The two leading governorship aspirants in the Delta State All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief Great Ogboru and Rt. Hon. Victor Ochei clashed minutes into the primary exercise over the authentic list of accredited delegates to be used for the exercise holding at the Federal Technical College in capital Asaba.
Also involved in the heated argument was Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, who is a core supporter of Ogboru’s bid.
Ochei, and the two other aspirants cleared for the exercise, Dr. Cairo Ojugbo and Dr. Pat Utomi had earlier Sunday during a meeting between the aspirants, leaders of the party and electoral panel officials complained about the partiality of national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who they accused of skewing the process to help Ogboru emerge winner.
The aggrieved aspirants had complained that the party had deliberately kept the accredited delegates lists away from them but handed it to Ogboru and Omo-Agege. They said it made it impossible for them to canvas for votes as they did not know the identity of the delegates.
Utomi and Ojougbo would later announce their withdraw from the race in protest.
The arguments at the primary started when Senator Omo-Agege unsuccessfully tried to talk the panel into using either of the two separate lists in his possession saying they are the correct documents for the exercise, but was vehemently resisted by Ochei. The issue was however resolved when the CP of Police in the State intervened and both parties accepted to use the delegates list which the electoral panel chaired by Retr. General Lawrence Onoja brought from Abuja.
The list however in the Onoja panel possession according to checks by journalists covering the primary appears to be different from the list of delegates approved for the Ogboru faction of the party by the court through which it is claiming legitimacy as the authentic state exco.
The poorly managed accreditation of delegates was still ongoing as at 10.30pm and expected to run through mid day on Independence Day and then voting is expected to start afterwards and could run into early Tuesday.
In a chat with journalists when things had calmed, Ochei and Omo-Agege explained the reason for the charged arguments.
Ogboru who has the full support of Oshiomhole and the party structure for the exercise appears to be the favourite but Ochei, who remains very popular statewide may clinch a shocking victory. A text message was circulated around delegates suggesting that Ojuogbo, who was at the venue had dropped out and endorsed Ochei.
This race remains too close to call.