Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, a former governor of Delta State, has said he was still a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) but that he was weighing the options between remaining in the party or joining the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Speaking in an interview in Lagos, Uduaghan – who is seeking to represent Delta South Senatorial District in the National Assembly in 2019 – said while he was desirous of going to the Senate in order to make laws that would benefit his people, the party leadership in the state had been very hostile to him just as opposition parties in the state were reaching out to him.
He said: “As I sit here, I am still a PDP member. I was a governor of Delta State, one of the prominent states in the Niger Delta, for eight years. I was SSG for four years during the administration of Chief James Ibori. The critical thing that my predecessor, Chief Ibori, myself and even the current governor had to deal with was the issue of security.
“In my time as governor, I had a three-point agenda which included peace and security.
“Now, in dealing with that peace and security, through what I called a 12-year period – four years as SSG and eight years as governor – I was exposed mainly to the strategy of engagement – engaging the youths, communities, and those aggrieved either directly myself or using various teams, people, traditional rulers, youth bodies who went and got involved in the engagement process.
“The other engagement process that we tried to do was to ensure that we kept our people busy by ensuring that we properly funded the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Commission (DESOPADEC).
“That kept people busy for so many years. The first, like I said, was engagement, the second was law and order, which had to do with the Joint Task Force that the Federal Government was bringing, which involved the police, SSS, and others.
“They did their bit but, for them to succeed, we had to put up a team of young people called the Delta Waterways Security Committee that was working with them because the terrain was quite complex.
“You might see a river and you’d think your boat could maneuver anywhere, but there were places that were shallow and some places like roads.
“Sometimes, it took these young people who knew this terrain very well to navigate into the creeks and that was what we did.
“Also, in the process, we noticed that there were lots of damages to the environment, either as a result of equipment by the oil companies, but later more of our own people who were trying to steal crude and also trying to operate illegal refineries.
“So, that was also a challenge. What I am trying to say is that in those my years of getting involved, in analysing those years, I have come to the reality that this Niger Delta crisis would continue if certain things are not done. We will just be having recurrent crisis if certain things are not done.
“I also believe that the things that are to be done have to be legislated upon. The security architecture that we have there now relies almost totally on the Federal Government outfit but I know that without the architecture revolving around the communities and our youths, we would not have solutions to our problems just as we have seen with the herdsmen issue.
“I analysed my future and say is it possible for me to remain in this place? Will I be able to get that platform to influence these things I am talking about?
“The answer I seem to get is that it is not going to be easy. It is not that it is not possible but it might involve bloodshed and other things.
“And when you look at it, you have a platform that is very difficult and you have another one that is not as difficult.
“You just have to weigh the options. So as at today, I am looking at the options because PDP has become too hostile to me, very hostile and it might just be very challenging.
“But I am still in PDP but very soon, a decision will be made. I am also still consulting with the leadership of our political family. That is where we are now.”
Uduaghan also added that while the people of Delta wanted him, the national leadership of the PDP was trying to frustrate his aspirations following reports that owing to its desire to return to power in 2019, it had promised automatic tickets to current members in the National Assembly.
“That is the people. They wanted me but in any political arrangement, there is what you call the leadership.
“PDP is anxious to come back as the ruling party in Nigeria. So, the leadership of PDP is doing a lot of things.
“One of the things we hear that they are doing is that they want to give automatic tickets to those who are currently in the National Assembly, it doesn’t matter to them the number of years you have stayed there.
“If you are coming from another party, maybe APC, to join them, in your constituency, they give you an automatic ticket.
“So, they are planning to give automatic tickets to those in the National Assembly and if that happens, you just find yourself struggling until the last minute and you won’t get the ticket.
“That is a very scary scenario but it can happen especially when the party is manned by those who might not want to be on your side,” he said.