In his attempt to see that his principal, the Delta State governor, Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan finishes strong, the state Commissioner for Works, Rt. Hon. Funkekeme Solomon with his team has since keyed into the vision of governor Uduaghan’s FINISHING STRONG agenda which has virtually become a sing-sung on the lips of if not all but 90 per cent of the cabinet as well as Deltans and believers of Uduaghan’s FINISHING STRONG agenda.
Dr. Uduaghan has not only been able to conceptualize these ideas of Delta beyond oil initiative, the FINISHING STRONG agenda but has also been able to sell it to his entire Commissioners, Deltans and all that have a stake in his government.
So far so good in the Delta State Ministry of Works, the race has been nice, though challenges are there but it’s been quite alright. The Ministry of Works has the mandate to ensure that it delivered dependable roads network that will aid development of the state economically, politically, security etc because it is only when there is good roads network that it will be easy for security to operate unhindered and in doing this, about 199 roads of over a total length of 3, 000 kilometers as well as drainages have been completed while 71 still ongoing and at various stages of completion.
In terms of transportation generally, roads transportation is the basic means of transport both in terms of evacuating agricultural products, movement of goods and services including personnel from one point to the other.
For the award winning, tested and proven Works Commissioner, Rt. Hon. Funkekeme Solomon, during an interview session with the media disclosed that “Delta State has many centres of development unlike so many other states; there are so many urban centres which will be developed, although, the resultant effect is that, funding has becomes constrain, the state government need to spread the dividends across all centres to ensure development.
Hence, the Ministry is mandated to ensure that basic infrastructure in terms transportation in making sure that the transport sector is put in place, in this connection it is the ministry that supervises every civil works in the state even the ones done by other ministries, the Ministry of Works supervises it and that is why the ministry has also taken into cognizance the Airport development which the governor is so passionate about.
“Presently, roads for commissioning are over thirty. In Asaba alone we have almost 52 roads in the state capital completed and ongoing which includes, the NUT road, Feeder 2B road, St. Bridges road, Legislative close, NTA road, Feeder road 2A, and DLA road which is almost completed with drainages too and we have also completed and ongoing roads projects in Warri, Ughelli, Uwvie, Udu, Sapele. Roads like the Sapele/Abigborodo, with the advent of roads, Abigborodo is now passable, meaning vehicles can now drive into the town. In terms of the finishing strong agenda, His Excellency has shown so much support for the ministry and that has aided it in assisting the ministry to ensure that the Uduaghan’s led government finishes strong. It is of paramount interest to note that the ministry have also started many projects like flyovers; it has one in Asaba, and the other at Efferun-Sapele roundabout, the ministry also has the mind of starting one around Avenue Airport road and so much progress are been made with the hope that December, the one in Asaba and that of Effurun will be completed for use by Deltans.”
According to the dedicated to duty commissioner, the transformation agenda of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan in Delta State has indicated that the FINISHING STRONG is not just a slogan but a way of life, a mission that is to be accomplished and the governor is strong on it, disclosing all of the cabinet have keyed into it which is why if anyone takes a walk across the state, monumental infrastructures of both completed and on-going projects are been worked on.
“For example, Sapale road, Omadino bridge link road and the ministry taking the road just before the army- check point to link Omadino Bridge. That is intended to open up the rural communities of Omadino and to utilize the bridge effectively. The result now is that Papa Ayo Oristejafor has opened a university in Omadino which he has invited the president to do the ground breaking. What Governor Uduaghan has done is to provide the necessary environment for the private sectors investors to move in and avail themselves of the opportunities that are bound.”
The Ministry of Works under Rt. Hon. Funkekeme Solomon is also doing rural integration, this the commissioner revealed that the idea is to integrate the rural areas to the urban centres and in that regard, his ministry has since commenced the construction of a bridge across Egbo/ Oyakrimor both in Burutu Local Governments which the state government is using to bridge the gap of integration so as to enable investors be able to invest in anywhere in the state so that transportation shouldn’t be a barrier saying the Uduaghan’s administration has been able to break an ancient jinx confronting Umeh community in Isoko South local government area of the state by constructing several billions of naira road in the community which is going now and almost 80 per cent completed.
“We have finished the bridge already. We are also doing a road in Illah from the civic centre to a big market in the waterside, a market that will be servicing Anambra, Kogi and other states around. Generally speaking, the issue of the state government’s finishing strong; the Ministry of Works is so much in it. The ministry is structured along senatorial district lines to make for easy communication, easy reporting lines and quick service delivery. I have decided to structure the ministry on assumption of office, one director represents one senatorial district, and then I created zonal offices which are meant to supervise clusters of local governments. Now supervision and monitoring is key to any advancement of any project.
“The Commissioner must have time, Permanent Secretary must have time and everybody must be on board, what we have done therefore is that with all these restructuring, there is competition among the directors and today I can tell you clearly that each directors in each senatorial district is working hard to undo the other one positively and Asaba is an example. There is one road that is very key to the state government, Avenue Deco dualization, is almost completed, it has also finished resurfacing Ajamimoha, it is doing Airport road now and it cut across Warri South and Uwvie local governments. The ministry has taken those steps so as to aid and assist governor Uduaghan’s vision of leaving behind a legacy of dependable and sustainable roads networks that will assist Delta State to a point where if there are no more oil resources, Delta can still attract investors and they can have our confidence.
“Now, these fly overs the state is doing now apart from the fact that they will decongest traffics that normally leads to a lot of man hour that can make people not to be interested in investing in a place because the issue of free flow of traffic is very importance to an investor. Apart from that, it is also to raise the urbanization standard of the town so that when you are flying down you see that these towns are not slums, they are standard towns. The ministry has keyed into it and it is working very hard to make sure the present administration finishes strong very well. Direct Labour Agency (DLA) road is on-going and the ministry including the government are not very happy with the pace of the contractor and the Commissioner is considering an action in that direction but if you notice in DLA alone, there are five roads that links it to the express and on the other side of the express it has also five roads that are been constructed. DLA is a strategic road to me personally because I believe it will go a long way as it is one of the longest roads”.
Explaining what has bedeviled DLA road since all this while, Commissioner Funkekeme Solomon stated that it was the issue of drainage, “Now we are suffering that now, we have been able to take that behind Lion’s building. We are constructing the channel down to River Niger, we are going to cut Nnebisi road by United Bank For Africa (UBA). We have already started, we have also dealt with the issue of Jesus Saves, by Uduaghan’s way now you will see three feeder’s roads by the right that we have done linking another one that is by Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) that one will connect Jesus Saves road. Impressively the state government have raised Asaba standard and any contractor that is not working at the same pace with me, am likely to do one or two things”.
Rt. Hon. Funkekeme Solomon who took his time to talk more on the two flyovers, said “The two flyovers are about N8 billion and over billions of naira has been spent on roads alone across the state and there are also other commitment that are over billion of naira. Now road construction is a sensitive part in any part of the world, now what we have done, parts of these money we have spent on federal roads which we are asking the federal government to pay us back. The state government has hired a consultant to help us see how we can secure the money. That one runs into billions of naira, in terms of how much we have spent is difficult to be specific because the pay is on-going, some the certificate are not generated. It is when you have finished paying all that you can say how much but like I said, it runs into billions of naira.
“The none commissioning of road by the governor is nothing but a matter of style, “I think it is a matter of style, Dr. Uduaghan believes in achieving silently, he is an achiever. He had said so even in press conferences that he doesn’t commission things, that that is his own style. But luckily he said he wants to commission now. But there was a fresh shocker, the Nigeria Guide of Editor was here, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) was here. Issues went round that this is a monumental achievement. That is why the numerous awards were coming to him as a result of facts and figures that confirmed developmental stride of His Excellency the governor”.
Again Funkekeme has sounded it loud and clear when he said, “Well, we are going to expect more because we want to finish strong; the governor has directed every Ministry, Department and Agencies (MDAs) to ensure that it doesn’t slow down. He want to leave behind a government that will be light for his successor, he doesn’t want to leave behind a government that is over weight of liabilities. We are going to expect more attention on roads, schools, hospitals till on the last day, that is what he has told us to do, until May 29, 2015”.
Some factors that have kept Rt. Hon. Funkekeme going, is the grace of God and consistency in loyalty and service; to him, service is a way of life. He don’t serve because He want to gain anything, but he believes that when he serves, God himself will reward him and he has promised never to betray anybody including the person who is his principal. “I will stay firm, strong, dependable, anybody who is playing double face, don’t expect to live the life long but if you are consistent whether things are good or bad, be consistence and if you have decided that this is your boss, let such a person be your boss.
“Hebrew 13:7 make the point that obey those who have charge over you, if you are not loyal to them, of course don’t blame anybody if you fall by the way side. “My secret is service, I serve because I want to serve and I don’t serve because I have the intention to reap any benefit but if the benefit comes my way of course I will take it but it is serve and consistence in loyalty. And that is what I tell everybody, my supporters every day I preach to them that be consistence in your loyalty and in your service don’t waver like the green goddess of two faces where you have double mouth, speak the truth at all times. But passion for service is very important, integrity and service goes together, you can’t stay long in the lime line if you don’t have those attributes. People will try to pull you down one way or the other but what is true is true and what is not true is not true. They are free to have their opinion but be consistent and not be distracted.
“First and foremost, governor Uduaghan is a good manager of every attributes success, resources. Two things are very key to the ascendancy of any leader. Governor Uduaghan is loyal also to his own followers. Some people think that loyalty comes only from the top, no it also goes down. This government has been seven years now, there are no social events beyond official events of curtail and banquets others, governor Uduaghan is behaving like Awolowo, Awolowo made a point, that why his colleagues were busy frolicking with things that are not important, he is always at his desk working hard for the problems of the country. Only the deep can call to the deep and I think Dr. Uduaghan can be described as Awolowo in the country. A manager of resources, economy and he has knowledge of almost everything, interested in almost everything you are doing, urges you on and gives us free hands to operate.
“Both as a person, he is a counselor and as an administrator, he is knowledgeable about what he is doing, he is concentrating on what he is doing, he is not easily distracted. There is no gold without passing it through the furnace; Governor Uduaghan has had its fare share of such fire storm. But each time that happens, it gives us confidence that he is a man in whom God is highly pleased.”
Rt. Hon. Funkekeme Solomon when asked what would he like to be remembered for, he simply said “I will be remembered as a man who was consistence in following Governor Uduaghan to the end, who never waver, allow any distraction to affect his concentration, followership, commitment and dependability. I pray for the grace of God to actualize this. That is what I want to be remembered for. I want to be remembered for contributing my quota to the infrastructural development of the state, particularly in the area of road construction and road maintenance.”
On his relationship with Governor Uduaghan, Rt. Hon. Funkekeme Solomon has this to say, “I can’t deny the fact that I am one of the addict supporters of Dr. Uduaghan. I was been around pre-election days and went through with him all way out in the trenches and out of trenches and am one that have danced naked with him, and whoever is Uduaghan’s friend is my friend. And I want to say this clearly, I don’t see any politician in this state that I can carry his brief case and follow because I don’t know who is greater than Uduaghan. Even if Uduaghan tells me today that I am no more relevant to him I will still follow him. Because I am very convinced that Uduaghan is a good leader and have led me well and there is no politician that I can really carry his bag and say I am following you. First, they won’t believe and trust me, they know how closely I have worked with Dr. Uduaghan. Like I said, service is a way of life for me I don’t believe there are some like that but if there are they are human beings, they have a right of feeling like that but I would never be distracted by any such feelings.”
On regrets in life, Rt. Hon. Funkekeme Solomon said “I don’t have any regret in life because; everything that I have done rightly or wrongly, it is the act of God. Without God I can do nothing. Yes! I have failed in some areas, there is no human being that has no failures but as for regret none, the Bible tells me not to regret. So, I move on unless you have some pit falls you can’t make amends and I have learnt from those failures but am very satisfied and I thanked God. At 52, I have held almost every position and I have stayed on consistently with my boss, my elder brother, Dr. Uduaghan and my entry into government has been quite far, 1992 as Chief Press Secretary to the pioneer speaker of the state Assembly and I was one of those who set up the Pointer Newspapers for the state as Deputy Project Coordinator. I have also served the judiciary at that time Omo-Agege was the Chief Judge, I was the media adviser before I moved into the house of Assembly as Minority Leader and served almost two terms and become Deputy Speaker and later Uduaghan Campaign council and to the PDP campaign council and agents of all the elections in that capacity. It is more or likely that such services can attract envy but it is not me that sent myself, he who sent me knows my capability and am ready to work the same thing if I am opportune to serve. So, I don’t have any regret at all, of course there are mind feelings that one have to surmount but God is always in the front to make the way straight, for me I don’t have any doubt in my mind. Whoever God has destined to get to the top, no man can stop it.”
