The story of Pinocchio told us that every time the puppet-boy told a lie, his nose grew longer. Well, there is the seemingly never-ending distressing story of one Emmanuel Uduaghan in Delta state whose own bump seems to grow bigger every time he steals money and elections.
Uduaghan is a graduate of Obasanjo’s school of ‘do-or-die’ elections. He is a nasty gift bequeathed the hapless people of Delta State by that other thief, James Ibori in a fit of sadistic irredentism. Post Ibori, Uduaghan has simply sold off Delta State’s patrimony just to remain awkwardly holed-up in Government House, Asaba.
When it was reported recently that Uduaghan issued two cheques through Oceanic Bank to Obasanjo/Obasanjo Farms to help keep him illegally in Government House – first for N778.6 million and another for a whopping N2.5 billion, Uduaghan and his officials rebutted that those cheques were for collaborative work between Obasanjo Farms and a Delta State farm project in Ogwashi-Uku. They said that the N3.2 billion was for training and logistics. Please what kind of training and logistics can Obasanjo Farms provide a nebulous farm project in Ogwashi-Uku that’s worth N3.2 billion? Well, I logged on to the given website www.ofn-deltafarms.com today (9 August 2011), only to be told that the site is still under construction. It’s been over a year since the first check was issued. No pictorial evidence of anything concrete, only a signboard in a bush. Ah, these people are wicked. They use the State’s money to fight and enslave its people.
The one objective of Uduaghan’s stewardship is to simply remain illegitimately in a stolen office at all cost emptying out the cupboards. On 10 October 2007Uduaghan and the gang were celebrating and giving thanks in Government House, Asaba. That was because he had managed to secure an interim order from a heavily bribed Benin Federal High Court “restraining the EFCC, its agents, servants and/or privies from probing into Delta State’s books, accounts and activities and/or carrying out any investigation, etc, etc.”
Nine days before that, on 1 October 2007 when a court in London initially ruled that Ibori’s seized UK assets be released to him, same day, back in Government House, Uduaghan hurriedly arranged a thanksgiving service. The usual suspects were all in attendance. Leading that service was one Reverend God-do-well Avwomakpa, the then Delta State Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria. During that service, Uduaghan announced that Ibori was a wealthy man before he became governor. He added, quite heartlessly, that Ibori’s eight year sojourn in Government House impoverished the man as Ibori’s businesses suffered. This is the quintessential Uduaghan.
After his third and latest governorship electoral heist, he was back thanksgiving in Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor’s church. They actually celebrate and ‘give thanks to God’ after every devious act. Oritsejafor is the current national chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria.
Late March this year, Uduaghan arranged an elaborate aircraft landing ceremony to announce the birth of Asaba International Airport. A chartered aircraft from an unknown airline - Overland Airways which is reportedly owned by Yar’Adua’s son-in-law, Governor Isa Yaguda of Bauchi State, landed at the airport to the bemusement of the rented crowd and State journalists as everyone could only see an uncompleted project all around them. By that time, the airport project had gulped some N40 billion. Well, wouldn’t you know, on 18 July 20011, news emerge that Asaba airport recorded its first commercial flight with passengers. Predictably, that report did not show the passengers at the airport but a small group of people inside a tiny plane, again, belonging to Isa Yaguda.
This has been the shape of governance in Delta since 2007. The place has become a home of gimmicks and the hub of abandoned projects but boastful signboards. If you want to truly punish your back, please take a ride on any of the roads in Delta State. When it rains, nobody ventures onto those roads. Yet when the State gets it monthly federal revenue allocation, Ibori’s cut is still the first money that is deducted; then Uduaghan’s You would think that Uduaghan would look and learn from Ibori’s disgraceful end, but no, he is in fact trying to outdo his mentor.
The last three governorship elections recorded no elections at all in Warri and environ. The numbers were simply made up and very grossly over inflated. Similarly, votes in the riverine areas were just discarded. Hungry youths were put on helicopters en route Asaba to thumb-print ballot papers for PDP and those figures were then announced.
Uduaghan and his gang clumsily rig elections then taunts cheated opponents that they ‘know how to win elections,’ and that if people don’t like the results they should go to court. At the courts, he meets them with a sack-load of Delta’s money and gauchely bribes all the Judges. In the latest episode, the Electoral Tribunal chairperson, Justice Uzoamaka Ogwurike was reportedly bold enough to hold off and renegotiate an increase of N350 million for herself alone. Such was the amount of money made available to these people. Obasanjo even found time to attend to drive home the savage point.
But what can be done about the pervasive and unconcealed corruption of Judges and our legal system? It leaves one with a helpless feeling. The current system seems to throw up mostly Judges who have come to regard their assignment as pay day or pension plan. Like some of our politicians and ministers, Nigerian judges are now buying up most of the over-priced houses in England.
Of all the governors in Nigeria today, Uduaghan alone cuts the picture of a desperate fugitive. I have never seen a more dishevelled, scruffy and dowdy looking governor in my life. He looks as furtive as he is shabby. And he has good reason to be. He is sitting diminutively in an office that doesn’t belong to him. Everybody knows this and he himself knows it only too well, hence his constant petrified and undignified mien. He has simply been unable to retract his grubby fingers from Delta State’s treasury all in a wretched bid to remain in a stolen office that doesn’t even suit him.
Today, the Delta State Governor’s office must be the least respected in Nigeria – perhaps in Africa. Almost everyone regards it and its current occupant with deserved contempt, derision, scorn and a pitiable shake of the head. It has become an uninterrupted tragicomedy of sorts, a farce. Uduaghan is forlornly holed-up in there desecrating further a thoroughly cheapened, abused, sullied and truly bastardised office.
And to make matters worse; now, Uduaghan has become a willing and happy tool, a stooge in the hands of a few ex-military men who seem determined to stop his main electoral opponent from Government House because, apparently, that man, a civilian, was bold enough to organise an audacious and very nearly successful putsch that still shames them.
After eight years of high octane and obscene financial, intellectual and moral pillage of a once great space, most Deltans had hoped that come June 2007, the State would get a new lease on life and begin to breathe fresh, clean air. No such luck. Uduaghan is obviously prepared to sell even the last of the family jewel just to cling on inelegantly to a stolen chair.
As for Obasanjo, that old despot and fada of modern Nigeria who loves nothing better than taking the Lord’s name in vain; well, breeze don blow and we don see Reverend father’s G-string!!!