In what promises to be an intriguing and titanic battle for the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, ticket for the Delta South Senatorial district, political heavy weights in the district are presently gearing up for an eye-catching contest at the party’s senatorial primaries.
By Ochuko Akuopha
With eight local governmentareas: Isoko North, Isoko South, Bomadi, Patani, Burutu, Warri North, Warri South and Warri South-West, the Delta South Senatorial District, made up of the Ijaw, Isoko and Itsekiri ethnic nationalities, has since 1999, proven to be a safe haven of the PDP. The party has coasted to victory after victory in elections at all levels with virtually feeble opposition from other political parties.
The 2019 senatorial primaries will, however, prove a tough nut to crack for the stakeholders in the region given the caliber of contestants believed to be contesting for the ticket.
Among the gladiators are the immediate past governor of the state, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, the incumbent senator, Senator James Manager and the lawmaker representing Warri North Constituency in the Delta State House of Assembly, Hon. Michael Diden.
Remarkably, none of the three has openly come out to show interest.
Although, it has been much touted that the outspoken Minority Leader and member representing Isoko Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon. Leo Ogor may throw his hat into the ring for the contest, it remains to be seen if the four- term representative harbours such intentions.
Uduaghan, an Itsekiri, who had seen the Senate as his next destination after the completion of his second term as governor, decided to pull out of the race in 2015 “in the interest of peace” in the state. He is, however, poised to leave no stone unturned in a renewed vigor to clinch the party’s ticket for the 2019 polls. Those in favour of Uduaghan’s candidature hinge their argument on the fact that Itsekiri is the only ethnic nationality in the senatorial district that has not produced a senator in the Fourth Republic. They also see the former governor as someone who is experienced and equipped to occupy the position.
While Uduaghan, a very strong contender for the position is said to have been making closed doors consultations on his aspirations with leaders of the party, indications are rife that in the coming days, the former governor would come all out to pursue his dreams.
Also from the Itsekiri nation, is Diden, a very close ally of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa who is believed to be representing the governor’s political family in the ensuing contest.
Popularly known as Ejele in political circles, Diden has begun his consultations and is said to have paid visits to the leadership of the PDP in some local government areas of the state. Diden, a one time Chairman of Warri North Local Government Council and former member representing the Itsekiri ethnic nationality on the board of the Delta State Oil-Producing Areas Development Commission, DESOPADEC was a strong and early supporter of Okowa’s governorship aspiration and it is believed that he may be the governor’s front to stop Uduaghan or Manager. Senator James Manager, an ljaw from Bomadi Local Government Area, has been occupying the senatorial position since 2003 and remains a strong contender for the position in 2019. As usual, Manager has laid low and has not said anything about his next political step.
A pioneer Chairman of the PDP in the State and former Commissioner for Works, Manager who took over from Senator Stella Omu, has continued to enjoy the support of his Ijaw people.
Those who want him to return to the Senate in 2019 argue that Manager has helped to attract development to all parts of the senatorial district.
They also argue that he is a vastly experienced hand at the National Assembly whose wealth of experience as a legislator would serve to be an added advantage to the senatorial district if re-elected.
While it is not clear if anybody from the Isoko nation has indicated interest to vie for the position, some notable indigenes of the ethnic nationality believe it is their turn to produce the next senator to represent the district at the National Assembly.
A business mogul, Engr. Daniel Omoyibo, however, believes that it is the turn of the Isoko nation to vie for the position saying, “Since1999, Isoko has done only one term in the senate; that is from 1999 to 2003 when Senator Stella Omu served as chief whip at the red chambers,” he said disregarding the fact that the Itsekiri nation is yet to produce a senator in the Fourth Republic.