By Perez Brisibe
IMMEDIATE past Governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan has given reasons he withdrew his support for his successor, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa during the 2014 Peoples Democratic Party, PDP governorship primaries, disclosing that he had his fears of Okowa becoming governor.
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Uduaghan, who also waved aside comments that his defection to the All Progressives Congress, APC, was owing to his fear of not being able to clinch the Delta South PDP senatorial ticket, spoke as a guest of Channels Television’s current affairs programme, Roadmap 2019.
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Asked his relationship with Okowa during the 2014 PDP primary, he said: ‘’There are a lot of deep issues, I didn’t really want to talk too much about that but let me say this, yes, I had someone (successor) else in mind, initially I had him (Okowa) in mind, he is my friend, we have been together as commissioners but something happened along the line and I had to pull back.
‘’Of course we had a leader, Chief James Ibori, who at that time was not around. We had discussions over it and I said, ‘look, these are my fears if he becomes governor.’ The issues went on, no…yes…no…yes till about two weeks before the primaries, and I had a deep discussion with Chief Ibori and he was more for him (Okowa). I said okay, he is our leader and in the last two weeks before the primaries, I had to do some kind of maneuver that gave him advantage at the primaries.
I managed the primaries in such a way that it was violence-free, everyone was happy and of course, he won the primaries and I got deeply involved in managing the main election because he was now the PDP candidate regardless. We put our hands together and supported him fully to emerge as governor. The difference between us were being tackled by some leaders especially Chief James Ibori but they were not fully resolved before I left (for the APC).’’
Uduaghan said his defection to the APC was not sudden and took six months of planning.
“It did not come about suddenly. It’s something that I have been thinking about, I would say for about six months. It is not easy to move from a house that you built to another house especially with your household. So you have to plan it properly, think about it and discuss it with the members of your family.
Of course generally, we have come together and being together for over 20 years, there is bound to be disagreements, but then you look at the larger picture of where the family is now, were your political party is, the future of your current political party and look at the party you want to go into, where are they now?
What are their future and then the bigger interest? You put all these together before you take a decision and even after you take the decision, it is still tough because you have your immediate family to deal with. But the final decision is yours because whatever happens, you bear the final consequences either good or bad. That was what I did and that was why it took some time.’’
Rather than being scared of primaries in the PDP, Uduaghan, who disclosed that he dropped his senatorial ambition in 2015 to avert bloodshed that would have hurt the peace he worked hard to enthrone in Delta, said he would make maximum through the APC platform, hence his defection.
His words: ‘’I asked myself where can I make that maximum contribution and having looked at it, I felt I can make it in the APC based on assessment of what they have done, what they are doing and what they are yet to do. It is not as if I cannot go to the Senate through the PDP because the Delta South senatorial primaries is not my problem as I am sure I am the person who had contested the most elections in Nigeria and have gone to court the most. I have gone through the trenches on anything you want to talk about in elections even primaries and and by God’s Grace, I have come out successful. I know the two people that were to contest with me for the primaries so the election wasn’t the driving force.
I was only looking at the platform to actualize the senatorial ambition and give maximum contribution. I have things I want to do. I am not going to the Senate to sit down and I do not think that it is true that former governors do go to the senate to retire. Saraki is a former governor and the senate president and I think he is the most active person in the senate today and there are others.