By EMMANUEL AZIKEN, POLITICAL EDITOR
Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan has said that under no circumstances should opposition to President Goodluck Jonathan’s perceived second term ambition come from the Niger Delta region.
Speaking during an interactive session with newsmen in Lagos yesterday, the Delta State governor challenged the north to reciprocate the high votes gotten by Northern presidential candidates from the Niger Delta region in 2015 when Jonathan expectedly stands for re-election.
Governor Uduaghan also used the opportunity to rebuff the call by the Governor Rotimi Amaechi- led Nigerian Governors Forum, that the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala should resign on account of the financial challenges the group said is facing the country.
Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala is from Delta State.
Governor Uduaghan, a medical doctor, is in Lagos to receive the Fellowship of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria, the highest award given by the institution.
On the agitations against President Jonathan, Governor Uduaghan expressed concern that the opposition against his political aspiration was essentially because the president is from the Niger Delta.
Uduaghan said: “Many people in the Niger Delta believe that this opposition against Jonathan is because he is from Niger Delta. They started with performance but now people are beginning to see performance.
“I don’t see any President who has served and seen the kind of challenges he had on Boko Haram from day one.
“And that is why some of us are saying that the opposition for Jonathan should not come from his region and I still say it that the opposition should not come from his region. People of his region should put their hands and heads together and see how we can build bridges across the other parts of the country and make him succeed as a President.”
Asked on his present relationship with Governor Amaechi, he said: “Amaechi is my friend, he is fine, I say he is my friend, he is fine,” even as he pleaded for calm in the polity, saying that the issues flowing from the Nigerian Governors Forum election would soon be resolved.
Recalling his earlier call for a national conference, he said such a conference would remove the suspicions and distrusts that regularly face the country.
“There are regional challenges, there are security challenges, there are even religious challenges, that we need to sit down and discuss and agree on the way forward.
“Until we sit down and put the things on the table, then we start the process of give and take. Okay, from this part of the country, these are the challenges and from the other part of Nigeria, these are the challenges, okay I will give in to this, you will give in to that, we start the process of give and take and eventually, arrive at something that is acceptable to everyone and we move on from there. It might not even be the best by the time we even agree, but with time, we build on what we have started as a people.
“There is much suspicion, there is so much distrust. I mean, let me take the issue of President Jonathan for instance, many people in Niger-Delta believe that the opposition against him is because he is from Niger-Delta.
“So the Niger-Delta people are looking at it, is it because it is our son and that is why all these problems are happening? Is it because he is our son that is why some of these moves are being made against him which they didn’t do against their people.
“When they wanted to be president, they came to us, and we gave them the highest votes, now that our son is there, we expect that they should also give us the highest vote. You know these are questions. They may be real, they may be abstract, but they are questions people from that region are asking.”