…He is proving to be worse than his predecessors – UK Based Lawyer
… It’s not easy to govern Deltans –Okowa
…Promises to execute more projects for a Stronger Delta
By Shedrack Onitsha, Ovasa Ogaga,
A United Kingdom (UK) based lawyer and advocate for good governance, Barr. Martin Egharhevwa has described Governor Ifeanyi Okowa-led administration in Delta State as highly unimaginative and clueless and has no agenda for the development of the state.
Egharhevwa, one of the few Nigerian-born, fire-brand lawyer in the UK, berated successive governments in Delta State failing the people which ‘supposedly elected’ them to govern them.
He lamented that since the creation of the state in 1991; the people have suffered under successive corruption-ridden, intrigue-filled, undisciplined and rapacious governments, and more still do not care about the feelings of Deltans.
Egharhevwa stated this in an interview with ADVOCATE while giving assessment of the 20 years of democratic rule in Delta State, noting that the people had waited to see a change for the better and Okowa’s “Prosperity for All Deltans” held out that promise and hope that a new Delta State was possible.
He stated that rather than seeing improvement in governance, the hopes and expectations of Deltans have turned out to be luxurious desire as Okowa has put on display, “the most embarrassing verdict on his poor leadership credentials, proving to be worse than even his predecessors.
The activist noted that Delta State has been on reverse gear mood since this democratic dispensation as each administration has performed worse than its predecessors leaving the State in comatose.
He added that Delta case is worst off when compare to its peers including its boundary Edo State because a few selected cabal has held on to the democratic means of gaining access to power, adding that over the years, Delta State politics has been directly controlled by highly placed cabals in the state without any form of political resistance from the people which have been bruised and battered.
According to him; “the resultant effect is that Delta state resources have been politically mismanaged by imposed and conscripted leaders who never sailed through the choice of Deltans but selected cabals of the state.
“Honestly, Delta State has not had it so bad. As in the past so it is with the present and even worse with the Okowa regime. It is a highly unimaginative and clueless government that has no agenda for the development of the State.
“Without a doubt, Delta State, especially its urban cities like Warri and environs, have lost their glory as business hubs where all kinds of commercial economic and business activities/services used to thrive. And this is as a result of the massive exodus of companies and businesses from Delta State to other States like Lagos, Abuja, Port-Harcourt, etc.”
He noted that, within the last two decades or so, prospective investors and technocrats are quite hesitant and scared of establishing any new or expanding existing businesses in Delta State. As such, Delta State, especially the oil city of Warri and its environs, have become ghost towns of business activities and also less attractive to domestic and foreign investors.
“We all have been witnesses, and we all know and have seen the socio-economic implications of Shell’s exit (which followed the mass exit of other oil companies as well), from Warri and the entire Delta State since 2012, which cannot be measured. In fact, it was reported in 2013 that Delta State was losing about one billion naira monthly from just taxes (which includes withholding and Income Taxes), as a result of Shell’s exit from the State, not to mention job/contract services opportunities.
“Shell’s exit from Delta State was like a bad omen, which has continued to send negatives signals about the State and its people, to other investors that are thinking of coming into the State to invest. The Delta State Government urgently needs to reverse this.
“There are a lot of ‘man-made factors’ that has been responsible for the pathetic situation in Delta State. Top most on the list is increased insecurity and all kinds of criminal activities like kidnapping, armed robbery, and other violent crimes. And when ‘security assurance’ cannot be guaranteed in any society, no wise business man or woman/prospective investor will want to remain in such an unsafe environment. As a result of this, the businesses and companies in Delta State prefer to relocate to cities like Lagos, where the crime rate there is drastically decreasing due to the concerted efforts of the Lagos State Government.
“Basic infrastructures in Delta State are the stuff nightmares are made of; regular power supply is a farce, our roads are dotted with potholes and craters, the road network is itself suspects and there is something about the state that simply does not attract investment.
“Security is poor and kidnappers, armed robbers and militants seem to be more in charge than security agents, and there seems to be a curse of dysfunction – no doubt laid by incompetence – on many areas; one good example would be the ports in Delta State, none of which are functional.
“In an era when other administrators establish conditions that attract investors and businesses, in Delta, we lost big corporations (e.g. Shell) to the unfriendly environment in the state. Few things are more confusing than watching a State like Edo, which gets considerably less allocation than Delta, develop rapidly while Delta slumbers on. From the moment you drive into Edo State, you feel the difference in the road quality and the work being done in its towns and capital city puts the gullies on Warri and Effurun roads to shame.”
