Ogboru, Okowa shun live TV debate as Otega shines
DESPITE the fact that only the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, participated in the heavily advertised and much anticipated 2015 Delta State Gubernatorial Election Debate held at the Grand Hotel, Asaba, Delta State on Tuesday, March 24, the organizers have described the event as a ‘huge success’.
Asaba the state capital of Delta was in a frenzy last Tuesday as supporters of both the Labour party and the APC parties held a road rally to sensitize the people to watch their candidates speak to Deltans later in the evening via the debate platform. They shared handbills, danced and sang to loud music.
It was about 5pm that Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, the campaign organistion of governorship candidate of the People Democratic Party, PDP, called the organizers for an emergency meeting. Mr. Jude Banye and Igho Ugbegu were both informed that Okowa won’t be taking part in the process citing some law suit instigated by the PDP against the APC and Labour candidates Olorogun Otega Emerhor and Great Ogboru respectively. But not many people had this information, so the large crowd that turned up at the hall tucked at the riverside of Grand Hotel, came to see the three top contenders tell Deltans the plans they have for the people and state.
As at 7pm, Olorogun Emerhor was already seated on the expansive stage looking very relaxed and exuding confidence. Great Ogboru’s many supporters were chanting campaign songs around a black tinted glass SUV parked by the entrance of the hall. It became clear that their principal was inside the vehicle. Ogboru it was gathered was angry and insisting on leaving since according to sources close to the organizers, he arrived on schedule and the event was yet to start. He was later placated and he came into the hall amid loud singing and dancing. Then the drama began. Ogboru took the microphone and broke the news that he was pulling out of the debate because Okowa did not show up. His supporters cheered as he walked back to the SUV and drove off. Jude Banye who also moderated the event then asked people to fill the space reserved for Ogboru’s supporters in the audience. Banye then introduced the panel made up of popular television personality Mrs. Adesuwa Onyenokwe, Prof. Tony Emina and Donald Ovberejo, another seasoned broadcaster.
When Emerhor insisted he would continue with the exercise, the crowd cheered. He said he was not surprised that Okowa and Ogboru “chickened out” as he had expected them to. “When a man does not have any plan for his people, he is always afraid to come out in the open and speak. I actually came here to face Okowa because I know that Ogboru is working for the PDP since Labour is also voting for the PDP president. There is no difference between the PDP and Labour. When I first saw my picture in the middle of the two gentlemen, I told the organizers about my concern, thank God they changed me to the far left which is good because it’s me against the two of them,” Emerhor said as an opener and the crowd roared again.
Emerhor then took six questions from the panel members in a period of an hour. It was a robust session as Deltans got an insight into his plans if elected. The APC candidate no doubt got a huge political millage from the live televised debate.
Ugbegu on her part described the event as a success. “We took considerable amount of time, effort and resources to put all of this together. We are happy that achieved some degree of success despite the absence of two candidates.”
Banye said: “The move was a response to the need for candidates to articulate their plans and abilities to Delta indigenes and get the people more involved in the electoral process. The Gubernatorial Election Debate is intended to inform, sensitize and involve voters in the 2015 Delta State political process.”
Doely Intermediaries is an independent, non partisan management consultancy headed by seasoned business analysts and workshop facilitators working with Inspire Delta Initiative to deliver this project. Doely Intermediaries organised the 2011 Election Symposium tagged: One Man One Vote How Possible?
The debate was broadcast live on the Nigeria Television Authority, NTA Asaba-Delta State