“And for Dr. Uduaghan,I am very confidence that his next assignment as in the national, I Funkekeme Solomon will be there again to challenge anyone that want to challenge him. I will work with him to achieve that. All the plans in 2015 are tied to Uduaghan’s plans. We are like a Bishop and Pastors, there is no way I can have my own plans. My plans are first to ensure that Dr. Uduaghan finishes strong, second to see over a transition that is seem less that will guaranty cohesion in the state and continuous peace and security in the state. That is my ambition for now, whatever God trust on me, God himself will make it come to pass. What am doing is to work very hard with him to ensure that he transit properly and finishes strong in such a way that his name will be written in history and gold.”
Rt. Hon. Funkekeme Solomon therefore advised every youth should understand that they have a future of their own as there are no combine futures. “Every youth have a future and no youth should be available to be used by any politician to truncate his own future. Any harm done to another human being on account of somebody’s ambition, truncates the future of that person.
“Secondly, let everybody knows that only God can give power, that his strength shall no man prevail, Romans 9:6 says not by how much you own, how much you will but by how much God himself will for you. So, nobody should play God and nobody should be over ambitious and Dr. Uduaghan has done so well to bring this state to this limelight. Is it infrastructure, free health service, micro credit, education, roads network, flyovers, bridges, scholarships but above all peace and security.
“There is now ethnic forgiveness, tolerance, harmony and these are very monumental achievements and we expect that it is only a peaceful state that can continue to enjoy these services. My advice is that whether at the local government level, state no man can give himself power except God. Let us moderate our political activities, our minds and remain positive let the love of Delta State government override your own love for yourself and therefore when that happens, we will be working for the greater good of the people, Deltans if that is what all of us think about then there will be less parallel.”
The quest for the Anioma people of Delta State to speak with one voice and present a formidable front that would champion the emergence of an Anioma governor in 2015, received a major boost recently, when two of the most vibrant pressure groups in the land; Izu Anioma and Anioma Congress, decided to join forces together to achieve the Anioma 2015 objective.
Precisely on April 16, 2014, Brigadier-General Godwin Alabi-Isama (Ochiagha), President General of Izu Anioma, paid a courtesy call on His Royal Majesty, HRM, Asagba (Prof.) Chike Edozien, Asagba of Asaba, in his Palace to formally introduce the new leadership of Izu Anioma to the revered Monarch.
The Asagba welcomed the Izu Anioma leader wholeheartedly and while noting with joy that General Alabi-Isama was from the Ndokwa axis of Anioma, affirmed that all the hitherto contentious issues and misunderstood insinuations between Anioma Congress and Izu Anioma had now been resolved with this very important visit and the way was now clear for both groups to speak with one voice and move forward together with one purpose.
The Asagba further requested Izu Anioma to convene a harmonization meeting as soon as possible, where all the executives and elders of both organizations, would converge to discuss on how to move Anioma forward and also achieve the main objective of producing the next governor of Delta State in 2015.
This good news was disclosed by the President General of Izu Anioma, Brigadier General Godwin Alabi-Isama, who affirmed that the two bodies were actually on the same page and working for the same purpose and thus had decided to close ranks and team up in order to send a clear signal to the rest of Delta state, that the Aniomas were indeed united in the quest to deliver an Anioma governor in Delta State come 2015.
Alabi-Isama, who also confirmed that high level discussions and consultations had taken place between representatives of Izu Anioma and Anioma Congress, was full of praise and appreciation to the Asagaba of Asaba, Asagba (Prof) Chike Edozien for the fatherly role he had played to facilitate this ground breaking preliminary meeting between the two organizations.
“I want to express my full gratitude to our father, the Asagba of Asaba, for the fatherly role he played in facilitating the discussions. We were so well received and given a wonderful reception by the Asagba and after consultations and discussions we discovered that we had the same aim and were working towards achieving the same objective, so there was the need for us to come together to secure our ultimate goal, which is to ensure that Anioma produces the next governor of Delta State in 2015”, an excited Alabi-Isama affirmed.
Speaking further, the retired General and renowned Author noted that, while Anioma Congress had the mandate to discuss political issues and could be described as the non partisan political arm of the Anioma agitation, the Izu Anioma, on the other hand, was apolitical but could not afford to be indifferent to the political agitation of Anioma to produce the next governor in 2015, especially as the apex socio/cultural umbrella body of the Anioma people, and this informed the decision to explore an avenue for the two organizations to come together.
Alabi-Isama said: “Nobody will give us what we want on a platter of gold, so let’s not deceive ourselves that we will get it because we have demanded for it. Like I have always said, you do not get what you want, but you get what you negotiate, so we must negotiate with others and reach out to all if we truly want to achieve our aim and objective in 2015”.
That, according to him, was why Izu Anioma decided to reach out to the leadership of Anioma Congress and commence consultations and discussions, not only to harmonize the efforts of the two bodies but indeed to lay to rest, the widely held insinuations being spread by detractors, that there was a conflict of interest and a supremacy battle between the two bodies and both were working at cross purposes, to the detriment of the Anioma cause.
“Our meeting with the Asagba and representatives of Anioma Congress was very successful and as a follow up, we have arranged a unity meeting where the Anioma Congress will, amongst others things, address the Izu Anioma on their intentions and progressive initiatives in the collective quest to move the Anioma nation to next level and achieve our ultimate goal in 2015,” an elated Alabi-Isama enthused.
Anioma political watchers will recall that the Anioma Congress, guided by the leadership of the Asagba of Asaba, had already commenced the process of producing a short-list of three candidates to be selected according to a set of laid down guidelines, designed to access the educational background, contributions to growth and development, as well as other personal and professional details and achievements of all the possible aspirants of Anioma extraction for the governorship of Delta State in 2015.
The intention of this selection process, according to the Asagba, was to eventually produce a suitable candidate of Anioma extraction who would also be admired, respected and accepted by the rest of Deltans.
The two groups finally met on Friday May 2, 2014 at legacy house, opposite cenotaph complex, okpanam road, to harmonize and strategize on the way forward for Anioma in 2015 and beyond.
Below is the Speech of the President General of Izu Anioma, Brigadier-General Godwin Alabi-Isama (Ochiagha) at the historic meeting.
A BRIEF REMARK MADE BY THE PRESIDENT-GENERAL OF IZU ANIOMA, BRIG-GEN GODWIN ALABI ISAMA (OCHIAGHA) ON THE OCCASION OF A JOINT MEETING BETWEEN IZU ANIOMA EXECUTIVES AND ELDERS WITH ANIOMA CONGRESS HELD AT LEGACY HOUSE, OPPOSITE CENOTAPH COMPLEX, OKPANAM ROAD, ASABA ON FRIDAY THE 2ND OF MAY, 20I4.
It is my pleasure to welcome you all My Compatriots in the Anioma project, to this historic occasion of a unified meeting of Anioma leaders of thought. May I state that this form of convivial and collaborative meeting has been part of the cherished history of Anioma civilization and enlightenment; it is a very proud heritage and history we must all strive to re-enact and concretize today so as to achieve the goals and aspirations of the founding fathers of Anioma unity and progress.
I thank you all for finding time to be here today as privileged participants in the making of the history of Anioma unity and progress for optimum mobilization of our people towards institutionalizing a united and corporate identity and voice that will, at all time, protect and propagate our agenda for unity and sustainable development as poignantly captured in the constitution of Izu Anioma.
Indeed, as I asserted during my acceptance speech after I was elected in January this year, as the President-General of Izu Anioma, my goal is to capture the fading light of Anioma in line with the philosophy of the founding fathers of the Anioma project.
Towards achieving this goal of a more united Anioma, I have been consulting far and wide, in the last four months, with our Traditional rulers, elder statesmen, Anioma political leaders, Anioma Agenda, Anioma Media Network, many women groups and youth organisations, extending to Anioma groups in the Diaspora, so as to share my thoughts with them as well as tap from their wealth of experience in the onerous task of uniting and capturing the fading light of Anioma.
As part of this inclusive strategy, I paid a courtesy call about a fortnight ago, on our Royal Majesty, the Asagba of Asaba, Obi (Prof) Chike Edozien, CFR, and requested that our compatriots in the Anioma project-The Anioma Congress-should meet with us so as to avail the Izu Anioma Executives and Elders with their activities in other to build greater understanding and synergy in the task of propagating and protecting the Anioma project, sustainably.
May I thank His Majesty and his able lieutenants for this understanding and sagely commitment towards ensuring that this meeting holds. May I equally salute our dynamic OFAAC group, under the Presidency of Architect Kester Ifeadi, for inviting me to witness, arguably, one of the most unifying and captivating dance troupe carnivals of Aniomas, with pomp and pageantry, at the Arcade ground Asaba, last week. I dare say that this occasion afforded me and our Royal Father, the Asagba, the opportunity to synergize and work towards the actualization of this meeting.
Need I remind us that this process of uniting Aniomas to speak with one voice started long ago when this kind of convivial meeting of Anioma leaders met at Amai in I956, and Ewulu in the early I980s, to mention just a few. One will not be wrong to assert, therefore, that this process of striving for the unity of Aniomas through a corporate organization and identity culminated in the formation of the Anioma State Movement, first under the interim mentorship of our revered Rt Hon Dennis Osadebey of blessed memory, and later under the chairmanship of Senator Obi Ikpo.
It is my honour, therefore, to welcome here and now our distinguished Senator (Obi) Nosike Ikpo whose dynamic leadership and chairmanship of the Anioma State Movement in the early I980’s galvanized the Anioma consciousness and nationalistic spirit, winning many converts from non Aniomas who become sympathetic to our agenda, hence the effective rebranding of Anioma profile on a national scale. Indeed, one may assert that most Anioma groups, may trace their solidaristic passion for Anioma development and unity to the very inspiring and pioneering efforts of this great Anioma son and many others too numerous to mention here.
Today, I entreat us as leaders and fathers of Anioma to reawaken passionately the spirit and wisdom of unity and speaking with one voice philosophy behind the formation of Anioma State Movement, a movement that gave birth to Izu Anioma organization, with a corporate seal of existence registered with the CAC, Abuja, under various able leaders like The late Mr Israel Amadi Emina, Dr Orewa, Chief Patrick Ozieh, and Chief (Col) Nduka Okwechime, hence my humble self, Gen Alabi Isama.
Consequently, I urge us all to listen with rapt attention, with filial love and a sense of responsibility, to our brothers in the Anioma Congress as they address the Izu Anioma Executives and Elders such that we will all have greater understanding of their vision, aims, goals and challenges in line with the ideals enunciated by the founding fathers of Izu Anioma.
Today, we invoke the spirits of our departed Founding Fathers, Traditional Rulers and Elder Statesmen, alike, to be our Guardian Angel, as we strive to build the needful communities of practice amongst us in this task of ensuring that Anioma speaks with ‘one- Igwebuike-voice’ in other to project and communicate with strength and vigour to the Government and our neighbors, such that we will win their sympathy to support the Anioma agenda.
It is my fervent hope that this shared understanding amongst us will usher a more united and dynamic leadership that will optimally mobilize Aniomas for the sustainable propagation of our short and long term goals as a people. It is my hope that this unity and collaborative effort will lead to the Government of the Day and our neighbors having greater respect and sympathy for our Anioma project, as we strive assuringly to communicate with one Igwebuike-voice.
Once again, I thank you all for coming.
An Address by His Excellency, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, Gcfr, on the Occasion of the Independence Day Anniversary on Monday, 1stoctober, 2012
1.Beloved countrymen and women, on this day, fifty-two years ago, our founding fathers brought joy and hope to the hearts of our people when they won independence for our great country. Nigeria made a clean break with more than six decades of colonial rule, and emerged as a truly independent nation. That turning point was a new beginning for our nation.
2.Those who witnessed the lowering of the Union Jack and the emergence of the Green White Green flag continue to relish the memory, because that ceremony was not just about the destiny of a nation, but the future of a people.
3.That future is here; we are the inheritors of a great legacy that goes even much farther into the past.
4.The worthy patriots who made this possible were young men and women in their twenties and thirties. They worked together to restore dignity and honour to the Nigerian people. Their resolve united a multicultural and multilingual nation of diverse peoples, with more than 250 distinct languages and ethnic groups.
