Sylvester Idowu in Warri
The former governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, who has officially dumped the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), has said that he ditched his former party owing to President Muhammadu Buhari’s “passionate” interest for the development of the Niger Delta region.
Uduaghan, in a statement made available to journalists Wednesday titled “Moving On To The Bigger Playing Field”, the former governor noted that despite Buhari’s inability to score the required 25 per cent in the 2015 election in the region, he has given direct focus to the development of the region.
While listing some of the development efforts by Buhari’s government, Uduaghan said: “Since the inception of the current All Progressives Congress, APC, administration at the federal level, there has been an encouraging interest and activities by President Muhammadu Buhari to bring a permanent solution to the Niger Delta crisis. This has pointed in a direction that is at once progressive and developmental.
“Topmost in these activities are the ‘Engagement Processes.’ Rather than using the military to harass our people, the Buhari administration has embarked on various engagement processes that have led to agreements and brought hope to the people of the Niger Delta.
“In the last years, Mr. President has personally engaged several regional leaders and youths. Senior officials of his administration also engaged many Niger Delta leaders and youths.
“Very significant is that Mr. President mandated the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo SAN, to visit virtually all the oil producing states, engaging various stakeholders. This is unprecedented in the history of the region. Such engagement processes have brought some measure of peace in the Niger Delta. Things can only get better.”
The former governor, who is contesting the Delta South Senatorial District in 2019, called on leaders in the region to support the efforts being made by the present administration to bring lasting peace to the area, adding that his defection to the APC was to offer such support.
“In this era of partisan politics, it is necessary for the people of the Niger Delta, and Delta State in particular, to identify more with the federal government led by the APC. By so doing, we can push some of the agreements between our leaders and the federal government through, and also engage the government to do more. Politics is about interests.
“The Niger Delta is a major area of interest for me, because I staked my life going into the creeks severally without security and sometimes coming back at night negotiating peace. I will, therefore, give the strongest support to any President that shows commitment in the affairs of the Niger Delta. I call on, and enjoin, other well-meaning leaders in the region, who have very useful contributions to make, to come on board and join hands in helping this federal government to pursue a robust development agenda that would uplift our people.
“Whatever milestone that appears not to have been achieved yet is not for lack of efforts. Joining hands with and supporting the process will lead to a faster delivery on expectations.
“It is in the pursuit of this noble objective that I’m offering myself to help drive a process that would give the lives of our people in the Niger Delta more meaning. President Muhammadu Buhari needs people who will join hands with him to uplift our people. From my political experience, you have to be well represented and actively so at the “board room” when decisions are being taken. Delta State must be well represented. Niger Delta must be well represented” he added.
Uduaghan, who thanked leaders and members of his former party for urging him to stay, added that he prayed fervently for divine direction before agreeing to leave the PDP where he served as commissioner, Secretary to the State Government and two-term governor.
“I have, therefore, after series of consultations and prayers, taken the decision to leave the PDP and join the APC. In doing this, I want to thank the numerous leaders, supporters and interest groups that have been urging me to remain in PDP. I am happy that after explaining some of the deeper issues to you, some of you that are politicians have agreed to join the APC in the near future.
“So I am going into APC as ‘John the Baptist’ to the numerous Deltans that are coming in, soon – very soon,” he said.