By Emma Amaize
CHIEF Paulinus Akpeki, a frontline politician from the Delta Central Senatorial District of Delta State is currently the State Commissioner for Communication and Orientation. He spoke to Saturday Vanguard in Asaba on the forthcoming re-run polls, the role of his senatorial district in the election, the best thing that happened to the state in 2007 and the way forward.
Delta Central has served its 8-yr tenure
I am from the same Delta Central Senatorial District as Chief Great Ogboru of the Democratic People’s Party and Chief Ovie Omo-Agege, both gubernatorial aspirants or candidates as the case may be, and I can tell you categorically that we have served our two terms of eight years under the former governor, Chief James Ibori. It is now the turn of Delta South Senatorial District and they should be allowed to complete their tenure.
We in the PDP zoned that position to another area after Central had it for eight years and the area that got is was South, where Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan comes from and those of us who are true members of the PDP in the Central concluded that process long ago and we stand by that position that Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan remains our candidate in PDP and we will give them the support, no matter who claims he is coming from Central, we have no business in the current governorship race.
Ibori never imposed Uduaghan
I want to say very categorically now that at no time did the former governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori, impose his cousin, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan on the people of Delta State as governor. All of us were in Delta state and we were all key players then, we were delegates and I was one of the delegates, the opposition people that are making noise today, I have looked at their list, none of them was a delegate because they did not meet the requirements of being delegates in their own ward, including the leader of that group.
What happened is this and I will tell you today and let them challenge it. Every delegate was screened at Ogwashi-Uku, kilometers away from the Ogwashi-Uku stadium, where the primaries were to take place. After screening, nobody was allowed to drive to the stadium, we all trekked to the stadium. When we got there, the ballot boxes, it was a transparent ballot box, was shown to everybody.
Ballot papers were issued as they called every delegate, they mention your name, they give you ballot paper. There was a free and fair primary election held at Ogwashi-Uku, delegates cast their votes local government by local government, ballot papers were also counted local government by local government, and at the end of that primaries, results were announced in the very hours of the morning at about 4.00 am. Uduaghan came first, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa who is today gunning for the Delta North Senatorial ticket, came second and Ovie Omo-Agege, a gubernatorial aspirant in one of the parties at the moment took a distant third.
What I know is that there would have been a run-off between Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan and Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, but in between, Dr. Okowa gave in and that was how Dr. Uduaghan emerged as the candidate of the party. He got the highest votes cast; he beat all candidates at Ogwashi-Uku, so how would you now say in this type of situation that somebody imposed the other person when that person won convincingly the highest votes cast.
The Delta Central Senatorial District conducted mock primaries in 2007 and endorsed Omo-Agege as its consensus gubernatorial candidate for the Ogwashi-Uku primaries, but it still lost to Uduaghan, what went wrong?
Central lost because all the aspirants from the Central, no one was prepared to give way to the other. In fact, I was also privy and privileged to be one of those that took part in that mock election. Before the mock election, the former governor, Chief Ibori summoned some of us to his residence in Oghara to discuss the problems of Urhobo because we had so many candidates. Ibori even helped by saying that with all this retinue of candidates, he did not see how one person could make it when the North had just barely one or two persons; the South had just one person.
The other person, Albert Okumagba who is from the South was largely seen as an Urhobo candidate. But Uduaghan comes from the South that has Itsekiri, Ijaw and Isoko and the Ijaws were eyeing the Senate; the Isokos because they were hoping that after him, something would come to Isoko and the Itsekiris, of course, had no choice than to vote for their own son, so the South was solidly behind him.
Some people contend that Ibori did not actually want power –shift, that he anointed Ovie Omo-Agege to take over for him, but for some members of his kitchen cabinet, who insisted that it would be unfair in a Delta with multi-ethnic groups for him to handover to a fellow Urhobo man after ruling for eight years?
Very unfortunately, I don’t think anybody saw Ibori to discuss this issue. I venture to say today, God will bring Ibori back and he will tell the story some day when he writes his memoir. I had the privilege to personally on one on one, call Ibori on one of nights by the pool side, only two of us discussing, I told him, here we are, we have three persons from the home, Dr. Emmanuel Udughan, Ovie Omo-Agege and Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, what is your stand.
Chief James Ibori told me- Look, chief, these people are all members of my family, I know all three of them, even though I know my brother, I stayed with him and I know him, we are maternal cousins, he comes from the south, Ifeanyi comes from the north, Ovie is from central, now, there is this clamour for power shift, he threw the question back to me.
In your mind of minds, Chief Akpeki, being a veteran, do you think that at this point in time, central should take the governorship or just leave it like that and even from what you are seeing, where is your plan B, because we have too many Urhobo aspirants.
If Chief Okumagba and other Urhobo kings are alive, which of them can tell me that Ibori anointed Ovie against the other members from the other senatorial districts, nobody can say it when at the Urhobo Progress Union, UPU, the group said they should drink from a glass if we know we will impose an Urhobo candidate, let those who are talking today that Ibori anointed Ovie, let them tell us today what transpired. Ibori did not drink anything, wont that give you a signal that the man only wanted the best for Delta.
And I venture to state further that the best thing that happened to Delta state in 2007 was the election of Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan because God knows where Delta was going to be and he brought somebody with some experience to run Delta. If we had put an amateur there, we would have had problems now.
Let Ovie Omo-Agege tell us his antecedents as an administrator. The problem some of the followers of Ibori are angry about today is the catapulting of Ovie Omo-Agege far above everybody because he was never, ever in the system.