SaharaReporters has learned of a cold war among political figures of Isoko ethnicity in Delta State over a purported endorsement of Victor Ochei, speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, for the post of governor come 2015.
Our correspondent reported that the formal introduction and purported endorsement of the speaker took place at the Lagos residence of Abel Ubeku, a prominent Isoko leader and former chief executive of Guinness Nigeria Plc. Mr. Ochei, who is from the northern section of the state, was reportedly presented shortly after a thanksgiving church service by Mr. Ubeku.
Several sources confided in our correspondent that those behind the speaker’s endorsement included the Secretary to Delta State Government (SSG), Samuel Ovuozorie Macaulay, a state lawmaker, Johnson Erijo, and the state commissioner of lands and survey, Patrick Ferife.
SaharaReporters gathered that the endorsement has infuriated other political forces opposed to Mr. Ochei. Among those fighting the speaker’s governorship aspirations are the Delta State representative in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Solomon Ogba, who doubles as the PDP’s state secretary, and a former House of Assembly member, Ross Uredi.
A source who opposes Mr. Ochei said he and others were not given prior warning about the political endorsement of the speaker. “We were ambushed at Chief Ubeku’s house,” said the source, adding that the development was an insult to Isoko people. “Our people have not made their position known on who they plan to support come 2015,” he stated.
“I was there live when the speaker was brought to Chief Abel Ubeku’s residence in Lagos. As I talk to you now there is serious division among the Isoko political leaders following that introduction and endorsement of the speaker, Victor Ochei at Chief Abel Ubeku’s house just this past Sunday. Ubeku had gone to church to thank God for saving his life when he was struck by stroke. After the church service, everybody now trooped to his residence where the speaker was introduced and presented to Ubeku and followed by endorsement. This didn’t go down well with some leaders present at the event because they were not told about the whole thing,” the source disclosed.
The surprise political event at Mr. Ubeku’s residence has reportedly triggered a feud between Mr. Ochei’s supporters and many Isoko indigenes who oppose him. Even so, one of Mr. Ochei’s backers boasted that the speaker’s governorship ambition was unstoppable.
The so-called endorsement might put a wrinkle in the plan by a group called the ‘Anioma Agenda’ to champion a governor from the Anioma area of the state. Alex Onwudiamu, a lawyer and leader of a group pushing for a governor of Anioma extraction, has often stated that his area was capable of coming up with a consensus candidate for the 2015 gubernatorial race.