Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, Mr Tony Obuh and Chief James Ibori

Uduaghan Succession Plot: Playing Last Desperate Cards

  • Aspirants to step down and declare for Obuh for compensation
  • N10 billion war chest for Uduaghan’s Project Obuh
  • N5m for each Delegates Vote

Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, Mr Tony Obuh and Elder Statesman E.K Clark
Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, Mr Tony Obuh and Chief James Ibori

That the only game in town in Asaba is who succeeds Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan in 2015 is a given. In what appears to be a fight to the finish, the protagonists in this epic drama are determined to ensure that the mandate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) goes their own way.

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Top of the line is the intrigues and brinkmanship that have bedevilled the race since the Governor was perceived to have withdrawn backing for the former Speaker Victor Ochei, who was forced out of the system on account of being independent minded and bizarrely in PDP politics, for being too wealthy. Ochei was considered the heir apparent but was recorded to have a fundamentally different view of the direction of the state given the many decisions he led the House of Assembly to take in counter to Gov Uduaghan expressed wishes.

Since then the Governor was alleged to have asked a number of aspirants individually to warm up and that is the reason they all lip synch the Governor’s praises and read from a Delta Beyond Oil script that is the flagship of Gov Uduaghan’s agenda. But as the primaries came around the corner it became clear that the Governor was reading from ex-Governor James Ibori playbook. Ibori had asked and actually funded a number of aspirants to succeed him in 2007 to deflect heat from his anointed cousin Uduaghan. He dramatically then weighed in on Uduaghan favour on the night before the primaries in Ogwashi-Uku.

If Uduaghan planned a similar scenario, it became pretty evident that the heavyweights from experience were not going to play out the game with him. Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, who deferred to Uduaghan in 2007 upon Ibori pressure, was unrelenting. Ochei who was meant to have gone on political exile since his dethroning inexplicably revved up his campaign, albeit without his former allies who had now toed the Governor’s line to back his former Permanent Secretary of Government House and Protocol, Mr Tony Obuh. The heralding of Obuh by core Uduaghan loyalists, notably Chief Ayiri Emami, finally laid to rest where the Governor intends to lay his crown.

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The instant conversion of all the apparatus of government, security, cash, media and personnel into the Project Obuh was overwhelming. Overnight a little known civil servant became the leading front-runner in Delta gubernatorial race. Newspaper mogul and native of Delta State, Chief Nduka Obiagbena of the influential Thisday media group, was said to have endorsed the Project Obuh as he was alleged to have said that the mammoth ‘money’ backing up the project would be humanly impossible to oppose.

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With the fight over the delegates congresses on 1 November 2014 between the Governor Uduaghan and E.K Clark on one hand and Senator Okowa, Senator James Manager, Hon Ndudi Elumelu and Hon Victor Ochei on the other hand, resulting in a humiliating climb-down by the Governor who then allowed all leaders to have an input to the final list, the battle royal shifted to the House of Assembly primaries where the Governor sought to reassert his authority. It was rumoured that the National Headquarters of the PDP snubbed the Governor by handing Senator Okowa loyalists the structure to conduct the elections. The Governor fought back by ensuring that his loyalists were nominated. But the intrigues were still on-going with indications that the opponents of the Governor are bent on reversing his gains.

The race for Delta Governor 2015 is now firmly between the James Ibori backed Senator Okowa, Uduaghan’s Project Obuh, Hon Victor Ochei and the quiet smooth operator and suave Hon Elumelu. After his massive declaration in Asaba with national figures in attendance, he is reportedly being backed by E.K Clark and the President. The revelations that Ibori is backing Okowa led to the bleeding of the leadership of the Project Obuh, who are avowed Iborists like Uduaghan’s Political Adviser Chief Ighoyota Amori and Sapele henchman and former butcher turned House of Assembly Majority Leader, Hon Monday Igbuya . These developments have now given rise to Governor Uduaghan’s final game play.

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The numerous sideshow aspirants from all senatorial districts of the State are now being lined up to collectively declare and step down for Obuh before the primaries. From Delta North, Prof Sylvester Monye, Godwin Emetulu, Dr Festus Okubor, Chief Mrs Uduehi, Chief Uwaka, Amb. Gabriel Oyibode and Chief Godswill Obeilum. For Delta Central, our investigation reveals Chief Imoyi Omene, whose form was bought by Government House functionaries to counter UPU uncompromising position on an Urhobo Governor, will step down alongside current Deputy Governor Prof Amos Utuama, while South Senatorial district will see Andrew Warri and former Minister Godsday Orubebe step down in exchange for SSG position in Obuh’s government. As at press time, Orubebe is still considering his options but he is determined to pay back Chief E.K Clark for the snub he received from the elder statesman over his ambition.

Plans are agog for the high profile media event to be broadcast live on Channels and AIT and syndicated on the major newspapers particularly Vanguard and Thisday. XCLUSIVE Magazine can authoritatively confirm that Governor Uduaghan has set aside a N10 billion war chest for the compensation of stepping down aspirants, the declaration event and the party delegates to the gubernatorial primaries, who have been earmarked to be induced with the princely sum of N5m each. There are 1200 delegates and a source confirmed that to be safe, the Governor is targeting 1000 to ensure Obuh wins by an incontrovertible landslide.

Delta State budgets over N450 billion every year, but implements less than 50 per cent of the budget, with the major aspirants with the exception of possibly Ngozi Olejeme and Ndudi Elumelu, direct beneficiaries of contracts. The skimmed off largesse is been ruthlessly deployed towards the Obuh project as Gov. Uduaghan believes he is an insider who can shield him from the Ibori treatment.

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