Most Valuable Politician of the Year: Obarisi Ovie Omo-Agege
Delta Central politics were characterized by three main developments in 2013. Firstly, it was a year in which many intrigues and horse-treading occurred in Urhobo Progress Union cumulating in the re-election of General Patrick Aziza as President General. Secondly, we had a senatorial by-election following the sudden and painful death of late Sen. Pius Ewherido and thirdly there was a change in the leadership of the very powerful Urhobo Political Congress UPC as a result of irreconcilable differences between Chief Amori and majority of members of the group.
In all these events which have significantly altered the political landscape of Delta Central and will no doubt determine the political future of Urhobo in 2015 general elections, Obarisi Ovie Omo-Agege, demonstrated exceptional bold leadership and willingness to confront the seemingly insurmountable challenges and he is deservedly the Most Valuable Urhobo Person of the Year 2013.
Though Ovie Omo-Agege has been out of government for almost seven years, he has not lost any of his fire and the burning desire to contribute to the growth and development of society. His constructive role in Urhobo politics over the past year has left Urhobo better positioned for the challenges of 2015 general elections. He took bold stands and backed them up with all he’s got and achieved success.
When an attempt was made to topple General Aziza leadership of UPU by a group within UPU, Omo-Agege stood firm behind the besieged President General and led the efforts that resolved the crisis in his favour which enabled Aziza to complete his first tenure. Again, when the same elements who failed in their bid to topple Aziza attempted to stop him during the UPU election, Omo-Agege supported the General and mobilized for him, while other political figures stood on the sideline, unwilling to stake their heads out for Aziza at a time when many believed that Aziza would lose.
The Senatorial by-election was even more challenging for the Urhobo nation in 2013. Many political pundits and prophets of doomsday had warned that the fragile political unity that existed in Urhobo land would not survive the election and the outcome could polarize the political class leaving the Urhobo nation powerless ahead of 2015 because of the caliber of Urhobo sons in the race, but never happened as the Urhobo came out stronger and united.
However, the overwhelming support and contribution of Obarisi Ovie Omo-Agege stunned observers of Delta Central politics. Though he sought the PDP ticket, Omo-Agege stepped down in the interest of his party and Urhobo, after it became obvious that the party leadership at the national level preferred Aguariavwodo, without grudge because he believed that if Urhobo must come out of its political wilderness, Urhobo must return to the ruling party.
For a man who in 2010 moved to the opposition to actualize the wish of Urhobo governor and failed, he understood the urgent need to use the by-election to position Urhobo strategically ahead of the next general elections. He followed his public declaration of support with actions, deploying his time, money and contacts to ensure that PDP won the election, particularly in Ughelli North, which has been the stronghold of the opposition, since the dawn of the new political dispensation.
It is on record that Obarisi Omo-Agege who believes in Albert Einstein statement that, “you cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it. You must learn to see the world anew,” gave everything to the race, by mobilizing resources, and went on aggressive mobilization of voters in his Ughelli North Local Government Area where the candidates of APC, LP and APGA come from to give PDP a well-deserved victory at the poll.
Omo-Agege has shown during the election that he is a man of strong character, a pragmatic leader who put his money where his mouth is. He did not only mobilize voters for PDP in the election, he was also on ground in the cold outside INEC collation center in Ughelli until 2am when the results were announced, This is a mark of a man who is out with a mission to accomplish.
Members of the PDP political family in Urhobo have also recognized his outstanding performance and that is why they turned to him for leadership when Chief Ighoyota Amori decided to quit UPC, following lack of support of the group to his senatorial ambition, in the run up to the senatorial by-election.
Omo-Agege’s role in Agwariavwodo’s victory, his dogged support for General Aziza and emergence as the new chairman of the powerful Urhobo Political Congress (UPC) in the last one year and his determination to do even more in 2014 for greater Urhobo interest has captured the attention of the Urhobo people including his most eager critics, who for long have not appreciated his capacity to lead Urhobo to the political promised land.
