Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru of the Labour Party in Delta State has emphatically reaffirmed to his inner circle of supporters that the 2005 General Elections will be the last he would contest for the office of Governor, having made attempts in 2003, 2007 and 2011. He first made declaration after winning the Labour Party gubernatorial ticket in 2014. He reassured his UK supporters this is “his word” on the matter.
Whether Ogboru will contest the office of senator or president/vice-president in future is unclear but this might be the end of the road for him even if he wins at the ballot this time around. He is thoroughly optimistic of election victory this time. Maybe his time has finally come in 2015.
Ogboru spent 12 years in exile in the UK as a result of his participation in ill-fated April 22nd 1990 coup d’etat that sought to overthrow the General Ibrahim Babangida regime. While in exile, he came to be seriously interested in the politics of ‘social democracy’. What is not clear is the particular strand of social democracy he personally advocates. Ogboru, however, is a keen believer in the virtues of strong government, piece-meal reform, social justice, sustainable markets and good governance.
Ogboru also affirmed to his inner circle of supporters that his interest in politics was purely to serve his people since he has consistently proven to himself and the world that he could make vast fortunes in wealth through commercial enterprise. He insists that sincere service through political governance should be a thing of sincere conviction and never a ‘do-or-die affair’ nor compulsive habit. He is a politician who believes in a ‘good fair fight’ at the ballot within the provisions of the Nigerian constitution.
When asked about his evaluation of the current electoral system that is in operation in Nigeria, he simply and tacitly replied: “it is the system we have and we are the ones who will make it better”. Nevertheless, Ogboru, apart from making his last attempt at being elected governor of Delta state at the polls, will not also ever be drawn into court battles to contest election results again. What good is a democracy that encourages politicians who are disgruntled or genuinely robbed at the ballot to have their fates decided in court? If elections can be rigged at the ballot who says courts cannot be rigged?
Great Ogboru has such charisma that his interest in politics and governance has somehow turned into a genuine social movement with popular public support creating much hope of a good man in office for Deltans. Ogboru is affectionately known to Deltans as the “People’s General”, he deserves the title many times over. That the popularity of his person and social movement has not been translated into election victory is decisively deemed by the majority of Deltans, his constituency, to be more a function of a corrupt electoral system than underperformance at the polls or bad luck.
As things stand, it will be long before Deltans will see such a popular, charismatic, much loved and well-supported politician as Great Ogboru without holding office again. Chief James Ibori is also popular, but his popularity is based on rents he offered to supporters; Ibori was not popular in 1999 before he became governor. In fact, no gubernatorial candidate since 1999 has been a match for Ogboru in terms of political stature. C’est la vie.
Will Great Ogboru keep his word though?