The saying that nobody gives up power without protest is playing out in Delta South Senatorial district. After an unprecedented fourth term, Senator James Manager seems not to be tired. He is still itching for another. But, hot on his heels, however are former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan and a lawmaker in the State House of Assembly, Mr. Michael Diden. The entrance of Diden, popularly called Ejele, may in no small way alter the political arithmetic of the district.
This is based on his closeness to incumbent Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, as well as, being a big time power broker in the politics of the legislature and the state. Against all odds, he stood by Okowa to the hilt during and after the PDP primaries in 2015.
Already, the stage is being set for what promises to be an interesting clash of the titans for the PDP Senatorial ticket come 2019. A gentleman zoning arrangement was spread among the three ethnic groups of Ijaw, Isoko and Itsekiri.Each of the ethnic groups takes one term and it was in deference to that unwritten agreement that Mrs. Stella Omu (Isoko) did only one term, from 1999 through 2003, to pave way for Manager, an Ijaw.
In line with the rotation arrangement, Itsekiri is supposed to produce the next senator in 2019. The entry of Manager, who has refused to let go without protest, is now threatening to upset the apple cart. Thrice lucky, Manager came close to losing out in 2015, when Uduaghan indicated interest. The state became charged and was only doused when the ex-governor withdrew at the last minute.Uduaghan indicated interest way back in 2014, to run for the senatorial election in the 2015 election, but chickened out in the face of vehement opposition from Manager and his Ijaw kinsmen.
Then, as a sitting governor, Uduaghan had the proverbial yam and knife, but vacillated. Citing the need to sustain the fragile peace in Delta State, he had on December 5, 2014 announced his withdrawal from the race, less than two days to the primary. The incumbent Senator was thus returned unopposed as the PDP candidate, which he won.
The former governor said he took the decision after a meeting with former President Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP ex-national chairman, Dr. Adamu Muazu, where the political situation in the state was critically analyzed and had to make a sacrifice by stepping down.While denying that he was forced to step down, Uduaghan explained that quitting afforded him the opportunity to concentrate on national issues, manage remaining PDP primaries and the election proper.
Alluding to the alleged threats by the Ijaw to resume hostilities should their kinsman be shortchanged by an Itsekiri, the then governor said maintaining the peace in the state was more important than electoral victories, which are won at great human cost.
Speaking with journalists recently in Warri, Uduaghan defended his decision to join the race for a second time, emphasizing that a good Senator should be ready to attract federal projects and achieve his developmental goals for his constituents and also be prepared to do more of lobbying.The former two-tem governor said holding committee chairmanship post, or any powerful committee position doesn’t make one a good Senator, stressing that only those who know how to network and possibly do lobbying with contacts built over the years can attract projects.
Uduaghan also chronicled what he did as a governor during the dark days of Niger Delta militancy, as well as, quelling communal crisis in Delta State. He said he personally engaged stakeholders, the key actors, traditional rulers and negotiated for peace in the state and the region.He declared that as a former governor, who had garnered much experience in governance, he is better positioned to represent the people of Delta South in the senate come 2019. “It is easier for me, for instance, to take up my phone and call Fashola for one road project somewhere in Isoko than any other person in the race to do that or call Amaechi that I want this port here than any other person to do that,” he stated.