Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan may not celebrate birth day because of the heavy burden of governing a state like Delta. If he does, it gives his horde of critics the opportunity to feast like vultures of opportunism; if he does not celebrate, his core political associates may be offended.
These are the contradictions that define our political space where every move, statement or inaction is laced with grave meanings. As Governor Uduaghan clocked 59 years on October 22, 2013, my uncle’s advice that “any venture that goes too easy at the very beginning, without obstacles, may not have a good end” comes to my mind.
Governor Uduaghan is possibly the most prosecuted, vilified, misunderstood and persecuted Governor in the history of political mudsliding since 2007.
I wonder how he managed to put the past behind and won over opponents as his friends, political comrades and members of his inner circle, without losing his traditional old associates in his political journey as leader of the State since 2007. This is new in our political history that is not devoid of politics without bitterness.
As he clocks 59, the Governor’s achievements, challenges and estimation in the eyes of ordinary Deltans come to mind because Delta State is a multi-ethnic state that thrives in inter-ethnic sentiments usually exploited by some politicians, ethnic bigots for personal reason.
In order to govern Delta state, wisdom, tolerance and understanding of the terrain of the state and its people are required. Warri province that was changed to Delta province, from which the state derives its name, was a home in pre-colonial, colonial and still home today to the various ethnic nationalities that make old Delta province and Warri remains their eternal spiritual and economic capital.
The Itsekiri, Ndokwa, Urhobo, Ijaw and Isoko that make Delta province, see Warri as a home and economic base for ages even before the advent of Colonial masters. These nationalities see Warri as a spiritual indivisible city that cannot be tainted or tied to ethnic apron and that’s why every ethnic nationality claim Warri as a “home” despite the fact that they don’t hail from the city historically.
Warri over the years acquired the status as a bond of unity and centre of freedom and liberty to the people that make the old Warri province and beyond, the strategic historical and political importance of Warri was enhanced by its economic value as an important trade rout and center of commence.
The influx of Africans and Europeans into Warri and its viable sea route only boosted its status. These encouraged inter-ethic marriages that had produced leaders of mixed marriages, giving credence to Warri as a cosmopolitan city.
Gov. Uduaghan is a product of the warri and deep in the blood that runs in his veins are Urhobo, Itsekiri and Ishan, which he inherited at birth 59 years ago. The Governor speaks Urhobo language and understands the culture than many who claim to be of Urhobo ethnic nationality. The Governor also speaks Itsekiri and Ishan and is versed in their culture.
These attributes which should have endeared him to all were exploited by ethnic jingoists for political reasons, in order to promote pre-determined journey to Golgotha. Uduaghan’s father was a patriot who was strict and disciplined but was also a man of peace, tolerance, respect for elders and traditional institutions. These were the legacies inherited by Governor Uduaghan as he grew up.
From the 2007 political persecution and mindless attacks to the present time, I wonder how he had managed to carry on without bitterness, without carrying the mines of the vicious cycle of hatred normally associated with our body politics.
The Governor had transformed many political attack dogs and bats into useful tools of development using his deep sense of uncommon humility in ruling the state. Whenever I read the immortal words of Buddha by my bedside: “Silence the angry man with love, silence the ill natured man with kindness, silence the miser with generosity and the liar with truth”, Governor Uduaghan’s attributes as a humble, detribalized and committed leader come to my mind. One of the major achievements of Governor Uduaghan is the sustenance of peace and peaceful co-existence in Warri city, from the ashes of the Warri fratricidal war and a people strongly divided came hope and determination never to witness another carnage.
The Governor through his exemplary lifestyle restored peace to Warri and many who were afraid of inter–ethnic marriages during the crisis had embraced it again. The Governor was so sensitive to the situation in Warri that he carried the Itsekiri, Ijaw, Urhobo of Agbasa and Okere along in his policy of integration, thus demonstrating unity in diversity. The “Awankere” Festival in Okere and the Agbassa festival are being embraced by all, an indication of peace.
Today while inter–ethnic marriages sprout, ethnic boundaries are being shattered as Deltans live together peacefully. There is trust today between the Ijaw, Itsekiri and Urhobo of Warri as the city is back to life.
Many who wanted an ethnic Governor in Uduaghan are surprised he had not developed Itsekiri nation at the exclusion of others, though some Itsekiri leaders are not happy. This clearly shows that the Governor is detribalized.
The Governor knows he was elected by all and does not want to be a sectional leader, but leader of the entire state. Governor Uduaghan had been fair to all ethnic groups in promoting fairness and sincerity as a principle of good governance. However, considering the fact that Warri is the bedrock of political and economic activities in the State, Governor Uduaghan should open Warri to Ode-Itsekiri and other riverine communities to give Warri city its proper political status.
Any leader who transforms his people had transformed a nation. Governor Uduaghan had transformed the capacity of Deltans to think and act positively.
