One of the characteristics of politics is the fact that it is a game. But unlike other games such as football where competing teams have equal number of skillful players in the field of play, political “teams” are not restricted to any number of “players”. As a matter of fact, the higher the number of people in a political party as members and supporters, the higher their chances of winning elections. And this is why politics is also known as a game of numbers.
While members and supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are presently basking in the euphoria of Ifeanyi Okowa’s victory in the last Delta State governorship election, political watchers have continued to analyze the factors responsible for the governor’s superlative performance and Ogboru’s poor outing for the sixth time.
Among all the factors identified so far in favour of the Ika-born political maestro, grassroots mobilization stands out as the greatest. Political movement at the grassroots is not just about a politician sitting in the comfort of his or her mansion in the city and expecting miracle on election days, but it is akin to network marketing strategy where a customer (voter) recruits other customers into the network. And the wider the coverage of the network, the faster the sales of the product being promoted.
Okowa’s political strategy of grass root structure is worth emulating by up-coming politicians who also desire acceptance in their immediate constituencies.
One of the outstanding politicians in Ika land whose people-oriented style of politics contributed immensely to the victory of PDP in Delta State is Mr. Hillary Ibegbulem (a.k.a. Lion Heart). The Ute-born Principal Secretary to Governor Okowa has successfully created an ever expanding network of followers under that of his mentor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa. Hillary was one of the first politicians to create a campaign structure for the purpose of mobilizing votes for the governor as the 2019 general elections approached. He provided logistics and other branding apparatus for the stability and active performance of the structure. UMUNEDE MONARCH HOLDS GRAND PARTY TO CELEBRATE OKOWA’S VICTORY
Even if Hillary sneaks into Ute-Okpu unannounced, it only takes the knowledge of just one of his followers for the news of his presence in the town to spread like wild fire.
As a proof that this young ardent political supporter of Okowa is fully in control of his ward and other places, his home remained a beehive of activities for most of the days prior to the just concluded elections in Delta State.
On the 7thof March 2019, a visit to the country home of Hillary along Otolokpo road, Ute-Okpu showed that the place remained so busy that entering and leaving the house by visitors from across the state was an uphill traffic task that took the intervention of security personnel and some volunteer associates to manage. There was enough food and drinks for as many people that visited the politician before, during and after the March 9th governorship election. This is an attribute of a man of the people. To say the least, the political structure of Governor Okowa will remain formidable in the state and beyond as long as he continues to have men like Mr. Ibegbulem within his grass root political structure.
The story is not different from what was witnessed at the home of another indigene of Ute-Oku and a “political son” of Hillary Mr. Peter Okpuzor (a.k.a sharp stone). Guests from within and outside Ute-Okpu were fed with wine, food and assorted drinks for a week prior to the March 9th governorship election. All guests were treated with dignity and respect. It was as if “Sharp stone” was proving the fact that “all animals are equal”. Even when he was leaving the house to attend to other issues in the wee hours of March 9th, the bar remained open for visitors to be served.
However, mention must be made of other fellows in Ika Land who made winning easy for Okowa. For example, His Royal Majesty, the Obi of Owa kingdom, Dr. Emmanuel Efeizomor II, OON, JP, visited many communities with the message of peace before, during and after the elections. When he visited Owa-Alero on the 7th of March 2019, he said “Please let no one provoke you to anger even if you are abused.” The advice paid off as the state of Delta witnessed peace that passeth all understanding during the polls.
The home of Mr. Chris Omilo and Daniel Iwebuke (a.k.a Auditor) remained filled with activities also throughout the week of the governorship election. Youths of all ages gathered in these places every evening to unwind and discuss strategies for making Okowa win the governorship race of 9th March, 2019.
These men rounded off their grassroots support for the election with the provision of well prepared food for the members of Idumuebor and Aliegwe communities where Chris Omilo and “Auditor” hail from respectively. This was after the election of 9th March, 2019 and everyone was served irrespective of party affiliation.
Meanwhile, grassroots mobilization of voters would have been extremely difficult if the state governor had not performed to the expectation of the voting public. Even his opponents in the race acknowledged the fact that he has done well for the state, given his road construction efforts, job creation, peace building, non-discriminatory policies and appointments among several others.
The governorship election has been won and lost but the lesson of victory will ever remain for any politician to learn for the sake of contests ahead.
BY AUGUSTINE OMILO