IKA CANDIDATES IN 2011 NASS ELECTIONS: The Front Liners

There is no doubt that all the contestants from Delta North in the April 2, 2011 National Assembly elections have  worked really hard to succeed. Thus, it is safe to conclude that each of them has had their resources stretched to the utmost limits given what each could muster and deploy.
                            
The campaigns were not without glamour which came mostly through the print and electronic media. Apart from the hitech nature, vigour also characterized the campaign as the candidates had to reach  virtually all eligible voters, no matter  the distance to them. And there are indications that monetary considerations, that is the sale of votes still constitute grave danger to our nascent democracy. Those to be elected are, like their predecessors, not expected to render selfless service or perhaps it is a way of protesting against the imposition of candidates who had disappointed the electorate “Give us money”, many eligible voters chant these days.
                            
Voters’ expectation or protest has made the contest very tough for the contestants just as  it has made it difficult to distinguish the good from the bad and allow informed choice. However, with the sophisticated campaigns and some other    factors put together, candidates of Ika nation vying for NASS seats can be assessed as follows.
                            
The lower house has four serious contenders. They are Victor Nwokolo of Accord Party, his kinswoman- Dr.  Mrs. Okobah of Action Congress of Nigeria, Festus Okoh of Democratic Peoples Party  and the incumbent legislator-Doris Uboh of Peoples Democratic Party. All four mentioned above were in  PDP but three  defected to their new parties in protest against alleged imposition of the incumbent by their former party (PDP).
 
As PDP is the party of first choice and Hon. Doris Uboh has the ticket, she is said to be at an advantage over other candidates. The party boasts of formidable resources, being the ruling party in the state and at federal level. And looking at her self compiled performance check list, Hon. Uboh believes rightly or wrongly that she did better than her predecessors and as such should returned. There are some among the electorate who agree with her. Yet there are very many who say she could have done far much better than she did. Opponents also accuse the beautiful lady of wallowing in too many controversies which resulted in her being rough handed and suspended. They say her conduct of starting a physical combat during plenary session was unlady like. More so as her gang was that of ten out over 350 members in the chamber. This did not go down well with many people  as her suspension made Ika people lose representation for the long period she was out of the house.
                            
Apart from the seemingly weighty issues of impropriety,  the more than half voting  population in her constituency from the Ika North East and saying that it is their turn to produce the next legislator, going by an unwritten power rotation agreement between the two LGAs. Though the law maker and her supporters contend that the agreement should not hold because Dr. Okowa from Ika North East has PDP senatorial ticket, while she is from Ika South and should therefore be allowed the concession. But even among her Ika South folks are many who oppose her candidate because according to them, she allowed herself to be caged by very few hench men. The situation  now on  the eve of the election is that snide remarks,  jeers and jests were said to have characterized her campaign rallies. It remains  to be seen whether or not Hon. Doris Uboh’s  ebullient efforts will translate to victory at the polls, especially with her courageous and glamorous campaign.
                            
Mr. Festus Okoh  prides himself as the Pride of Youth”. The youth is indeed ebullient and resourceful. His party, DPP has been popularized by its  gubernatorial candidate “Great Ogboru” who is having a third shot at the governorship sine 2003. Mr. Festus Okoh has consistently drummed up support for himself and DPP to win protest from the  electorate  and thwart  alleged imposition of the PDP candidates endeared himself to his youthful supporters with   bursary and scholarship awards as well as micro-credit  facilities to some  others who are elderly. In addition to these, it has been speculated that Great   Ogburu’s good will and popularity would rub off on Mr. Okoh’s chances. But the Ika North East sentiments and  higher population cannot be wished away. Which means that his guts,  philanthropy, youthfulness and other factors in his favour might not count for much, given the odds, against him. Besides, he is said  to be given to exuberant and blackmail tendencies, considering which, he is further said to have stepped on many powerful toes.
                            
