For Emmanuel Uduaghan, the immediate past governor of Delta State and candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC for Delta South senatorial district in the February 16 National Assembly polls, it’s been harvest of goodwill all the way as he traversed the various communities and ethnic groups making up the senatorial district canvassing for votes. Most significant in Uduaghan’s bid to wrest power from the incumbent senator who had monopolised the seat for 16 years running is the inroad he had made into the heartland of Ijaw land, the territory of his major opponent, James Manager. Like the scripture says, a man’s deeds will make a way for him, so it has been with the former governor whose good works in office had been the key opening for him even the most difficult doors. Manager is banking on massive votes from his Ijaw ethnic group which boasts of the largest population in the senatorial district comprising also Isoko and Itsekiri. But if the seeming wide acceptability of the candidacy of Uduaghan going by the massive endorsements he had received from Ijaw communities he had visited were to translate into votes, then the expectation of bloc votes by Manager from the area amounts to nothing but a tantalising mirage.
When his campaign train berthed at Ayakoromo in Burutu local government area, the rousing reception at the community’s jetty was like a home-coming for the former governor. Richard Ebibofa, chairman of the community, was quick to intimate Uduaghan why they owed him their votes. If perhaps he had forgotten, Ebibofa reminded him of his fatherly assistance to the community when in December 2010, it was invaded by the Nigerian Army, as well as after the ravaging flood of 2012 which sacked Ayakoromo. The people also recalled that the only hope of driving a car into Ayakoromo was kindled by Uduaghan when he awarded contract for the Ayakoromo Bridge in his second tenure, which regrettably, they said, had been abandoned by the present administration.
Clement Money, another prominent son of the community told Uduaghan “you are a good man sir. While our own abandoned us during our trying times, you came to our rescue. You sent relief materials to us and also donated millions of Naira to rebuild the community. Because of you, the APC is getting all our votes. We know when you become senator, you will complete our bridge. The bridge is where you left it four years ago. The current government abandoned it, but we know you shall complete it when you get there”. Promising to give the community which he said he had a soft spot for since the unfortunate army invasion in 2010, a vocal voice in the senate, the former governor also promised to push for the completion of the bridge.
In Burutu local government area, it was another royal endorsement for the APC senatorial flag-bearer with the Ayamabulo 1 of Iduwini Kingdom, Bosu Dio, charging politicians in the state to play national politics that would bring development to the State. The visibly elated royal father who profusely appreciated the honour done him and his subjects by the party as a result of the visit said, “we know Uduaghan as PDP governor. Today, he is in the APC. If you see your leader diverting, a good follower follows his leader; and Uduaghan is our political leader. Delta state has been playing local politics for four years. It is now time to have national connectivity. Let us follow Uduaghan to Abuja and Ogboru to government house, Asaba because they are the people Iduwini Kingdom (comprising over 19 communities) know as friends.”
At the party’s mega rally in Patani local government, where the APC also expects massive votes being the local government of the wife of the governorship candidate of the party, Great Ovedje Ogboru, Uduaghan told the mammoth crowd that providence had brought him and Ogboru together in one party because it was time for him to be governor. Ogboru had been a major challenger of Uduaghan and his predecessor in office, James Onanefe Ibori in previous elections in the state, albeit on the platform of different political parties, since 2003. He had engaged the PDP in long-drawn legal battles after each defeat only to lose out at the end. But Uduaghan, whose lot ironically it is now to market his one-time political adversary, being the chairman of the state APC campaign council, said “there is a reason Ogboru and I are working together. After crisis comes investment. Ogboru has business sense. At some point, he was the youngest businessman in Delta State. Today, Delta needs someone with business acumen to create a lot of opportunities for our people especially the youths. Ogboru is someone that can encourage businesses to thrive now that we are experiencing peace. His experience in business will come handy in managing the affairs of our state”. According to the medical doctor turned politician, “Ogboru is also passionate about education. He is pained by the current state of education and has promised to give our children free education.” He promised to team up with the vibrant Collins Eselemo vying for Bomadi/Patani Federal Constituency to give the District a formidable representation at the National Assembly, a representation, he posited, that would attract due national relevance to Delta South. Ogboru promised good and investment-friendly government if elected into office and pleaded with the people of Patani to vote for all APC candidates in the forthcoming coming general elections.
In his Warri North local government area where he is banking on home support, Uduaghan who was visibly pained by the jettisoning of some of his people-oriented policies and projects by the Ifeanyi Okowa administration, pleaded with Ogboru to resuscitate them if voted into office. Speaking at the famous Nana Square in the ancient town of Koko, headquarters of the local government, the former governor, and APC candidate for the South senatorial district said “our Governor (Ogboru), besides the foreshore protection project, Koko ports and Koko stadium requests by our people, I would plead with you to resuscitate the EduMarshal program which was largely successful in my time yet abandoned by the ruling government. Our students can no longer pay WAEC and NECO enrollment fees which I paid during my administration. Today, our children who cannot pay such fees roam the streets. You must do everything to keep them in school when you become Governor”.
Uduaghan further lamented that “the 41 Km Koko-Ugbenu Road which my administration embarked upon is still not completed.