He charge Governor Okowa to set up and do the needful to stem the ugly trend, noting that as the governor of the state the bulk stops at his table, and takes the glory when he does well or criticism where he fails.
“Governor Okowa should realize that he is the one in the Driver’s Seat and as such, the One-In-Charge of the State’s movement ahead in any direction; whatever good or bad prevailing situations around the State will be attributed to him.
“It is Governor Okowa (not me), that will be the one who takes the glory and praise if he is able to transform the economic fortunes of the State and the living standard of the people; same also, if he is not able to do this. But we believe he can transform Delta State if he really wants to.
“Those who transformed their societies do not have two heads. They are human beings and political leaders like the ones in Delta State presently. The likes of Peter Obi of Anambra State, Ahmed Tinubu and Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, though, have left office, but the good legacies they left behind in the States still speaks well of them.
“Ambode, who just left the driver’s seat in Lagos State, he did a great job and he is being applauded for it. It is the same, we have the likes of Al-Maktoum of Dubai, Mao Zedong (Chairman Mao) of China, etc., have transformed their societies with amiable legacies. Governor Okowa can do same in Delta State.
“So, let all the sycophancy and praising/commending the government for doing little or nothing – stop. Such praises will not help the State. Governor Okowa needs to deliver practically and not just showing off via media publicity stunts. Deltans need to see results and less talking and talking.
“No magic or economic expert that can develop Delta State in the absence of basic infrastructure and guaranteed security. The provisions of these essential two factors are not only part of what constitutes as development, but also the foundation upon which all other efforts towards development are made. Infrastructure and guaranteed security are a necessity for development to thrive.”
It is not easy to govern Deltans –Okowa
Meanwhile, Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa has said that it is not easy to governor Deltans because of the peculiarity of the people of the state, especially at this point in time when the country is faced with lot of issues.
The Governor who stated this recently during a press briefing with Journalist in Asaba, capital state, however promised to redouble his efforts in developing critical infrastructures in the state in order to build a stronger Delta.
While promising to pay more attention to riverine communities because a lot of our resources as a state as well as nation come from there, appealed for continues support like he enjoyed from Deltans in his first tenure.
While acknowdging the challenges in governing Delta, Okowa said: “As I tell people, it is not easy to govern Deltans and to govern the state at this point in time where a lot of issue in the country.”
“Once people are resolved that they were able to make a different, they can make possible change. There is no doubt, a lot of issue, issue of insecurity, issue of minimum wage, issue of whether the economy of this country is going forward is actually growing the same way our population is growing. These issues that must to be discuss. Because we have a hug challenges in our hands, the population is growing at very high rate and the economy is growing at very slow rate. And no government is talking about it. As long as the population is growing at a very high rate and our economy is going down, we are already preparing for crisis.
“Yes, we have done the best we could do in our first tenure, now we are in our second term, some people may be wondering why our first tenure was SMART agenda and my second term we are talking about stronger Deltan. The SMART agenda and stronger Delta is the same just that SMART is for four year.
“This time we will play especial attention on girl child because this is very important. When you empower women you succeed to empower a country but when you empower man obvious you are just empowering for empower sake.
“We also hope to sustain our health insurance scheme programme. We are looking forward to partner with federal government and to do much more in health sector to ensure that many other primary health care centre work in a functional way.
“We will have a well equipped, functional primary healthcare across the state. We have already set agenda to ensure we have a very high functional primary health care centre each one at the 270 per ward. Yes, I know we have more than 400 primary healthcare centre today but at least we need to get more to have a very functional state.
“We are also pursuing the issue of Oil and Gas Park, Agro-Industrial Park, unfortunately, we did not actualize it in our first term but we are going to work to ensure we get our industrial park come on stream within my second tenure.
“Also Ughelli/Asaba dual carriage way, storm drainage projects and numerous others would be completed as my desire is for those life-changing programmes to be completed while new ones that will also be initiated will be completed before the end of his tenure.
“While my administration did so much in the area of road construction, building of schools, skill acquisition and empowerment for Deltans in line with the prosperity agenda of my administration, in the next four years, more projects would be executed for a stronger Delta State to be achieved.” He added.