Uduaghan: When A Governor Curried MEND’s Anger

Francis Iwuchukwu , Reporter, Lagos

Delta State Governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan, has at various fora, maintained the commitment of his administration to ensure that the State is accessible to all for investment, business and commerce. He has also pledged to improve the people’s welfare, through what he termed creation of jobs and safe neighbourhoods.

This posture of Uduaghan, no doubt, is never in isolation, as some of those who tend to admire what the governor is doing in the state, describe his administration as that which is focused and committed to turning the state around for the best.

Nevertheless, some of those against his style of governance are still threatening to make the state ungovernable for him. According to them, Uduaghan did not win the election that brought him to office as the governor of the state.

But Uduaghan, in spite of his critic’s posture towards him and his administration, tends not to be distracted. In fact, he is, according to his admirers, leaving nothing untouched to actualise his administration’s determination to ensure that the needs of his people are met.

This perhaps, may have informed his comment on March 16, while reacting to the bomb blast which took place in front of the Government House in Warri, at the stalled Post-Amnesty Summit organised by the Vanguard Newspapers. He had said immediately after the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta (MEND), claimed responsibility that his administration would not succumb to what he termed blackmail and intimidation. He also promised, that, in spite of the challenges, the state government would continue to protect lives and properties of the people.

To him, “The peoples of the Niger Delta will not be intimidated nor deterred by the cowardly act of a few opposed to a peaceful and non-violent approach of resolving the historic grievances of the region. We assure all that we will not be deterred in our determination to fast-track the development of our people.”

The action of MEND, in the opinion of informed minds, may not be unconnected with a statement credited to Uduaghan few days to the summit. The governor was quoted as saying that MEND does not in any way exist. According to him, the militant group is only a media creation, which, as far as he was concerned, remained faceless.

But, MEND spokesman, Gbomo Jomo, in another statement said more attacks are in the offing, and warned that, “The deceit of endless dialogue and conferences will no longer be tolerated. The land of the people of the Niger Delta was stolen by the oil companies and Northern Nigeria with the stroke of a pen. The Vanguard organised and Delta State sponsored conference is one of such tools of deception.”

Ezike Ibuchukwu, Executive Director of Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), says he believes MEND’s action was untimely and that the group should have soft-pedaled in the interest of peace. “Expectedly, government has shown some level of commitment to resolving the challenges of the region, especially now that a man from the region is the acting President,” Ibuchukwu remarked.

Uduaghan was born on October 22, 1954 in Warri, Delta State and studied medicine at the University of Benin (UNIBEN).

He was a founding member and Chairman of the All Nigeria Congress Association for the Warri South Local Government Area, a founder and executive member of the Grassroots Democratic Movement (GDM), and a foundation member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

The Governor, who began work in 1983 at the Delta Steel Company, as a medical officer, was on August 6, 1999, appointed as Commissioner for Health by his predecessor, James Ibori. He became Secretary to the Delta State Government (SSG) on June 6, 2003.

In April 2007, Uduaghan contested and won the governorship election on the platform of the PDP.

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