oghenemu is also strongly in the contest.
Though he is regarded and seen by some as a grassroots politician who has served and suffered for the PDP, but rumour has it that he has strong support of the State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, but those familiar with the Nigerian politics say he may have brilliant ideas, quality programmes and agenda, but he may not have the kind of resources to throw around first to his party delegates and two, the huge resources to woo the electorate during the main election. But no one can predict as he is also tied to the traditional politicians.
Also in Ughelli South is another fresh entrant, Chief Evuetaphan. He is described as a successful young man who also knows how to manipulate things, but much is not known of him. Can he beat the traditionalists?
Among the many contenders for the constituency job is a household name when it comes to political matters especially in the PDP. To some of his followers he is a political genius and a true prodigy of Ibori. He is a true disciple of the 1999 cabals that have held sway in Delta Politics. He is said to be a professional and skipper in the political team. He has represented the constituency twice and he handed power to the incumbent Hon. Barr. Reuben Izeze, he is Hon. Taleb Tebite.
He has a record as far as Ughelli South politics is concerned. In 2011, he unseated an elected member, Hon. Engr. Eme Mukoro of the defunct Democratic People’s Party DPP, through a High Court judgment that nullified Hon. Mukoro’s election. Presently, it has been alleged that his constituents have called on him to represent the constituency as he has been adjudged “Best man for the job”. This has generated a lot of controversies between the three zones in the local government, namely Eghwu axis, Ughievwen (Jeremi axis) and Olomu axis.
According to findings, the elders and leaders of the zones had earlier entered into an agreement or zoning arrangement which allowed the different political positions to be rottedl beginning with the Local Government Chairmanship Seat, House of Assembly Position, Secretary to the Local Government, Local Government Education Secretary and others.
While some held up to this arrangement, some are saying there was no such agreement. And so, Hon. Taleb Tebite’s ambition is being frowned at by some, but this has not deterred the man Tebite from exercising his constitutional rights. The argument of his followers and supporters to some extent maybe considered germane. They are of the view that had the court not nullified Hon. Engr. Eme Mukoro’s election in 2011, would the Jeremi axis had asked him to step aside for Olomu?
They argue that Hon. Taleb had only done one tenure, 20017-2011 when the DPP candidate, a Jeremi man contested with him and according to some persons, he defeated the PDP candidate but was technically knocked out by the court.
Truly, if the court had not decided the case in his favour, Olomu axis would have lost out of the zoning formula. This may be the reasons why Hon. Taleb Tebite supporters are so adamant and defiant to the zoning issue.
One other argument that also cropped in is that, the incumbent local government chairman, Hon. Dr. Richard Kofi hails from same town with Hon. Taleb Tebite. Some say they are from the same polling unit, but we could recall that Professor Amos Utuama, then deputy governor was also from Jeremi where Hon. Eme Mukoro came from but he was allowed to run in 2011.
With what has previously transpired, Hon. Taleb Tebite may be justified, but it should be noted that he is one of the traditional politicians who has tasted powers and made a lot from the government.
The question that begs an answer is , should these old politicians be allowed over and over again to rule us to grave? What sort of experience have they that the fresh and young ones do not have?
Must money continue be the determinant of who wins elections? When will the young Ughelli South indigenes like Emmanuel Macron of France hold sway to political offices in the constituency?
For those celebrating mediocrity and failure, when will it be your turn to rule? Must you remain a thug?
Well, i won’t blame you because hunger and poverty have dealt with so many youths so much that they have lost their sense of reasoning for the future..
They have become so cheap and care free, hence the traditional politicians always use them as the ladder to climb into fame and accumulating wealth.
It is time for Nigerian politicians to learn how to humbly bow out when the ovation is loudest. Those who are medical doctors should go back to practice if truly their elective positions were to serve the masses. Those who are lawyers should go back into practice, while those in business should return to business. It is not only through politics you serve the people but they can be served through your individual profession. The traditional politicians should allow the young and the fresh hand to have a taste of power and introduce new ideas.
Godwin Utuedoye is a Journalist and Social Critics
He writes in from Ughelli.