Experience and an array of political associates stand Emmanuel Uduaghan out among those jostling for the Delta South Senatorial Districtâ€Ž, writes Sylvester Idowu
When you are in the business of politics, there will always be people that get it and people that donâ€™t. Former Governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Ewetan Udughan knows this, that is why he is throwing his hat into the ring, once again, but this time to contest the senatorial ticket for the Delta South Senatorial District which is made up of three ethnic nationalities of Isoko, Ijaw and the Itsekiri.
The district is the most ethnically diverse in the state and it is the area that produces 90 percent of the oil production in the state. While the central district is reserved just for the Urhobo, the north is for the Igbo speaking Anioma people.
It is this that makes representing the Delta South interesting. So when Uduaghan decided to throw his hat into the ring to contest for the senatorial seat, that was the signal that full politicking has begun in the state.
No doubt, Uduaghan was a beloved governor of the state who ensured that developmental projects were evenly spread among the various tribe and political lines in the state.
This must have been the reason why immediately the former governor announced his intention to contest the senate seat, his action threw the spanner on the ambition of the incumbent, James Manager, the man who has been representing the district since 2003 and still planning to go for a fifth term.â€Ž
Counting on his experience as the chief executive of the state, he has the conviction that he is in a better position to represent the people of Delta South in the Senate. The former governor believes that securing the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and winning the election will give him the opportunity to continue to contribute to the development of the state through legislation and working in concert with his fellow members to attract infrastructural development to the oil rich state.
At an interactive section with journalists in Warri, Delta State recently, Uduaghan said that his experience as governor placed him in a position to know most of the needs of his people.
â€œIt will be easier for me to talk to them one-on-one whether I am a Senator or not. I will get an appointment for us to meet and talkâ€¦ So what Iâ€™m saying in essence is that if you have the capacity it will be easier to get things to your place because it is easier for you to lobby and it is easier to attract development to your area. And I think I have that capacity to lobby and not just to pass whatever bill Iâ€™m presenting but to attract development to my constituency.
â€œLegislation is about lobbying and being a legislator you must have the ability to lobby. And lobby is easier when you know who you are talking to. People in the National Assembly, many of them are my former colleagues whether in the executive arm or the National Assembly. Many of them are my friends and they are people we have played politics with for a long time.
â€œIt is easier for me, for instance, to take up my phone and call (former Lagos State governor, Mr. Raji) Fashola for one road project somewhere in Isoko than any other person in the race to do that or call (former Rivers State governor, Rotimi Amaechi that I want this port here than any other person to do thatâ€, he said.
Another advantage that the former governor believes might work for him is his vast knowledge of intricacies and dynamics of national politics having been involved in national politics as governor of Delta State.
He underscores the importance of the advantage he has over his co-contestants when he said: â€œOne other thing that I think is critical is that there are a lot of national issues that are raised in the National Assembly. They are national but they affect all the regions of this country and if you donâ€™t understand the politics and depth of this country you might just stay there and not be able to contribute and see the benefit of that particular issue raised to where you come from.
â€œSometime you see people who have been in the National Assembly for four to eight years and you ask what has this man actually done? He was chairman of this, chairman of that but what has he actually done? There are deep things in this country that people donâ€™t understand unless you are part of it. Of course you know I belong to a governorâ€™s forum for eight years. There are things that are discussed in the governors forum that we will never tell you (press) because we donâ€™t allow journalists to be part of the meeting but at the end, we do a press briefing on things that are of public consumptionâ€™, he said.
Uduaghan maintained that holding committee chairmanship post, or any powerful committee position doesnâ€™t make one a good Senator noting that only those who know how to network and possibly do lobbying with contacts built over the years that could attract projects to their people can be described as real senators.
He stated that what stood him in good stead in the state was what he did as a governor during the dark days of the Niger Delta militancy, as well as quelling communal crisis in Delta state. He disclosed that he personally engaged stakeholders, the key actors, traditional rulers and other key people in negotiating for peace in the state and the region. As a former governor, who had garnered much experience in governance, he insisted that he was in a better position to represent the people of Delta South in the Senate come 2019 than anyone else, adding that only those who understood the intricacies and complexity of Nigeria could make good legislators and be able to attract development to their area.
â€œMy experience as a governor for eight years has broadened my knowledge of this country. I have knowledge of the intricacies of this country and this country is very complex. I refused to talk about what happened (snatching of mace in upper chambers) and I think it is deeper than what people are seeingâ€¦ So we need to get somebody there who understands the issues so that when the issues are raised you will not just look at it from the surface but also ensure that your area is not short changed. So those are the things I think qualify me to go into the Senate raceâ€, he said.
What can be a stumbling block to his aspiration is the ethnic composition of the constituency. He is vying to represent a constituency which is composed of the Ijaw, Isoko and the Itsekiri. But Uduaghan said his aspiration to represent the people of Delta South Senatorial District was not ethnic based but anchored on his capacity.
The former governor however, admitted that following the dynamics and the political equation of the three ethnic groups in the district, it is the turn of Itsekiri nation to take a shot at the Senate seat.
He said: â€œIt is the turn of the Itsekiri nation to produce the next senator representing the district in 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.
â€œThis is not anchored on the fact that I am an Itsekiri; as I would be representing not just the Itsekiri nation but the Ijaw and Isoko nations. Having contested election in 25 local government areas, I believe contesting elections in 8 local councils would not be stressful.â€
He however, promised to offer quality legislation that would favour not only his Delta South Senatorial District people but the entire Delta State if given the mandate to be in the Senate in 2019.
Uduaghan believes that finding lasting peace in the Niger Delta requires enacting some laws to protect the environment, oil facilities and host communities in the region; as well as to prosecute offenders, pointing out, â€œWithout these laws, it would be difficult to achieve peace in the region. Though not everyone would be happy with these laws, in the long run, everyone in the country would benefit because there would be peace in the Niger Delta leading to an increase in oil production.â€
Uduaghan, who became the governor after Chief James Ibori under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said that the party had become a family in Delta State that would be difficult to beat in any election.
The former governor whose administration left an indelible mark in many areas in the state, is likely to square up against the incumbent senator representing the district, Senator James Manager, who has been in the upper chambers of the National Assembly for the past 15 years and a Delta State House of Assembly lawmaker, Mr. Michael Diden, aka Ejele in the PDP’s primary.
Uduaghan believes that finding lasting peace in the Niger Delta requires enacting laws to protect the environment, oil facilities and host communities in the region; as well as to prosecute offenders