The plot over who becomes Delta State governor thickens as each day goes by and the latest act circulating in the grapevine is that there is a grand but perfectly legitimate underground agenda to displace Delta North and the Aniomas from producing the next occupant of Government House, Asaba in 2015.
This agenda, according to some highly placed Delta political watchers and key players in the political landscape, is been hatched via a collaboration of the Ijaws and Urhobos to ensure that the much touted power shift, which had been the cardinal excuse for the emergence and re-election of Governor Uduaghan, does not complete its projected trajectory by coming to Delta North in 2015.
The indicators, according to some discerning pundits, have manifested in several well orchestrated events, especially the last Delta State Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, state congress, which produced the present Peter Nwaoboshi led exco, but which has continued to continued to give off conflicting signals, highlighted by the delay in the swearing-in of the new exco.
It was generally alleged in some very critical and aggrieved quarters within the PDP, that the Party’s congresses, from Wards, through Local Governments and finally state, had made a complete sham of internal democracy in the PDP and negated the instruction of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, who had urged all party chieftains to go back to their wards and conduct a congress that would start from the grassroots and subsequently return power to the people by ensuring that they are the ones who would elect their own leaders.
Reports had emerged from across the state of how the congresses were hijacked in some key local government areas by certain persons regarded as big wigs in the party, especially from Abuja, who reportedly disenfranchised banafide delegates from taking part in the congresses.
But all that appears to have been settled now with the recent proclamation by Chief E.K Clark and Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan that they have settled their differences and peace has returned to Delta PDP.
This new reconciliation song has led many watchers to conclude that the earlier suspected ploy to scheme Delta North out of the governorship in 2015, following the way and manner the Delta PDP State congress was contrived, may have just been the beginning of a grand plan between Chief Clark, Governor Uduaghan and some key Delta North political figures loyal to Chief Clark to support a candidate from the Ijaw ethnic nationality of the Delta South geo-political axis, thus not only returning power to Delta South but indeed truncating the widely held notion of the power shift argument that it will be the turn of Delta North to produce the governor in 2015.
The main figure in this calculation is of course Elder Godsday Orubebe, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and he is becoming very prominent in the governorship conversation as each day goes by, especially with the feeling that the Delta North candidates are not speaking with one voice and there is the real possibility that the zone will be betrayed by its own key political figures in 2015, because of the ambition of each of the leading candidates to become the governor, when Uduaghan leaves office .
In fact there is a very serious report making the rounds that one of the very top Delta North aspirant may have allegedly decamped from the PDP to the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN following the handwriting on the wall after the state party congress and the recent reconciliation between Chief E.K Clark and Governor Uduaghan. FLASHPOINT will bring you details of this sensational news at the appropriate time.
The second figure is distinguished Senator James Manager, who is presently in his fourth term as the Senator representing Delta South senatorial zone but who is rumoured to be strongly considering a shot at the governorship, especially in 2015, when the Isokos and Itsekiris who are also part of the Delta South conclave will be compelled to seek an option to the political wilderness which stares them in the face when Governor Uduaghan and SSG, Comrade Ovuozurie Macaulay would have completed their tenures.
In all these however, the Delta Central Political group is not just watching the landscape keenly, but have intensified their own political calculations to ensure that they are visibly and strongly positioned to cash in on any miscalculations by Delta North, who it is rumoured are already feeling threatened and intimidated by the sudden force and underground movements going on inside Delta PDP and in the Delta Central political environment. Some discerning Delta political watchers have opined that Delta Central in the PDP, miscalculated when former Governor James Ibori handpicked and handed over to his cousin, Emmanuel Uduaghan and Prof Amos Utuama in 2007.
The feeling that they have been in the political wilderness since 2007, was further aggravated by the trouncing they received at the hands of the opposition Democratic Peoples Party, DPP in the 2011 elections and this has further cemented the conclusion that Prof. Utuama, despite his hallowed position as Deputy governor, is reportedly regarded is a political liability to Delta Central.
The anger over a continued sojourn in the political wilderness has led to the emergence of several pan-Urhobo groups like the Urhobo Political Forum (UPF) with Chief lghoyota Amori as National chairman, the Urhobo Consultative Forum (UCF) headed by Sir Tom Amioku and now Urhobo Political Congress (UPC) and the Delta Central Political Movement (DCPM) with Chief Olori Magege as protein Chairman.
All these bring to fore, the perceived or assumed agenda of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan in the whole calculation and many believe that he may be nursing a coded agenda which, like the wily political fox he has become over the years, he is keeping very close to his chest.
The present popular opinion in Delta Central is that Governor Uduaghan, posing under the power shift argument, is said to be subtly discouraging any person from Delta Central from aspiring for the governorship post while allegedly encouraging others and at the same time keeping to his chest his ultimate joker, just like ex-governor James Ibori did in the run-up to the 2007 governorship elections that eventually brought him, Uduaghan, to power.
Political insiders claim that at a recent meeting of the party caucus from Delta Central, presided over by Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, his Political Adviser; Chief Ighoyota Amori, had called for the restructuring of the zoning system so that no senatorial district could hold the post of party chairman and governor at the same time; a position fueled by the fact that Peter Nwaoboshi will still be the party chairman in 2014, in the event of a Delta North governor emerging.
According to very reliable sources at that meeting, Governor Uduaghan was reported to have told those present that the PDP had a precedent to guide them and buttressed his position by informing them that when the post of party Chairman was held by Delta South zone for eight years, the Delta Central also held the post of governor, with Chief James Ibori from Delta Central or eight years.