5.In 1960, our diversity became a source of strength, and the new leaders resolved to carry the flag of independence for the benefit of future generations. They had their differences, but they placed a greater premium on the need to come together to build a new nation.
6.It is that resolve, and that glorious moment that we celebrate today. We also celebrate the patriotism of our heroes past: Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Sir Michael Okpara, Chief Anthony Enahoro, Herbert Macaulay, and several others who made the case for our independence.
7.We remember as always, their contributions to the making of the Nigerian nation, and the efforts of their successors since 1960. We also celebrate the unfailing optimism and resilience of Nigerians who remain proud of our national identity.
8.On this special day, I call on every Nigerian to remain steadfast, because our nation is indeed making progress. I call on every Nigerian to rediscover that special spirit that enables us to triumph over every adversity as a people:
9.We weathered the storm of the civil war, we have refused to be broken by sectarian crises; we have remained a strong nation. I bring to you today, a message of renewed hope and faith in the immense possibilities that lie ahead.
10. Fellow citizens, I have an unshaken belief in the future of our great Country. I consider it a priority and sacred duty to continue to strengthen the bond of unity that holds our nation together and to promote and nourish the creative energies of our people. This is a central objective of our administration’s Transformation Agenda. Nigeria, I assure you, will continue to grow from strength to strength.
11. Since I assumed office as President of our dear country on the 6th of May 2010, I have continued to work with our countrymen and women to enhance our nation’s growth and development.
12.Our vision is encapsulated in the Transformation Agenda. We are working hard and making progress on many fronts. We have cleaned up our electoral process; our elections are now globally acclaimed to be free and fair. Nigeria is now on a higher pedestal regarding elections.
13.Over the past five years, the global economy has been going through a weak and uncertain recovery. During the same period and particularly in the last two years, the Nigerian economy has done appreciably well despite the global financial crisis. Nigeria’s real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has grown by 7.1 per cent on average.
14.It is also significant that the GDP growth has been driven largely by the non-oil sector. In pursuance of the main goals of the Transformation Agenda, a number of reforms and initiatives are being pursued in key sectors of the economy with a view to consolidating the gains of the economic growth.
15.Our country’s power supply situation is improving gradually. We are successfully implementing a well-integrated power sector reform programme which includes institutional arrangements to facilitate and strengthen private-sector-led power generation, transmission and distribution.
16.We have also put in place a cost-reflective tariff structure that reduces the cost of power for a majority of electricity consumers. I am pleased with the feedback from across the country, of improvements in power supply.
17.We are continuing to improve and stabilize on our crude production volumes; our 12-month gas supply emergency plan, put in place earlier this year, has produced more than the targeted volumes of gas for power generation. A robust Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) has been placed before the National Assembly. Its passage into law will ensure far-reaching reforms, transparency, accountability, increased government revenue and predictability for investors in the Oil and Gas sector.
18.Several government programmes and projects are creating wealth and millions of job opportunities for our youth and general population. Such programmes include: You-Win, both for the youth and for the women, Public Works, the Local Content Initiative in the Oil and Gas Sector, and the Agricultural Transformation programme.
19.We have improved on our investment environment; more corporate bodies are investing in the Nigerian economy. Our Investment Climate Reform Programme has helped to attract over N6.8 trillion local and foreign direct investment commitments.
20.Nigeria has become the preferred destination for investment in Africa. It is ranked first in the top 5 host economies for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Africa, accounting for over 20 per cent of total FDI flows into the continent. We have streamlined bureaucratic activities at the ports to ensure greater efficiency in the handling of ports and port-related businesses. Specifically, we have drastically reduced the goods clearing period in our ports from about six weeks to about one week and under. We have an ultimate target of 48 hours.
21. We have put in place, a new visa policy that makes it easier for legitimate investors to receive long stay visas. We have achieved a 24-hour timeline for registration of new businesses, leading to the registration of close to 7, 000 companies within the second quarter of 2012.
22.The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has disclosed that, as at July 2012, 249 new members across the country had joined the Association, and that capacity utilization has also improved. The multiplier effect of this development on our job creation programme cannot be over-emphasized.
23.In the last two years, we have put in place structures for an upgrade of the country’s health sector, to promote in every respect, the individual citizen’s right to quality, affordable and accessible healthcare.
24.In this regard, we are devoting resources under the Subsidy Reinvestment Program (SURE-P) to reducing malaria incidents, dramatically reducing maternal and child mortality, and eradicating polio.
25.Fellow Nigerians, in recent times, we have witnessed serious security challenges in parts of our country. We have taken pro-active measures to check the menace. This has included constant consultation and collaboration with our neighbours and other friendly nations on issues relating to internal and cross border security, and the sharing of information on smuggling and illegal dealing in small arms and light weapons.
26.Our security agencies are constantly being strengthened and repositioned for greater efficiency. Many Nigerians have acknowledged that there has been a significant decline in the spate of security breaches.
27.While expressing our condolences to the affected families, let me reiterate the commitment of this Administration to ensure the safety of lives and property of all Nigerians.
28.Even as we remain focused on the issue of security, the fight against the scourge of corruption is a top priority of our Administration. We are fighting corruption in all facets of our economy, and we are succeeding. We have put an end to several decades of endemic corruption associated with fertilizer and tractor procurement and distribution. We have exposed decades of scam in the management of pensions and fuel subsidy, and ensured that the culprits are being brought to book.
29.In its latest report, Transparency International (TI) noted that Nigeria is the second most improved country in the effort to curb corruption.
30.We will sustain the effort in this direction with an even stronger determination to strengthen the institutions that are statutorily entrusted with the task of ending this scourge.
31.I have given my commitment of non-interference in the work of the relevant agencies and I am keeping my word. What we require is the full cooperation of all tiers of government, and the public, especially civil society and the media.
32.This Administration has also introduced for the first time in Nigeria’s history, a Performance Contract System for all Ministers, and other officials of government. This is to further place emphasis on performance, efficiency, and service delivery.
33.Fellow Nigerians, our determined efforts on several fronts not-withstanding, our country still faces a number of challenges.
34.Those challenges should not deter us. In the last few weeks, for example, many of our communities have been ravaged by floods, resulting in the loss of lives and property, and the displacement of persons.
35.I want to reassure all affected Nigerians that I share in their grief, and our Administration is taking steps to address these incidents, in collaboration with the States and Local Governments.
36.I have received the interim Report of the Presidential team that I set up to assess the flooding situation across the country.
37. The Federal Government has taken measures to assist the affected States, while considering long term measures to check future reoccurrence.
38.We must continue to work together, confidently and faithfully, to ensure that our country’s potentials are realised to the fullest; that our dreams are translated into reality; and that our goals are achieved.
39. Let me reiterate that our administration is committed to the pursuit of fundamental objectives of an open society: the pursuit of freedom, security and prosperity for the Nigerian people, and the rule of law.
40. In the next few days, I shall lay before the National Assembly the 2013 Federal Budget Proposal so that deliberations can commence in earnest on the key policies, programmes and projects that will mark a decisive year for our development and transformation.
41. I have no doubt that by the time I address you on our next independence anniversary, many of our reform efforts would have yielded even better results.
42.Over the years, several leaders have built on the foundation laid by our Founding Fathers. The baton is now in our hands. Let me assure all Nigerians that we shall not fail.
43. I am confident that Nigeria will continue to be a source of pride to its citizens; to Africa and the Black Race and to humanity; a land that is known for progress, freedom, peace and the promotion of human dignity.
44.May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria. May God bless you all.
The signs that the ethnic nationalities in Delta State are still not very comfortable living together under the same name, came to fore once again, when Deltans from across the three geo-political zones sent in strong requests to the recently concluded Senate Committee on the review of the 1999 constitution demanding for as much as eight new states to be carved out of the present Delta State.
The states which have been demanded for are; Anioma State by the movement for the creation of Anioma state, Urhobo state by the Urhobo Progressive Union, Warri state by the Itsekiri Model, Coast State by the Ijaws ans Itsekiri’s leaders forum, New Delta state by the movement for the creation of new Delta state, Ado State by the Isoko people and Ethiope State by the movement for the creation of Ethiope state. An eight state, Toru Ebe state intends to accommodate Ijaws from Delta, Edo, Ondo and their kinsmen around the South western penninsula, just like Bayelsa did with Ijaws from the Old Rivers, Bendel and later Delta states in 1996.
According to the report summarizing the memoranda submitted to the Senate Review Committee in respect to the creation of new states, the South South region actually top the list with 17 demands and Delta state alone is leading with the demand for at least Seven states.
Since the creation of Delta State by then President Ibrahim Babangida in 1991, the disquiet and pronounced anger which greeted the contraption woven together twenty one years ago, has not really died down completely, despite the efforts of politicians, especially those seeking the governorship position, to create the impression of unity and togetherness amongst the ethnic nationalities.
Prior to the 1991 creation, there had been the predominant agitation for two new states from the old Bendel State. They were; Delta State and Anioma State. The signs that new states would be created was heightened after the Gideon Orkar led Coup d’etat of April 22, 1990 and the bids from the agitators of Anioma and Delta states were so strong that there was little doubt the two states would be created in the next tranche of new states.
But General Babangida suprized every one and angered a substantial segment of the new bedfellows, when he created Delta state but put the capital in Asaba, the heart and proposed capital of the Anioma agitation.
It was a strange decision by Babangida, which many say was influenced by his late wife Maryam and in response to this unsolicited companionship, the rest of the new Delta state simply refused to set down roots in the new state capital for several years, preferring to visit and conduct their business with the administrative seat of power and returning to their bases in as short a time as possible.
The situation was so tense at that time that it had to take the courage of Comrade Ovuozuorie Macaulay to bridge the gulf and by becoming the first non Anioma in a recognized top public office to build a house in Asaba, thus creating a friendly atmosphere for others to at least re-consider their apathy towards the new capital.
But for over eight years Asaba remained in the doldrums of underdevelopment even with its status as a state capital under a military regime and it was not until 1999, when Chief James Ibori won the election as the governor of Delta State in the new political dispensation, that some cosmopolitan structures began to emerge. A new government House was built, a couple of new roads snaked out and some new areas were opened up to allow people who believed in Ibori’s expansive and accommodating spirit to buy land and build.
Ibori opened up Asaba but by then, the message was very clear and the obvious scenario was that the agitation for the creation of new states from Delta state would always be pursued once the opportunity arose.
Politics also contributed to further heighten the agitation for new states as the issue of power rotation amongst the three geo-political zones, Delta Central, Delta South and Delta North became a major talking point, especially during the run up to the 2007 governorship elections when no one was quiet sure where the power would shift to after Ibori’s reign.
When Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan emerged as the next governor of Delta state, his supporters and loyalists quickly upheld the power shift argument and tied his victory as a Delta South candidate to the actualization of power rotation from Central to South.
But those who followed that election know that Governor Uduaghan, despite his sterling public service credentials as Health Commissioner and SSG, was simply selected and anointed by his cousin James Ibori as the next governor, especially against the backdrop of the fact that three of the leading candidates; Ovie Omo-Agege, Godswill Obielum and Ifeanyi Okowa had come from the Central and North.
Governor Uduaghan, since he assumed office in 2007, has actually exhibited a greater zeal to develop Delta State. The Asaba International Airport stands out as the stellar project of his administration and there have also been impressive achievements in the Health sector, Micro-Credit, Education and Special Infrastructure amongst others, but the fact that most Deltans may not have been very impressed with his leadership style was revealed during the governorship re-run election of January 2011 and indeed the general election of April 2011, which he may have won with a landslide but in which the opposition in Delta State finally made tremendous gains for the first time since 1999, over the his ruling PDP where he is the leader of the party in the state, especially in Delta Central and some parts of Delta North.
In fact, the opinion on most streets in the state and across the three geo-political zones is that Delta State is actually comparatively worse off now in the five years of Governor Uduaghan’s administration than at any other time in the twenty one year history of the state.
The indices for this conclusion are mainly empirical, especially the roads in Asaba, Warri and other major towns and cities. Delta State Commissioner for Information explains this situation by arguing that for the first time in the history of the state, things are now been done properly and the Uduaghan administration has embarked on constructing drainages first before fixing the roads so that they will last longer and certainly beyond the next rainy season and these things take time to complete.
But it is doubtful if his explanations have managed to convince Deltans, who complain that the Uduaghan administration is rather slow to respond to the situation and address the obvious pains which the people are going through and many of the sceptics are fully convinced that one sure way to address the development challenges which now exist in Delta State is to be given their individual states.
