Only last month the supposed Governor of Delta State, Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan made a point of drawing the attention of Journalists, activists and the opposition in the State to the ‘powers’ he supposedly has; topping the list was the two critical powers to kill and power to demolish any property within 24 hours. Needless to say, the Governorship has no such powers granted to it by the constitution of the Federation and as such, the utterances must be seen as the delusional aspirations of a Governor without the popular mandate who sees the use of threats violence and actual violence as a means of advancing his political ambition. I start with this point because I think it exemplifies how Uduaghan’s political ambition and personal attitude is creating grave insecurity in the State.
My contention in the piece is that the problem of Kidnapping has not just emerged of its own but is very much seated with the overall political environment and is a creation of politicians who want to maintain a State of insecurity in order to maintain a hegemony of political domination, rigged elections and unfettered access to public funds for their personal use.
The kidnapping on the 9th of June 2012 of ex-super eagles midfielder Christian Obodo, is but one in a long line of kidnappings across the State. So this is not a new problem in Delta State but perhaps the kidnap of such an illustrious son of the land is serving to draw the attention of the Nation and the international community to a problem that has plagued the citizens of the State for years now. A little sampling of history shows us that at the time of Ibori, related problem was that of armed robbery, mainly by groups of men using pistols and sometimes riffles. By the elections of 2003, this problem had grown exponentially from a problem of a few gangs of career armed robbers to a problem of the proliferation of small arms including automatic weapons amongst the youth of the State, from village to village and from town to town, largely by arms supplied by politicians belonging to the Peoples Democratic Party who at that stage were bent on consolidating their grip on the State. Current members of the House of Assembly, current members of the House of Representatives and senior members of the Uduaghan administration are know gun runners who helped to arm young men across the State. A primary focus of this illegal armament was students who belonged to a wide variety of cults in Universities across the region who were used as soldiers to help in forcefully securing a situation where no voting took place during the elections and where results are declared in Asaba. By the time of Uduaghan, with a significantly more organised opposition under the leadership of Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru, there was an even greater imperative to secure the elections through an armed approach. Uduaghan was extremely unpopular even within the PDP structures. In the end, Uduaghan was declared winner at Asaba as PDP armed touts ensured that nobody voted anywhere in the State (This election was later annulled in court).
A point to note is that all these were happening at a time when the State was heavily militarised, with military and State police check points alternating every junction, so such importation of automatic weapons into the State could not have been done without the political go-ahead and the complicity of our security agencies. The problem of today is that once elections are over, the politicians just get on with the business of looting the State to extinction, neither caring about the boys they have used to achieve their ambitions, the arms they have provided to them or the general population’s health and wellbeing. It is these same boys that have gone on to use these arms for armed robbery initially and then when the issue of militancy introduced the concept of kidnapping, they have all graduated to that more lucrative and less risky enterprise. So it is not mere mischief when I say that this is a problem made in Government House, Asaba. What is worse is that this is a problem being perpetuated by Government House Asaba, by the Uduaghan administration. Kidnapping has increased to a level hitherto unknown in the Country; there is virtually one a day most of which go unreported and a large number of which end in the death of the victims. The kidnappers seem to operate with impunity as though they have immunity and Uduaghan and his compromised House of Assembly have simply not done anything to arrest the problem. Indeed, some of these armed robbers and kidnappers do have a sort of immunity because when arrested, they are actually bailed out and protected by serving politicians who look to use them for their wicked ends at future elections; again Uduaghan is aware of this problem and despite his role as chief security officer, he has not proposed nor executed a single plan and no debate has been called at the House of Assembly to seek to address what is a blight on peoples lives in the State.
It is not an exaggeration to say that more people have died through armed robbery and kidnapping in Delta State than have died at the hands of Boko Haram, yet one is a national emergency and the other, a forgotten old problem that no one wants to tackle. No one wants to even talk about it unless a foreign Whiteman has been kidnapped, well, what about the ordinary citizens of the State who have to cope with this disease on an ongoing basis? If you ask them, they would quite rightly conclude that they have no government. On Delta State’s foremost Facebook discussion group, Liberate Delta People’s Movement, members have lamented the lackadaisical manner with which Uduaghan has handle is position with scant regard to the duties to which he swore an oath. Far from tackling the problems of insecurity in the State, they have observed how he has personally led attempts at pacification of the masses through actual violence and threats of violence. Because what is masked by the criminality of the armed robbery and kidnapping is that a lot of it are actually politically motivated assassinations coming from the Delta State PDP under the leadership of Uduaghan. This is why his ‘Power to Kill and Power to demolish any House’ speech has caused such controversy in the State and beyond despite his appeal that he was misquoted. Uduaghan’s employees have made it their Raison d’être to threaten, intimidate and cajole Deltans who are not in support of their politics. Uduaghan, the embattled governor, has faced considerable opposition since returning to Office in the marred elections of April 2011. His personal insecurity emerging from the election is what is fuelling the insecurity in the State, with him being unwilling to take positive action but taking numerous negative invasive actions in order to maintain his position in Office; it is worthy of note that in the infamous speech he only mentions native powers whereas he could have talked about the positive powers actually accorded to the governor by the constitution, including the power to take all necessary action to protect life and property in the State.
Given that Kidnapping is a blaze set alight at Government House Asaba, and is being fanned and kept alive by the actions and inactions of the Uduaghan administration, I would contend that it requires the intervention of Federal Authorities, if we are to bring the situation to an end. The Uduaghan administration and the compromised Delta State House of Assembly do not have the capacity, the competency or the willingness to address this issue. Left to them, the people of Delta State will have to accept to be plagued by this problem for a very long time. It would probably get worse before it will get better. My fear is that if left unchecked, it could lead to citizens taking matters into their own hands to protect their families; creating a situation of an internal civil war in Delta State.
Cadre Drake, is with Liberate – Delta People’s MovementNo tags for this post.