Growing up, the focus of the young Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan was to be an accountant. The potential for leadership that had been identified during his formative years had been expected to propel him towards top position in the corporate world.
But somehow, fate in the form of parental counselling intervened and the young Emmanuel diverted into the field of medicine following secondary school education at the Federal Government College, Warri, Delta State.
Emmanuel Eweta was born on October 22, 1954 to Chief Edmund and Mrs. Cecilia Uduaghan.
The father was Itsekiri from Abigborodo, in Warri North Local Government Area of Delta State, and the mother was Ishan from Ubiaja in Esan South-East of Edo State. The mixed parentage was to play a large role, and indeed account for what would be recognized as Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan’s amenable and open-minded disposition to all men, especially in a multi-ethnic setting like Delta State.
His cosmopolitan outlook was also helped by his time at the Federal Government College, Warri, one of the initiatives of the Federal Government towards building unity across the country. At the school, he came across Nigerians from all parts of the country, a scenario that cemented his disposition towards looking at human beings and issues with a broad-based outlook.
By the time he entered medical school in the University of Benin in 1975, the young student had set his mind towards achieving the best in the profession, having been ordered by his father out of his initial first professional love, accountancy.
Uduaghan qualified as a medical doctor in 1980 and carried out his national youth service in Kwara State. The enthusiasm for service quickly manifested in the first year of his qualification as he was honoured as the most outstanding medical doctor in the set of medical doctors posted to the state in that service year.
Following the service year, he was employed by the Delta Steel Company, DSC, Aladja where he also distinguished himself in service to the extent that he was honoured with the General Manager’s prize for Outstanding Service.
His dedication to duty also propelled or advanced him in the hierarchy of the organisation as he was within six years of his employment, promoted to the position of Senior Medical Officer, a feat that was as at that time, unprecedented.
He subsequently disengaged from the services of the Medical Centre of the DSC to establish a private medical facility, named Abode Clinic. It was named after his grandmother, under whom he grew up in Mosogar, Delta State. The legacy of the grandmother who took the young Emmanuel on his first day to the Baptist Mission Primary School was finally crystallised.
Dr. Uduaghan had by this time started opening himself up to politics or trade unionism, having served as Secretary, Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Warri, and also as Secretary, Association of Private Medical and Dental Practitioners, Warri Zone.
His first contact with partisan politics was in the run up to the National Assembly elections of 1992 when he helped in mobilising support for his cousin, James Ibori who stood as a candidate in that election. Ibori lost that election, but paid compliments to Uduaghan for providing technical expertise which the candidate confessed after the election, would have helped him win only if he had taken them.
At the restart of partisan politics in 1998, Uduaghan joined the Grassroots Democratic Movement, GDM and following the death of General Sanni Abacha, and the collapse of that democratisation process, he joined the newly formed Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
He was appointed commissioner for health in the cabinet of Chief James Ibori at the advent of the Fourth Republic in 1999, and held that position for the four years of the regime. His efforts in that office crystallised in the modernisation and rehabilitation of most of the hospitals in Delta State.
His efforts were recognised by the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS which honoured him as the best performing Commissioner for Health in the South-South geopolitical zone.
Such commendations in part recommended him for promotion in the work place as he was lifted to the position of Secretary to the State Government at the commencement of the second term of the Ibori administration in June, 2003.
His election as governor in 2007 was almost like a logical step given the dedication and deftness he brought to his duties as government scribe.
Even though he fully served in the administration of Chief Ibori, Governor Uduaghan has not hidden his determination to answer his own name in the erection of his legacies.
Where some would point to one, two, or three achievements as legacies, Dr. Uduaghan has allowed Deltans to pinpoint the touch of his administration on their lives. For some it is the restructuring of the transportation model through the Asaba Airport that has redesigned movement into and out of the state and changed business philosophy among entrepreneurs in the state.
For some others it is the open access to education and the boost of education infrastructure that has seen the commissioning of 13 Model Secondary Schools and 54 Model Primary Schools and the enhancement of the intellectual fibre of students through incentives as the N5 million per year post-graduate package for first class graduates, Dr. Uduaghan has increasingly shown himself as a man with a vision.
For some others in the state, the legacy could be the maternal and child health initiative that picks and pays for a baby’s total well-being from conception to the age of five, which has helped crash the infant mortality rate in the state from 545 deaths in 100,000 births in 2007 when he took office to 241 deaths in 100,000 births in 2012.
Others may see the legacy of the administration in the establishment of some of the best health infrastructure in the country as evidenced by the state of the art Oghara Teaching Hospital, in Oghara.
Many others admire his legacies in sports.
Delta today, is arguably the foremost state in sports development.
Underlining the successes of the Uduaghan administration in Delta State is vision; looking beyond the present. It is that kind of vision that is driving the administration’s passionate pursuit to position the state outside the perimeters of the shock from fluctuating oil revenue.
The policy framed as Delta Beyond Oil encapsulates the three cardinal philosophy that was the hallmark of the Uduaghan administration at inception; human capital development, infrastructure development and peace and security. So far, Uduaghan has remained focused, patiently putting his legacies in the hearts of the people with a variety of positives that is the hallmark of a man with vision.
For his visionary steps in governance, Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan is the choice of Vanguard Editors as the Man of the Year, 2013.