Another act which further motivated the demand for the creation of new states was the decision by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo to legally compel the national Assembly and by extention the oil producing to pass a law establishing Oil Producing Areas Development Commissions in all the Oil Producing States of the country, which will be entitled to 50% of the 13% derivation revenue accruing to such states from the federation account.
This led to the establishment by law of the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission, DESOPADEC and with the sizeable chunk of half of the 13% derivation revenue going to the Commission the polarities between Oil Producing and non Oil Producing Communities became more pronounced, not just amongst the Oil Producing Communities themselves, but indeed within the ethnic nationalities that constitute some of the communities.
The fact that both Delta Central and Delta South, which make up the key oil producing communities are actually asking for six new indigenous states, while Delta North has maintained its demand for the one and only Anioma state, speaks volumes for the impact a Commission like DESOPADEC has created in the demand for new states amongst Deltans.
The argument now, according to a school of thought is that given what is presently happening in Delta state, any zone that eventually succeeds in producing the next governor, will only develop its region at the expense of others, so the best way to go is to ask for new states.
In fact, at the just concluded Zonal Advocacy Workshop on Economic Diversification and Enhanced Revenue Generation (South-South Zone) Organized by the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), in Asaba the feelers indicate that the core Oil producing Communities are so unhappy with the way the 50% from the 13% derivation is been managed by the state governments, that they are now asking for either an amendment on the existing law setting up the oil commissions or a new legislation by the national Assembly where the money would be paid directly by the federal government into an account made up of and controlled by the Oil producing Communities instead of the Governors. The sequel to this, once it is achieved, will eventually be the intensified agitation for the creation of a core Delta or Coastal state in the near future.
Many Delta watchers also believe that the heightened demand by Deltans for the creation of new states may also have been influenced by the political uncertainties that surround the outcome of the 2015 general elections in the state.
The obvious scenario in Delta State today is that only very few people are actually convinced by the power shift ideology on which the Uduaghan loyalists anchored the victory of their principal in 2007 and 2011. Besides, that argument is only tenable in the ruling PDP, and with the emergence of President Goodluck Jonathan, the new interpretation now is that the power balancing structure can only be defined after the top job had been taken, which implies that the governorship in 2015 is for all comers and only those who are serious enough, as Chief E.K Clark has clearly pointed, can get it.
So, once that is settled, the other geo-political zones and ethnic nationalities that lost out can now be factored into the subsequent positions, like the SSG, the Speakership and others.
There is no doubt that against the back drop of these scenarios and indeed the many more that are likely to unfold before the 2015 general elections, the agitation for states creation will continue to be a burning in our national life, even when some of the agitations appear quite unrealistic.
The Federal House of Representatives had in the previous Assembly, affirmed that new states would be created in 2013 and indeed Senate President David Mark, who is a staunch advocate of Apa State, from the present Benue State has already said that new states will be created soon.
Indeed, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu sums up the debate for the creation of new states thus: “If Nigerians agree that there is need for more states and that there are injustices that needed to be addressed in area of state creation, and they believe that the imbalances need to be adjusted in all parts of the country where there is dominance against the other, we must address it. So if Nigerians agree in that regard, I am sure we can build consensus around it and go ahead to create the state. I think it is something we are going to give a trial because there are valid requests there that need to be addressed,”.
So will new states be created in 2013?
The motion to dissolve the Board was moved by the Deputy Majority Leader Hon. (Prince) Johnson Erijo (Isoko South II), who, citing section 12 of the 2006 Law establishing the Commission, said that the action had become necessary because of the “Lack of Performance and Total Inneffiency of Duties of the Commission.
The motion was endorsed by 26 members out of the 28 members of the House and the dissolution of the board is with immediate effect.
The Delta State House of Assembly further instructed the members of the dissolved board to hand over all necessary documents to the Secretary of the Commission Sir, Ede Oboro.
Recall that a new Management Board for the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC) was appointed only on August 11, 2011, exactly one year and one month ago, after they had been screened and cleared by the Rt. Hon. Victor Ochei led Delta State House of Assembly on August, following their nomination by Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan to House.
The composition of the new Board had Oritsua Kpogho – Chairman; Henry Offa – Member; Joseph Ogeh – Member; Michael Diden (Ejele) – Member; Johnson Boro – Member; Rev.Chukwudi Eke – Member; Barr. Benedicta Osakunih – Member; Kingsley Otuaro – Member and Dr. Peter Egedegbe – Member. The Secretary, Sir Ede Oghoro, was a career civil servant, appointed by the government in accordancewith the ammended law establishing the Commission.
The new Board took over from the Care taker Committee headed by Mr. Reginald Bayoko, which had been appointed by Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan to take over the affairs of the Commission, when the tenure of the former Board led by Chief Wellington Okirika expired in July 2010.
It will be further recalled that the Law establishing DESOPADEC was amended in July 2010, following widespread speculations that there was a plot to extend the tenure of the old Board led by Chief Okirika by a couple of years to accommodate the 2011 general elections and the emergence of a new administration.
Governor Uduaghan had left no one in doubt of his very huge disappointment with the Chief Wellington Okirika and Andi Osawota led DESOPADEC Board, which had been seen at that time as the very cesspool of massive corruption, administrative ineptitude and extravagant financial recklessness.
However, there has been some alleged disquiet and simmering anger in the oil producing communities, over the claims by the Delta State government concerning the release of the statutory 50% of the 13% derivation revenue accruing to the Oil Producing Communities, which was to be administered by DESOPADEC for the development of the oil producing areas.
Unconfirmed reports indicate that a delegation from the Oil Producing Communities had actually petitioned the Presidency to complain that the amount which the State government claims to have released to the communities is far less than what the communities are actually entitled to by law and have received since the Commission was established in July 2007.
Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan only recently affirmed that a total of N149 billion has been released to oil-producing communities in the state for development projects in the last five years. Uduaghan gave the figure when members of Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission led by its Chairman, Mr. Elias Mbam, paid him a courtesy in Government House Asaba.
However, reliable sources within the Oil Producing Communities advocacy campaigners, insist that the funds statutorily accruable to the Oil Producing Communities by law is far in excess of N600billion in the last five years and the state government has allegedly short-changed the Oil Producing Areas since the inception of the Commission.
This, according to sources, was the position purportedly presented to the Presidency by the delegation from the oil producing communities when they went to Abuja and contrary to the grounds adduced by the Delta Assembly for dissolving the DESOPADEC Board, it has actually been alleged that Governor Uduaghan may have been compelled by the Presidency to dissolve the Board and stop further funding to the Commission, at least temporarily, until the allegation of under funding is properly addressed, especially given the very stern position of President Jonathan on issues concerning the development of the Niger Delta region.
Signs that something like this may be in the offing were revealed during the Zonal Advocacy’ Workshorp on Economic diversification and enhanced Revenue Generation, South-South zone, organised by the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC, held in government House, Asaba, when some important stakeholders and opiniom leaders from the Oil Producing Communities took the Delta State government to task over the issue of the funding of the Commission that is meant to address the development of the area.
They even allegedly demanded that the Federal government should stop paying the 50% of the 13% derivation revenue to the state government, but should instead set up an independent national Commission made up of indigenes of the oil producing communities, where the money should be paid into and disbursed directly to the Communities, who are in the best position to know what their development needs are.
Some discerning Delta watchers have already inferred that the dissolution of the DESOPADEC Board just a couple of days after the RMAFC workshop is quite instructive, and may also have been a fall-out of that altercation between the Delta state government and the representatives of the oil producing communities, in government House, Asaba.
There is also another school of thought which claim that the some members of the Delta State House of Assembly, who have allegedly become aggrieved over the purported inaccessibility of the leadership and members of the DESOPADEC since they assumed office, have finally got their pound of flesh with the successful dissolution of the Board of the Commission and this, with the alleged endorsement of Governor Uduaghan, will eventually pave the way for the appointment of a more amenable leadership, which understands the terrain and fulfill the expectations required from the Commission.
Recall that there had been very serious claims that the Chairman of the dissolved Board, Mr. Oritsua Kpogho who was the former Head of Finance in the Commission and is from the Itsekiri Ethnic Nationality, the same place as Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan and also a distinguished intellectual with a sterling track record of service with one of the finest internationally renowned Finance Houses, did not make many friends while he was Head of Finance of the Commission because of his strict and disciplined financial regimen, which often frustrated some of the big wigs in the Commission, the very reason for which Governor Uduaghan had appointed himin the first place, following the allegations of huge financial mismanagement and uncontrollable extravagance in the Commission.
He was also seen at the time of his appointment, as a mole for Governor Uduaghan in the Commission and a very effective channel, especially in the disbursement and appropriation of the 50% revenue from the 13% derivation allocation from the Federal Government accruing to DESOPADEC by law.
There is no doubt however, that Deltans, especially those from the Oil Producing Communities are still reeling from the stunning news of the dissolution of the DESOPADEC Board.
Already, there have been protests from some aggrieved ethnic Nationalities in the state over the dissolution.
The protesters, who were mainly leaders of some oil producing communities, besieged the Warri headquarters of the commission, denounced the Assembly’s action and demanded immediate reinstatement of the board headed by Mr. Oritsuwa Kpogho, even as they described the action of the legislature as self-seeking and passed a vote of confidence in the board.
The Oil Communities protesters, led by the Chairman of the Itsekiri National Youth Council, Mr. Omolubi Newuwumi, accused the Assembly of being economical with the truth, adding that the lawmakers neither consulted nor sought the approval of their constituents before the Wednesday’s action.
The protesters, who were received by the agency’s Chief Security Officer, Mr. Tsewo Edema, said that it was only the oil communities that could do a satisfactory appraisal of the board and they were satisfied with the performance of the Oritsua Kpogho led board, even as they praised Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan for disassociating himself from the action of the House.
Some of the inscriptions on the placards read: “Delta lawmakers not protecting the interest of oil communities,” “Leave DESOPADEC’s board alone, we are alright with the board as presently constituted,” “The lawmakers are unhappy because it is not business as usual” and “Members of the House are aggrieved because their requests for contracts and money are not met,” among others.
Speaking on the reason why they decided to protest, the leader of the placard carrying protesters, Newuwumi Omoluabi said that the protesters, who were leaders of the various Itsekiri oil producing communities, were unhappy with the action of the House describing it as, “arbitrary and self-seeking.”
He said: “The oil communities reject the purported dissolution and call on the House to reverse itself immediately if they (the lawmakers) are actually representing us. It is amazing that a board which is yet to execute a budget could be accused of non-performance. They should ask people what they want before taking a unilateral action. If the oil communities are not complaining, it means the legislators are crying more than the bereaved. We are passing a vote of confidence on the board because the members have been consulting with the oil communities and they have been faithful to us”, he said.
Meanwhile a political dispute with far reaching consequences is about to be unleashed in Delta State following the dissolution of the board of the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC).
Reliable sources from within the dissolved board, have already accused the Delta Assembly of malicious greed as reason for dissolving the board, claiming that the refusal of the Oritsua Kpogho led Commission to succumb the pressure of some members of the House and award them highly lucrative contracts, as was done by the previous board, was behind the act.
However, it has been hinted from sources in Delta State government House that Governor Uduaghan who was away in Abuja at the time of the legislature’s action, was alleged to be ‘very angry’ when he learned of the development, which he regarded as unilaterally, since the Assembly members did not even give him the opportunity of hearing their grievances against the board.
“Governor Uduaghan feels this is a clear abuse of its legislative powers by the Assembly and the governor will fight this war. The governor is upset that the lawmakers acted beyond their powers and violated the law establishing the agency and feels that the House wants to intimidate some of his key loyalists on the board,” the source was reported to have warned.
There are also strong indications that the members of the dissolved board may have decided to disobey the dissolution order of the Assembly on the alleged instructions of Governor Uduaghan, who is purported to have directed them to ignore the House and go about their normal duties without fear of intimidation or harassment.
This point was given greater credence when the member representing the Itsekiri Ethnic Nationality in the dissolved board, Chief Michael Diden, popularly called Ejele, reportedly stressed that only the governor has powers to dissolve the board.
But from all indications, it appears that the Delta State House of Assembly will not be intimidated by the protests from the oil communities and alleged anger by the state governor, as the Speaker of the Delta State House Speaker, Rt. Hon Victor Ochei, has reportedly dismissed allegations that the lawmakers targeted the DESOPADEC board because some legislators were denied contracts. And insisted that the House acted within the law.
