BY VOICE OF PATRIOTS
The Ughelli-Asaba highway dualisation project covers a distance of 162 kilometres and it is divided into three segments A, B & C. The project was flagged off in 2008 during the tenure of former PDP Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Ewetan Uduaghan.
The first contract was awarded in November 2008 for Section C (46km) at a cost of N16.8 billion. In December, the contract for Section B (58km) was awarded at a cost of N15.3 billion, while contract for Section A (58 km) was awarded much later in February 2013 at a cost of N19.2 billion; bringing the total original at that time to N51.3 billion.
This highway is the only major road artery that cuts through the land areas of the oil producing belt of Delta State. It is critical to the economic life of Delta State but more particularly to the Ndokwa, Isoko, Urhobo, Ijaw and Itsekiri people because it provides a direct link to the state capital, Asaba. As at 2014, it was said that the road would require only N7 billion for completion which was considered for the 2015 budget (see details on www.premiumtimesng.com/regional/173480-delta-proposes-n7bn-completion-ughelli-asaba-road.html).
It’s therefore important to note that during the 2014 political campaign season, the then Senator Ifeanyi Okowa promised that he would complete this project with diligence, speed and alacrity.. and Deltans hailed him, “Ekwueme!!!.” But here we are in year 2022, fourteen years since the inception of this project, and with eight years of Okowa’s regime nearly spent, but the status of this road today remains “work-in-progress” or perhaps “abandoned?”
We are aware that both Uduaghan and Okowa PDP administrations had complained of inadequate funds for this project, so we must ask, How and Why? Was it a case of inadequate funds for the fourteen years.or was it that the huge amount of money paid out was without the commensurate work done?
On average, and for many years, Delta State continues to receive the highest revenue in federal allocations (FAAC). Let’s take a moment to examine the income that these two governors received for the last 15 years.
Who would believe that Gov. Uduaghan received over N1.7 Trillion in revenue in eight years, made up of N1.47 Trillion from FAAC and N265 billion internally generated revenue (IGR)? This huge amount does not include the hundreds of billions that he is reported to have borrowed “clandestinely” from banks in form of loans.
Similarly, since May 2015, the state under Gov. Okowa has received a lot more money from FAAC, over N2 Trillion as revenue. This amount is made up of federal allocations of over N1.6 Trillion and more than N425 Billion from IGR (See financial data from Nigeria Bureau of Statistics: https://nigerianstat.gov.ng/elibrary).
And like Uduaghan, he too has acquired massive loans of more than N225 Billion from banks and finance houses; with N150 billion approved not long ago within a few days of presentation by his rubber-stamp State House of Assembly. It is more like magic, as there was no public hearing for such a humongous loan.
Diversion of funds
Whatever the challenges, it was quite possible for both of these Governors to deploy accrued DESOPADEC (Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission) funds to complete this project. Alas, not so! Governor Okowa for instance set his eyes and priorities elsewhere. Upon assuming office, he hurriedly went about and amended the DESOPADEC LAW (this was the first law to be amended when he got into office) so that he could slip his fingers into that juicy pie in any manner he deemed fit.
Wastefulness of PDP
Trillions of Naira that came into the Delta State coffers over the past 23 years have been frittered away and squandered mercilessly with no accountability by serial PDP administrations. We have not forgotten the nasty stench of the $35 million Econet deal in 2002 that has since gone up in flames, the murky but abandoned $125 million contract awarded in 2009 for Independent Power Plant (IPP) Oghara. We recall that Governor Okowa did appoint Mr David Edevwie in 2016 as Chairman of a committee to investigate this IPP project. They delivered their report in 2017 and then nothing else was heard of it. That is the PDP for you. In addition, we are yet to establish whether the 8.5MW Asaba Integrated Power Plant project (AIPPP) that was initiated under Governor Okowa in 2016, to be operated by Bastanchury Power Solutions Limited, will generate value for money, especially as the government entered into an irrevocable payment agreement to the company for an equivalent sum of N164million monthly for 10 years. We are also quite aware of the Warri Industrial Park (WIP) project that has been abandoned since 2015.
