By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South
THE All Progressives Congress, APC, has bounced back to reckoning in Delta State with the newest resolution of the former governor of the state, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, to pitch tent with the party, an earth-shattering political judgment that has paradoxically sent the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in the state back to the planning theater.
Uduaghan, who broke the news to Saturday Vanguard on Thursday, admitted that he was under pressure to quit the PDP, not from the National Chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and APC strategists as speculated, but “more from the situation on ground in PDP and my political future.”
His words: “I am also looking at my political future and those of my followers. I have studied the political terrain and I believe that Delta should not be in opposition.”
New reality in Delta
No matter the way you look at it, what is plain as the nose on your face to political watchers is that political calculations for 2019 in the state have changed with his exit, and the PDP has to do more than political sloganeering to retain power.
For those who thought that the matter had been resolved with the intercession of his political leader, Chief James Ibori, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and other PDP leaders after some audacious Uduaghan followers hinted of his plan to abandon the PDP, last month, they were to say the least flabbergasted by the up-to-the-minute development.
Understandably, Ibori political dynasty, the political force that holds PDP power brokers together cannot be the same anymore with Uduaghan making tracks from the party.
Together with Ibori, Uduaghan, Okowa, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi and Senator James Manager representing Delta North and Delta South senatorial districts respectively were the five musketeers of Delta politics.
Governorship of the state has rotated among them, starting from Ibori (Delta Central senatorial district) in 1999 to Uduaghan (Delta South senatorial district) in 2007 and Okowa (Delta North senatorial district) in 2015. The question now is whether Okowa can get second tenure after his first term expires in 2019 following the most recent episode.
Ibori family unhappy with his exit
Though Uduaghan told Comrade Oshiomhole when he discussed with him as an ex-colleague, wishing that he decamped to APC to talk with Ibori, undoubtedly, key members of the Ibori political dynasty are not happy with the development. But the signs were all there before he at last decided to ditch the party.
Uduaghan’s words: “Yes, I am talking with Oshiomhole, we are discussing like old colleagues, it is not pressure, he would wish that I come over, but I also told him that I have a leader, Chief James Onanefe Ibori and they should have a discussion with him.”
Fire on the mountain
The problem with Uduaghan leaving PDP is that he knows so much about the winning secrets of the party in the state and with such information in the hands of APC, which desperately wants to take over power in the state and other South-South states, there is fire on the mountain.
Those, who held the notion that Uduaghan could not pull such a disturbing string and used his wife and other family friends to put off his leaving the party are now lamenting why they did not step in much earlier to resolve the rift between him and Okowa until things irreversibly fell apart.
By and large, the lingering feud between Uduaghan and \Okowa, which started with the former’s earlier decision not to back Okowa in the 2015 gubernatorial primaries after appointing him as Secretary to the State Government and supporting him to go to the Senate, is the heart of the matter.
Though Uduaghan, who told Okowa that he would hand over power to him at a time, changed his mind afterward, but used state might to bankroll him after Okowa fought the “principalities and powers” to win the primaries, he is yet to reveal the real reason he suddenly gave Okowa a volte face. But having won the primaries, Uduaghan threw everything in for Okowa to win. However bitterness still lingered, leading to the apathy of today.
The entire Ibori political dynasty with Uduaghan as the key player, worked for Okowa’s victory in the 2015 governorship poll, but what riled him was the governor’s attitude towards him from when he (Okowa) became the governor-elect until the present embarrassing situation.
Until a close source confirmed it, it was unbelievable that Okowa did not bother to accept handover notes from Uduaghan even when, as a sitting governor, he took them to his domicile since he failed to turn up at the office as arranged to receive them.
Outfoxing the fox
All that is in the past now, as the PDP through the former Chief of Staff to State Government under Uduaghan, Chief Paulinus Akpeki, now the Chief Strategist to State Government, has to evolve a much superior political strategy to outfox the fox.
The APC is the most contented about it for the unhidden plan of the national chairman, Comrade Oshiomhole, even as former governor of Edo state for his party to take over Delta is gradually falling in place.
Uduaghan, Manager square up unfinished battle
While Uduaghan will easily pick the APC Delta South senatorial ticket to confront a member of the Ibori political dynasty, Senator James Manager, the incumbent holder of the office, the interesting thing to look out for is how both political heavy weights will slug it out.
As then governor, Uduaghan wanted to go to the Senate in 2015, but met a stiff opposition from some ex-militants from the district, who wanted to make trouble. For peace to reign, he swallowed his ambition. This time around, he is not prepared to let go.
Uduaghan, Ogboru in one party!
It will also be another fascinating affair to see how Uduaghan is going to work with serial governorship aspirant, Chief Great Ogboru, who ran for the governorship with his political leader, Ibori and lost, contested against Uduaghan, lost for the second time, and lost yet again to Okowa.
However, while supporters of Ogboru believe that the APC 2019 governorship ticket is his for grabs with the party structure allegedly tilted towards his preferred choice of chairman, Prophet Jones Erue, it does not look so easy, as Uduaghan and other strategists in the party might want a Delta North governorship candidate to give the PDP a first-rate challenge.
“Both Uduaghan and Ogboru are friends of Oshiomhole”, an APC leader told Saturday Vanguard, adding: “But, the fact that Prophet Erue is the chairman of the party does not mean that the governorship ticket has been handed over to Ogboru.”
Leveraging on Ogboru’s strength
“We know that Ogboru is very strong in Delta Central senatorial district, the PDP and every Deltan knows that, but they have always manipulated the results against him over the years. Though the national leadership of the party will not impose a governorship candidate on the state, our leaders know the peculiar position in Delta at the moment, that it is better a formidable candidate from Delta North to split the votes of senatorial district with Okowa”
“I can tell you that APC will request Ogboru to deploy his machinery for the party in his senatorial district, the PDP cannot rig us out the way they did before. The search has almost been narrowed down to two viable candidates from Delta North, both of them came from PDP, but they have been found to be people with progressives’ blood,” the stalwart added.
Delta South agenda
He said that as the indisputable senatorial candidate, Uduaghan and other APC leaders are expected to galvanize Delta South for the party and plug all loopholes that the PDP normally used to outmaneuver other parties in the riverine areas of Warri, where the party churned out inconceivable voting figures election after election in the state.
What Oshiomhole wants in Delta
According to him, “That is the synergy Oshiomhole wants from the leaders and stakeholders of the party in the state. He wants them to join forces to push PDP out of power and match them in every department of the game this time around.”