According to the report credited to Ochei, “There is no time someone will do something and people will not say one thing or [another]. Has the board awarded any contract? I think they only advertised and the time has been extended. There is nothing like anybody was asking them for contracts. How contract can be the issue? The law is clear: Section 12 of the law states that the governor shall have [the] power to dissolve the commission subject to approval of the House by [a] simple majority or upon a resolution of two third majority of members of the House. And we have 26 members signing. Is there anything wrong there?”
On whether the governor was unhappy with the assembly’s action, Speaker Ochei said, “Well, I have not heard that the governor is not happy over our action, but the truth remains that the House acted within its powers. We did not go to appoint members, [since] the power to appoint is not within the House. So if you have powers to make something, you also have the powers to dissolve. But it is the governor’s prerogative to appoint and we confirm. That is separation of powers. The law setting up the commission is very clear.”
However, in a new twist tothe story, the Delta State government it apperas has, contrary to earlier reports, finally thrown its full weight behind the recent dissolution of the Board of the Delta State Oil Producing AreasDevelopment Commission, DESOPADEC, by the Delta state House of Assembly.
The Commissioner for Information, Mr Chike Ogeah Esq., made the clarification following wide spread speculations that Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, CON, may have actually been displeased with the action of the Victor Ochei led Delta State House of Assembly in sacking the Board of DESOPADEC, on Tuesday September 11, 2012, exactly one year and one month to the day it was constituted.
In an apparent response to the protest and the seeming intention to rubbish the Delta State House of Assembly, ostensibly on the assumed promptings of Governornor Uduaghan himself, the DeltaState Information Commissioner, Chike Ogeah made the clarification, even as he assured of the continued harmonious relationship that exists between the DeltaState Legislature and the Executive.
In a report credited to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Ogeah noted that the matter was a test of the nation’s nascent democracy, especially as it pertained to the doctrine of separation of powers.
According to him, “The question is that in taking the action, has the Legislature exceeded its powers and consequently acted ‘ultra vires’ or has it indeed, acted within its powers. This, to my mind, must be the agitation of Deltans. But I know that the executive and the legislature in the state have no problems as both arms have always respected each other, particularly in the discharge of functions.’’
Recall that the DeltaState House of Assembly had actually dissolved in the absenceof Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, CON, who was away in Abuja in preparation to receive his national award.
Many Deltans have interpreted the statement by Barr. Chike Ogeah as an endorsement of the dissolution of the DESOPADEC Board by the Delta State government. Deltans, especially those inthe Oil Producing Communities are now waiting for Governor to return from his happy trip in Abuja to put a final seal on the matter and clear the air once and for all.
Delta watchers and analysts are only too farmiliar with the unending drama that has become synonymous with DESOPADEC since the Commission was set up in July 2007.
The pioneer DESOPADEC Board led by Chief (Dr.) Wellington Okirika (the Bolowei of Gbaramatu kingdom) had been screened, cleared, constituted and sworn-in by both the DeltaState House of Assembly and Governor James Ibori in the very last days of Ibori’s tenure.
But the trouble with DESOPADEC actually started just a couple of weeks into the life of that first Board, when the newly inaugurated Delta Assembly led by the then Speaker Hon. Olisa Imegwu, returned form its inaugural retreat in Calabar and promptly dissolved the board, under the watch of new governor Emmanuel Uduaghan.
The protests which greeted that first dissolution was so intense that Governor had been compelled to quickly re-constitute the Board in July 2007, which saw Chief Okirika retained as pioneer Chairman but had two casualties from the Ijaw and Ndokwa axis who were relaced.
Things had gone on relatively smoothly for a couple of years until the Delta State House of Assembly reportedly started maknig moves to remove Chief Wellington Okirika as the Chairman of the Commission.
The move, which was allegedly spearheaded by a prominent Ijaw legislator at that time and Chief Okirika’s kinsman, created serious tension in the polity at a time when Niger Delta militancy was the order of the day and this led the ‘High Command’ of MEND to allegedly visit Governor Uduaghan and advise him against any moves to remove Okirika, an Ijaw man as the Chairman of the Commission, since they were said to regard the Chief as their father and mentor.
Governor displayed astute brinkmanship and was able to settle the matter and also save the Ijaw legislator who had allegedly been threatened with serious bodily harm by the militants, but a few weeks later the Governor appointed a Commissioner, Barr. Orezi Esievo to supervise the affairs of the Commission ands act as an intermediary between him and DESOPADEC.
This arrangement lasted until July 2010, when the tenure of the Chief Okirika and Andi Osawota led board expired and the imminent tensions and uncertainty over the Commission almost escalated into full blown security breakdown until Governor Uduaghan appointed an interim care-taker Committee led by the Riginald Bayoko to take over the affairs of DESOPADEC and the law establishing the Commission was amended.
There is a real uncertainty in the air over what will happen next with the Interventionist agency as Deltans await to see whether a new board would be re-constituted for DESOPADEC or if the Delta Assembly would recall the dissolved board or indeed if National Assembly would pass legislation to set up an independent financial body for the Oil Producing Communities in the state.
Echegile Godson Onyemaechi: Godson Echegile is in his early 50’s. He has a background in Teaching, Actuarial Science (a discipline in which he made a First class from the University of Lagos) and Finance/ Management. He is also an Ex-Banker and presently a Director in the Federal Housing Authority. He contested the 2007 governorship election as an aspirant in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Primaries, but lost to eventually winner, Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan. He became Nigeria’s Ambassador to Sierra Leone in 2008, a position he held till the Federal executive Council under which he served came to an end on May 29, 2011. It is to his eminent credit that his service as High Commissioner to Sierra Leone has been regarded as one of the shinning successes of Nigeria’s foreign policy achievements of the Yar’adua/Jonathan administration. Regarded as one of the finest gentlemen in the political space today, he is clean, polished, brilliant, cultured and is a foremost advocate for the the principle of one man one vote and credible democratic process; a position which reportedly almost cost him his life during the April 2011 polls. There is no doubt that his appointment as Ambassador has been well deserved and the experience will surely be factored as a major consideration in the delegation of Ministerial portfolios once President Goodluck Jonathan gets his list to the National Assembly for approval. Many believe that his re-nomination for a federal position may not be unconnected to his much reported travails at the hands of hoodlums in Ikaland during the April 2011 polls. The fact that he had also pledged total support to the Uduaghan candidature for a second term, following his first nomination in 2008 also positioned him as one of the few trusted allys of the governor in Delta North, who had not only served Delta State meritoriously at the national level but was also not contesting for any elective position and so did not need to seek any form of endorsement from the governor.
Godswill Obielum: An ex-police officer who came to considerable national attention in Rivers State as the Commader of an anti-crime squad where he also became extremely very close to the immediate past Rivers state governor. He however achieved massive political relevance when he returned to Delta state to contest the 2007 governorship elections. He was at that time a complete political green horn, but riding on the popular wave of an Anioma governorship agenda, he heroically created a political structure which had the Delta North as its base and gave the then Governor James Ibori political machinery a real scare across the state. His political naivety was his ultimate undoing against the might of the Ibori structure and he quietly faded into political oblivion after he was embarrassingly humbled and defeated at the Ogwashi-uku governorship primaries and his political machinery was splintered and gobbled up by the surviving gladiators. Four years later, Obielum was back on the scene much wiser and better prepared to embrace the best option by supporting the incumbent ticket and pledging his loyalty and allegiance to the second term bid of Governor Uduaghan in the form of a lavish reception organized for the governor in Kwale, by the Ndokwa nation for which he had become the new de-facto political leader. His support for Governor Uduaghan contributed tremendously towards the April 2011 second term victory and it has now yielded handsome dividends with the highly coveted inclusion as a ministerial nominee. His nomination has also been seen in many quarters as a clever ploy by Governor Uduaghan, to also strike back at his main opponents in Ndokwa land, by ensuring that whatever political influence they may have wielded in the April 2011 polls would be completely wiped away by a more powerful and empowered Obielum by the time he completes his national assignment and returns to the political turf in 2015, to possibly pursue the actualization of the mandate he lost in 2007.
Marian Nneamaka Ali: Popularly known as Enyi Kpakpando, Ahaba ( the big shiny star of Asaba) Mrs Ali came to political prominence in Delta state when her husband, Dr. Ahmadu Ali was the PDP National chairman and did everything possible to make her the Senator representing Delta North Senatorial zone in 2007. Parading very distinguished and intimidating credentials both in academics and in public service, Mrs Ali decided to move up by joining politics. She first of all took the Enyi Kpakpando title in 2006 and was feted lavisly by the then Governor Chief James Ibori. But she committed the elementary political error of undermining the power of an incumbency like that of James Ibori, who was the ultimate godfather of Delta politics and was stumped by the sheer audacity and authority of the machinery confronting her. She however, got her own back in the battle for the party leadership and with the support of Governor Uduaghan was able to secure some political concessions including the party chairmanship, which went to her candidate, Peter Nwaoboshi, and the unwritten assumption that she would get the first and possibly the only consideration for the Delta North Senatorial seat in 2011. However, a lot of murky water passed under the Delta PDP bridge in four and this, coupled with the annointing of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as President and the appointment of Professor Attahiru Jega as the INEC Chairman, the political space was opened up so wide that the novel doctrine of one man one vote became the mantra for ambitious poliicians who felt they were both popular and and had the capacity to challenge the status quo and win. The supremacy battle between Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, PDP Chairman Peter Nwaoboshi and Mrs Ali was comprehensively reported. Nwaoboshi allegedly wanted to fulfill the plot already scripted in 2008 with his emergence as party chairman, Okowa had other ideas that eventually played out like a mutinous alternative, Mrs Ali apparently horrified by the unfolding reality that her Senatorial dream was vaporising before her very eyes once again, became momentarily disoriented and against the backdrop of the various sub plots including the re-run of the governorship elections and the bitter fragmentations and decampings which rocked the Delta PDP, Dr. Okowa won both the PDP primaries (twice and televised by a leading national electronic medium) and the general elections. Today he and not Mrs Ali, is the Senator representing Delta North Senatorial zone. However, governor Uduaghan having secured his victory for a second term has arguably taken both the tenous agreement reached during the party leadership damage control agreement and indeed the embarassing scenes and wounded egos during the Delta North Senatorial primaries into consideration and the result is the inclusion of Mrs Marian Nneamaka Ali as on the list of Ministerial nominees. This is also in partial fulfillment of the 35% gender balancing aganda of President Goodluck Jonathan as the new Federal cabinet takes shape. So all is not so particularly well that has arguably ended well, sort of for Mrs Mariam Ali as she takes her perculiar and somewhat unorthodox brand of political strategem to Abuja and the Presidency for further revelations.
Elder Godsday Orubebe: Orubebe was born on 6 June, 1959 at Ogbobagbene, Burutu Local Government Area in Delta State. He attended the University of Lagos, gaining a B.Sc in Political Science in 1985. Later he obtained a Masters Degree in International Relations from Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma in 2005.Orubebe became a Supervisory Councilor, and later Chairman of Burutu LGA. In July 2007, President Umaru Yar’Adua appointed him Minister of Special Duties. Later he became Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs when that ministry was created in December 2008. He was appointed Nigerian Minister of Niger Delta on 6 April 2010, when Acting President Goodluck Jonathan announced his new cabinet. He was also the Deputy Director-General, Goodluck-Sambo Campaign Organization. The relationship between Godsday Orubebe and Governor Uduaghan can best be regarded as politically convenient and expedient. A staunch member of the Delta State leaders and Elders forum headed by Chief E.K Clark, Orubebe has been touted since 2007 as the most qualified man to replace Governor Uduaghan especially as the doubts and rumours grew in the early elections petitions days when many had expected that the governor would be disqualified from contesting any fresh elections on grounds of some speculated linkages in some unfolding graft cases prosecuted by the EFCC against former Governor James Ibori. Orubebe’s first nomination as Minisiter was therefore done with influence of Chief E.K Clark and not the Delta State government, ostensibly to equip him for the 2011 governorship race. He was also a favorite of President Goodluck Jonathan and by the time the elections came around, Orubebe had become a full fledged Minister of the Niger Delta Ministry and with the combustible political atmosphere in Delta state which was made even more complicated with the entrant of Ovie Omo-Agege, a soulmate in Aso Villa, Orubebe took the sensible option, after an alleged poser on the matter by President Jonathan, to opt out of the governorship race and consolidate on his ministerial elevation, even after his posters had been pasted all over Delta State. The final bolt was driven home when President Goodluck Jonathan brought his campaign rally to Asaba and compelled the reconciliation of all the warring parties and by the time the President allegedly instructed his two serving Ministers from Delta state, Orubebe and Kenneth Gbagi, to return home and work for the second term bid of Governor Uduaghan, it became crystal clear that the reconciliation was going to be carried all the way. Elder Godsday Orubebebe is a very popular choice as a ministerial nominee both at home and with the Presidency. He was central both in the successful achievement of the Amnesty initiative by the Yar’adua administration and the victory of President Goodluck Jonathan in the April 2011 Polls. He is also well regarded by his Ijaw kinsmen and in most parts of Delta state as a politician who has the real potentials to become a governor someday. His re-nomination as a Ministerial candidate is seen in most quarters as an opportunity to consolidate on the work he has started in the Niger Delta Ministry and to also position him appropriately for any eventualities in 2015, when he will be fully ready to finally take a shot at the state’s top elective position if he so desires.
