Delta South 2019: Uduaghan, Manager, Diden eye PDP ticket
The saying that nobody gives up power without protest is playing out in Delta South Senatorial district. After an unprecedented fourth term, Senator James Manager seems not to be tired. He is still itching for another. But, hot on his heels, however are former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan and a lawmaker in the State House of Assembly, Mr. Michael Diden. The entrance of Diden, popularly called Ejele, may in no small way alter the political arithmetic of the district.
This is based on his closeness to incumbent Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, as well as, being a big time power broker in the politics of the legislature and the state. Against all odds, he stood by Okowa to the hilt during and after the PDP primaries in 2015.
Already, the stage is being set for what promises to be an interesting clash of the titans for the PDP Senatorial ticket come 2019. A gentleman zoning arrangement was spread among the three ethnic groups of Ijaw, Isoko and Itsekiri.Each of the ethnic groups takes one term and it was in deference to that unwritten agreement that Mrs. Stella Omu (Isoko) did only one term, from 1999 through 2003, to pave way for Manager, an Ijaw.
In line with the rotation arrangement, Itsekiri is supposed to produce the next senator in 2019. The entry of Manager, who has refused to let go without protest, is now threatening to upset the apple cart. Thrice lucky, Manager came close to losing out in 2015, when Uduaghan indicated interest. The state became charged and was only doused when the ex-governor withdrew at the last minute.Uduaghan indicated interest way back in 2014, to run for the senatorial election in the 2015 election, but chickened out in the face of vehement opposition from Manager and his Ijaw kinsmen.
Then, as a sitting governor, Uduaghan had the proverbial yam and knife, but vacillated. Citing the need to sustain the fragile peace in Delta State, he had on December 5, 2014 announced his withdrawal from the race, less than two days to the primary. The incumbent Senator was thus returned unopposed as the PDP candidate, which he won.
The former governor said he took the decision after a meeting with former President Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP ex-national chairman, Dr. Adamu Muazu, where the political situation in the state was critically analyzed and had to make a sacrifice by stepping down.While denying that he was forced to step down, Uduaghan explained that quitting afforded him the opportunity to concentrate on national issues, manage remaining PDP primaries and the election proper.
Alluding to the alleged threats by the Ijaw to resume hostilities should their kinsman be shortchanged by an Itsekiri, the then governor said maintaining the peace in the state was more important than electoral victories, which are won at great human cost.
Speaking with journalists recently in Warri, Uduaghan defended his decision to join the race for a second time, emphasizing that a good Senator should be ready to attract federal projects and achieve his developmental goals for his constituents and also be prepared to do more of lobbying.The former two-tem governor said holding committee chairmanship post, or any powerful committee position doesn’t make one a good Senator, stressing that only those who know how to network and possibly do lobbying with contacts built over the years can attract projects.
Uduaghan also chronicled what he did as a governor during the dark days of Niger Delta militancy, as well as, quelling communal crisis in Delta State. He said he personally engaged stakeholders, the key actors, traditional rulers and negotiated for peace in the state and the region.He declared that as a former governor, who had garnered much experience in governance, he is better positioned to represent the people of Delta South in the senate come 2019. “It is easier for me, for instance, to take up my phone and call Fashola for one road project somewhere in Isoko than any other person in the race to do that or call Amaechi that I want this port here than any other person to do that,” he stated.
Going by the political equation of the three ethnic groups in the district, the former governor said it is the turn of Itsekiri to take a shot at the senate seat. He said: “It is the turn of the Itsekiri nation to produce the next senator come 2019. I have decided to run, but I have not declared yet. The reason I have decided to run for senate is because I have the capacity, knowledge, experience and contacts to do the needful in the senate.
“This is not anchored on the fact that am an Itsekiri, as I would be representing not just the Itsekiri nation, but the Ijaw and Isoko nation. Having contested election in 25 local government areas, I believe contesting elections in eight local councils would not be stressful.”Diden, however countered his two opponents, insisting that having worked so tirelessly for the duo during their elections, it was high time Uduaghan and Manager returned his ‘political favour’ by backing him. He said he spent his precious time and money drumming support for them.
With his high profile, many people were surprised that he chose to contest for a seat in the House of Assembly in 2015, where he represents Uduaghan’s home constituency of Warri North. He said his sojourn there was simply to learn the rudiments of lawmaking at the state level. Three years after, he is fully prepared to march on Abuja.
The aspirant, who has been rumoured in many quarters as the ‘candidate’ of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, however said he is in the race on his own volition. “I am going to run and I will run. It has being a rumour but I want to make it clear to you today that I want to run for the seat of Delta South Senatorial District in the senate. I cannot do it alone especially when I have friends like you in the media,” he said.
On speculations in some quarters that Okowa is ‘sponsoring’ him in order to settle scores with the former governor, he retorted that he would not do anything that would rob on his reputation. He was unequivocal: “If at this age I still rely on somebody to bring me out, to sponsor me for an election and after a while the person will call me to stop, for me that will not help my name.
“It means I am not planning for my life and I don’t believe in that association of growth. I believe one must grow politically, from local government chairman to state House of Assembly and from there to senate and from senate to maybe presidency.“If I now decided to use my own hand to witch-hunt myself, being a ‘spoiler’, my duty is to come and play the role of a spoiler, I should as well know that one day someone will come and play the role of a spoiler in my life.”
Diden, said he had given Uduaghan and Manager unflinching support in the past and it was time for the two gentlemen to carry his hand and allow him have the Delta South Senatorial District ticket without much challenge.He said: “I supported James Manager four times to become a senator free of charge without collecting a dime from him. I supported Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan from the position of Commissioner to SSG and to Governor. Is it not befitting for them to support me only once? In this case, two of them are ‘Aaron’ and I am the Moses. They should carry my hand up.”
According to him, getting the Senate ticket under the PDP is his final option adding that he doesn’t have any other option by way of decamping to another party to realise his ambition if he fails to clinch the PDP ticket. With the cast of characters, the stage appears set for what promises to be a titanic contest in the 2019 Delta South Senatorial primary of the PDP among Uduaghan
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