When the three close aides of former Delta state governor, Dr Uduaghan defected to the APC last weekend, they described themselves as mere forerunners who came to announce the arriveal of ‘Christ’. In this piece, ANASTACIA ELUWA, asks whether Uduaghan is the ‘Christ’ and what may have informed his speculated defection to the APC
Fresh facts have emerged that the immediate past Governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan may have concluded plans to decamp from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to the ruling All Progressives
Congress, APC. This fact was gleaned from the recent development in the state where the ex-governor’s three former aides had left the PDP for the APC.
The defectors include Uduaghan’s commissioner for Housing, Chief Paulinus Akpeki, who later became his chief of staff, his counterpart in Lands and Survey, Missan Ukubeyinje, that of Economic Planning, Mr. Ebifa Ijeoma.
While decamping to the APC, the three former aides of the ex-governor had described themselves as the forerunners of the expected ‘Christ’ who according to them is to come after them. “Today we are here to declare our loyalty to the APC and we are here as forerunners, the ‘Christ’ will soon come,” Apeki said.
Receiving the decampees, the APC State Chairman, Prophet Jones Ode-Erue, assured them that the party was open and would accord same priorities to the new members.
He assured that they would work together to ensure that the state keyed into the progressive policy of the APC national.
He charged them to take the message to the expected “Christ” that the party is open and waiting to receive them and to identify with all who wish to come.
The expected “Christ” according to sources might be Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, who is their boss, as according to them, is to correct the wrongs in Delta state and to put the state among the progressives.
The forerunners tagged “John the Baptist” of Delta state said that it was obvious that the change the country has been waiting for, has finally come under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, adding that people with progressive minds could not but join the progressives as the state cannot afford to be in opposition with its enormous resources but join the leadership of the APC to transform the state.
Nigerian Pilot gathered from reliable sources that Dr. Uduaghan may not be happy with the happenings in the Okowa-led administration, where the former’s line of action seems to indicate that the latter did not work for his emergence as his successor.
As it were, during the preparation of the last general election in the country, the Peoples Democratic Party denied Dr. Uduaghan the senatorial ticket to represent the Delta South senatorial district at the Senate.
His senatorial ambition almost sparked off serious crisis in Delta state, but to save the situation, a few days to the elections, the former governor withdrew from the race Senatorial race citing the need for a peaceful electoral process and transition.
Dr. Uduaghan observed that his withdrawal from the Senatorial was in the general interest of the state and democracy at large, stressing “the first agenda of my administration is peace and security and I will not do anything that will threaten the peace. I am determined to bequeath a peaceful state, the worst thing that can happen is to be part of the security challenges. I have offered to step down from the Senatorial race to ensure that the tension is reduced and in the overall interest of peace and security in the state.”
“I bought my forms, I have been screened and cleared for the Senatorial seat and as the person in charge at the state level, I have always appealed that elections must not be a do or die affair, unfortunately, there have been a lot of political and ethnic tension that is threatening the peace and security of the state, which has been noticed even at the national level,” Uduaghan said.
Also Dr. Uduaghan’s desire to cause Sir Tony Obuh, a retired Permanent Secretary Government House to succeed him was again thwarted by some chieftains of PDP, which led to Senator Ifeanyi Okowa emerging at the party’s governorship candidate.
Uduaghan gave an unflinching support to Senator Okowa immediately he emerged victorious as the PDP’s flag bearer and also worked for his victory at the general elections because according to Uduaghan, ‘party is supreme’.
In order to heal the wounds occasioned by primaries, Dr. Uduaghan called for reconciliation among the party faithful to ensure overall victory at the polls in the country at the thanksgiving service held in honour of the then PDP gubernatorial candidate at St. Philip`s Anglican Church, Asaba before the Governorship elections.
While observing that there was a lot of internal wrangling within the party at the national and state levels, he said, “if you don’t forgive, you are in prison, when you forgive, you release yourself from that prison. You must forgive even a repeated offender, an unrepentant offender, and even people who believe you have offended them, we need to forgive one another so that God will forgive us all.”
Shockingly, after working for his victory at the polls, Governor Okowa’s first official pronouncement as governor on 30th May was the suspension of the recruitment exercise into the State Civil Service done by the administration of Uduaghan. Governor Okowa described the recruitment process as flawed.
“It is public knowledge that the process was fraught with sharp practices ranging from abuse of office to sale of jobs slots and therefore cannot by any stretch of imagination be adjudged credible, no flawed process produces a credible exercise,” the governors said then.
Observers tagged this as the first major fallout between predecessor and successor.
Closely followed to this is that soon after taking over, the new governor raised the alarm of huge debt left behind by his predecessor.
Governor Okowa had while meeting with top echelon of the Delta State Civil Service at Government House, who paid him a courtesy visit, raised alarm over the major debt overhang in the state, but not relenting, he said that there must be ways his government would carry on with its activities to deliver democratic dividends to the people despite a heavy debt burden accrued by the state.
“We are in a major debt overhang, a very difficult financial state. We should appreciate that, and the onus is on all of us to find a way out, we will need to find a way to improve on the lives of Deltans.”
The governor reiterated that the meeting was necessary to “discuss the debts over hang, brief the civil servants on the present state of things and rub minds on the way forward, both now and the years to come”.
Governor would soon go public to inform the State House of Assembly, that he inherited a huge bank/capital market debt burden of N96.62 billion with a scheduled monthly repayment of N4.6 billion.
This, he explained, was in addition to the monthly repayment of the state infrastructure development bond of N50 billion obtained in 2011.
“The restructuring of the existing facilities and acceptance of the N10 billion term loan will mitigate the harsh impact of the liquidity crisis, reduce time lag in payment of salaries, pensions and overhead costs as well as ensure that take off of some key projects germane to the agenda of this administration,” the governor told the House.
The public declaration of the debt left behind by Uduaghan was another point of sharp departure between the governor and his predecessor.
Though Okowa is not Uduaghan’s preferred candidate, but the speed with which the incumbent governor went about dismantling Uduaghan’s structure unnerved the former governor and must have accounted for the move to leave a party that provided a political platform for him for more than eight years.
Uduaghan is still a very young man and sources say remaining in the PDP where the incumbent governor has annexed all the structures may be injurious to his future political ambition. Where does he hope to go from here? With the loss of power at the centre by the PDP, it is obvious that his political choices are currently limited and his close allies argue that it is too early for him to retire from active politics. To this end, if he makes good his move to defect to the APC, it is believed he may likely have more political space to realize whatever that remains of his political future.
On the other hand, there are those who feel that Uduaghan should no matter what show some political appreciation by standing with the PDP even if he is being hounded. The question is, will Uduaghan be the ‘Christ’ APC is waiting in Delta? It is just a matter of time before the answer is revealed.