Faith Tuedor-Matthews: Faith Tuedor-Matthews has been Deputy Managing Director of Abuja at United Bank for Africa Plc since April 17, 2011. Ms. Tuedor-Matthews served as Deputy Managing Director of Nigeria-North of United Bank for Africa Plc. She also served as Head of Regional Bank – Abuja of United Bank for Africa Plc. She worked for several banks before joining Standard Trust Bank as an executive Director in 2003. She has been Executive Director of United Bank for Africa Plc since August … 1, 2005. She holds MBA from University of Aston, UK; degree from the Southampton Institute and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Marketing from Staffordshire University, UK. Alumnus of the Harvard Business School Senior Executive Programme. Ms. Tuedor-Matthews is Graduate member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, London and a member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers. The battle for who succeeded Mr. Tony Elumelu as the chief executive officer of United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA) had been between Faith Tuedor-Matthews and Engr. Phillips Oduoza, who had also occupied a similar position, but for UBA Nigeria South. The need for a new chief executive arose after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in pursuant of its on-going banking reforms, issued a guideline for the tenure of managing directors of banks across the country. Part of the CBN statement stipulated that “Chief Executive Officers (CEO) of banks shall serve a maximum tenure of 10 years -all CEOs who would have served for 10 years by July 31, 2010 shall cease to function in that capacity and shall hand over to their successors.” Informed sources within UBA’s hierarchy confirmed that Ms. Tuedor-Matthews and Mr. Oduoza, had both been favoured to succeed Mr. Elumelu, who has been at the helm of the bank since 2005 after a merger with Standard Trust Bank (STB) – a bank he headed since 1997. Mrs. Tuedor-Matthews joined STB in 2003 as an executive while Mr. Oduoza joined STB’s management in December 2004. Ms. Tuedor-Matthews holds a Masters degree in Business Administration from the University of Aston, Birmingham, U.K. and is also an alumnae of the Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Programme. However despite these sterling credentials, Mr. Oduoza who has a 1st Class B.Sc. (Hons.) degree in Civil Engineering and an MBA (Finance), both from the University of Lagos and has also undertaken an Advanced Management Programme at the Harvard Business School, got the job. Many Delta watchers opine that although Mrs Tuedor -Matthews is no doubt eminently qualified as a Deltan for a Ministerial position, her nomination may also have been done as a show of appreciation for Mr. Tony Elumelu, who has contributed so much and remained a firm partner in progress with the Uduaghan administration, but has now relinquished the position mandatorily. This nomination is expected to complement for the loss of the top UBA job and also provide Ms Tuedor-Matthews the grand opportunity to apply her very rich banking experience and impressive credentials in a higher and definitely more challenging and expansive environment. It is expected that Ms Tuedor-Matthews will be very central in the considerations over the management of the newly established sovereign wealth fund, the creation process of which was given greater relevance by Governor Uduaghan in several seminal discourses organized at specific intervals in Delta State, including a ground breaking session when Professor Pat Utomi addressed a meeting of South South Governors in Asaba and laid down the framework of what eventually became an act of parliament and a national policy initiative. This particular nominee is arguably one the very few that has very little political undertones, if any, but has been made in line with excellent professional considerations.
Chief Solomon Ogba: Chief Solomon Omamoezi Ogba was born in Warri but hails from Evvokpaka in Aviara Clan in Isoko South Local Government Area of Delta State. He had his early education at Catholic School II, (now Ogedegbe PrimarySchool) and later College of Commerce, Warri before completing his secondary education at Illuelogbo Grammar School, IIuelogbo now Owhelogbo.The young man holds the Ordinary National Diploma (OND) and Higher National Diploma (HND) Estate Management from the College of Technology Yaba, Lagos and Auchi Polytechnic Auchi. He also holds a Post Graduate Diploma (PGD) and Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Calabar. He is now pursuing a Doctorate Degree in Sports Management from the United State Sports Academy, Damphine Alabama in the United States of America. Though an Estate Surveyor and Valuer, Solomon Ogba from his student days has devoted majority of his entire career to politics. No wonder be has had a very enterprising and eventful political history spanning over 27 years. Several factors may have contributed to the inclusion of Solomon Ogba on the Delta State Ministerial nominees list, but one major incident stands out. In the run up to the 2007 governorship elections a political group known as the G3 allegedly got together and endorsed a document in which a power sharing formular for the three ethnic nationalities in Delta South;Isoko, Itsekiri and Ijaw was defined. Solomon Ogba was said to be a very key member of that group and negotiations. The G3 was also the central structure of the campaign organization for the election of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan and acording to that document, had stipulated that elective offices should rotate amongst the three nationalities. They allegedly advocated that Uduaghan as Itsekiri would take the first shot at governor, while the Isoko and Itsekiri wouls share the other public offices both at the state and national levels in the first term 2007-2011. The rotation, according to the said agreement would then be shuffled so that either Isoko or Ijaw would get the governorship, while Itsekiri would contend with another office in the 2011-2015 dispensation. Thus it was that Uduaghan (Itsekiri) got the governorship, James Manager (Ijaw) got the Senate and Godsday Orubebe (another Ijaw) became a Minister of the federal Republic of Nigeria. However, what became obvious later was that the G3 only wanted to ensure that Uduaghan became governor and Solomon Ogba was very central to that achievement. However, there was the purported general feeling amongst the PDP clan in Delta state that Ogba may not have been appreciated and adequately compensated as he should by the Uduaghan administration in the last dispensation. His love and contribution to sports promotion and development somehow provided a tiny opening for national recgnition and with the support of the Uduaghan administration, he was nominated and accepted in Abuja, a ploy which cleverly removed him from Delta State and freed the space for some highly connected individual to hold sway. In the run-up to the 2011 general elections, Solomon Ogba, apparently in a recourse to the G3 agreement of 2007 and the argument that the Isokos were shortchanged politically in 2007, decided to contest for the Senate. But the PDP had instructed that all incumbents should return and so he was faced with incubent Senator James Manager. Ogba was also instrumental in ensuring that Iskoland was delivered to Governor Uduaghan in the April polls, after the humiliating defeat during the re-run and although he lost the Senatorial seat to James Manager, his inclusion on the list of Ministerial nominees is seen as just reward for his continued loyalty to the Uduaghan administration. He will surely be amongst the major names to be considered for the top positions in the Ministry of Sports.
Young Daniel Igbrude: Young Daniel Igbrude was born on September 24, 1950 at Orohelogbo in Isoko North local council. He attended Government School, Warri, Anglican Grammar School, Ubulu-Uku and thereafter proceed to University of Nigeria Nsukka where he bagged a B.Sc. degree in Political Science (1981) and a Masters degree in the same discipline in 1983. He left the university as a lecturer in 1999 to contest the House of Assembly elections under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and got elected to represent Isoko North in the House. He was in the House for barely a month before he was appointed into the State Executive Council as the Commissioner for Information and Culture. He stayed till 2001 before he was re-deployed to the newly created Ministry of Lands, Surveys and Urban Development. He resigned from the cabinet in November 2002 to contest the House of Assembly elections held on May 3 and was re-elected by his people in Isoko North Constituency. He went on to be elected the Speaker of the House on June 3, 2003. Igbrude emerged as the Speaker of the House principally because of the zoning formula of the PDP in the state, which zoned the speaker-ship to the Isokos in Delta North Senatorial District. He was however removed as Speaker on May 25, 2006 after having served for since 2003, and went into a political sabbatical afterwards, only to resurface in 2007 as a governorship aspirant in the PDP. He lost the ticket to Governor Uduaghan, but remained relevant as a key player in the moves to reform the PDP and was regarded as one of the patrons of the party’s Grassroots Movement. Igbrude survived a horrible assasination attempt by the skin of his teeth when he was shot by unknown gunmen while returning from Warri to his hometown in June 2008, the same day that Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan’s convoy was ambushed by a group alleged to be Niger Delta militants on Benin-Warri highway. Immediately after the attack in which his brother-in- law was shot dead in the same car, Igbrude was rushed to an undisclosed hospital and later flown abroad for the treatment whic saved his life. He still walks with a limp and carries the scars of that ghastly attept on his life till today. He was also a frontline member of the Chief E.K Clark led Delta State leaders and Elders Council, but later fell out with Chief Clark. He joined the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) and worked for the party in the January 6, 2011 re-run election, and his huge influence was underscred by the embarrassing defeat the PDP suffered at that polls. Governor Udughan, sensing that Igbrude may not be fully satisfied with what the DPP was going to offer as a political party in the national space, quickly reached to Igbrude and succeded in bringing him and over 5,000 decampees back to the PDP in time for the April polls. Igbrude once again manifested his huge influence when he teamed up with other loyalists to deliver Isoko again to Uduaghan after the humiliation of the re-run election. A grateful Governor Uduaghan was only too happy to add the name of Young Daniel Igbrude to the list of Ministerial nominees and there is no doubt that the former Speaker of the Delta state House of Assembly will serve Delta well at the national level.
Williams Ilijitima, Ilerhijele Makinde: Born on April 20, 1961 in Ethiope West, Oghara Local Government Area of Delta State. Mr. Williams Makinde after his Primary and Secondary education attended University of Benin and came out with B.Sc. Degree in 1986 after which he progressed in 1992 to University of Calabar in where he graduated in 1995 with Masters in Business Administration (MBA). In the year 2000, Mr. Makinde bagged ACA from the Nigerian Institute of Chartered Accountants and Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administration in the United Kingdom. And to further joined the computer age in information and technology in 1994 he went to Associated School of computer Technology, Calabar and obtained a Diploma in Data Processing. Mr. Makinde Williams is Member of the Board of Directors at Daar Communications Plc. Before joining the Company as Executive Director, Finance and Marketing in 2005, he was into private consultancy services between 2003 and 2005. He was also the National Treasurer of the PDP. He has not been particularly visible in the Delta state political space and it is not very clear under what political influence he is being nominated but one of Makinde’s major activity of note in Delta state was when he came as an emissary of the then national chairman, Prince Vincent Ogbuluafor to endorse the chairmanship of Peter Nwaoboshi at a time when the Delta PDP was embroiled in a leadership crisis. His nomination is perhaps purely a party consideration laced with some personal considerations especially since he is coming from Oghara and the filial innuendos attached to it. Ethiope is also an area where Governor Uduaghan can be said to have very few trusted political allys and Oghara was the only place where he got an expected landslide in the April polls. The nomination will also arguably please the PDP national secretariat where he served as Tresurerer because he will be regarded as one of their own in government.
