By Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba
Governorship aspirants of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Prof. Pat Utomi and Chief Victor Ochei as well as the leader of the so-called estranged mainstream faction of the party, Olorogun O’tega Emerhor, were conspicuously absent at the inauguration of Delta State 2019 Campaign Council.
THISDAY learnt that members of the group, which has Chief Cyril Ogodo as its factional state chairman, were asked to stay away from the campaign committee inauguration held in Asaba yesterday.
Although, the issue of boycott by the aggrieved members was not mentioned during the inauguration of the body to lead the campaign, the absence of Emerhor, who was the APC governorship candidate in 2015, might not be unconnected with claims that members of the Ogodo-led group were completely left out of the list of the campaign council members drawn up by the Erue/Ogboru/Omo-Agege APC faction recognised by the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Executive Council.
Delta State APC gubernatorial candidate in the 2019 election, Chief Great Ogboru, who personally took charge of the campaign council inauguration ceremony held at the Orchid Hotel, Asaba, noting that the body was being chaired by Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, the man who he said had publicly confessed to having been the stumbling block to his (Ogboru’s) governorship ambition in the past.
Former deputy national chairman of the PDP and governorship aspirant of the APC, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, has charged members of the APC in the Delta State to brace up for the great task to wrest power from the PDP in the state in the next election.
Ojougboh, who was named by Ogboru as spokesman of the state APC campaign committee, stressed that after series of meeting, he believed that most of leaders particularly traditional rulers in Delta North needed to be persuaded to support the party.
He urged the members to come to terms with reality on ground that defeating PDP in the state will not be an easy task.
While expressing happiness to be working with the party leaders because of his belief that ‘’party is supreme’’, Ojougboh said, ‘’The task ahead is not going to be a walk in the park.’’
He revealed that following meetings he had with Delta North leaders, questions were persistently asked about the so-called power rotation principle operational in the state since 1999, noting that the leaders need to be convinced that such arrangement was merely a PDP design as the APC believes only in best representation policy.
The Delta State APC Chairman, Mr Jones Erue, stressed that the real task before all members of the APC in the state was to ensure that the PDP was defeated and that the APC produces the next occupant of the Government House Asaba after the 2019 governorship election.
Erue therefore urged the members to look beyond those contesting various positions at the state and national levels but to work hard to win the general election from the presidency, the National Assembly to the state assembly.
The senator representing Delta Central, Ovie Omo-Agege, said that ‘’President Muhammadu Buhari has already won the (2019) presidential election’’, adding that it only remains for the APC in the state to do was to contribute a significant number of votes during the presidential election.
He said that Delta APC could not afford to contribute only 43,000 votes when Lagos and Kano states would be giving Buhari four million and five million votes, respectively, during the 2019 presidential polls.
The state campaign council chairman and immediate governor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, promised to atone for the accusation that he had severally been a stumbling block to Chief Ogboru becoming governor since 2007.
Uduaghan, who said a party remained nothing without victory at election, said he was in the APC to lead Ogboru on the secret path to electoral success.
He said that the APC in Delta State would be reorganised before the election, stressing the party would adopt a unit-by-unit approach in its new campaign strategy.
Other party leaders who spoke at the inauguration ceremony include Dr Veronica Ogbuagwu, Sir Alex Obe, Comrade Frank Ovie Kokori and Dr Solomon Edoja.
Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, who is the state coordinator of the presidential campaign committee, also sued for unity and oneness in the electioneering activities.
Kachiukwu, who said he arrived late for the event because of other pressing party duties, advised all aggrieved party members to bury the hatchet and work for the success of the APC even as efforts are being made with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo to strategize on a harmonised approach to the campaign.
Highpoint of the event was the reading of the full list of leaders and members of the state campaign council chaired by Dr Uduaghan with Mr George Timinimi as Director-General as well the formal presentation of all the APC flag bearers at the general election.