While the 2023 elections are still months away, we often forget that each passing day brings them ever more closer with the dawn of truly significant electoral decisions to be made drawing ever nearer. Given the towering stature and unprecedented pride brought to Delta Central Senatorial District by Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, who, this time around has decided to go for the governorship of the state, it behoves on the Urhobo people to ensure that their next senator is not a minus to the gains recorded thus far but an addition to Omo-Agege’s success, indeed, in multiples.
Thankfully, Okakuro Ede Dafinone, Delta Central Senatorial Candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, a globally recognized chartered accountant, industrialist, environmentalist, philanthropist, technocrat per excellence, tried, tested and confirmed professional of international repute and quintessential Urhobo patriot is on the ballot for 2023, thus assuring Delta Central of sustained quality representation in the next dispensation. Unlike the boasters, noisemakers and self adulators we are all too used to in our society, the Dafinones, a family that brought global pride to Urhobo, Delta, Niger Delta, the Nigerian Federation and, indeed, the entire continent of Africa by bagging a Guinness Book of World Record in a most uncommon and intellectually significant category as the family with the most chartered accountants in the entire world, are an exceptionally disciplined family, touching lives without asking for either thanks or recognition for their verifiably impactful interface with the people.
This is Ede Dafinone’s background, a man who, amongst other things, is a Director, NEXIM Bank; a Trustee, Network of Practicing Non-Oil Exporters of Nigeria; a Council Member, Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales; Chairman, Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales Members Advisory Board for Africa; Board member, National Film and Video Censors Board; Chairman, Manufacturer’s Association of Nigeria, MAN, Export Promotion Group; Chairman, Nigerian Conservation Foundation; and, Council Member, World Wide Fund for Nature, the organization led and championed for decades by none else and no less a global icon than King Charles III, the new King of England. This is quite apart from Dafinone’s committed participation in leadership positions in various people-oriented activities, including in the Urhobo Progress Union, UPU, and more philanthropically, through the Dafinone Foundation, which has excelled and continues to impact lives through sustained youth and women empowerment.
In politics, all manner of people, qualified, not so qualified, rather unqualified, and, patently unqualified, try their luck at the ballot box to emerge as leaders of the people. It is, therefore, the remit of the people, on their part, being the electorate, who stand to gain or lose the most depending on who ends up being elected, to ensure that only the very best get their votes.
Dafinone’s main contender for the Delta Central senatorial seat is Chief Ighoyota Amori, a career politician of many endless controversies, said to have been formerly engaged in the drilling of boreholes until former Governor James Ibori brought him to wealth and limelight through politics. What is probably most remarkable regarding Chief Amori is the fact that up till now it has apparently not yet dawned on him that no matter how much he insists on imposing himself as a senator over Delta Central, the Urhobo people simply do not want him as their senator.
Indeed, the very first time he tried to become a senator, he was rejected by Urhobos in favour of late Senator Pius Ewherido of blessed memory, who also defeated him in court when Amori sued to invalidate Ewherido’s election. Upon the untimely death of Ewherido, Amori’s own party, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, rejected him on grounds that the party was bound to lose with a candidate like Amori whom the Urhobo people clearly didn’t want anything to do with, and instead, chose Emmanuel Aguariavwodo to fly its flag during the by-election. Funny enough, that election, yet another stolen one in the sordid history of rigged elections in Delta State, was either won by Okakuro Ede Dafinone or Olorogun O’tega Emerhor, both of whom were merely allocated figures well below their actual performance in the election by the PDP.
In any case, the one and only time Amori managed to sneak himself into the Senate through the backdoor of patently rigged elections, he was nevertheless, soon thereafter sacked most unceremoniously by the court, with his election being voided as blatantly rigged. He has therefore never had the mandate of Delta Central, has always been rejected by the Urhobo people, and, has never actually ever been a senator, even though he keeps parading himself as one.
It is therefore quite surprising that the same Amori who either could not win outright or, at any rate, successfully defend a stolen mandate during the era of brazenly and colossally rigged elections that used to be the order of the day in Delta, now somehow hopes to win the much coveted Senate seat in this present era of BVASS and therefore extremely difficult to rig elections! Indeed, how come a man of Chief Amori’s bitter electoral experience and most torturous rejection by Delta Central has not yet come to the painful but sobering realization that the Urhobo people have moved past him, left him far behind and simply want absolutely nothing further to do with him and his arcane brand of politics anymore is truly astonishing.
In any case, Amori had hitherto relied heavily on votes from Ethiope West, Sapele and Okpe local government areas.
Unfortunately for him, he is contesting against Dafinone, who is of Okpe stock. Amori is therefore guaranteed to perform poorly in that axis as the Okpe people of Sapele and Okpe Local Government Areas move to support one of their own. Same applies to Uvwie Local Government Area, which, apart from ancestral ties between Okpe and Uvwie people, forms one federal constituency with Sapele and Okpe local government areas.
Moreover, Amori’s chances even in his Ethiope West home base are presently extremely poor given his recent quarrels with fellow chiefs in his native Mosogar, who have bitterly broken ranks with him over the recent installation of the traditional ruler, quite apart from widespread resentment against him by his own people over his role in keeping the area in darkness by blocking efforts by the Deputy Senate President to improve electricity supply to Mosogar. Furthermore, with BVASS now the order of the day, the phantom votes traditionally associated with Ethiope West will no longer be forthcoming thus ensuring that Amori’s votes are weakened in his traditional strongholds.
Ede Dafinone, on the other hand, is neither a man who made his name in politics nor his money from the public till. He is certainly not the sort of man who was a complete unknown before venturing into the murky waters of Nigerian politics and clearly does not need politics to survive. As our elections become ever more credible, even as rigging continues to be rendered ever more obsolete, and, the power to hire and fire leaders is restored back to the people, it is now the inescapable obligation of the electorate to ensure that only men and women who meet the most rigorous requirements for leadership end up in the corridors of power.
In Ede Dafinone, the ancient and noble Urhobo people of Delta Central have a unique chance, come 2023, to sustain and further deepen the stewardship already rendered, thus far, by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, who brought uncommon pride to Delta by emerging Deputy Senate President. We must all come out to vote and stamp our feet down as holders of the office of citizen, the highest office in the land, by putting those who have consistently used and dumped us to shame, even as we elect credible persons like Ede Dafinone who have creditably acquitted themselves in whatever life has brought their way.
With a Senator Ede Dafinone, the Urhobo people are set to have certainly one of the very brightest minds the next Senate will be able to boast of. Needless to say, with the added compliment of his pointed and carefully thought out manifesto, backed by his wealth of experience, sterling private sector background, blameless professional work ethic, international standing, global recognition and public spiritedness, the Urhobos can be rest assured of premium senatorial representation, going forward.
Etabuko, a public affairs analyst writes from Ughelli.