As the 2023 elections draw near, political campaigns, election prognoses, and winning strategies are coming to a fever pitch as politicians map out the final strategy to outwit opponents.
In the midst of the political uncertainty, there hovers in the air fear and foreboding on the part of not only the politicians but the electorate themselves who are uncertain about where political pendulum will likely swing.
For Delta North Senatorial, in spite of the plethora of candidates across many political parties, it’s clear that the battle is a two- horse race between the incumbent senator Peter Nwaoboshi of the ruling All Progressives Congress, a veteran politician, and Hon. Ned Nwoko, an old political warhorse and a veteran politician of the People’s Democratic Party; who was a former member of the House of Representatives.
For the sake of clarity and to refreshen memory of those who may have forgotten the senatorial political landscape of Delta North, the field is peopled by contenders and a number of pretenders.
The strong contenders include the incumbent Senator, Peter Nwaoboshi of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and Prince Ned Nwoko of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who was a former member of the House of Representatives.
Other candidates include Ken Kanma of the Labour Party, and Emeka Nkwoala of the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), as well as Kenneth Gbandi of African Democratic Congress (ADC), among others in the race to the Senate.
Until the current dispensation, Delta North was without question a hotbed of conservative People’s Democratic Party since the return of democracy in 1999, but the configuration changed when the incumbent senator, Nwaoboshi, defected to APC.
Given his defection and the provisions of the amended Electoral Act, the political balance may likely change in 2023, given the influence and acceptability being accorded the billionaire philanthropist, Ned Nwoko.
Among other candidates, there’s none that can be said to be a dark horse capable of springing a surprise, so it remains a two- horse race between Nwoko and the incumbent senator.
Nwaoboshi, is an old political warhorse with a rich political history, being a foundation member of the PDP, former commissioner in the state, former state chairman of the PDP and now two-term senator. In fact, Nwaoboshi has been on the political turf since the return of democracy in 1999.
On the flip side, is the billionaire philanthropist and international lawyer, Ned Nwoko, who had represented Aniocha/Oshimili in the House of Representatives on the platform of the PDP. He contested the senatorial election in 2011 on the platform of the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) but lost to Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa of the PDP.
Given a plethora of analyses, groundswell of support on ground and the success of his campaigns as seen in the number of people daily defecting to his side, a number of analysts have predicted his victory by wide margin.
For record, we can recall that the two old warhorses are not just meeting in the political battle ground for the first time.
In the build up to the 2019 election, there was tension and uncertainty as their campaigns proved titanic as they vied for the ticket for PDP which Nwaoboshi eventually won, marginally, to get re-elected for a second term.
Few months after the 2019 general elections, Nwaoboshi had political disagreement with Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and the PDP leadership, and as a result moved to the APC with the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege who represents Delta central taking the credit for wooing him over.
His departure from PDP paved the way for an unwilling Nwoko who had earlier insisted that he would not contest the PDP senatorial ticket should Governor Okowa be interested in going back to the National Assembly in 2023 when he would be rounding off his second tenure as governor.
The governor was lucky as he was picked as presidential candidate of his party. Nwoko, predictably won the primary, defeating Paul Osaji during the senatorial primary held in May.
Ahead of 2023 contest, the campaign has been intense from the camps of Nwaoboshi and Nwoko, although the later is not physically present at rallies courtesy of a court judgement convicting him of corruption charges. He is currently serving his jail term at the Kirikiri Correctional Centre, Lagos.
But his loyalists led by Moses Kamanya, have not let him down. Already, his billboards with bold inscription that the ‘Eagle has no rival’ are mounted in strategic locations within the zone.
Deputy Senate President and the state governorship candidate of APC, Ovie Omo-Agege who led the party’s ward to ward campaigns to Delta North, urged Anioma voters to re-elect Nwaoboshi.
Omo-Agege dangled mantra that echoed a sentiments before the Delta North people, alleging that the zone has a big chance of producing the next Senate President in Nwaoboshi if they re-elect him as he will be the most ranking senator on the party’s platform from the South-South geo-political zone.
“Going by our zoning arrangement, by the time Bola Tinubu from the South-West wins the presidency, his vice, Kashim Shettima is from the North-East, automatically, the Senate President will come to the south and it will be micro zoned to the South-South.
“Delta State will be lucky to have the number three position as represented by Nwaoboshi. It will be an elevation on the DSP position which I currently hold,” he said.
The Deputy Senate President also told Anioma voters to vote for an experienced senator with requisite lobbying skills and not “neophyte who will be alien to Abuja politics” to avoid under representation in the next dispensation.
Despite attempt to link him to the travails of the incumbent senator, Nwoko, distanced himself from Nwaoboshi’s travails, noting that he would prefer to defeat the APC candidate clearly and not by default.
“I like Nwaoboshi to come out from where he is so that I can beat him, I don’t want to win by default, I want to win clearly. This is the chance for me to tell Nwaoboshi that I am best material for Anioma interest,” he said.
The PDP candidate said he has got the experience and requisite lobbying skills to influence development to Anioma nation if elected.
“A good lawmaker is as good as the person with executive power, it is all about lobbying. There are many things to be done.
“Normally I will focus on the general well being of Nigerians because as a senator, I represent Nigerians whether you are in PDP, APC or Labour Party, it does not make any difference, the well being of Nigerians is more important.
“If you look at the bills that I sponsored when I was at the House of Representatives, it was about the people, the minimum wage, disability allowance, youth service.
“Coming down to the state here, this road (Asaba-Benin road) needs to be resurfaced; we need service stations along the way.
“We need to have roads from Oko to Ndokwa East all the way through Isoko to Warri, that road must be done. And the embankment must be elevated.
A political scientist, professor Francis Atteh, told NATIONAL WAVES that “Given current configuration, Nwoko will defeat the incumbent senator, this time around in Delta North, political sympathy lies with the billionaire philanthropist, Ned. He has paid his due.”
Many spoken to by this medium are of the view that Nwoko will win but by wide margin. Whether this will happen remains to be seen.