By Clifford Ndujihe, Festus Ahon, Perez Brisibe & Gab Ejuwa
THE defection of former Governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, to the All Progressives Congress, APC, is raising dust in the state and altering political calculations for the 2019 general elections.
While a host of APC stalwarts described Uduaghan’s move as a welcome development, Ijaw APC leaders in the state insisted that there is no automatic ticket in the party for the former governor, who is aspiring for the Delta Central Senatorial seat.
Indeed, a leader of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Delta, Professor Sam Oyovbaire, described the defection of Uduaghan as unfortunate because ‘’ until now we had been proud to announce that the three governors (two past), all their deputies, all state chairmen of the PDP (past and present), all founding members of the Party (PDP) like myself, etc. have remained faithful and committed PDP members.’’
In a statement, Oyovbaire said Uduaghan’s defection was, nevertheless, expected.
His words: “We knew quite early, immediately the Presidency went to APC in early 2015 even before the governorship election, forerunners of the former governor like Chief Ayiri and Chief Jaro had jumped out of the PDP ship to await, allegedly then, of Governor Uduaghan’s arrival into the APC.
“I do not have all the facts of the Governor’s decision to abandon the party that literally made him the politician of note. He is entitled to his constitutional right and freedom to move into and out of any organisation. Yet it demonstrates one more of the multiple illustrations of the crass poverty, fear of being hunted, and sheer opportunism in Nigerian politics and democracy.
“I consider every politician and indeed every voter as important… but let us not ascribe or assign undue essence to certain persons in politics…. You know the worth of the performances of Dr Uduaghan for and as governor at three elections. PDP is solid and confident in its hold and consolidation of power borne of good governance in Delta State,” he said.
His coming is a big deal – Emerhor, Edojah, Adjogbe, Okuhor
However, Delta APC stalwart, Olorogun Emerhor said after a caucus meeting: “It was an exciting caucus meeting because it was also the first caucus meeting with Senator Godswill Akpabio which means that the South-South is gathering strength and from the press release of former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan stating that he is the John the Baptist who has come to clear the way…His coming would also help with ensuring that attempts to unite the party move as quickly as possible because he would be coming with fresh ideas and fresh hopes with reach at the highest levels to work towards the unity of everybody so that we can win the election.
In like manner, a chieftain of the APC, Olorogun Solomon Edojah said: “I am glad that the singular decision to dump the PDP before the 2019 General Election is now yielding dividends. Dr. Uduaghan is already reaping one of the generous provisions of the APC Constitution, which provides for past and present leaders of Nigeria to contribute towards national development. This is contrary to PDP that has no place for past leaders and no single respect for them. Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan is definitely coming back to a ready-made home with a bespoke political arrangements for him to realise his ambition.”
Executive Director of Projects, EDP, on the Board of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Engr Samuel Adjogbe, said Uduaghan’s defection is a big boost to the APC, adding that more defections are in the offing. “Indeed, his defection will be a big boost to the party going by the huge followers he has. This is because elections are won by the number of votes scored and as such his defection is a plus to the party,” he said
Also, the Director General of Ithihikpebe Campaign Organisation and Coordinator of Joel-Onowakpo Thomas for House of Representatives Campaign Organisation, Mr. Ambby Okuhor, said the defection was a good move. In a statement yesterday at Emede, Isoko South Local Government Area of Delta State, he described the former governor’s decision as a good decision taken at the right time, adding “This is a victory for democracy. There are lots of Nigerians, who believe that the right thing should be done.
No automatic ticket for Uduaghan – Ijaw APC leaders
However, the Ijaw leaders of APC in Delta State, yesterday, said they welcome Uduaghan to the party but ruled out automatic ticket for him.
In a statement by Chief Chris Porbeni, in Warri, Delta State, the Ijaw APC leaders noted that Uduaghan joining the APC is a welcome development as APC is determined to unseat the PDP from Government House in 2019. “We are very ready to receive and welcome our former Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan to APC. But we want to correct the wrong impression that the Governor has been given an automatic ticket of APC for Delta South Senatorial District, this is not true. Uduaghan is qualified but will go through the party primaries like other senatorial aspirants.”
The leaders further reiterated their confidence in the State leadership of the party led by Prophet Jones Erue and National Working Committee led by Adams Oshiomohle to deepen internal democracy in Delta State APC by allowing free and fair primaries where the people would elect their choice candidates.