Obarisi Ovie Omo-Agege: Barrister Ovie Omo-Agege was born August 3, 1963 at Lagos. He hails from Ughelli North LGA in Delta State, Nigeria. He attended University of Benin, Benin-City, Nigeria. Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) with Honors, 1985. Nigerian Law School, Lagos, Nigeria. Omo-Agege needs no more introduction to Deltans and Nigerians. Obarisi Ovie Omo-Agege is arguably the only Governorship candidate in Delta State, who knows how Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan emerged as the Governor of Delta State. He was a leading aspirant in the Ogwashi-uku primaries in 2007 and had conducted a sophisticated and well articulated flamboyant campaign which led many Deltans to even regard him in many quarters as the anointed son of the godfather, Chief James Ibori. But the rug was literally pulled from under his feet at the very last minute, in what he regards as a sort of betrayal and Uduaghan was chosen instead. To say that he has never hidden his passion and intention to govern Delta State since then is to state the obvious and he has pursued his ambition in a dogged and unambiguous manner. Prior to the re-run election of January 6, 2011, Obarisi Omo-Agege had been reportedly involved in an unsavoury altercation with persons suspected to be working for Governor Uduaghan over the political leadership in his own Orogun kingdom. He was allegedly humbled and humiliated in that episode and had to leave town after his father the elder Justice Omo-Agege had been pleaded with to make peace in the area. Obarisi reportedly went to Abuja and joined the camp of the elder statesman, Chief E.K Clark in the Presidency. Following the elevation of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to hallowed position of President of the country and the legal travails of Chief James Ibori, the political landscape in Delta state changed dramatically and Governor Uduaghan who had seemingly appeared invincible became very vulnerable. Omo-Agege came back home and launched one of the fiercests campaigns against the Uduaghan incumbency in the run-up to the April 2011. But the campaigns were truncated when the Appeal Court annulled the 2007 governorship election and ordered a re-run within 90 days. This decision threatened to jeopardize Omo-Agege’s chances as an ACN candidate, until he found a constitutional loophole which allowed him to contest under the platform of the Republican Party of Nigeria (RPN), whose original candidate had passed on. Governor Uduaghan won the re-run convincingly but the matter on ground now is whether he should be given tenure elongation or not, following the recent ruling by an Abuja Federal High Court on the matter. Obarisi Omo-Agege returned to the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) to contest the April 2011 polls and there had been initial suggestions that he was going to team up with Chief Great Ogboru to give Uduaghan a fight. But when it became obvious that Ogboru was going all the way, Omo-Agege being the ultimate political tactitian quickly re-connected with his old roots in the PDP and made up with Uduaghan. His calculations have now paid off handsomely because he is a major political figure in Urhoboland who is now in Uduaghan’s camp. His nomination as a Federal Minister will serve two purposes; it will calm him sufficiently and remove him from the Delta political scene thus giving Governor Uduaghan some breathing space and secondly, it will provide the opportunity for further empowerment and re-positioning for the 2015 race, when Uduaghan will no longer be eligible to contest.
Elizabeth Titi Uvoh-Gardner: Mrs. Elizabeth Titi Uvoh-Gardner was born 7th January, 1955 in Kano City, Nigeria. She was appointed a Member of the Delta State Executive Council and deployed as Honourable Commissioner for Education on August 17,2007. Until her present appointment, Mrs. Uvoh-Gardner was a Special Adviser, (Science and Higher Education) and later Coordinator and Chairman of the Governing Council of the Delta State Higher Education Project, comprising of the three Delta State-owned Polytechnics at Ogwashi-Uku, Ozoro and Otefe as well as the College of Physical Education, Mosogar. Mrs. Uvoh-Gardner who is married with children hails from Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State. She had her early education at St. Louis College, Bompai Kano from 1966-1967 and Adeola Odutola Comprehensive High School, Ijebu-Ode from 1968-1972. Uvoh-Gardner later graduated from the University of Benin City in 1976 with a B.Sc. Hons. Degree in Microbiology and two years later obtained the Master of Science degree in Food and Management Science from the University of London. The Education Commissioner is a well-versed academician with a wealth of experience in research and lecturing. She was involved in supervising both undergraduate and postgraduate students in seminar and research projects at the Department of Micro-Biology, University of Benin. Aside from her experience in the area of scholarship, she has worked for eight years in the Nigeria High Commission, London. During the period, she worked in the education section and was instrumental to the placing of several children in very competitive primary, secondary and tertiary institutions in the UK. No doubt, her wealth of experience in the field of the academics influenced her appointment in May, 2003 as a Special Adviser to the Governor of Delta State on Science and Higher Education. In this position, she coordinated and served as the Chairman of the Governing Council of the Delta State Higher Education Project. Mrs. Uvoh-Gardner is a workaholic, who was mobilized as one of the pioneer arrowheads that midwifed the Delta State Higher Project. A practical scientist, Mrs. Uvoh-Gardner in April 2007, organised an all Stakeholders National Science and Technology Workshop aimed at providing Delta State with a State Policy on Science and Technology. Under her meticulous guidance and supervision, the three State-owned Polytechnics and College of Physical Education have witnessed both rapid physical and academic growth. Her nomination is no doubt well anticipated and her pedigree will serve and Delta State, especially as President Goodluck Jonathan seeks to appoint women who are capable and have the requisite capacity to justify the 35% affirmative action in the Nigerian national cabinet.
The April 2011 general elections will not be easy for the Peoples Democratic Party in Delta State. The opposition is making sure it gives the PDP not just a good run for their money in all the elective positions in the land, but indeed to defeat the ruling party outrightly across the length and breadth of Delta State.
From Aniocha, through Ika, Ndokwa, Ukwani and Oshimili, to Isoko, Okpe, the Warri axis, Burutu, Bomadi and Patani, the opposition, spearheaded by the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) and ably complemented by the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Labour Party (LP), Accord Party (AC), and even the Fresh Democratic Party (FDP), amongst others, are all geared up and highly poised to stand toe to toe, eyebrow to eyebrow, looking the PDP straight in the eye and ready to defend and protect every vote in the competition for votes, as Deltans go to the polls to elected the candidates of their choice in the April 2011 elections.
And the PDP, well aware of the readiness of the opposition to battle it to a standstill in the coming elections, is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that the power and authority it has wielded as the ruling party for the last twelve years is not only maintained but even further consolidated in Delta State.
But according a voter, ‘e no go easy for PDP this time around’.
The political temperature in Delta State rose up several notches recently with two major dramatic events. The first was the refusal fof the Asaba Fedederal High Court to grant the tenure elongation request of Governor Uduaghan to the joy and happiness of his opponents.
Great Ogboru of the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) started the flag-off in Agbor, folowed by Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of the Peoples Democratic Party (pdp) in the three senatorial zones and then Obarisi Ovie Omo-Agege who tied his own with the Presidential rally of Mallam Nuhu Ribadu and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
But besides the governorship positions in Delta State, there are other major battle grounds across the state as opposition political parties aim to cause major upsets over incumbents in the various elective positions.
The political situation across Delta North is quite interesting not just in the four nationalities that make up the Anioma axis but indeed amongst the political parties and candidates vying for virtually all the key elective positions.
SENATE: In the Delta North Senatorial race, the leading candidates are the former Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, who is running on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) and one-time House of Representatives member Hon Ned Nwoko of the Democratic People Party (DPP). However, there is also Chief Onwukamike of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), who is likely to be the dark Horse in the race.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:
ANIOCHA/OSHIMILI: The race for the House of Representatives is quite intriguing, especially in Aniocha/ Oshimili Federal Constituency, where the front runner is surely Hon Ndudi Elumelu, the sitting Reps member in the constituency. But he will square up with a recognised ex PDP chieftain, who has now pitched his tent with the Accord Party, Alanza Uche Ugbomah. The initial calculation had been that Hon. Elumelu may fall into the bad books of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and thus fall foul in the elections. But it is looking increasingly like nothing of such will happen, so the chances of defeating him are getting slim by the day.
Other contestants include Okonmanh Ngo-Martins of the DPP and Onabu Julius of the ACN, but these are regarded largely as light weights and will not pose any major threats to Elumelu. But Elumelu and Ugbomah are likely goin to face their biggest test from Nana Modupe Onwodi of the Labour Party.
Nana Modupe Onwodi, is a 33 year .She is an industrialist, politician, gender activist, who has travelled over the world . She has been to five continents and thirty countries including Ghana, Hert main reason for joining the race is that she is tired of been trated as a second class citizen. According to her, the system does not work because of the kind of people whoo have been holding political office since 1999. She strongly believes that this is the time for change and this change must begin from somewhere.
She wants to be a role model for women and bring some new blood, vibrancy, transparency sincerity, youthfulness and women empowerment as the major points of her agenda. Her advice to Deltans is that they must come outto vote, defend their votes and protect the unity of Deltans for both indigenes and non indigenes. She is a strong believer in the unity of Nigeria, Anioma, Delta state and that is why she is in the race for the Aniocha/Oshimili House of Representatives seat soshe bring the dividends of den mocracy and development not just to the Aniocha Oshimili peoples but indeed to all Deltans and non-indigenes who reside in her constituency.
IKA FEDERAL CONSTITUENCY: It is no longer news that Hon. Doris Uboh is the PDP Candidate for the Ika Federal Constituency seat. It had been earlier speculated that she had been defeated in the primaries by Victor Nwokolo, only for the tables to be turned and the name of Hon. Uboh was re-instated. Victor Nwokolo has since moved on to Justice Party and it promises to be a battle royale
with Dr. Mrs Isioma Okobah (ACN) and Okoh Festus Chukwuyem , popularly known as Chukky Dandy all prepared to give Hon Doris Uboh a real fight for the seat.
NDOKWA/UKWUANI: In Ndokwa/Ukwuani the man to beat is Hon. Ossai Ossai (PDP). But he faces a hard battle with Eugene Okolocha of the DPP, who many see as the real threat to the PDP in the race for the Ndokwa/Ukwuani federal constituency. Dr. Ronald Eyime is also in the race.
HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY: The race for the House of Assembly seats in the Anioma axis is so tense that nobody is sure where the pendulum would swing.
ANIOCHA NORTH: Hon. Victor Ochei of the PDP, the incumbent member representing Aniocha North Local Government area, appeared to have tied up the ticket for the seat when he overwhelmed the avalanche of opposition which had lined up against him. But his power show has ended up fragmenting the PDP in the Local Government as his opponents in the primaries have now all gone to the opposition. Isi Okocha and Emeka Ohaegbunam are two of the major candidates who will give Victor Ochei a real run for the seat. Others are Uche Ugheh, (DPP) a former aide to Chief James Ibori and Festus Okwechime, (ACN) who was said to have been asked to withdraw for Isi Okocha but pointedly refused.
ANIOCHA SOUTH: Hon Onyemaechi Mrakpor, the sitting House member representing Aniocha South, won the PDP primaries ticket, but she faces real competition in the candidates of DPP Dennis Nwanokwai and Victor Sorokwu (ANPP).
OSHIMILI NORTH: The incumbent member representing Oshimili North in the House of Assembly is Hon. (Princess) Pat Ajudua and from the look of things it will take something close to a miracle to defeat her. Her main contender is Patrick Mozea of the PDP, a very close ally and associate of PDP chairman Chief Peter Nwaoboshi. He is in the race once again but his greatest undoing may well be his mentor Nwaoboshi, who has been accused of working against his people of Oshimili North. There is also Patrick Ukah (ACN)whose articulate and sophisticated campaign is sure to be noticed and put in serious contention as the election approaches.
OSHIMILI SOUTH: The battle for the seat in Oshimili North will be tough for the PDP for two reasons. The first is that the in-fighting between the incumbent Hon Emeka Okonji and Hon Peter Onwusanya is threatning to derail the party comprehensively. Peter Onwusanya had been regarded as the widely acclaimed winner of the primaries but Emeka Okonji’s name had miraculously appeared on the list submitted to and cleared by INEC. However, Onwusanya, after having tried to overturn the decision of the party from Abuja, has now been sufficiently emboldened by the uncertainties in the party and is in Court to seek a substitution with his name instaed of Okonji’s. He has also dusted up his campaign posters and has flooded Asaba with them to show the whole world that he is serious.
The second factor is the fact that the troubles in the PDP has given the opposition great hope and Nwanze Oduah, of the DPP, who is a very popular candidate in the LGA is the real contender for the seat. Others are Emeka Oranyeli (ACN)and Barr Obusom (ANPP) both of whom are from the Oko axis of Oshimili South.
IKA SOUTH: Ika promises to be one of the hot beds of real competition in the April polls. Incumbent and former Speaker, Martin okonta (PDP), who reportedly got the ticket under controversial circumstances will have to face Kingsley Nonye Philips (DPP),in are-newed battle which started in 2007 and saw both men swapping turns on the seat as a result of some far reaching Court rulings. Okonta had the last laugh but Nonye Phillips (Agbokigboro) havibg tasted the goodness of the House is ready to fight all the way to secure the seat and he is in a party whose profile is rising everyday.
IKA NORTH EAST: If status was the only yardstick to win elections, the the Incumbent, Rt Hon Sam Onyeakachi Obi is already the winner without even having to go for the elections. He was the Acting Governor of Delta State for less than two months and in that period he made the people of Ikaland proud with his very progressive and developmental initiatives. He returned triumphantly to the House and he is still the Speaker despite the wicked rumours that he will soon be impeached.
NDOKWA EAST: The battle for the House in Ndokwa East appears to have been thrown open with the decision of incumbent Rt. Hon Olisa Imegwu to move up to the House of Reps. The favourite now is former Council chairman Hon. Elder Chike Ugwummadu, who was formerly in the PDP but was sacked for alleged anti-party activities. He is now in the DPP and he is the man to beat. His opponent in the PDP is a certain Osanebi Friday regarded as a vibrant youth leader, who is highly regarded in the ruling party.
