By EMMA AMAIZE , Warri
THE real race for Government House, Asaba in 2011, commenced, weekend, in Sapele with a formal declaration by Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State .
Delta stakeholders led by elder statesman and deputy premier of the defunct Midwestern region, Chief James Otobo and Chief G. Sefia endorsed him to continue in office and urged Deltans to support him.
From about 8.00 am, two hours to 10.00 am, the official time for the take -off of the programme, Sapele, the city of timber had been taken over by party faithful, different youth and women groups and citizens from all parts of the state who came to witness the epoch-making event.
A traffic congestion triggered by the massive movement of people to the venue even prevented many supporters from reaching the venue.
From the three senatorial districts of the state came prominent Deltans and PDP leaders who believed that the governor has done well enough to be given a second term ticket by his party and another mandate by Deltans.
Among the dignitaries that graced the occasion was elder statesman, Chief James Otobo, chairman of the Delta PDP Elders Forum, Chief G.S Sefia; former deputy to Chief Ibori, Chief Benjamin Elue; former Secretary to the State Government, Chief Ifeanyi Okowa, now a senatorial aspirant; one-time PDP gubernatorial aspirant, Chief G. Obielum;, Commissioner for Water Resources, Dr., Chris Oghenechovwen, Commissioner for Energy, Mr. Ovuozorie Macaulay and Commissioner for Information, Mr. Oma Djebah.
Also at the event were Chief Charles Obule; Mr. Daniel Reyeineju, member of the House of Representatives; Chief Paulinus Akpeki; Chief Ighoyota Amori; Mr. Festus Ovie Agas; Mr. Ejaife Odebala; political office aspirants who came with their placard-carrying supporters. These were in addition to Senator James Manager; former chairman of DESOPADEC, Chief Wellington Okirika; ex-Delta State PDP chairman, Pius Sinebe; Prince K.B. Omatseye; chairman of the Uduaghan 2011 Campaign Organization, Prof G.G. Darah; and Chief Tom Amioku.
Chairman of the PDP in the state, Chief Peter Nwaoboshi who said he would want to be neutral until a governorship candidate emerges for the party was not at the Sapele declaration and also conspicuously absent was the Senator, representing Delta Central, Chief Adego Eferakeya, who is from Sapele.
The presence of Chief Elue and Chief G. Obielum to a large extent signified that Delta North Central district was behind the quest for Uduaghan’s second term. Obielum is one of the gubernatorial aspirants from the district that gave Uduaghan jitters during the 2007 primaries. The governor extended a hand of fellowship to him and others after his victory.
Deputy Premier of the defunct Midwestern region and Isoko leader, Chief James Otobo, who presided over the event, dismissed the views in some quarters that Governor Uduaghan has not performed or is not wanted by Isoko people.
Some Isoko politicians had met some weeks ago, purportedly to screen some Isoko gubernatorial candidates for the election, but, the proclamation of Otobo, one of the founding fathers of the nation’s independence and one of such three such founding fathers still alive, put paid to the speculation that Isoko people were not going to support Uduaghan.
“The duty of all of you is to campaign for him to become the PDP official candidate for the 2011 election and also to campaign for his victory in the election in April, next year. You have to go to the villages, all nooks and crannies to preach the good news”, he charged.
“This is the time to work, you have to visit the grassroots, we promised that he is going to emerge as the candidate of the party and I hereby endorse him for your approval”
Deputy Governor, Prof Amos Utuama in his speech, asked Deltans to support the governor because he is a performer and a detribalized leader.
He said he was at the declaration to give his testimony to Deltans that Governor Uduaghan has delivered on his three-point agenda to them and from his vantage position in government, he wished to inform the people that more things were in the offing.
“I say to you from the depth of my soul that I still represent the best among the aspirants to lead this state into a glorious dawn, I represent renewal, I represent growth and I represent modernization, I represent peace and I represent unity, I represent stability and I represent security, above all, I represent your individual aspirations. I am not just making empty promises, it is serious and legitimate”, he said.
The governor said government embarked on the dualization of the 167 -kilometer Asaba-Ughelli Road, Asaba International Airport , expansion of Osubi Airport , Warri Industrial Business Park , Independent Power Project (IPP), expected to produce 250 megawatts and other schemes because of mission to transform the state.
His words, “Across Delta today, our vision of a peaceful and united state is emerging, our vision of becoming an industrialized and progressive state is evolving, our vision for a happy people is evolving, and our three-point agenda of peace and security, infrastructural and human capital development have remained a solid guide for us to achieve our destiny”.
He said, “today, in the place of acrimony, in the place of insecurity, in the place of fear, in the place of distrust, there is peace and tranquility, there is ethnic harmony and good health in the state, adding, “Imagine what will happen if this administration is giving another four years to complete what it has started” The governor noted the engagement programme of the state government with the Delta Waterways and Security Committee (DWSC) and other agencies, , which the Federal Government adopted and gave it a different name as amnesty, was a great success and commended the late President Umaru Yar’Adua for taking the right step.
He urged Deltans to support President Goodluck Jonathan in his quest to secure the PDP presidential ticket for the 2011 polls. He said his government has cared for the need of the poor, the physically challenged, the unemployed, widows and the able, and would surpass them if given fresh mandate.
The governor said the past three and half years he has been in the saddle has been an enriching experience and thanked Deltans for giving him the mandate. He said he had not wavered since then in executing the mandate.
He welcomed other aspirants for the office of governor of the state and appealed that they should concentrate on issues and not personalities so as not to give impression that politics was a dirty game.
Uduaghan said it is the party members that had the power to choose who would get the ticket of the party and urged them to appraise the people of their programmes and let them decide who would fly the party’s flag.
He also noted that the Deltans were the ultimate judge of who will be their governor in the April, 2011 election in the state and called for a decent campaign devoid of foul language.
Uduaghan admitted that some mistakes were made, some being mistakes of the head and others, mistakes of the heart, but, said lessons had been from them and experienced garnered, which other aspirants in the race could boast of.
Obviously referring to those campaigning for support on the basis of ethnic bearing, he said Deltans had since passed that stage and anybody canvassing for support on the basis of tribe was doomed politically.
“If you want to contest, put your issues and ideas on the table and let the people decide who has better ideas and better programme for them”, he added.