“I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.”
It is a general knowledge in Nigeria that apart from Bola Tinubu who has control of the media, the only man who was able to penetrate the media and hold them in his hands like his pawn is former Delta State Governor, Emmanuel Ewetan Uduaghan. This is clearly evident in his winning almost of the newspapers man of the year award, and when he fails to win, he carts home the award of health, security and micro credit scheme section. In one of my article, I penned down how the credit of the trio mentioned cannot be washed away, even by the most wicked pen.
Despite having a hold of the online news media just as he held the print and broadcast medium, it must really have come as a shock when in the tail end of his ‘finishing strong’ tenure, he received the worst negative media publicity caused by the political situation at the time. In all these malicious attack on his government, family and personality including his private life, yours sincerely spearheaded it. It was a season of political warfare and every arsenal had to be used to win the war; and here was a nice man under the radar of Secrets Reporters. In all of this, we never gave him the chance, I must admit. The former governor who had strong control of the online media could no longer hold all, as we had a splinter group, with main objective of exposing what the government was doing wrong. After the election, it ought to have stopped but for some reasons; it continued. And then I met the former number one man in Delta.
The day was 27th November 2015, when I just finished having a private discussion with my father and principal, Senator Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa (SIAO), the sitting governor. A call was placed to Uduaghan (not by Okowa) that his ‘boy’ is around and he demanded that he speak with me. In a voice devoid of opulence, the immediate past governor spoke with me and decided that the “prodigal son”, should come and see him. For the records, this is not a public relation stunt for the former governor, but a sincere account of what transpired between us. Various attempts had been made in time past for me to meet him, which will be discussed later.
At exactly 4:43pm, a protocol officer came to pick me in my hotel room to meet Uduaghan. I expected to be brought before a palace, but no, I was in a common place found everywhere in Delta State. I looked around to see if I could find anything extra ordinary about the place as I was led upstairs, and I found none. As a door opened, I appeared before the very man, whose words were law, and at his signature, the humanly impossible were made possible. Before me was His Excellency very casual and eating the popular Urhobo Banga soup and Starch. I greeted him in the native dialect which he answered, asking if I speak Urhobo. He finished eating and exactly 5:36pm, we began discussion. It was not an interview but a father and son discussion. He opened up on how he needed to correct some negative impressions which I wrote on him, including using my very good friend Reuben. He also knew that the only person who could easily talk to me is Hillary but according to him, there were insinuations that I have been told not to see him, hence he gave up. This write up is not influenced by money and never can be, for if I needed money from Uduaghan, I would have gotten it while he reigned through honest means. But the truth must be told to us from him.
UDUAGHAN FACE HIS FIRST SECURITY CHALLENGE
The ex governor is currently writing a book, which will certainly shock the political class when it’s released, right from his days as a Commissioner under the Ibori’s regime. When he decided to make peace and security one of his three point agenda, it was because he had experienced insecurity in its closest form and dealt with it. His first experience of dealing with insecurity was as a Commissioner when students of the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI) protested that they must be included under the scholarship scheme, a protest which later turned bloody when Ibori visited, which he admitted led to the death of a student shot by security details attached to Ibori.
Ibori was truly worried over the death of the student, which the papers erroneously referred to as three, he told me. After much persuasion, the 1999 governor allowed him to mediate between the students and the government. It was in the course of this problem that he met Reuben Izeze, then a PTI student and Mike Akpobire also a student of Delta State University (DELSU) but rusticated for leading protest against the school and Elijah Oloje. With the help of the trio, he set out to bring peace. In several of such meetings, he entered into the venue without any security detail, at the risk of his life until a truce was reached, which was that Ibori must visit all the hostels affected with his ADC and CSO who must not carry a pin, with him carrying the children of the slain student as he address the students. The Vice Chancellor of DELSU who had just four months to retire refused to accept Akpobire back because he still felt pained that he was put inside the boot of a car by Akpobire. After his retirement, Akpobire was back to DELSU. With this done, Uduaghan successfully handled the crisis that would have built a gulf between the students, and brought in the trio into government where they remain till today. How he entered the creeks alone surrounded by gun welding men with bullets hanging on their shoulders on both side with him in the middle just to see that there is peace in the oil state will be read in his coming book.
MY REPORTS THAT NEVER WENT DOWN WELL WITH HIM
For those with sharp memories or patient enough to still go through my Facebook timeline of October 2014 when he celebrated his birthday, one of my tribute to him was his ability to still have a human heart to accommodate criticism and dangerous reports and not think of hunting down the writers. The Uduaghan I met is not different from the Uduaghan in office, but again, he admitted that there are some things he would have done differently. He got to know about Fejiro Oliver more in the course of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primaries gubernatorial campaign. At first he thought I was just a normal Facebook user but when he saw that I was consistent in my ‘attack’ which later metamorphosed into news reports and articles, he had to take me serious and added me as a friend on Facebook.
In his humorous nature, he said I unfriended him, and even when I did (unknown to me that it was him, since there are many people using his name to dupe), he stated that he found a way of reading my opinions on his government. At this stage, I began to wonder what manner of man will find means to read the reports of a journalist who is constantly on his neck. This is not the nature of the Nigerian politicians that I know who will not only unfriend critics but block them. In his human nature, Uduaghan bared it all on how many people advised him to get rid of me, but he would do no such, giving credence to what I wrote about his harmless nature.
At a time, he feared for my life, praying that nothing should happen to me, caused by supporters and sympathizers who will harm me in his name. At this stage, he recalled on Ogbe Onokpite who was killed and accusing fingers were pointed to him even when he knew nothing about it. Did I believe him? Yes, I believe him and will defend this, even though you can’t trust Nigerian politicians. In the course of the guber debate which Ogbe partook in, the judges who are still alive will bear witness on how he told them to allow Ogbe sit down when he noticed that he was sweating profusely, and being medical doctor, he drew their attention to it. A man who wants to kill will do no such.
I had done numerous reports on him, but one of those which he felt was below the belt and callous of me was mentioning the women he had slept with. He sure do have more of Urhobo blood flowing in him, and should have eyes for women, but one of the women mentioned in my report was the wife of late Sunny Ofili, his Special Assistant on ICT. His concern was not about his image but on the woman who had just lost her husband, and linked to him even when nothing of such was happening. “The report held my hands back from rendering help to her”, he told me. I understood his pain and how inhuman I must have been then, but the political scenario at that time warranted him which he understood.
Uduaghan got me trapped in our discussion and even when Richard Mofe Damijo came in later to check on him and left, he continued from the exact place we stopped, when in all honesty I could not even remember it. He has the memory of an elephant and the brilliance of Micheal Faraday. In the almost two hour nonstop chat with him, I saw the Uduaghan whom I wrote about on a different scale.
***Keep tab on how Okowa missed becoming the Deputy to Ibori, and how some key government officials attempted to make him lose relevance by splitting ministry of water and natural resources into different ministry, as well as connection with Juliet Mowarin of Sterling Bank, including how Okowa went to the Senate against the forces that be. All these and more breathe taking revelations from the man who should know best, Emmanuel Uduaghan.
These little things matter…
Fejiro Oliver is Editor In Chief of Secrets Reporters News, Investigative Journalist, Media Consultant and Human Rights Activist can be reached on +2348022050733 (SMS ONLY) or firstname.lastname@example.org. Engage him on twitter on @fejirooliver86