BY EMMANUEL AZIKEN & GBENGA OKE
CHIEF Paulinus Akpeki, is the Delta State Commissioner for Communications and Public Orientation. In an interview with Vanguard he articulated the agenda of the Emmanuel Uduaghan administration in the months ahead and raised the question on the tenure of the governor following the January re-run election. Excerpts.
Your gubernatorial candidate, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan won the re-run elections. How did he come about it?
Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan convincingly won the re-run elections of January 6. He came won because the people of Delta State know the kind of work Uduaghan is doing and they have no alternative than to vote him back to power. That is how he came about it.
There were allegations of skirmishes and malpractice and it was reported by an online publication that you were arrested. What do you make of these allegations?
I want to state clearly that the report was not only the handi-work of the opponents, but also people who are just out to blackmail me and my party. And I can tell you that it is mischievous and false on the part of those people that made the allegation. I have asked God to forgive them for they do not know what they are saying and doing.
After the elections, what is the agenda of the Uduaghan administration?
We had a three-point cardinal programme when we came on board in 2007. Uduaghan’s programme since inception includes, peace and security, infrastructural development and human capital development. We did a lot before the judiciary truncated that administration on November 9, 2010. Now that we have won, we will not only continue from where we stopped, but also we will try as much as possible to improve on what we are doing before now and I do sincerely know that we shall definitely not let the people of Delta State down.
Was there any particular one among the agenda that is of major priority now?
Before now, we have achieved a lot on these cardinal points. I do also know that the human capital development programme is on course, the peace and security programme is on course, infrastructural development programme is on course, all I think we need now is to complete all the ongoing projects and I think very seriously that we will try to improve on all areas of the cardinal projects.
The Asaba Airport severally came up during the campaign and it was said that the airport will be opened sometime in December.
We know for sure that the airport should have been commissioned before now but remember we left power November 9th 2010 and from November to January 6th 2011, we were not in power. So you will not expect that what we promised the people we are going to deliver was not delivered at the appointed time.
Our mandate was truncated for just no reason, you don’t expect that we are going to meet up on those promises because we were out of office for two months and Dr Emmanuel just came back, so you will expect that he will now sit down and look back into those books and see how he can put things back in proper perspective.
Do you have the idea of when that will be?
I will not be in a position now to state clearly when that airport project will be commissioned but we will definitely commission it during the course of the year.
What is the administration’s plan towards reconciling with its rivals during re-run elections?
Do we really have rivals? We had opponents, people who want to contest against government. I don’t think we have rivals except you are saying what is the position now about reconciling within our folds? I will say there is a reconciliation team that is presently meeting our different friends and those who turned themselves to be foes, though we don’t have foes but we are trying to reconcile ourselves to ensure that we move together. But remember, our governor has already said ‘no victor, no vanquished.’ We call everybody to come on board and assist the administration of Dr Uduaghan to achieve a greater feat.
Are you meeting with the supporters of Chiefs Ogboru, Ovie Omo Agege?
I keep saying how do we know the supporters and those who are not? What I am saying is that we have gone on air to explain to everybody that Delta State is one, the governor of Delta State is governor for all, he is not governor for a particular person. Though a particular party will put up somebody for that position but once somebody wins the election, he is governor for everybody and Dr Uduaghan has said it many times as much as possible, he is the governor, the father and head of all Deltans.
So definitely, you should expect that we have reached out to everybody, to all those who contested, they are not our enemies, they are our friends, and so we call on everyone of them to come and support the administration of Dr Uduaghan to achieve the desired objective.
Can you give us the true position of things in the governorship primaries, National Assembly and state assembly primaries in Delta State?
It is very unfortunate. Although, I am not a member of the state executive of the party but I will only say the little I know. The little I know is that as at today, the NEC of the party has upheld the election of the PDP candidate for Delta North and that is Dr Okowa.
I am also aware that the same NEC has also upheld the primaries for Delta South. I am also aware that for the primaries for the governorship of Delta State, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan is not in contention at all. I want to state clearly that Uduaghan is the candidate of the PDP in Delta State for the April 2011 elections and he remains the only candidate duly accepted by the NEC of the party in Abuja. If anybody parades any other body as a parallel primary, I wouldn’t know.
But what would you say when the Governor and the chairman of the PDP in Delta State are of different opinions over the matter?
I don’t think the governor and the chairman have different positions as regards candidate. Dr Uduaghan did not bring out the candidates. I will state clearly now that everybody has an ambition to contest for whatever position he wants to and the governor did not pick any candidate to say this is my candidate that I want, contest or don’t contest. Dr Uduaghan and the party chairman, to the best of my knowledge, at no time disagreed on anything. Not at all. And you cannot also tell me here now that Dr Uduaghan insisted that a particular person must go. Uduaghan has never said it and he never told anybody that he has a candidate, he is a party leader and the leader of all.
In Delta State, the Uduaghan administration has 36 commissioners in the state executive council and we hear about shortage of funds. How is the government managing this bloated executive?
I wouldn’t know if it is bloated because everybody has a duty to perform. The man who wears the shoe knows where it pinches and I know for sure that if the executive is bloated as you are alleging, then they would have not been there. But because the governor needs the services of these people, he has no option than to put them there. It is only him that can say whether he has a bloated executive or not. But I don’t think we have an over-bloated executive council in Delta state.
After coming out of an election weeks ago, how prepared is the administration for the April polls?
Again, if at all there is an election in April, we are prepared for it. Today, we are ready for election and any day, we are ready but what still worries my mind is that I feel we still need a gentleman called Gani Fawehinmi. If he were to be alive, that 50-page document which unfortunately annulled the governorship election of our governor in November 2010, by now Gani would have been in Court to ask the Court to interpret that judgement.
For me, I challenge the lawyers in this country and the Courts, either Supreme or others to interpret that judgement before we can adequately say whether Delta State really deserves an election in April or in 2015.
Are you asking for a four-year tenure?
I am not asking for a four-year tenure but that judgement already asks for a four-year tenure if they interpret that judgement correctly. The judgement of November 9, 2010 which annulled the governorship position of our governor in Delta State has already said that anybody that wins will go for a fresh four-year tenure.