Delta 2023: When Not To Screen And Evict Governorship Aspirants

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By Fred Latimore Oghenesivbe Esq

To “Put Your House In Order” connotes doing the needful in political sense, which entails promoting credible, qualified and popular aspirants for party primaries and elections.

The promoters of aspirants and the lobby groups; be it for the interest of a particular political family or for the interest of a senatorial district, must adopt credible means and procedures not alien to universal principles of constitutional democracy and electioneering decorum.

Prior to screening of governorship aspirants, the aspirants themselves must have satisfied the primary condition of engaging the people by articulating their agenda, visions or political manifestos; providing detailed information about why the decision to run for the office of governor of Delta State.

And one of the credible means of identifying individual aspirant readiness is the personalities that constitutes his or her consultation team, the youth and women chanting support for the aspirant. In this dispensation, we are yet to see such level of preparedness among the aspirants.

It appears that the 2023 governorship political consultations is more on social media than the traditional robust and competitive consultation teams moving from local government to local government, and from senatorial district to senatorial district reaching out to political leaders, youth and women. Only one aspirant is seen to have met that condition while others are neither cold nor hot politically.

The political atmosphere is still very cold, not charged enough to separate the boys from the men, and it is certainly not the right time to commence a process of screening and evicting aspirants by lobby groups.

The haste to screen aspirants is also creating tension and there is the urgent need for caution, to avoid raising issues of credibility and negative interests of these groups. Only recently the Speaker of Delta State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori, declared his interest and more credible people will join the race in the near future.

As a major departure from the 2015 electioneering scenario, it appears that 2023 governorship aspirants are relying heavily on political godfathers more than engaging the people and major stakeholders, the women and youth who holds the power to elect the next governor in 2023. We are yet to see branded aspirants cars and buses conveying people from one point to another for broad based political consultations across the state.

What’s going on? If the aspirants are not ready to engage the people and commence wider consultations, why should any lobby group be in a haste to screen and scale down the number of aspirants? Aspirants need to articulate their vision through political consultations, press interviews and debates, before we can prune down the numbers based on their outings and articulated visions.

Deltans would recall that In 2015, aspirants engaged the people and stakeholders in a robust manner, and the electioneering steam was felt, such that aspirants gave reasons why they wanted to occupy the number one position in the state.

The consultation teams engaged stakeholders and the people on a daily basis and the political atmosphere was charged, competitive and was very interesting. Every aspirant gave good account of himself or herself. That is not the case in 2021 leading to 2022 party governorship primaries.

The atmosphere is too cold for comfort and the lobby groups and political families projecting their aspirants and interests must of a necessity do something quickly about the docile nature of aspirants and the hazy political atmosphere.

We want to hear from the aspirants, they should tell us what they are bringing to the table, and what they tend to do differently as individual aspirants if elected candidate of the party, PDP, and subsequently governor of Delta State in 2023. This is the very reason for electioneering processes, and Deltans need to know why each of the aspirants want to govern the state.

The lobby groups should not do the job of the aspirants by seeking to know their visions through lobby screening committees. Aspirants must widely engage the people and commence a robust consultation across the three senatorial districts, because whoever emerge as governor will serve the entire State and not a senatorial district or sole interest of a political family or a lobby group.

Therefore, the consultations must be holistic, broad based and across the twenty five local governments without compromise. The screening and scaling down of aspirants should come after broad based political consultations and series of debates. In fact, the lobby groups should at this moment be concerned with organising open intellectual debates for aspirants and allow Journalists and citizens to asks questions during the debates, to avoid picking a candidate that will serve only the interest of a particular political family or lobby group.

Previous aspirants in 2015, aspirants who served in previous administrations and first time aspirants must take questions from Journalists and citizens during uncensored credible debates, leading to scaling down of number of aspirants. In fact, it will look awkward and suspicious for lobby groups or promoters of aspirants to screen and give us a would-be candidate without going through the above listed procedures.

There is also the possibility of some other credible aspirants joining the governorship race between now and January 2022, which is why apple time or reasonable time must be allowed before screening and pruning list of aspirants.

It is also strongly recommended that enough time be allowed for all inclusive participation, which is needed to positively charge the political atmosphere, leading to eviction of weak aspirants few weeks before governorship party primates.

Early screening and down sizing of aspirants will obviously close the door against credible aspirants that may join the governorship race between November 2021 and February 2022. The constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, prohibits direct or indirect, conscious or subconscious infringement on the fundamental rights of citizens, which is why early screening and closing electioneering door against aspirants yet to join the race will pose problems and invoke legal tussles. It can be avoided.

Now that the lobby groups have concluded consultation tours, aspirants should be encouraged to widely engage the people, consult leaders across the 25 local governments and be ready to attend pre-screening debates, allowing for Journalists to probe into preparedness of the aspirants on individual basis.

After all, the election is not only about the roles of lobby groups and political families, it is more about who is most qualified, generally accepted, popular and free from previous financial indictments or conspiracy, to be governor of Delta State in 2023.

To put “your house in order” is also about an individual that will not be vindictive, that will accept Asaba as the state capital for all Deltans, and be ready to develop it. He must be seen to be detribalized to a reasonable extent, a father to all Deltans and must exhibit the political-will to consolidate and surpass the achievements of past administrations; not a controversial individual that will serve the interests of a particular political family.

The screening of governorship aspirants in this dispensation should be about identifying a would-be candidate or individual that will not indulge in any form of corruption and reckless looting of the state treasury, if elected. He or she must never be linked to previous looting conspiracy theory in the state, a clean hand and God fearing individual.

Yes, we must put our house in order, but we must do so the right way devoid of narrow political interests. It must be done for the overall benefit of all Deltans, not for the primary gains of a particular political family in the state.

Deltans deeply appreciate the political lobby groups for job well-done and for their candid efforts in restoring political sanity in the state, but the power to elect the next governor is constitutionally vested on eligible voters, come 2023.

I so submit!

Dr Fred Latimore Oghenesivbe Esq, is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Information and Strategy Management, fciism, a lawyer and Executive Assistant to the Governor of Delta State on Communications

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