The Immediate past Governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, has made public his intention to run in the 2019 senatorial election.
Uduaghan, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, noted that he has the capacity to adequately represent Delta South Senatorial District, being a former commissioner, Secretary to the state government, governor, among others.
He said this is because of his desire to pursue quality legislation that will lead to the end of the crisis in the Niger Delta region.
In a chat with newsmen yesterday, the medical doctor said he would soon officially declare his intention to contest the senatorial seat of Delta South at the National Assembly.
He explained that he withdrew from the race in 2015 to ensure that peace reigned in the state as he has always maintained that peace was more important than electoral victories.
He said, “Despite the pressure from the good people of Delta South in 2015, I decided to step down, but looking at the horizon now, the issues that caused the security challenges that made me to shelve my ambition in 2015 are no longer there.
“I was commissioner for four years under Chief James Ibori and I was close to him. I knew what he was doing in terms of peace issues.
“I was the first state government official to enter into creeks to meet ex-militant chief, Government Ekpemupolo alias Tompolo in the heart of the Niger Delta as SSG to start negotiating peace with him.
“I did it severally when I was the governor of Delta State. At one of the outings, it was even the soldiers that pointed AK-47 at me when I was coming back.
“Sometimes, I would come back at night from negotiating peace, so I know the place in and out. I have been there in the day and at night, in fact, at one of them, I was sitting on a chair with about 20 of the boys with their guns, they were drinking, and we were there for three hours negotiating peace.
“I know the challenges; let me just say this, what we did and what the government has been doing is having what I call two boxes in managing the problems,” he explained.
The former governor said the first thing was that of engagement, as he used his influence then to mobilize religious leaders, traditional rulers and the youths to engage the boys in the creek in dialogue.
“We had the other box of enforcement; that is, using the military, the army, the police, navy, etc. One will think that with the two boxes, that would be enough to deal with the problems, but they are still there and re-occurring in different forms, some criminality and some genuine agitation; we still have the Niger Delta Avengers bursting pipelines; sometimes, we have those hijacking boats and sometimes ethnic quarrels”.
According to Uduaghan, from his experience, the military, as an enforcement body was not a permanent solution to the problems in the Niger Delta as they were not very familiar with the terrain.
“So when the thing is really happening, it requires mobilizing the young people to show them the terrain or to prevent the crisis.
“For us to move forward, we must have an enforcement body that includes the community; especially the youths in the community, since they know the terrain.
“It is easier for people in that area to try and carry out enforcement or execute security challenges; it is easier for people in that area to know those who are involved in illegal bunkering. There are two parts to it, there is the part of genuine agitation, which has now been mixed with criminality and the criminality seems to have overshadowed the genuine agitation.
“To deal with it, we need the local people to be involved in the security arrangement and that will require legislation. The Waterway Security Committee I put up for instance, there is no law backing it up, so we need to put up laws that will help us in moving forward in solving the Niger Delta crisis.
“Right now, there is no law and order in the Niger Delta and we need to come out with and remind ourselves of the existing laws and tailor them towards the issues in the Niger Delta so that we can have permanent peace. A lawmaker is to make law and that will be my cardinal point.
“Also, there is the issue of attracting things to your area. There are very few people in the National Assembly that I don’t know. I have the capacity to attract things to my area more than anybody on the field today.
Uduaghan, who promised not to collect his pension as a former governor while in the senate, also pledged to carry his constituents along by involving them in the lawmaking process and holding town hall meetings every six months.
“I am going to sign a contract with my people; the Senator-Citizens Contract. I have a group of lawyers who are already working on it,” he disclosed.