By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South
AMIDST the controversy in Delta State over which of the three senatorial districts will produce the next governor of Delta State, a veteran politician and chieftain of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, from the Delta Central (Urhobo) senatorial district, Chief Paulinus Akpeki, has stated that there was no need for hullabaloo on the matter, as the party had decided that its governorship flag bearer would come from Delta North senatorial district (Anioma).
Akpeki, who was one of the governorship aspirants endorsed by the powerful Urhobo Progressive Union, UPU, an umbrella sociocultural group of the Urhobo, for the 2015 elections, said he withdrew from the race when the party unambiguously stated that power would shift to Anioma in the interest of fair play.
The Ugo (Eagle) of Okpe Kingdom, who was the immediate past Commissioner for Housing in the state, Director –General of the PDP Campaign Organization in the 2011 election and currently, Chief of Staff to Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, barred his mind in an exclusive interview with Saturday Vanguard in Asaba.
From his demeanor when our reporter met him, it was obvious that Akpeki had some significant revelations to make and he started in a gentle voice.
“A lot of things have been said by some aspirants to the effect that the governor is imposing a governorship aspirant on the people. They even said he wants a stooge to protect him when he is out of office.”
Why I backtracked
He, however, disclosed for the first time: “I was a leading governorship aspirants in the state from Delta Central, but I had to subsume my ambition when the party met under the leadership of the former state chairman, Chief Peter Nwaoboshi, x-rayed the politics of the state and took an explicit decision that since the Central had produced governor before now and the South is completing an eight-year turn in 2015, the next governor should come from the North for the sake of equity.”
Party decision supreme
He asserted, “The party informed the aspirants about its decision and being a loyal party man, I have no option than to inform my supporters and other leaders that were in support of my pronouncement. The advice I got from them was that since it was a party resolution, they could not advise me to go against it, as only one person will be governor at a time.”
Chief Akpeki said, “The then state chairman published the decision of the party that Delta North will produce the next governor and kept on saying it.”
Alleged imposition a farce
He maintained, “I am telling you that the governor will not, does not intend and will never impose anybody on the people of Delta state as being speculated by some aspirants.”
“Some aspirants had mentioned Tony Obuh, saying that he was a civil servant and not a politician. The truth is that Obuh is a Deltan, who has right to contest election as a Deltan. His being a retired civil servant does not preclude him from contesting. He is not the first. The governor of Niger state, Alhaji Aliyu Babaginda came on board when he retired as permanent secretary in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, the governor of Gombe state, Ibrahim Dankwambo, got to the position no sooner than he left the civil service.
“The question to ask is why is Obuh’s case different if others retired from service and went into politics like him,” he said.
Uduaghan told every aspirant to contest
Chief Akpeki charged: “Which of the governorship aspirants in the state as at today can come out and say that he did not seek the endorsement of Uduaghan. I say this with all sincerity because I am an insider and I speak like one of those who wanted to contest before now and know that all of us sought his endorsement.”
“Who among the aspirants will say that the governor did not tell him to contest when he went to inform him about his ambition, he told everybody to contest, but that did not mean that he has endorsed anyone. It is just like Chief Edwin Clark asking everybody to go and contest. So, at what point are they now saying that the governor is using government funds and machinery, he is doing none of these,” he asserted. He said the governor never hid the fact that the party had decided on Delta North, revealing, “At his meeting with leaders from the different senatorial districts, months ago, the governor asked the Delta North leaders and aspirants at Unity Hall, Asaba why they were making noise when the next governor would come from their district and they all clapped for him, including those who are pointing fingers at him today.”
Gang up did not start today
Akpeki said: “So, why are they ganging-up when they know the truth?” adding, “Well, the gang-up did not start today. There was gang –up against Uduaghan in 2006 but he still emerged. Which of the aspirants today did not beg Uduaghan to support his ambition and that he/she would do his bidding? Let that person point his finger and see whether the rest will not be pointing back at him.”
Anioma should pacify other districts
On the resentment of other senatorial districts to party’s choice of Delta North candidate, he said, “Governorship aspirants and leaders from the North should go to the other senatorial districts to appeal to their leaders and their colleagues to allow them to produce governor in the interest of peace and equity in the state.” “After all, in Uduaghan’s time, people who believed in the party and who knew what it took to run a party, went round, appealing to their colleagues in other districts. Anioma cannot claim that it does not have friends in Delta Central and Delta South. They should meet them and negotiate, that is what politics is all about.”