Indications have emerged that former Delta state governor Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan is currently under intense pressure not to defect from the Peoples Democratic Patty PDP to Nigeria ruling party, All Progressive Congress (APC).
Uduaghan who was seen in photograph with APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and rumoured to be nursing defection from the PDP to APC is being pressurised to shelve the plan, a source privy to the development told BigPen Online on Monday.
The source disclosed that Ibori have been prevailing on Uduaghan on behalf of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa who was said to have been jostled over his predecessor moves to dump the party for the opposition APC in the state.
Dependable source revealed that the governor after apparently listening to a television programme where Uduaghan openly said he was considering defecting was said to have reach out to Ibori to ask if he was aware of the plan defection of his cousin.
The source said that since then, Ibori and Governor Okowa alongside other prominent Deltans who feel the moves will send a very dangerous signal to Deltans ahead 2019 have been begging the former governor to rather mend fence than defect from the party.
Sources closed to Uduaghan have cited lack of internal democracy in the state chapter of the PDP and several attempt to undermine him as some of the reason he was considering defection to another party.
The source also said that the perceived disagreement between Okowa and Uduaghan over some irreconcilable issues which were dated back to Ibori tenure was also a reason for the suppose defection moves, saying that it would be better for the two leaders to part ways than remain together and continue to nurse bitterness.
Reports say Okowa have been undermining the former governor who had since 2016 raised the alarm through his then media aide, Sunny Ogefere that there have been some sinister attempt to undermine his administration’s efforts in the development of the state.
The subterranean “war” between the incumbent governor and his predecessor became glaring ostensibly after the latter declared his intention to run for the Delta South Senatorial District seat in the National Assembly come 2019, which the governor is said to have interest in.
Sources closed to the governor who confided in BigPen Online said that it would be hard for Uduaghan to remain in PDP and not receive in “his own coin” what he did against Okowa in 2015 when he preferred a retired permanent secretary, Mr Tony Obuh who was allegedly sponsored by Uduaghan and the subsequent David Edevbie who was brought into the race and was narrowly defeated in the PDP governorship primary.
The source also disclosed that Uduaghan also stood against Ibori’s appointment of Okowa as commissioner at a time, saying that what was playing out between the two leaders was accumulated anger.
A Senior Special Adviser to the Governor who pleaded anouymity told BigPen Online that the unfair treatment which they claimed the PDP had melted on Dr Uduaghan was not intentional and should not be blamed on the party’s leadership because the “party is supreme and loyalty had long switch to the Governor in power”.
Sources however said that the scrapping of some policies and programmes as well as claims that the current administration inherited over N600billion debt profile were first salvo fired by Okowa to discredit and rubbish his predecessor before Deltans.
BigPen Online recalls that Uduaghan who had remained silent over the debt profile claims only cleared the air during an interactive session with journalist in Warri in April, where he revealed that what he actually left as debt was N187bn against what Okowa branded around.
BigPen Online also recalled that Governor Okowa was quoted to have said during a quarterly media parley in Asaba, the state capital, sometime in 2017 that the state was suffocating because he inherited debt profile of over N600billion naira which was apparently taking a large chunk of allocation accruing to the state.
However, this medium also recalled that Uduaghan had during the 2017 Delta NUJ Media Week and Public Lecture, dismissed the claims but did not specify the actual amount he left behind as debt for the incoming government until recently when it became necessary for him to clear the air.
Sources also said that these development and seemingly tendency of Okowa to make him “near irrelevance” in the PDP political machinery of the state were enough reason to step aside from the party, saying that they almost disgraced and humiliated him (Uduaghan) during the last Delta state PDP congress that brought in Chief Kingsley Esiso.
The source said that during that congress, Okowa denied his predecessor all the candidates (party faithfuls) he brought forward as a former governor but later got only one position after much pressure from “above”, disclosing that part of the alleged moves to frustrate Uduaghan out of the Delta south senatorial race was to sponsor Hon Michael Diden aka Ejele who was reportedly “made” by Uduaghan to challenge him in the race.
Uduaghan is to stand against Senator James Manager who has gotten unprecedented fifth term in the senate to the chagrin of other stakeholders in the district who felt he should allow others take their turn. Manager came into the upper chamber in 2003 following unwritten gentleman’s agreement between Ijaw, Isoko and Itsekiri ethnic nationalities, who ought to rotate the slot among themselves.
Okowa who is said to be backing Manager had allegedly hinged his decision on premises of a reported agreement between PDP governors and the party to ensure mass endorsement and return of all National Assembly members elected on the platform of the party.
But the governor, according to sources, also brought in Ejele as second option to humiliate him (Uduaghan) out of the race since morally he would not want to stand against the said Ejele.
Meanwhile, source said that while pressure was being mounted on Uduaghan not to defect, the national leadership of the APC were also trying to woo him and Ibori.
The source said that Uduaghan may have made up his mind to leave the PDP over the developments and in the coming days he may formally announce it.
“I can also tell you that, the state governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa and other leaders and elders of the party both in the state and outside have being begging him (Uduaghan) not to leave the PDP to APC. I think he is still weighing all the pleas but I think his last resort as it stands now is APC”.
An APC chieftain who is privy to the suppose plans said; “Just a matter of few days, we shall be having Dr. Uduaghan as our member. Uduaghan is a big fish and his reach is very wide across Delta state and beyond, we know his capacity. We have thrown our door opened for him now.”
Story by Julius Eras-Olabowu