By Gab Ejuwa
“I think before I act—and then think again. I am not entirely a coward, but I do not lose myself in action as you do.”
John Christopher, Beyond the Burning Lands
Not surprisingly though, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan’s defection from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) is generating ripples across the nation and in Delta State in particular.
People are appraising this unexpected but strategic action from a political chieftain who, in a manner of speaking, had been a kind of poster boy for the resurgent PDP, having functioned
as Secretary to Delta State Government and later as Commissioner for Health under former Governor James Ibori’s administration. He eventually became the governor for two terms.
Now, he is focusing on the Senate to climax his illustrious political career.
Having taken stock of his political pedigree and suitability in view of the current realities in the nation, he has decided to shift his political allegiance and realign his political wiring with the dominant party, the significance of which this writer would like to examine in this write up.
To start with, and as a matter of a mixed discourse, some political watchers have lambasted this political action and, by extension, the man himself, believing that the step taken by Uduaghan amounts to a sellout, a betrayal of some sort, especially now when the PDP seems to be waxing stronger in the expectation to turn the table against the dominant party at the federal level in next year’s elections. To this school of thought, the action could be likened to shooting oneself in the foot, especially as the PDP happens to be the dominant party in the South-South and the South- East which are the close constituencies of Uduaghan.
This belief seemed to be the underlying position when the PDP Publicity Secretary in Delta State, Ifeanyi Osuoza, described Uduaghan’s boast that the APC “will wrest power from the PDP in the state in 2019” as a “pipe dream.
This writer would like to examine these “Osuozaic” doctoral rodomontade and the underlying smug assumptions, or rather presuppositions behind it.
First, the idea and summation that Uduaghan is less than a featherweight politically and that his prospect of victory is a pipedream is exactly what it is: self-confidence or should I say, foolhardiness carried to brazenly ridiculous heights. The reality on ground is the diametric opposite. Osuoza should remember that Uduaghan is a very entrenched personality in Delta politics, having been a Commissioner, Secretary to the State Government and governor for eight years. No person with this degree of wealth of experience in government should be regarded as a featherweight. Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, Uduaghan has set his eyes on representing Delta South, where the Itsekiri, Isoko and the Ijaw are dominant, in the Senate.
Deltans know that Uduaghan is coming to the Senate better armed than James Manager, the man who has represented the district for about 15 years, compared to Uduaghan. Surely, Uduaghan’s experience in almost all the levels of government readily makes him broader-minded and more fit to give the senatorial district superior representation than any of his opponents.
Coming to Osuoza’s reference to Uduaghan’s electoral defeat by then Senator Okowa at the 2014 primaries, I would say that it was a test of character for Uduaghan who believes that politics is never a do-or-die contest. He believes in the rule of law and abides by the election dictates as a mature politician. Inspite of this, there seems to be a rueful “Okowaian” maliciousness towards Uduaghan, which is quite unfortunate and misdirected as demonstrated in the systematic destruction by the incumbent governor of most of the Uduaghan legacies in the state and the underlying bid to probe the former governor and hand him over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in the attempt of the opposition to cow him.
However, Uduaghan has kept mum over the spirited attack on his person and activities in government, holding his head high and dignified in studied calm.
The fact that “the leopard glides about”, as an old proverb moralises, should not be misconstrued for cowardice. Uduaghan’s articulate silence is golden for the attainment of the height ahead.