The Governor through his capacity building had brought peace and political cohesion to the Delta State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. The partisan struggle in Delta State and Uduaghan’s unimaginable response in putting the State before self only proves that: “Our enemies may not be those who oppose our political methods or speak against us but may be those who sit and plan with us either as friends or associates. These are the cankerworm that destroys the kolanut from within and the rot is noticed when the kolanut is broken to be eaten”.
Governor Uduaghan had many of these characters around him but he had been able to manage all as a leader and father of the State. The Governor’s high rating lies in his ability to channel all interest groups within the state to support President Goodluck Jonathan. He believes that Nigerians must rally round the President in all our political challenges.
The South-South have no reason to jettison the President because he is one of us and he had performed exceedingly well in all ramifications, considering the challenges confronting the nation. Governor Uduaghan’s respect and reverence for elders is unprecedented. Uduaghan calls Chief (Dr) E.K Clark, his father and the elder statesman agrees that the Governor is his eldest son among the governors of the South-South. This is the strong diplomacy that have United all the ethnic groups in the State into one united family.
The P.D.P Umbrella under Governor Uduaghan is again becoming a good Shade from the hash rays of the sun and stormy rainfall. This was what was replicated in the recently held P.D.P Delta central senatorial election.
The aesthetic beauty of Warri at night is something that had marveled all indigenes and visitors alike, the street lights, good roads, have added to containing criminals who strive more in darkness of the night. However, in order not to destroy this beauty of street lights, I urge the Governor to set up a body that will safeguard these facilities in order to sustain this noble legacy.
This is very necessary because of the recklessness of many motorists who drink while driving and also indulge in many unsafe acts, destroying public facilities without punishment and not safeguarding the government from wasting resources that would have been used for other projects.
The Enehren Junction in warri that used to be an eye sore had witnessed a rebirth, the transformation is unprecedented, also the Governor had commence the dualisation of Okumagba avenue to Deco junction that links Warri Sapele road, this project had won the citizens admiration, there is the ongoing dualisation between Osubi to Eku and the reconstruction of Effurun roundabout, the ongoing Delta mall construction at Effurun roundabout and so many projects.
The gigantic Ughelli-Asaba dualisation project that cuts across the three senatorial districts in the State is another mega project of Uduaghan, this project is an indication that Delta works because Uduaghan is working.
Ughelli main town itself has been transformed as there is a dual road constructed to link the East-west road at both ends of the town and the popular market given a modern facelift. Knowing the fact that Asaba as a capital city cannot function without an airport, he established one in the political capital of the State to compliment the Osubi airport sited at warri the economic capital.
The massive transformation in the educational sector is a point that the Governor means well for the State too, he understands the rot in education started when the military forcefully took over missionary schools and true to his electioneering promises the Governor had returned missionary schools to their former owners thus making a healthy competition between missionary schools and Government schools, the citizens now have a large pool of choice in Education.
The State Governor has made primary and secondary schools free of any tuition fee, discipline had returned and the era of getting connected before you become a school principal had gone as promotion is now strictly on seniority.
Also within schools there are massive infrastructural developments that had confounded all the question the citizens are asking is where did he get the money for the ongoing transformation? However many are tying it to prudent management of resources.
Delta today is where the eyes of the masses and their expectation meet the development strides of the government.
The health sector is another marvel in the eyes of the people but many are not surprised because of the Governors background as a medical doctor and the importance he attaches to health, Deltans appreciate his strides in this sector.
The transformation in the Warri central hospital speaks volume of the improvements in the health sector under Uduaghan. All dilapidated buildings in the central hospital had been renovated and many demolished for new structures, giving room to rumours that the State Government wants to transform it into another teaching hospital.
There is Unrestricted press freedom and freedom of speech as exemplified in the daily birth of community newspapers and other tabloids in the state, but the fact remains that despite the blind criticism against Uduaghan many of whom are based on ethnic sentiments rather than facts, Governor Uduaghan had remained focused, he had never used the power of State to hunt or witch-hunt opponents, he allows their excesses which reason and time had healed.
As Deltans salute the Governor on his fifty nine birthdays, we appeal that the thought of an able successor must begin now; we need a Governor who will show great understanding of the politics, economy and socio-economic drive of the state.
In continuation of his legacy, Governor Uduaghan as a unifying factor among the ethnic nationalities in Delta south should think of representing the zone as a voice in the senate when his constitutional tenure ends in 2015.
This is because the zone needs a strong influential voice, who fully understands both the local politics at the zone and how to influence national consideration for the zone at the centre. A voice the people can reach and interact with and also have a sense of belonging.
There seems to be no other voice than Gov. Uduaghan in Delta South today whose status and connection can win laurels for the zone, who can serve the senatorial zone as a stabilizing factor, remain relevant in the politics of the state as a rallying factor and also continue his contributions to national development as a senator of the federal republic as from 2015.
Prince Abugo, a political analyst, wrote from Uzere, Delta State.