There are innumerable examples of how the mountains of Naira that Delta State received were broken down and “shared” amongst PDP leaders and their allies while long-awaited projects such as Ayakromo bridge in Burutu LGA awarded since 2013 is left comatose, and only recently terminated after 9 years to mislead the people that some action might take place. The Trans-Warri-Ode Itsekiri roads and bridge projects in Warri South West LGA which took off since 2006 have not received significant attention also. The drainage problems in both Warri and our capital city, Asaba, have not been spared as the people continue to writhe in agony from inadequate drainage. The list is endless, but these are samples of projects that are important to the people but abandoned, even after a series of campaign promises to them during the build-up to 2015 and the 2019 general election.
The only reasonable explanation why serial PDP administrations in Delta have not competed a crucial road like the Ughelli-Asaba highway is a disregard for the people of the oil- producing belt that actually generates the huge revenues of the state. Is this a typical case of “monkey dey work, baboon dey chop?” Uncountable people have lost their lives on this road due to the ineptitude of these governors and the economy of the area continues to lag; but worse is the lack of empathy for the people that continue to groan and rue their bitter lot under PDP since 1999.
Deltans have eventually lost confidence in the ability of PDP to deliver on their promises, and with benefit of hindsight, electing Dr. Okowa as Governor of the State in 2015 was a mistake so costly it should never again be repeated.
Okowa’s next journey
Gov. Okowa has been struggling to persuade Deltans over his decision to back his minion, Oborevwori Sheriff, to succeed him in 2023. Unfortunately, the WAEC certificate saga that hangs over his neck has caused many to see him as another unqualified and inept candidate; and the many years of negligence by PDP has resulted in a natural rejection by discerning men and women in the state, as well as all forward-looking youth.
Gov. Okowa’s quest for the position of Nigeria’s Vice President is laughable. The people cannot put their trust in him as VP because he has not earned it. A few sycophants may hold their noses to call him “roadmaster”, but for his overall poor performance as governor, he will be better referred to as *”road-mangler”*.
He played what seemed like the traitor’s hand at the PDP presidential primaries, thus “betraying the whole of Southern Nigeria”, according to Governor Wike. The WAEC certificate saga has also ripped apart the fabric of Delta PDP and he is left with little or no political capital. Okowa is now like a man drowning in the miasmic puddle of his own making.
With all that has been revealed, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa knows in the depths of his heart that his departure strategy is to protect himself and his cronies only. E has no plans to elevate the lives of the suffering and hard-working people of Delta State. It is this deceit, a deficiency in his attitude, and the dishonest spirit that resides in him that has finally brought him down to his knees.
Okowa on a road to nowhere!
PDP as a party, and Senator Okowa being the third PDP Governor since 1999, have failed the people of Delta State for too long. Okowa’s career as a politician will soon be abandoned in the same way he abandoned many important roads and bridges in Delta State, including all those people that fed him with food when all he asked for was only “pure water”. As his tenure expires and political oblivion stares him in the face, he seems to be clutching desperately at the frayed edges of nothing. It is a very miserable place to be, but in the final analysis, he is just a failure that is waiting to manifest.
Prayer for a new Delta State
Enough is enough! As Okowa begins to think about his departure with the contaminated PDP in tow, the people of Delta State must begin to pray for a true and honest leader in 2023. Delta State does not deserve a deceitful, unreliable and inconsiderate leader any more.
We pray for the manifestation of a brand new governor; one that will lead the people with truth, transparency, competence, credibility, capacity, commitment and accountability. A leader that will free Delta State from the suffering and locust years of the PDP. May God in His infinite mercy enthrone a new government of righteousness, a government that will finally bring peace, harmony and prosperity to all the people and residents of Delta State.
Delta State needs *Deacon Kennedy Kawhariebie Pela, LABOUR PARTY Candidate for Governor 2023*, a committed, humble and God-fearing leader to revive and restore the former glory of our dear state.
Long live Delta State.
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Mr Anthony Akpokene,
VOICE OF PATRIOTS.