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DELTA STATE – WASTED OPPORTUNITIES By Paul Ebinum

August 3, 2012

Delta State was created out of the old Bendel State. It was the dreams of the founding fathers of the state that Delta State will in no distant time be a state where economic development, infrastructure, employment, security, peace and equality will be guaranteed. To them, Delta State would be Nigeria’s Asian tiger.

Were their hopes misplaced? Were they being too idealistic? They saw the potentials in the state and had hoped that these would be properly harnessed and managed that will give meanings to their hopes. Delta State is rich in mineral resources – oil. It is rich in human resources. It has a large agricultural land that can produce food not only for Deltans but neighbouring states. It has a sea port that could be a catalyst to economic development in the state. The state generally surrounded by water, will be an ideal place for aqua farming. The optimism of the founding fathers and Deltans were not misplaced. There was hope for state. The state had a bright future. The state was and is viable.

What do we have today after about twenty years of the state’s creation? Corruption, insecurity, unemployment, lack of infrastructure, lack of social services such as health and water. The educational sector in the state is collapsing. Abandoned projects litter the state. Few are feeding fat on the wealth of the people. While it could be said that the Felix Ibru government tried to lay a solid foundation for the state, same cannot be said of governments that came after his. The decline started when an ex convict was elected as governor in 1999. He came with the intention of plundering the state. Plunder he did. He neglected infrastructural development and began to empower his cronies. Roads where constructed were substandard and without drainages. Today, most of those roads have become death traps.

Corruption was raised to a high level. Agencies such as DESOPADEC became conduit pipe to loot funds. Creation of employment was nil. There was no developmental agenda. This was the situation that one had expected the present government in Delta State to tackle head long. What did the citizens get? Elections were won by Uduaghan without winning the heart of the people. There was a disconnect between the leaders and the people. There was and still a mistrust between the leaders and the people. Rather than seizing the opportunity of winning various elections in the state, the Uduaghan government further alienated the people by its non performance.

Development of infrastructure has been neglected. Where the government remembers to do, the job is abandoned half way. Today, abandoned projects litter the state. From the Ughelli – Asaba Road dualisation project to the Otu Jeremi abandoned stadium, carcass of abandoned work has become the common site. It is the same scenario all over the state. The state also has the unenviable record of awarding the most expensive contracts in the country. The Asaba International Airport is one simple example. Having gulped over nineteen billion naira (N19billion), and yet to be completed after several years, the airport remains the most expensive in the country if not the world. Recently, another seven billion naira (N7billion) contract has been awarded to level some hills or anthills in the airport. Meanwhile, Asaba is in a flat terrain. Akwa Ibom Airport was constructed with less than five billion naira (N5billion) and done in less than three years.

The Oghara Independent Power project has already consumed over fourteen billion naira (N14billion) and work has not gone up to ten percent. The governor said that the state has ordered for the turbines from Canada. The turbines must be delivered before construction starts. This is after several years of the contract being awarded. What logic! The educational sector is almost collapsing. The standard is still as poor as ever. The tertiary institutions are just tertiary in name. There is no encouragement for real academic work and research work. He has been busy establishing more polytechnics all over the state. These are nothing more than glorified secondary schools. Bursary awarded to students are not paid or haphazardly paid. Most students have not been paid their bursary for the last session. In fact, some students said they have been applying every year, yet they are never paid.

The health sector is in shambles. The hospitals are poorly equipped. Medical personnel are few and drugs are scarce. The primary health centres are never functional. The sick have to seek for alternative means of treatment since the government owned hospitals cannot cater for them.

This is a government by television. Completed projects in Delta State are completed on television. The reality is different. This was why the former NUPENG leader, Chief Ovie Kokori, accused the governor of non-performance. In his response, the governor challenged Chief Kokori to a television debate. Deltans do not need debate to know if their governor is performing or not. What they want to see is good roads, good schools, water, electricity, security, employment, favourable business environment and many other dividends of democracy. The so called integrated business park in Warri is another white elephant project embarked upon by this government. Yet, billions are budgeted for this project annually. In a workshop organized by Delta Development Initiative (DDI), a non-governmental organization, in Warri recently, on Delta State Budget from 2007 – 2011, it was discovered that the amount budgeted to the Governor’s Office and Government House was more than what was budgeted for four key ministries. If four key ministries are underfunded, what then will the affected ministries use in bringing development to the people? What will the Governor’s Office and Government House be doing with a bloated budget?

Uduaghan’s government is a government of vendetta. He was quoted as saying that he has no obligation to those that never voted for him. He was alleged to have told the Udu people that he has no obligation to do anything for them since they did not vote for him. Today Udu community is worse for it. The same applies to the Ukuani people. They are a neglected people. From Amai to Kwale, from Abbi to Ogume, from Abbi to Kwale are all neglected areas in terms of road network. Kwale, one of the oldest local government headquarters in the country is still as backward as it was in the sixties. This also applies to Abraka, the home town of his greatest opponent. In spite of the fact that the town hosts the state university, it is still an underdeveloped place. There are no good roads within the town. Flooding is an annual occurrence. Power supply is near zero. There is no public water supply.

The present government in Delta State has no concrete plans for tackling the unemployment crises in the state. Every year, thousands of youths are churned out from our tertiary institutions. Provisions have not been made for their employment. The result is that most of them resort to crime. Delta State is probably the most insecure state in the country. Robberies are daily occurrences. The highways are not safe. Kidnapping is no longer news in the state. The state is under siege. Yet government is not making any concerted effort in addressing the underlying issue that is leading to high crime rate in the state. There are even unconfirmed rumours of applicants paying huge sums in order to secure employment in the few government openings that are available.

The Uduaghan government has taken the state backward in terms of development. It is only a very committed, patriotic and progressive Deltan that can restore this state to the path of glory.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. damawe permalink
    August 3, 2012 19:45

    What a nonsense government we have at present. Only God will liberate this state

  2. Dike permalink
    August 6, 2012 18:14

    on point

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