Annabel Ogheneganre, a regular columnist in Urhobo Times and a foremost critic of Omo-Agege in her piece in Vol. 2, Edition 238, cautiously urged Urhobos to give him a chance.“Omo-Agege may have offended Urhobo in the past. He may have run against the mood and current of Urhobo political interest in the past. But considering the fierceness of his politics and leadership charisma, I am of the view that if given a second chance, this man can undo the damages of the past and bring Urhobo to the shores of glory in the coming dispensation,” Annabel Ogheneganre declared.
This quick turnaround in fortune is a remarkable achievement. But it is not surprising for those who have followed his political history. Obarisi Ovie Omo-Agege, a lawyer, is known in political circles as an enthusiastic and self-motivated individual and astute politician who strives to achieve high standards in all his endeavours.
He began his political career in 2002 and was appointed the first Executive Assistant to the Governor of Delta State, Chief James Onanefe Ibori the following year. Within two years he was elevated to the State Executive Council as Commissioner for Special Duties.
Buoyed up by his achievements and calls by people of Delta state to run for the governorship in 2006, Omo-Agege joined the race and became a leading candidate for the Peoples Democratic Party gubernatorial nomination, securing the highest delegates among the Urhobo aspirants which included Late Senator Pius Ewerido, Chief Charles Obule, Chief Otega Emerhor, Chief Napoleon Gbinije, Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi and Chief Oscar Ibru. He lost to Dr. Emmanuel Udughan who was subsequently elected governor in 2007. In January 2007, Omo-Agege became the Secretary to the State Government (SSG).
He also contested for the gubernatorial position in 2011, where he also put up a great fight, but lost not because he was not good, but because he lacked the Urhobos support as the Urhobos at that time supported Chief Great Ogboru who wasted the vote given to him by the Urhobo nation. Many political analyst now believe Urhobo would have reclaimed the Governorship of the state in 2011 had they supported Omo-Agege.
Over the years, Omo-Agege has been steadfast in projecting and protecting Urhobo interest whenever that became necessary. This was evident in his declaration for the senate in March when he stated that “the Urhobo nation deserves more than what the opposition have offered for its support in the last three elections and we must use the opportunity of this election to reclaim our leadership role. We cannot continue to be in isolation, because that is what the opposition has offered so far which is at odds with our interest.” That was a clear message that resonated with the electorate.
And while thanking the people for the victory of the party in the election, recently he charged the people to be battle ready for 2015 because the job is not finished. “You all knew that if Urhobo must be great again, we need to be back to PDP. That’s what we have done. We have the senatorial seat back but it is not yet mission accomplished. Our task does not just end with one election. We have secured a great victory and won this battle but we have not won the war,” he declared.
This is the hallmark of a leader that the Urhobo people should desire and support to reposition the Urhobo nation ahead of 2015 general election. Urhobo adage that says that, “Omorojwemu-tuwevwi-oyejuwevwi,” translated to mean that a son that can deliver is the one you send to an errand. Omo-Agege over the years has proven to be competent, confident and capable to be sent to represent the Urhobo people in any capacity and therefore should be supported and entrusted with the responsibility to deliver dividends of democracy to the Urhobo nation.
The support of his peers in UPC and the popularity he enjoys among the populace makes Omo-Agege a dynamic force in the politics of Delta State and beyond, as we prepare for 2015. And with his declared commitment to pursue the Urhobo agenda in 2015, as set by the leadership of the Urhobo Progress Union, Urhobo nation should give our Urhobo Most Valuable Politician of 2013 who is ready and willing to serve the chance to lead in our collective determination to reclaim our leadership role in our state. As stated by Buddha “Hatred doesn’t cease in this world by hating, but by not hating; this is an eternal truth.
In other words, “our indomitable Obarisi Ovie Omo-Agege for his unwavering commitment to Urhobo unity and progress” was voted the most valuable Urhobo Politician of 2013.