NDOKWA WEST: The Incumbent is Hon. Ukpe Joseph Emeke (PDP) and he will be up against what many have termed less than formidable opposition in the forms of Azuka Azaka (DPP) and Odanike Justice (ACN).
UKWUANI: The battle in Ukwuani promises to be the fiercest in Ndokwaland as three tried and tested campaigners go head to head in the election:. Incumbent (Dr.)Alphonusus Ojo, (DPP) was formerly of the PDP but he actually got the seat by defeating one of his opponents Ochor Christopher Ochor in Court. Now the PDP has restored Ochor Ochor back as its candidate, a signal which has told Dr. Ojo that he was never even accepted in the first place. Both men will be slugging it out with Chief Chinoye Daphey( ACN), a former Council Chairman and one of the leading woman leaders in the PDP before she fell out of favour and has now found a home in the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
In the Delta Central senatorial battle the battle is between the national chairman of the Urhobo Political Forum, UPF, Chief Ighoyota Amori (Odidimadi) of PDP, former deputy speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Chief Pius Ewherido of the DPP and incubent Senator Adegho Eferekagha who is seeking a second term this time as the ACN candidate. They will all be given a real batlle from business mogul, Chief Ufuoma Charles Obule, formerly of the PDP but now in the Justice Party and Ambassador Elizabeth Ogbon-Day, the only female in the pack, of the All Nigeria People Party (ANPP). There is also Chief Oghenovo (Ugo of Mosogar) of the Labour Party who belives that the troubles in the PDP has given him a very good chance of clinching the ticket.
The interesting point to note in this race is that all the contestants are formerly of the PDP and with the exception of Pius Ewherido, had all contested in the party primaries which Chief Amori won controversially, thus prompting them to seek alternative platforms to pursue their ambitions.
Chief Amori is the giant that all others want to slaughter. His image looms larger than life in the district because he was the closest ally to the former Governor of the state, Chief James Ibori. He was in those days hailed as Delta’s Mr. Fix It.
Given the problems that are now around the Ibori political clan it is not surprising that Chief Ewherido has emerged as the toughest challenger to Amori. Amori’s pre-eminence in the contest is further compounded by the strategic alliance between Eweherido and Chief Great Ogboru, the gubernatorial candidate of the DPP. Ogboru’s draws his support mainly from the Delta Central Senatorial constituency and the political momentum he is inspiring could rub positively in favour of Ewherido who even in his own right is a formidable political force.
While Amori is banking on the fear and flame he once inspired to sway the electorate, Ewherido is riding on the new found love for the DPP in the district as was displayed in the January 6 governorship election to unleash a shocker.
Ewherido, however, believes that the PDP has been rejected by the people of the district as was shown in the January 6 election and that he would win the seat, while Chief Amori and his campaign team suppose that what happened on January 6 in the district would not happen again.
Senator Eferekaya, the incumbent Senator who defected to the ACN last year is reportedly relying on the assumed power of the governorship candidate, Chief Ovie Omo-Agege. It has, however, emerged since the January gubernatorial re-run that Omo-Agege may not actually have the political influence that was once accorded to him.
As Republican Party of Nigeria, RPN governorship candidate he was defeated even in his own local government area by Ogboru. His assumed political weight was further punctured with the depature of his so called “political commander” and former secretary of the ACN, Barr. Jaro Egbo back to the PDP.
The worry here is that it is the same Omo-Agege that Prof Eferekaya is relying on majorly for his return. The senatorial candidate of the Labour Party, Chief Charles Obule was also once a PDP chieftain.
He dumped the PDP because of his dissatisfaction with the conduct of the senatorial primaries and many see him as a probable dark horse, but only if he properly harnesses his strategy to plot the defeat of the old warhorses.
Ambassador Ogbon-Day is the ANPP senatorial candidate in the district. Like others, she left PDP after the primaries to pick the ANPP ticket. It is clear that that ANPP is not her preferred party, but she had to make do with the ANPP since she was edged out by superior powers. She lamented in a recent interview that she paid Amori homage to inform him of her senatorial ambition, only for him to join the race later.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:
The other notable major battle ground in Delta Central is the House of Representativies.
ETHIOPE FEDERAL CONSTITUENCY: Hon Sunny Akpodiogaga Emeyese, running for the Ethiope Federal Constituency seat under the PDP, is definitely the man to beat in the race. Although ne was involved in some fracas during the primaries, his election was adjudged as one of the most acceptable in the PDP. His popularity is guaranteed and his generosity and brilliance as during his years as majority leader in the Delta State House of Assembly has served him well as a candidate who will represent the interest of his people in the Federal House of Representatives. He is contesting against Barr. Loveth Edirin, (DPP) who is also popular but is definitely relying on the recent strong showing of the DPP in the area to defeat Hon. Emeyese. There are also Emmanuel Esievo ( ACN), and Barr Akusu-Ossai Augustina of the Labour Party in the race.
UDU/UGHELLI FEDERAL CONSTITUENCY: Another serious battle ground in Delta Central is the Udu/Ughelli Federal Constituency, where the incumbent, Hon. Solomon Ahwinaqhwi (PDP) will be going head to head with Hon. Harvest Igben (ACN), who many see as the man to beat. Hon. Ahwinaqhwi was recently involved in the infamous plot to remove Speaker of the House of Representatives Hon. Dimeji Bankole, for which he and some members of the House were suspended. They have since been recalled after getting a favourable Court ruling quashing their suspension, but many feel that this matter may have affected his chances somehow. Hon. Igben on the other has always been seen as a dogged fighter. He has done two terms in the Delta State House of Assembly as the only real opposition legislator in the House and he more than held his ground in the midst of a ‘hostile’ PDP majority. He has never been a PDP man and this, coupled with his generousity and that feeling that he is truly the representative of those who are fighting against the PDP system have all put him quite ahead of his other competitors in the Udu/ ughelli Federal Constituency.
DELTA SOUTH: The senatorial battle in Delta South appears to be a one horse race with incumbent Senator James Manager (PDP), ready to clinch the seat again. He is however going to face a stiff battle from a former House of Representatives member, Ms Temi Harriman of the ACN, and Ogwilaya Ufuoma of DPP.
The senatorial race looks simpler in Delta South where the incumbent, Senator Manager shrugged off the pposition from Isoko barn Chief Solomon Ogba to get a third term ticket in the PDP primaries.
Manager allegedly got the ticket on the basis of working for Governor Uduaghan during the January gubernatorial re-run election, in outright revolt against popular Ijaw sentiments championed predominantly by Chief E.K Clark..
The other contestants, Hon. Temi Harriman of the ACN and Mr. Ogwilliaya of ANPP also have their strong points. Ms Harriman is known to have a resilient spirit and is regarded as a prominent member of the civil rights activists’ community. She was singled out for commendation among the pro-democracy icons in the National Assembly during the third term brouhaha, when she was the only PDP member from the South who openly stood up against former President Obasanjo’s third term ploy.
Mr. Ogwilliaya, on the other hand is a successful Abuja based business man, who may be riding on Ijaw sentiments to unseat Manager, seen in some quarters as working against their interests.
But it appears that both candidates have their work cut out for them because they will be confronting the formidable PDP machinery in the April election.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Two major flashpoints in the House of Representatives battle in Delta South are in Patani and Isoko.
In the Bomadi/Patani battle , incumbent Representative Hon. Nicholas Mutu (PDP), will be slugging it out with former Ijaw Youth Council National President Dr. Chris Ekiyor of the ACN. In the early days of the campaigning, Dr. Chris Ekiyor, himself a former PDP aspirant, had seemed like the automatic choice for the seat. He had received endorsements from from virtually every corner of the constituency and his very articulate contributions to the collective Niger Delta amnesty programme had presented him as the right choice for the seat, in contrast to Mutu, who is seen in some Ijaw quarters as a seemingly dour and unglamourous personality. But Mutu is a very astute politician whi has been working underground and when the time came to step forward, he and other incumbents successfully got the PDP ticket just like in the other primaries and this forced Ekiyor to pitch his tent with the ACN, where he faced some internal battle for the ticket and is reported to still be in Court over the rightful candidate of the ACN in the April elections.
But as it stands now, the battle is between Hon. Nicholas Mutu (PDP) and Dr. Chris Ekiyor (ACN) and it promises to be a battle royale for the Bomadi/Patani Federal Constituency seat.
ISOKO FEDERAL CONSTITUENCY: Incumbent Honorable member, Leo Ogor (PDP), will be squaring up against Barr. James Akporero (Labour Party) and Osigho Oghale (ACN)
It will be recalled that in the PDP primaries, Leo Ogor got a battle he never bargained for from Osigho Oghale who even got the process to be televised live on a national television network. The Port-Harcourt based politician came a close second in that race but felt that she was cheated by the PDP so she has pitched her tent with the ACN. But the feeling in some quarters in Isokoland is that she would have stood a better chance if she had opted for the House of Assembly seat instead of the House of Representatives.
Barr. James Akporero, on the other hand has been there before and has seen it all. He contested against Leo Ogor in 2007 and has worked closely with the Hon. Ogor in Abuja before both men went their seperate ways. Initially, Akporero had been gunning for the Senate and had run a highly sophisticated campaign. He had also fancied his chances against former Senator Stella Omu, who had been speculated as the PDP preferred candidate of the PDP until it became clear that Senator Manager would get the ticket.
He then opted for the House of Representatives where he is set to do battle again with his ‘friend’ and old foe Leo Ogor. It promises to be a battle of the leading lights in the emerging new generation of Isoko politicians.
HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY: Two notable House of Assembly battle grounds are in Isoko South (II) Constituency and Patani Constituency.
IN ISOKO SOUTH (II), the battle is between incumbent Hon.( Prince)Johnson Erijo (PDP) and High Chief Iduh Amadhe (Ajuwawa)of the Labour Party. Prior to the PDP primaries, the opinion amongst a sizeable section of Isoko South (II) population had seen Iduh Amadhe as the main man for the Delta state House of Assembly. His popularity as a real grassroots politician was unparalleled and his genorosity was legendary. But when it became obvious that the PDP was going to stick to its incumbents Chief Amadhe opted for the Labour Party and he is well poised to springa real upset in the election. Others in the race are Hon (Chief Okah Emezanena Michael (DPP) and Ewomazino Enifoghale( ACN), but there is no doubt that in a free and fair election, Chief Iduh Amadhe (Ajuwawa) is the man to beat for the Isoko South (II) Delta House of Assembly seat.
IN PATANI, the battle is between incumbent Hon. Basil Ganagana (PDP) and Barr. Raymos Guanah of the Fresh Democratic Party. In the early days the word had gone out that Hon Ganagana was not going to contest again for the Delta State House of Assembly but would most certainly move up to the House of Representatives. He had practically achieved everything there was to achieve in the Delta House and is on record as the only legislator who has served as Speaker more times than any other member. The coast had then been clear for Barr. Raymos Guanah, then Commissioner for Lands and Housing, to enter the race and fulfill a long standing ambition of winning an elected office after several years of faithful and diligent service to first Chief James Ibori and then Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan.
But in a political twist of immense consequence, Hon. Ganagana was suddenly back in the race and eyebrows were raised. The thinking according to some inside sources was that with the surprising showing of the PDP in the re-run elections and the huge uncertainties which now surround the Governor Uduaghan re-election quest, it was best to stick with what was already available because as the saying goes, a bird in hand, is worth one hundred in the bush.
Barr. Guanah must have felt bitterly disappointed with the PDP for what he must have seen as a huge betrayal and this has led him to seek an alternative platform in the unlikely camp of the Fresh Democratic Party, made popularly by its Presidential candidate, Reverend Chris Okotie.
Guanah is full of confidence and his popularity was showcased by the massive crowdthat attended his declaration rally in Patani. He is also noted for his kindheartedness and genorosity and regarded as a true friend in good and bad times. He is easily accessible and a very friendly down to earth person in addition to the fact that he is also a very brilliant Lawyer and a well respected administrator.
But Hon. Ganagana is not a pushover either. He is an opportunist per-excellence and is always in the right place at the right time. He has mastered the fine attributes of politically correct behaviour for one so young and his quite, yet highly calculating mien is greatly strengthened by his deeply religious nature. Ganagana will surely be a tough nut to crack, but Guanah is absolutely confident that his time has come to represent the people of Patani in the Delta State House of Assembly.