Delta State Politics Faces Uncertain Future
Amid a host of factors working against Uduaghan is the issue involving an Ex Governor of Delta State, James Ibori who magnanimously handed over power to his close cousin Uduaghan despite the avalanche of criticisms that greeted his selection as the PDP flag bearer in 2007 elections.
With many mega allegations hanging on Ibori of pillaging the Delta State treasury and the recent accusation of his having worked against President Jonathan’s accession to power, the opposition has effectively combined all these in projecting Uduaghan as a man that cannot be trusted by the Presidency. For now, the opposition is not stopping at anything that will further tarnish Uduaghan’s image.
Ibori’s recent escape to Dubai to evade prosecution is also being associated with Uduaghan. In as much as these may be mere conjectures and part of the huge ploy to destroy Uduaghan’s political career, his relationship with Ibori cannot be dismissed with a wave of hand because many people believe that the seeming imposition of Uduaghan by Ibori was a calculated attempt to ensure that Ibori’s atrocities while in office are effectively covered up.
Although, there are claims by Uduaghan’s camp that he has long parted ways with Ibori and has reconciled with the Presidency but this remains a hard sell because their only proof is Uduaghan’s few political utterances in support of President Jonathan and the recent official visit to the State by the First lady, Dame Patience Jonathan to commission ‘Mastercare’ foundation, a pet project of Uduaghan’s wife. How Uduaghan wriggles himself out of the Ibori tangle will be a significant determinant of how far he goes in 2011 elections.
For now, the Presidency has been strategically silent on Uduaghan but Clark’s group seems to have crafted a united and critical message "we don't need another Ibori”. Chief E.K Clark has not only brought in much intensity to the Delta State governorship ticket in 2011 but has also been encouraging his followers to show interest in various political positions in the state.
In recent months, the Abuja home of Chief E.K. Clark has hosted many prominent Delta State politicians and it regarded as an extension of the PDP Delta State Secretariat. Candidates are being anointed for various positions including State Party Chairman and even alternative governorship aspirant for 2011 elections.
The present Minister of Niger Delta, Elder Godsday Orubebe who controls billions of naira of the Ministry’s budget has been variously mentioned as the likely governorship choice for the opposition but this remains unconfirmed because even very close associates of the Orubebe would tell you that they are still consulting.
Certainly, Delta State politics is very hot now and many people are waiting for the right direction but the big question is where will it come from? Uduaghan’s supporters have been offering mixed signals with some of them already decamping or not sure of where to throw their support. In recent times members of Uduaghan’s camp have been variously jolted.
The sudden fall of the National Exco of PDP is sufficient proof that anything can happen with the speed of light especially given that there are existing allegations on the Delta State PDP Exco and its legality. Uduaghan is perceived to be having sleepless nights and many battles on his hands.
His frequent trips to Abuja are clear indications that he is not sparing any effort to calm the stormy waters but his success on this seems far. With these developments, it is obvious that Uduaghan’s supporters hitherto claim of holding the four aces has become mere rhetorics.
However, many watchers of the Delta politics are skeptical about the opposition’s political strength to unseat Governor Uduaghan as their strategy remains in question. Many believe that Chief E.K Clark has shown capacity of leading the most intense movements against Uduaghan but what the E.K Clark's group is yet to demonstrate is how they can translate the appeal of moment into a political force that can win elections or mobilize sizable numbers of voters to remove an incumbent governor. With huge volume of alleged looted cash in Uduaghan’s coffers, removing him will be a huge mountain to climb for his opponents without the naked force of the Presidency.
More so, Uduaghan’s supporters have a long history of rigging elections but with the emerging divergent camps in the PDP fold, it is obvious that rigging may no longer be an exclusive preserve and that is where both groups may have to work harder on the electorates than rely on falsified election figures that will be highly contested even after results have been declared. Indeed, at present, no side is sure of victory in Delta State 2011 elections.
On a comparative analysis, Uduaghan scores very high as the most performed Governor Delta State has produced in recent times especially on human capital development, infrastructural development, security and peace in Niger Delta. For many, objective analysts, he has shown intellectual strength and has modern knowledge on how to develop the State but as many as those who sing his praises are those who still feel there is mix of greed & lack of transparency in most of his actions.
Although he has been able to reduce fragrant abuse of state resources by politicians but his style of managing of State finances is still far from being adjudged credible and fraud free. Many questions have arisen on how contracts worth billions of naira have been awarded to his cronies and how billions of naira monthly allocations have been utilized.
However, an indictment on this would be difficult, because the reality remains that reconciliation of Delta state accounts will be the least of a problem for a sharp man like Uduaghan especially with the many lessons he would have drawn from his predecessor’s recklessness in book keeping and the obvious consequences beyond the immunity he currently enjoys.