Dr. Mrs. Isioma Okobah is considered by many as one of the two most serious contenders. When she entered the race, she was like a joker.  As  an Ika woman in diaspora, she came in from the USA about a year ago. Within this short period, she endeared herself to many through her high brow politics and humanitarian disposition. She is considered to have  touched the lives of many Ika folks such that many wish she had indicated   interest in politics and started  her philanthropic/humanitarian service long before the election year. Even at that, she has waxed so strong during this short period that it is speculated she can come out with flying colours.
 
Dr. Mrs. Okobah’s politics stands her out as a candidate eager to serve and foster worthwhile development. It is even as if her name  names Isioma which trans literarily “good luck” has been accepted by both the old and young as a great asset which she has used so far and will continue to use to affect lives positively. Many people said that Isioma’s politics  for service with all the resources at her disposal is what politics is all about. And her resources both human and material, seem enormously legendary and she is believed to be having all it takes to render quality service if elected.
                            
However, Dr. Mrs. Okobah’s A C N is not popular as she has worked hard to make it. It is yet to be widely accepted and lacks the profitable structure that PDP has.  It actually ranks fourth among the parties in Delta State. Again, the old breed politicians and a section of the electorate consider Isioma’s humanitarian service a greek gift. Where was she and why did she not exhibit the trait long before now? Is she not doing it now to win votes only to abandon the electorate when elected? her opponents ask. Pressing the point, the opponents wonder why Dr Okobah thinks she can just “breeze into Ika land” to be elected a law maker who would most likely turn out to be one in Diaspora, whereas she met many on queue at home? Worse for her, she has no visible godfather. Yet her campaign strategy must have tasked her opponents greatly.
                            
Inspite of these challenges, Okobah, on the eve of the election seems to be having  the upper hand against Barrister Victor Nwokolo from the same Ika East as the energetic Medical Doctor hails from.
                            
There are speculations that Victor Nwokolo is the preferred and anointed candidate. He is said to be enjoying the backing of top politicians and their supporters in Ika North East LGA. Victor, they argue, won the PDP primaries. Against Victor’s 258 votes, the aspirant who came a distant second polled 85 votes. Okobah and Festus boycotted the primaries and it was like an easy walk over for Victor who got more than 70% votes from Ika North East. Those who voted for him at the delegate election and their followers are said to be working out a revenge solution against PDP. While Victor is a candidate of Accord Party, his supporters are said to be mostly members of the PDP. It was even alleged that certain big shots and party faithful openly campaigned for Victor / Accord Party. If this is anything to go by it follows that the Accord Party candidate can be tipped to beat his kinswoman to it.
 
The fight for Delta North Senatorial seat is believed to be a straight one between Dr. A.I. Okowa and Hon Barrister Ned Nwoko. Both of them have intimidating credentials as well as strong political structures. Nwoko is said to have given a good account of himself when he was in the National Assembly between 1999 and 2003, Okowa had served as Secretary to Local Government and Chairman of a Local Government. Many are inclined to predicting that the Ogboru factor and lingering party rivalry may work against Okowa. This is  because it is believed by many that DPP has become a faction of PDP. It is also posited that PDP has been so derailed that members now work at across purposes against the ideals set and sustained in the Ibori years. And that this might work against Okowa.
 
However, Okowa has successfully attracted tremendous goodwill and following having served creditably and empowered uncountable persons in all spheres of human endeavors. His beneficiaries are every where across the parties in the state. In other words his support and following are beyond party affiliation.
                            
Rotational arrangement also favours Okowa. The other federal constituencies in Delta North have produced senators but Ika federal constituency has not. Many who believed in Anioma project would ratter not rock the boat by condoning monopoly of political power and abandoning equity and fairplay which rotation of power espouses. Even if these advantages are discountenanced, Okowa also has the advantage of playing grassroot politics and not leaving anything to chance, with his superior strategies.
                            
Opinion poll points to the fact that Okowa is a trail blazing pace setter. He kept setting the tone of the campaigns and was never less than two step ahead. He is said not to believed in sparing cost when achievement and performance are his mission. Many even offered him free service because they trust and believed in him. This implies that all told, Okowa is favored to win  50% votes from his opponents strongly and 70-80% in his sftronghold. And because there are two or more opponents that would share the remaining votes with Nwoko. Dr. Okowa has been tipped to win the senatorial election in Delta North.             

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