By Clifford Ndujihe, Deputy Political Editor
TO make the forthcoming rerun governorship election in Delta State credible, candidates have been urged to base their campaigns on issues.
Since the Court of Appeal’s nullification of Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan’s election and ordering of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to conduct a re-run within 90 days, that is on or before February 9, 2011, there has been an upswing of political activities in the state.
The leading contenders and opposing stakeholders have been engulfed in intense posturing, campaigns and exchange of brick bats in what is panning out as a three horse race among Uduaghan and Chief Great Ogboru, the Democratic Peoples Party, DPP flagbearer and Chief Ovie-Omo Agege of the Republican Party of Nigeria, RPN.
Those opposed to Uduaghan are bent on stopping him while the former governor and his faithful are hammering out strategies to return him to the Delta State Government House, Asaba.
Uduaghan’s opponents said he did not deserve to return because of his blood relationship with former Governor James Ibori, poor performance after three and half years in office and mishandling of an alleged N850 billion that accrued to the state within the period.
Indeed, First Republic Information Minister and an elder of the PDP, Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark, 83, is one of those opposing Uduaghan
In an interview with Vanguard, Clark vowed to pursue his quest to stop the governor to a logical conclusion and ruled out reconciliation with the Delta State PDP Governorship Candidate.
Clark, who listed four reasons he is against Uduaghan’s occupation of Government House, Asaba, alleged that the former governor’s annulled administration had inflicted so much hardship on Delta citizenry to the extent that reconciling with him would not solve the problem of Deltans.
According to him, Uduaghan had not completed any project including roads, Independent Power Project and Airport that he started after spending huge sums of money and as such does not deserve to return.
Specifically, he alleged in addition that Uduaghan was covering Ibori’s alleged misdeeds and was opposed to President Goodluck Jonathan’s presidential ambition.
Commenting on the allegations, Mrs. Orezi Esievo, Commissioner for Special Duties ( Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission, DESOPADEC) and Mr. Gary Akpobire, Director General, Delta State Integrated Development Programme, DSIDP, said Uduaghan’s critics were not fair to him given his achievements while in office.
On the soured relations with Elder EK Clark, they said Uduaghan still regarded the elder statesman as a father and would continue to treat him as such. “The problem between them is like one between a father and his son. With time, the father and his son will settle their differences,” they said
On Uduaghan’s alleged opposition to Jonathan, they said that as a measure of their robust relations that Jonathan would lead the PDP candidate’s re-run campaign in Delta.
On performance, they urged Uduaghan’s critics to take a tour of Delta State to see things for themselves.
They also said it was wrong to view Uduaghan as Ibori because they are different entities.
Akpobire said one of Uduaghan’s achievements is the development of a master plan for Delta State, the first of its kind. Without a development plan, he contended that it would be difficult to carry out sustainable and holistic development of all parts of the state now and in the future.
If the plan had been in existence, he said Uduaghan would have recorded more achievements than he had done “because he would have just hit the ground and start running from day one.”
The good thing about the plan, he stressed, “is that any person coming after Uduaghan has a working tool to work with.
Akpobire said so far a master plan had been developed for 1509 communities. “The plan of Uduaghan is for every community to have a master plan. If you are living in any place in Delta, you must have power, water, healthcare, education, road and amenities. Delta State now has the most comprehensive masterplan in Africa. There is no piece of land in Delta that we don’t know who should be there and what should be done up to the next 100 years.”
According to the DG, the ex-governor had in the last 42 months pursued the three agenda of ensuring peace, building critical infrastructure and ensuring human capital development.
The essence of the master plan, he disclosed, was to link all parts of Delta, provide necessary amenities that will attract foreign investors.
In tandem with the masterplan, he said that Uduaghan had embarked on numerous road projects across the state of which the Okpare-Olomu Bridge and Access Road; Agbarho-Okan Junction and bridges; Koko-Uba-Egbelemeji road had been completed.
Uduaghan embarked on numerous projects roads construction and rehabilitation; health; infrastructure development; energy; water resources; transport; education; women, community and social development among others.
He also commenced the construction of a new Government House complex, and an international/cargo airport at Asaba, said to be 86% competed.
Speaking in like manner, Esievo said performance was not only in terms of buildings.
According to her, the Uduaghan administration had through the micro-credit scheme empowered 81, 669 Deltans; improved healthcare through free medication for under-five children and pregnant women from conception to delivery and six weeks after delivery, which had reduced maternal mortality from 500/100,000 live births in 2006 to 301/100,000 currently.
With these achievements and his rapport with the grassroots that he had been interacting with first as Health Commissioner and later Secretary to the State Government, they said Uduaghan’s chances in the re-run polls were bright.
Given the claims and counter-claims, only time will tell if Uduaghan would retain his seat.