THIS is not the best of times for Governor Emmanuel Ewetan Udugahan, the Delta State Governor. The bell of his first tenure is tolling ominously, yet he is looking forward to a second term.
With all the incessant meetings, press briefings and political horse-trading that attend such a public office as the executive governor of an oil-rich state, the man indeed must be looking a little bit jaded and weatherbeaten. All hands are supposed to be on deck to see the former stethoscope-toting man, sit on the leather-padded swivelling chair of the Governor’s Office at Asaba again. So, the strain must be showing and his patience wearing thin.
Ordinarily, there should have been no cause for alarm. The action man of Delta State must feel that he has acquitted himself well. No doubt he has chalked up a string of impressive wins. Has he not won the much-coveted Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) award for the Most Investment-friendly Governor?
Even more than that. He has been the toast of many an interviewer, simply because he is what newsmen would described as an interviewer’s delight. His three-point agenda has been the mantra by which many Deltans have been swearing.
In fact, any moment from now, it could be the theme of the new Oritsefemi’s song, or the title of a high budget flick by the Delta State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Mr. Richard Mofe-Damijo aka RMD. the Warri Industrial Park, the Warri and Asaba airports and the network of roads criss-crossing the Big Heart are silent but fervid orators of the Uduaghan’s magic wand in governance.
And the people themselves have been at pains to tell whoever cared to listen that there is no vacancy at the Governor’s Office in Asaba come 2011, courtesy of Uduaghan’s superlative performance in the first term. Quite naturally, a lot of people have consequently taken the issue of this stylish Ibori’s cousin’s re-election for granted. His party, the PDP, as a matter of course had even begun to look at the other parties’ candidates with something not quite different from disdain.
As if they were a bunch of naughty kids too thick-headed to know when they have been beaten. Not quite surprisingly, Mrs. Uduaghan could have been inundated at night with dreams signifying another four years in Government House, Asaba.
However, the stark reality of the moment is that if indeed all the aforementioned are dreams they are at best exaggerated ones. Fact is, the Uduaghan supposed cult following is wearing thin and an obviously strong ill-wind is blowing at the dashing Uduaghan’s bravura and touted invincibility at the polls.
To start with, the regiment of yesmen has dwindled substantially and a crop of heavyweight opposition candidates are springing up by the minute, all of them preoccupied with one thing: Taking Uduaghan’s job at the Governor’s office from him in 2011. And, stranger than fiction, some of them are actually Uduaghan’s yesmen hitherto, men who have dipped bread into the same plate with him if you’ll permit this Biblical intertext.
Leading the pack of this firebrand opposition is a man who nearly single-handedly sent the Military Maradona scampering for shelter at Abuja. For this man, to wrest power from Uduaghan is a task that must be accomplished with finesse and guts, and he has already deployed his fabulous wealth into strategic fraternity with other revolutionary-minded iconoclasts.
Apart from Professor Ted Mukoro, another formidable opponent of the Governor is Chief Ovie Omo-Agege who really poses a big threat to the re-election dreams of Governor Uduaghan.
From all these indications, it is crystal-clear the PDP is no longer united in the choice of the governorship candidate any more than the nation is united over who should be at the Aso Rock Villa next year. The fact that almost all of these people mentioned are card-carrying members of the PDP substantiates, beyond a shadow of doubt, this apprehension-cum-conviction.
They feel that even though Governor Uduaghan has made himself worthy of the ticket, all the contestants should be given the necessary support to make for fairness. Afterall, democracy is all about choices. Therefore, people should not antagonise and alienate any gubernatorial candidate who deems it fit to challenge Uduaghan. And that is why we should suspect the motive of Mr. Solomon Areyenka, Chief of Staff to Governor Uduaghan, who, in one article published by Vanguard, alleges conspiracy and gang-up against his boss.
Even though, we can understand that Areyenka was only demonstrating his loyalty, he must be advised that such journalism is the exclusive preserve of the Governor’s Press Secretary, which he is not.
Finally, it is true that Dr. Uduaghan has performed brilliantly. However, this in itself should not prevent him from being challenged by others. We have seen only what the Governor has done. Others could come from nowhere and better his records. Afterall, Abraham Lincoln of America was not an experienced man. In fact, he lost all the junior elections.
And won the greatest election in the land. The American Presidency, Same for Obama.
By Gab Ejuwa, a journalist, writes from Lagos.