By alfred okolie
Firstly, one has to give Delta state Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan credit for attempting to cloth himself with some dignity, pretending that he decided on his own to play the statesman and bury his senatorial ambition just so that peace could reign in Delta state.
But the truth is much further from the version he gave the world. Gov. Uduaghan had simply expected that the free-hand President Jonathan gave to the Governors to control the party structures would be absolute. So he failed to consult anybody concerning his senate ambition. When he came to Abuja to confer with Jonathan on his senatorial ambition, he blew it when he asked James Manager to accompany him to the Villa to see Jonathan.
The appointment was for 9pm. Manager arrived the Delta Governor’s Lodge by 8 so that there would be enough time to discuss with Uduaghan before they would leave for the Villa. But he did not see Uduaghan until 8.30 when he was ready to leave for the Villa. Manager made to enter his own personal car, but Uduaghan invited him to accompany him in his own official car.
Though they sat in the same car, Uduaghan and Manager never exchanged a word as Uduaghan kept fiddling with his phone.
Once they saw the President, Uduaghan announced that “I came with my brother, Senator James Manager who is here to tell you that we have discussed and he is here to tell you that he has agreed to step down for me. Please, Mr. President, I plead with you to find him an appointment”.
James Manager flared up; “Gov. Uduaghan should not be lying against me, even in my presence. Mr. President, Uduaghan and I never discussed anybody’s Senatorial ambition, and so I could never have agreed to step down for him. He may be the Gov, but that should not make him arrogant. In politics, he is a small boy to me. I was chairman of GDM in Delta and I was protem Chairman of the PDP. Where was Uduaghan then?
“Well, I am a Senator. I have no constitutional limitation. Uduaghan has, so he cannot seek to return to his office. Nothing bars me from seeking re-election and I intend to seek re-election. I will meet Uduaghan in the field. Let him beat me if he is able. My people want me to contest and I will not disappoint them for a liar.”
Jonathan asked Uduaghan why he did not want Manager to remain a Senator.
Uduaghan replied that Manager is a close friend of Ibori’s and as would be expected, from Ibori’s friend, Manager’s support for the President cannot be total.
Manager interrupted him: “Yes, I am James Ibori’s friend. I will never deny him, come rain, come shine. But I am an Ijaw man. I know the role I played in the Senate when making the doctrine of necessity was a big issue. That time, Uduaghan and many Govs where against making the then Vice President to become an Acting President. The National Assembly forced the issue down the Govs’ throats. My role then is open history.
Could I ever claim to be closer than Ibori than Uduaghan? That is impossible, but if Uduaghan is now denying his brother, who is suffering mainly because of the benefits that Uduaghan reaped, then that is a tragedy. But Uduaghan, an Itsekiri man, will not teach me how to support an Ijaw President.
Mr. President, if there is any here who will be out of job in May next year, it is Gov. Uduaghan. He may need your help on that score, but I wonder how you will trust anybody who lies even against his brother, and disowns him openly; a brother who is in jail in the UK mainly because of how he helped Uduaghan.
But that is a family problem; I have never told Ibori things Uduaghan has done to him because I never wanted to start a family quarrel. But he is now exposing himself.”
At this point, Jonathan announced that he was disappointed that there was no prior discussion before Uduaghan called him to say he and James Manager had reached an agreement. Jonathan said he had thought he would use the Delta resolution as an example to tackle the same problems in Benue, Enugu and Cross River states. So, he asked them to return and consult others and reach an amicable agreement.
That was when Uduaghan knew the game was up. He could not even go to Chief E.K Clark. He could not approach members of Ibori’s political camp in Delta because of the way he has betrayed Ibori. The same E.K. Clark was pointing out to visitors to his Abuja home the room in which Uduaghan had told him that Ibori was still fighting President Jonathan.
Clark had asked him pointedly why he was opposed to Senator Ifeanyi Okowa as the next Gov of Delta state. Uduaghan replied pointedly that Okowa was the leader of the James Ibori political camp in Delta and that if he became Governor, he would be opposed to Jonathan. When Clark asked him pointedly if he knew the implication of what he had just said for Ibori, Uduaghan replied yes.
The result was that in the communiqué the some 11 aspirants signed in E. K Clark’s house, against Uduaghan’s attempt to impose Tony Obuh as the next Gov, they mentioned the political fight between Ibori and Uduaghan, and added that such family squabble should not be allowed to Delta state apart.
Yet, when it suits Uduaghan, he would drop Ibori’s name to woo Ibori’s followers in the state. Many tend not to doubt him because he is actually Ibori’s cousin.
What the public does not know is that Uduaghan’s hold on Delta politics is not as robust as he had pretended it to be. At present, the PDP headquarters has received two reports from Delta state on the House of Assembly primaries of last week. One was submitted by the Delta PDP Acting Chairman while another was submitted by the Appeal Panel Chairman, the PDP had sent from its Abuja headquarters.
Whenever the names on the Appeal Panel’s list are made public, it would not contain some names Uduaghan’s group had declared victorious. If not, the group would not have attempted to submit its own list – an attempt that failed.
Also, for this weekend’s primaries, Uduaghan’s group has kicked against the persons the PDP headquarters is sending to oversee affairs in Delta. That shows that it is already jittery.
Once the game was up, Uduaghan had to announce that he was stepping down in the interest of peace. He thus clothed himself with dignity. But he had no more room for maneuver; he had boxed himself into a corner.
In some parts of Delta, the story circulated that Uduaghan was given a choice between becoming a Senator and producing Obuh as governor and he chose Obuh; that issue never arose in any of the Abuja discussions.
The net effect of all that has taken place is that there is a great fight between the Ibori and the Uduaghan camps, so a great division has come into their ranks. This has not only weakened both camps, it may affect the PDP eventually and make things easier for APC when the general election comes.
E.K Clark was instrumental in stopping Uduaghan’s senatorial ambition. Uduaghan’s unilateral decision to pick his successor as governor has never sat well with the likes of E.K Clark. The problem was not as much as in the choice of Tony Obuh but in the way he totally failed to consult or carry others along but wanted to impose him on everybody.
Since Ibori’s imprisonment in the UK, Uduaghan has antagonised all the key members of the Ibori political machinery, as though he was tired of living in Ibori’s shadows. Instead, he has exhibited real arrogance.
He was only cut down to size recently when the Itsekiri Leaders of Thought reminded him that Ibori’s administration favoured the Itsekiri, his own ethnic group, more than his own administration – a public statement. In fact, Uduaghan first visited the Olu of Warri, on Thursday before coming to Abuja, but details of their meeting was not made public.
But not even that meeting was enough to save the day for Uduaghan.
Ordinarily, Senator Manager is a leading member of the Ibori political family. Uduaghan is supposed to keep that machinery humming; but he decimated it, dumping the members after using the two win election after a tribunal nullified his 2011 election. Had he been close to that group, he would have been able to settle the matter with Senator Manager and would have offered him another position.