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Published On: Mon, Nov 26th, 2012

Uduaghan; The most Criticize Governor in Nigeria

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Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan

By Jesutega Onokpasa 

WHILE President Goodluck Jonathan may see himself as the most criticized president in the world,Delta State’s Emmanuel Uduaghan is probably the most criticized governor in Nigeria.

The Governor draws flak from a multiplicity of directions over a variety of transgressions ranging from underperformance to plain simple stinginess. Besides this remarkable plethora of disaffections, many of Dr. Uduaghan’s critics even go so far as to point to the Governor’s medical background and explain his disposition as that of a doctor indifferent to his patients’ pain while maintaining that compared to his predecessor and cousin, James Ibori, he is a failure with nothing to show for achievements.

Defending him in certain parts of Delta is to invite hostility, solicit derision and procure vehement contradiction. Indeed, so passionately is he vilified that it is very tempting to come to the suspicion that there just has to be something significantly untoward about him by which is inspired the unyielding antagonism of a section of his constituents.

All that overwhelmingly negative assessment of the Governor notwithstanding, it is difficult to factually come to a sustainable conclusion that Uduaghan is the write-off he is made out to be. Quite apart from the fact that some of the anger at him arises from tribalism, the proofs necessary to making the case that he has failed appear not to be as evident as the allegations they are required to establish.

For instance, regarding accusations of underperformance, those projects he has to show include landmark, large-scale infrastructural works projected to positively impact on the state in time to come. Some of these projects are unprecedented and it is rather perplexing how someone responsible for some of the biggest public works the state has ever seen can be subjected to so much umbrage.

It is, thus, baffling that the first governor in the state’s entire history – going back to the days of the Mid-Western Region – to build an airport could be so thoroughly castigated and that numerous Deltans availing themselves of the Governor’s ‘City Bus’ scheme with its brand new air-conditioned buses and rock bottom fares, routinely travel in these vehicles accusing him of one infraction or the other.

Regarding perceptions of the Governor as a tight-fisted and greedy man, I simply lack the requisite facts to come to a conclusion whether or not they are true.

However, most of these complaints do emanate mainly from daily bread politicians who apparently having had a field day with easy money in the previous dispensation, have not found it funny adjusting to a regime of financial discipline of a medical doctor turned politician. Needless to say, it is difficult to see how the case can be made that sharing the money amongst a privileged few is better than allocating funds to Uduaghan’s much acclaimed micro-credit programme, for instance.

Similar to the above allegation is one to the effect that the Governor being a medical doctor is characteristically immune to the pain of his patients and correspondingly indifferent to the suffering of Deltans.

It is true that doctors develop a thick skin to pain both because they get so used to seeing it on a regular basis but more importantly so as to be detached enough to professionally handle the patient.

Regarding Uduaghan specifically, it does appear rather difficult to come to a tenable conclusion that a governor ready to paddle a canoe to check up on flood-ravaged Deltans, is at the same time sadistically unconcerned for their welfare.

The Governor’s camp has often written off criticisms of its principal as mere orchestrations of the opposition led by the likes of Great Ogboru and Ovie Omo-Agege. Whatever be the truth of this, it is nevertheless difficult to see how a man whose sole claims to distinction are that his father happened to name him ‘Great’,  is associated with a bloody coup that led scores of young officers to an untimely death and his younger brother to a 10-year stint in jail – is somehow better qualified to be governor than a medical doctor.

Similarly it should take some convincing to sell to a critically-minded person, the proposition that Omo-Agege, a man who was made by the Ibori-Uduaghan political family can possibly represent a credible alternative to his former patrons.

At any rate, hearing personally from insiders like Festus Okubor, Uduaghan’s Chief of Staff, and Chike Ogeah, his Commissioner for Information – two decent gentlemen who were colleagues when I served at the Delta PDP Campaign Council – one is strongly persuaded to take another look at the Governor and be inclined to come to the conclusion that it may well be that he has indeed performed and is nothing like the failure or miser his detractors would have us believe he is.

Nevertheless, Governor Uduaghan may well be inadvertently responsible for some of the attacks, as they appear to flow from a section of the public’s apprehension of his body language. The Governor should not sit back and allow others to define and interpret him to Deltans as someone who doesn’t give a damn what they think of him because, since he can’t run for another term he will not be needing their votes anymore. Being state governor is not the end of the road for him and he must come to the realisation that he indeed has genuine supporters who have long stood by him and whom he ought to carry along.

Difficult as it may be to cater for everyone, he should nevertheless not allow those who work for him to feel used and dumped. Uduaghan has projects he can be proud of and acknowledged for, and at the end of the day, history may well come to judge him positively based on his achievements and not from the negative standpoint of his critics.

Mr. Jesutega Onokpasa  a public affairs analyst, wrote from Ahmadu Bello University(ABU), Zaria

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