Senator Ifeanyi Okowa
President Muhammadu Buhari,
Office of the President of the
Federal Republic of Nigeria,
Aso Rock Villa,
MY VERDICT ON DELTA STATE PDP GOVERNMENT RIGHT FROM 1999 TO DATE
I have made up my mind a long time ago NOT to deceive myself with ‘sentimental statements’ to please popular public opinion or any particular school of thought. Agreed that I am an Urhobo man from Ughelli South LGA, Delta State, but that does not mean I should turn a blind eye or pretend that the atrocities and negative impact of the PDP Government in Delta State is not there, or that it does not matter.
To anyone who cares, just take a drive around Warri, Effurun, Ekpan, Ugborikoko/Bendel State, Ugboroke layout, Okumagba layout, Enerhen, etc., as well as other areas of the entire Delta State today, and see the bad state of the roads. Just observe the economic and business atmosphere in Warri and its environs and see that the once ‘commercial bubbling oil city’ is now a shadow of itself as a result of the enormous exit of oil multinationals and oil servicing companies, all of which happened under the PDP Government.
To those who only know how to apportion blames on people they are not supposed to blame, the question is: What has all of the deplorable and pathetic situation in Delta State, got to do with the APC and President Muhammadu Buhari? Should we say because we are Urhobos (or any other ethnicity as Deltans), and our people are the ones steering the wheels of government; we should then not say the truth and not say things as they are? That would be us being hypocrits and pretenders. Though I believe many people are, while some are not. The chunk of the internally generated revenues, plus the 13 percent derivation money accrued to Delta State since 1999 under the PDP Government in the State till date, are in the pockets and personal bank accounts/real estates of Delta State politicians and their cronies, families, friends and fronts. Are we all going to pretend that we are not experiencing the poverty, hardship in the State and the decaying infrastructure in Warri and environs? Shouldn’t we hold those in Delta State Government all these years responsible and accountable for this?
Despite the strategic location and the importance of the Osubi Airstrip near Warri, it has remained an Airstrip, as such, Warri today, as the commercial nerve center of Delta State, has no standard Airport. The Osubi Airstrip was completed before May 29, 1999 when former President Olusegun Obasanjo was sworn in as President. But he was accorded the respect by Shell (SPDC) to officially open it later that year in 1999. Today, the Osubi Airstrip facilities are decaying, since the exit of Shell (SPDC) from Warri, Delta State. And the Delta State PDP Government has been absolutely indifferent and carefree about this. The laudable dream of Joshua Udofia of Shell (SPDC), in making Warri the Head Office of Shell (SPDC), was never realized because of the bad leadership of the Delta State PDP Government right from 1999. Warri and its environs have become a “youth-restive city” instead of being “oil city” with great economic opportunities that it used to be. Our youths are seen daily roaming about the streets without jobs, and they have resorted to using ‘Deve’ and all kinds of crimes to survive. Any sane and well-meaning Deltans should be agitated and pained by all of this?
President Muhammadu Buhari
I believe we should focus on our State to make it a better place with the resources available, to reduce the level of poverty and unemployment in the State. Employment/Engaging the youths productively is not merely building more Offices and creating more Departments/Agencies and then give people chairs and tables to sit down doing nothing. If the Delta State Government is serious about creating employment and improving the State’s economy, they should fix up all decaying infrastructure and make the business environment very attractive for investors and industry players to come drive-up the fortunes of the State. Warri and environs are empty today as all the companies have ‘relocated’ to Lagos State, Ogun State, etc. Are the APC and President Buhari responsible for this relocation of companies from Warri and environs?
While I am not speaking for the APC, but the truth still remains that all the anomalies we see in Delta State are 100 percent caused by the PDP Government that have been there since 1999. I am not associated to, or affiliated with any political party, be it the PDP or the APC. I am simply talking about what I know and see with my naked eyes in Delta State. The ‘Praise-singing’ of non-performing Politicians in Delta State will not do the State any iota of good. It will only end up making us remain a mediocre and underdeveloped State and a people living in the midst of plenty but yet poor.
Just recently, I saw about 15 young men smoking and drinking ogogoro and idling-away nearby an unoccupied uncompleted building in Ugboroke layout, Effurun near Warri. I stopped to advise them but their response was that they have no jobs, hence they are idle. That is how it is in most areas of Delta State. And this situation of seeing our young men idling-away, lazy and not wanting to work, learn a craft or legitimately make a living, was encouraged and grounded under the PDP Government who usually use the youths to foster their political ambitions as they shower them with stolen public funds. This has made many young men in the State only go after ‘quick money’ from the political class. That is how many of the young men in the State are made to see life. I still maintain that the PDP Government, right from 1999 till date, are the ones that have rendered Delta State far worse than they met it. Companies are still relocating from Warri and environs simply because of the hostile and unfriendly business environment, which was (and still is) artificially created by the PDP Government and their supporters right from 1999.