Uduaghan then argued that to ensure stability in the party, the precedent must be adhered to, thus lending credence and further fueling the suspicion in Delta Central that he is likely to abandon them in 2015.
It was gathered that while nobody was bold enough to contradict Governor Uduaghan after his speech, feelers from Delta Central indicate that the issue has continued to generate tension in the political space where some of the PDP stakeholders argued that to allow the Governor’s argument to stand, only means that the PDP would once again be thrashed in Delta Central just like in 2011, but worse still, they will lose out completely on the two key positions in the state, viz: Governor and Deputy Governor and that would mean being out of power for 16 years since Prof. Utuama’s position has not delivered the expected political mileage in the calculation of some Delta Central stake holders.
The alternative for Delta Central however is to play along with the Uduaghan zoning formular and settle for the Speakership or the SSG or stake a serious claim for the governorship by throwing its support to any party or candidate that is pro-Delta Central and settle for either the governorship or Deputy Governor.
This second option to abandon the PDP appeared to have been the initial position after the 2011 general elections, but there is a growing realization in Delta Central that the Democratic Peoples Party, DPP, which was once the beautiful bride has virtually lost its popular appeal and support now and Senator Pius Ewherido of DPP, who has been touted as one of the leading lights to restore the lost political glory to Delta Central, no longer enjoys the massive support that won him the Senatorial ticket against the PDP in 2011.
In fact the word is that Senator Ewherido is planning to decamp from the DPP in order to shore up his political ratings and if this happens, then he will be a very strong contender for the position of Deputy Governor to any candidate who enjoys the sympathy of Delta Central or indeed a serious governorship candidate for any other ppolitical party which has the interest of Delta Central outside the PDP.
The safe speculation at this time is that Delta Central not wishing to be completely marginalized, will re-strategize in line with Governor Uduaghan’s position on the zoning and power shift arrangement and instead settle for the post of Speakership in 2015, with an eye on the post of party chairman if the zoning formular is sustained beyond 2019.
The language however, of those against this arrangement is also very instructive. Chief Bobson Gbinigie, the National Coordinator, Mandate Against Poverty (MAP) may have captured it succinctly or perhaps he may not have after all. Hear him: “The Machiavellian and Descartian political plot by Uduaghan to pick his successor (Ibori style) is calculated to cover his eerily Prebendalistic tracks, frustrate genuine aspirants and destroy the political interest of the majority interest group. But such orchestrations can be nipped in the bud if people of common coalition stick together and apotheosize a re-surgimental sense of political mission. Uduaghan should declare his assets, show transparency in governance, improve his accountability index to Deltans, create jobs and stop diversionary political acrobatics.”
As for Delta North, the major political contenders for 2015 are of course the usual suspects namely; the Speaker, Delta House of Assembly, Hon Victor Ochei and Senator Ifeanyi Okowa. The word is that they are currently being encouraged by governor Uduaghan and are strengthening their already existing structures for the 2015 governorship battle.
There are also some technocrats mentioned in the equation like the mercurial Tony Elumelu, President of Heirs Holdings and the Tony Elumelu Foundation, as well as Prof. Sylvester Monye, Special Adiviser to President Jonathan on Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, PME, of Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs. But the safe bet is to go with the core politicians, at least for the time being.
The position of Deputy Governor for any of these Anioma aspirants has been tipped to go to Delta South with the Isokos and Ijaws, who have not held any of the top two positions since 1999, strongly in contention in the persons three strong Uduaghan loyalists namely the current Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Comrade Ovuozorie Macualay from Isoko, the present Commissioner for Works Hon. Solomon Funkekeme from Ijaw and thepresent Commissioner for Health Dr. Joseph Otumara, who is Uduaghan’s kinsman from Itsekiri.
Delta political watchers are of the strong opinion that the argument that Governor Uduaghan may eventually support his kinsman Dr. Otumara for the position, is founded on two facts, viz: the Itsekiris will not want to be in the political wilderness after Uduaghan leaves office in 2015, especially given the way the politcal permutations are playing out so far.
Secondly, Governor Uduaghan did not hesitate to appoint another Itsekiri man, Oritsua Kpogho as the Chairman of the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Commission DESOPADEC, thus putting him in control of half of the revenue accruing to the other half of the Delta divide. Kpogho’s tenure as DESOPADEC Chairman will effectively end in 2014 and since the law states that he will run for only one term, the Itsekiris will be left with nothing politically. Unless they get the Deputy Governorship.
The other alternative for the Itsekiri and Isoko is to go for the Delta South Senatorial slot after the tenure of distinguished Senator James Manager. There are of course three likely candidates for this position; Hon. Leo Ogor, who presently is the Majority leader in the Federal House of Representatives and Comrade Ovuozuorie Macaulay, who is the present Delta SSG and a likely Deputy Governorship candidate.
The third person is of course the big masquerade himself, Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, who many believe has already made up his mind to become the next Senator representing Delta South in the upper chamber of the National Assembly. Delta political pundits aver that Governor Uduaghan may have concluded his plan by going into an agreement with Chief E.K Clark to deliver the governorship to the Ijaws after his tenure, as part of a grand plan to perfect his own Senatorial ambition plan in 2015; a plan which Chief Clark himself may have endorsed following his confirmation that he has reconciled with Uduaghan.
So can anybody stop Uduaghan if he decides to become a Senator in 2015? Only time will tell.