By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South
JUST before the 2007 Governorship election in Delta State won by the former governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, G3, the political umbrella body of the Isoko, Itsekiri and Ijaw ethnic nationalities of the Delta South senatorial district, was a very strong political pressure group in the state.
The group under the leadership of a former state chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Pius Sinebe took the state by storm with its strong advocacy for governor from Delta South, some years ago. Chief Sinebe had to resign his chairmanship of the group, following pressure from PDP national headquarters, which was made to believe that the party boss was leading a sub-political group within the party.
The mantle of leadership fell on Dr. Uduaghan, formerly Secretary to the State Government, who emerged as PDP governorship aspirant and won the PDP primary before going ahead to win the 2007 election:
Political principalities and powers
Political “principalities and powers” in the district marshaled their forces to stop the advancement of G3 at conception, but it was too late as the idea swept through PDP members in Delta South. Essentially, G3 seems to be Delta South PDP’s weapon for the agitation for power shift.
As SSG in 2005, Uduaghan explained that G3 formed by some leading political stalwarts from Delta South, was a mass movement by the leaders of the three ethnic groups from the zone, who want to change their third class status in the scheme of things since the creation of the state in 1991.
The group was in fact very strong in the run-up to the 2007 elections in the state, but after Uduaghan’s ascendancy to power, not much was heard about the group in the past 11 years though it remained a potent platform.
Ex-gov Uduaghan is from Itsekiri tribe and Senator James Manager representing Delta South in the Senate for almost 16 years and wanting to go for a record fifth term is from Ijaw ethnic group. Both are members of G3.
However, Uduaghan, last month, August, defected from PDP to the All Progressives Congress, APC after Senator Manager refused to willingly vacate the senatorial seat, setting the stage for a battle royal between the duo most probably in 2019.
Back from political hibernation!
The new chairman of the group, Chief Solomon Ogba and other leaders, including the national secretary, Hon Funkekeme Solomon, national treasurer and former SSG, Comrade Ovuozorie Macaulay, national treasurer, Chief Joseph Otumara and others, in a communiqué, during the week, describing Uduaghan’s foray into APC as ‘unfortunate”, pointed out: “G3 equally stands by the principle of rotation (among the ethnic groups) within the Delta South senatorial district as far as the senatorial seat is concerned…”
The group, therefore, urged “all ethnic groups in the district to abide by it (principle of rotation), so as to foster unity, peace, equity and fairness amongst us.”
It emphasized: “The G3 restates its commitments to the oneness, peace and advancement of the Delta South senatorial district, as well as the rapid development and peaceful co-existence of all peoples of Delta South.”
An Ijaw leader told Saturday Vanguard: “Without saying it, the immediate conjecture from the group’s position on the principle of rotation among the ethnic groups is that Senator James Manager (Ijaw) should give way to another person from another ethnic group, which clearly is Dr. Uduaghan (Itsekiri) to take over the senatorial seat in 2019.”
Ganagana spits fire
An Ijaw member of G3 and former Speaker, Delta State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Basil Ganagana, who expressed shock that his name was inserted as part of those who attended a recent G3 meeting where some decisions were reached without his authorization, said the question raised by the group concerning Delta South senatorial district was bizarre.
His words: “As much as I subscribe strongly to the second term bid of our governor, the issue raised concerning Delta South senatorial district is rather curious because G3 failed to also appraise other federal and state constituencies in Delta South senatorial district that have refused to adhere to PDP’s zoning formula for elective and appointive positions enshrined in chapter 1, subsection 7, paragraph 3 (c) of our party’s constitution as amended…”
“From the above therefore, it is hypocritical for some persons in G3 to limit the issue of rotation to Delta South senatorial district and yet ignore others like the Bomadi/Patani federal constituency in the same district where Hon Nicholas Mutu, a signatory to the publication and an emergency advocate of rotation from Bomadi local government, who has been in the House of Representatives for 20 years (fifth term) and yet wants a sixth term and refused rotation of the office to the sister Patani local government area.
“It is my considered view that what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Therefore, isolating Delta South senatorial district and leaving out other federal and state constituencies in the district smacks of a hidden political agenda intended to massage the ego of some persons,” he said.
Reading between the lines
Looking critically at Ganagana’s outburst, it does not really seem that he is against G3’s position on the rotation of Delta South senatorial seat per se, but that the group did not advocate the same principle for federal constituencies in the district.
Ganagana, who is from Patani axis of the Bomadi/Patani federal constituency also wants to take a shot at the House of Representatives seat in the constituency, which Hon Mutu from Bomadi axis has monopolized, according to him, for 20 years and “wants to sixth term.”
He was rankled that Mutu’s name appeared among the signatories of the G3 communiqué, but Hon Mutu, who sensed the likely implications of position, which also bore his imprimatur, also clarified that he did not attend the meeting where the decision was taken.
While not joining issues with the group, he stated: “I am constrained to make the following clarifications: That I was not in any meeting organized by G3 where any such decisions were taken; that I was never consulted before the publication… I hereby dissociate myself from the said publication.”
Funkekeme clears the air on G3 position
Chairman of G3, Chief Solomon Ogba, could not be reached for comments, but the National Secretary, Rt Hon Solomon Funkekeme, who answered questions from Saturday Vanguard on if the group was clearing the coast for Uduaghan, asserted: “It is a principle, we do not have anybody in mind, it is our principle.”
According to him: “The position of G3 is that for peaceful co-existence among the ethnic groups in Delta South, we should be able to share things among ourselves, we should accommodate each other, it is not specific about 2019 or the coming senatorial election per se.”
Other prominent members of the group, including the deputy national secretary, Barr Raymos Guanah, national publicity secretary, Hon Daniel Mayuku, director of mobilization, Chief Frank Omare and chairman of Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, ALGON, Delta chapter, Sir Itiako Ikpokpo were said to be unswerving in the stand of the group on power rotation among the ethnic groups.