The UK, US and Dubai that we all admire today, were built by Politicians and not Spirits. These people are human beings like our Delta State Politicians yet they have made a massive positive impact in their lands. Let us think about it! All the Delta State Politicians in Government right from 1999 till date, are people without any “code of conduct and honour”. Their aim of coming into Government is never about ‘service’ but about increasing the size of their pockets and lifestyle. And then distribute all kinds of useless portfolios and appointments like Senior Special Personal Assistants (SSPA), SPAs, SSAs, PAs, and other fancy names that are too numerous to mention, all aimed at satisfying the stomachs of their ‘supporters’ in the name of “Jobs for the boys.” Whereas, the money the Delta State Government have used in setting up/creating and ‘maintaining’ such useless government agencies, departments and portfolios for some few persons so that they do not complain, is more than enough to fix our decaying infrastructure and make Delta State habitable and attractive for investors, companies and industry players. The most pathetic aspect about this is the fact that these so-called ‘attaches’ of Delta State Government like SSPAs, SSAs, PAs, etc., do not even have well-defined duties other than ‘follow-follow’ and move around with their title portfolios to get paid at the end of every month. Their highest duty and popular phrase is usually: “I have been directed by this and that to do this and that…” Most of them do not even get to see the Delta State Governor and their ‘Ogas’ at the top in months.
The amount of public funds yearly budgeted by the Delta State Government on Recurrent Expenditure to ‘maintain’ it’s over bloated cabinet and government, is enough to really turn things around in the State’s Capital Expenditure on infrastructural development. Though, we know it is a national problem, but the ‘High Cost of Governance’ in Delta State, is simply alarming. That is why whenever some government personnel is on his/her so called official duties, the fleet of cars that usually accompany the official are enough evidences that explain how the State’s treasury is daily milked to maintain such highly-profiled entourage; entourages that have even made our roads no longer safe or a public utility for everybody, particularly anytime they pass. And this applies to all Delta State Government functionaries.
What we also find more disturbing is the sort of exotic number of cars often used by these Delta State Government Officials, in their entourage, most of which are usually ‘empty’ with no occupants when they move. And wherever they go, even unofficial movements, the large entourage follow. Most times, nothing less than ten to fifteen vehicles usually go ahead of the said government official. We cannot help but ask of what basis is all of this? We understand the need for Security Protocols to be maintained and put in place for top public officials on their official duty. But in the situation where this ‘privilege’ is obviously grossly abused and now a means through which Delta State funds are wasted, then it calls for concern and needs to be addressed.
All I am asking and advocating for is for Delta State to be made an industrial and tourist destination for all. And the only thing they should focus on to make this happen, is to provide basic infrastructure and the peaceful environment, and not sharing and misappropriating public funds, particularly security votes that are never accounted for. Let me reiterate here that I am not anti-South South or anti-Delta State. I am only stating things as they are in reality. Rather, it is the PDP Politicians that are anti-Delta State. They are simply wicked to say the least. In the oil and gas producing host communities of Delta State, the locals are still busy fighting themselves over peanuts of oil company GMoU funds. Whereas, the Delta State Politicians that are supposed to be the custodians of the State’s wealth/resources, have been swimming in wealth stolen from the public purse.
The question to ask is, the mansions these Delta State Politicians own all over the major cities of the country and in the world; was it their salaries that were used to build and buy them? Of course not! They were gotten with stolen/misappropriated public funds – which are our collective wealth as Deltans and not their personal money. Another important question that we need to ponder on is – before these Delta State Politicians joined politics since 1999, what were they? And what was their level of wealth and status? Were they billionaires before going into politics? We are not saying or insinuating that they ought not to have improved on their standard of living or progress in life, but the point here is that all of them became billionaires overnight not by hard work or legitimate earnings. If we should critically look at all of them, we would realize that none of them had a history of a wealthy foundation before they joined politics in Delta State. Apart from few politicians in the State like late Olorogun Felix Ibru, or a technocrat like Senator Fred Brume, they rest of them in Delta State politics since 1999 till date, have suspicious wealth.
Zik Gbemre, JP.
Niger Delta Peace Coalition (NDPC)
No.28, Opi Street, Ugboroke Layout, Effurun-Warri,
P.O. Box 2254, Warri, Delta State, Nigeria