…Says, I don’t expect Ibori to think I betrayed him
By Perez Brisibe
Immediate past governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, last week, defected from the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, to the All Progressives Congress, APC. He has among others accused the party of not protecting its own even as he dismissed claims that his defection was forced on him on account of alleged investigations of his administration by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
In this interview, he further asserts that he does not expect his cousin and predecessor in office as governor, Chief James Ibori, to feel betrayed over his defection. The former governor spoke as a guest of Channels Television’s current affairs programme, Hard Copy.
Cold war with Okowa
Let’s not go to the intricacies of 2014. There was no sitting down to say after this, it would be this and that (talking about who becomes governor), no. It wasn’t something that was pre-arranged as it wasn’t planned that I would take over from Ibori and Governor Okowa should take over from me. But it just happened that the three of us emerged just like that. Else, by now, we should have known who the fourth person should be and nobody can mention or say who that person would be.
There was a struggle with 28 contestants in 2007 that went for the primaries and 23 contestants when Governor Okowa was gunning for office.
The 28 of us that contested in 2007 had the chance of becoming the next governor. What happened then was that we had three senatorial districts with Central having it for eight years, we formed a group between the North and South and there was a lot of pressure that it should go to the South. In the South, we organised ourselves into a group called the G3 which was very active and in terms of nomination, we narrowed it to one person which was myself.
In the G3, which consisted of Ijaw, Itsekiri and Isoko and some Urhobo, who are in South, were able to narrow ourselves. While the others had divided arrangement, we had a single arrangement and that was the big advantage that we had at the PDP primary which led to my success.
Joining tent with long time rival, Ogboru
In politics, there are no permanent friends and if you decide to make permanent enemies or friends, you can never move forward. Politics is about interest. My interest at the moment is what APC has done in the Niger-Delta, which for me, is quite encouraging. It is not my self interest but regional interest.
My defection has nothing to do with primaries
I contested elections severally and did primaries severally. Most of the senators that are there now, I did their primaries and even did very hot elections, so election is not my problem. I have issues in PDP both at the state and the national level and there is no doubt about it.
Investigations by EFCC
I am one of the most investigated former governors. I have gone to the EFCC in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Benin and Abuja, so what other investigations are you talking about? In the last three years, the EFCC has come to Delta State, took the SSG’s office for three days, arrested people, brought Permanent Secretaries and others to Asaba and this has never happened in any state.
If you go to the EFCC, they would tell you that the highest number of petitions is from Delta State. There is virtually nothing that I did in Delta State that has not been investigated, sometimes twice because sometimes two persons write same petition. So what other investigation are you talking about? EFCC has virtually turned Delta State up, down, left, right and centre. It has nothing to do with EFCC investigations.
PDP never protects its own
The PDP has never protected its own. The PDP can use you and whatever happens to you after, nobody cares. People would move from the PDP to the APC because the conditions in APC now favour the development of the Niger-Delta and so we are ready to mobilise people from the PDP in the South-South to APC. Besides, you need to have some people in the APC to be able to push some of the agreements reached by the Buhari government with the people of the region not to start a fresh agreement.
There are a lot of things wrong with the PDP as at today. PDP at the national level is busy dealing with issues at the National Assembly. Is there something really going on with PDP at the national level?
My role in Delta APC
My role is going to be coordinating. The APC in Delta has been very weak. They do not have a House of Assembly member, and they have not won any election even at the council level. So my role is to first of all, unite the members, and let them know that if you do not build a party, you can never win an election. These days, no party is built around an individual.
You have to come together collectively and build the party. So since I came in, I have been going round and talking to the leaders, telling them that, look, we need to build the party from the ward level not from the top and this is my first responsibility.
Expectations of APC in Delta in 2019
We are looking to wrest power from the PDP in the state. I do not have an idea who the candidate of the party is going to be. Every party has its own calculations, sometimes, such calculations look as if the whole state has accepted that calculation, like the Delta North and others which were started by the PDP and I do not know if APC has accepted that as well, as I just came into the party.
But I would go in, study the party, what they have and do not have on the table, and advise, based on my knowledge of Delta State; what would bring peace and what is best for the state.
2019 in Delta State would be much more interesting. APC was not much that strong in 2014. But now, they are stronger. In 2014, I was in PDP, Great Ogboru was in Labour Party, same with Ovie Omo-Agege in Labour Party and Emerhor in APC. But now, all these names I have mentioned are in APC. So definitely, APC would be stronger in 2019 than in 2014.
Keeps mum on Okowa’s administration
If you had asked me two days ago (assessment of Okowa’s administration), I would have answered you but today, I won’t answer because I just entered a new party, I do not want to talk about what he has done and what he has not done, I want to face the party.
Allegation of debt profile by Okowa
He changed his comment later that the handover note I gave to him, he didn’t study it properly because the figures he was talking about were quite different from the figures he quoted later. There was a figure that was quoted as soon as I left, and just this year, it was different.
Ibori’s position on my defection
I do not expect Ibori to say I betrayed him. You must understand that there is an Ibori political family and there is a PDP family. Ibori had a political family that started from the Grassroots Democratic Movement, GDM, and I am a part of that family. So, the family had been on before PDP. That I am in APC does not mean I am not relating with him. I do and this includes the fact that we are blood brothers.
This would not in any way affect my relationship with him. Even while in the same PDP, you do not have to relate with everybody, there were those who wanted me, those who liked me and those who didn’t.
So, being in the same party does not mean relationships would be smooth.