Sir: Delta State was greeted by misgivings when it was created in 1991 by the General Ibrahim Babangida administration. The many ethnic groups which constituted the new state held one another in suspicion. The bone of contention manifested in different ways. While some grumbled that the capital of the new state was located at Asaba which they felt was at the fringes, others feared that the Urhobo with their overwhelming population would enjoy the political advantage of producing the governor of the state ad infinitum. Such was the level of distrust that the creation of the state did not elicit the kind of euphoria such a historical landmark ought to have generated. The fears were genuine as later events were to indicate. Less than a year after the creation of the state, the general elections of 1993 produced a governor of Urhobo extraction the person of Chief Felix Ovuodoroye Ibru of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) after a fierce electoral contest against Professor Eric Agume Opia of the National Republican Convention (NRC). Although, that dispensation was short lived, it established the point that population confers political advantage as politics is a game of numbers.
The scenario replayed itself in 1999 and this time in a more compelling manner as the governorship candidates of the two leading parties in the state at that time, Engr. Moses Kragha of the All Peoples Party (APP) and Chief James Ibori of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were Urhobo. The latter went on to win and became the second democratically elected governor of Delta State from 1999 to 2007. That the democratic experiment produced another Urhobo as governor generated a lot of apprehension and anxiety across Delta State. While it was natural for the Urhobo to relish their luck, the other ethnic groups resented the idea of Urhobo perpetual political dominance.
Fortunately, the political sagacity of Chief Ibori invented a deus ex machina to resolve the anticipated logjam. Chief Ibori, still considered by most Deltans as a leader ahead of his time, conceived and persuaded the political class in Delta State to adopt a system of rotational governorship among the three senatorial districts of the state. Ibori’s idea became the magic wand that was to ensure the entrenchment of justice, fairness and equity in Delta State.
The prevailing mood in Delta State today favours the continuation of the rotational arrangement which has become a silver bullet. Deltans have signed up for the ennobling ideals of justice, fairness and equity and the attendant peace, unity and development. Since this is settled, what Deltans should do is to align with the governorship aspirant that best approximates the ideals of the Delta State of their dreams. Such an aspirant must be pan-Deltan in outlook. He or she must be development minded, resourceful and abreast with contemporary global aspirations. He or she should not only be able to consolidate on past gains, but take Delta State to greater heights. Rotational governorship is the way to go in 2023 to sustain the mantra of “Delta State for all.”
Johnson Tamarakuro wrote from Warri, Delta State.