During a meeting with some party bigwigs in Warri recently, the Governor of Delta State Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa was reported to have told the party faithful that he would embark on town hall meetings which is expected to afford the people of the state ample opportunity not only to meet their Governor one on one but will enable the people to interact and even vent their reservations where necessary. As usual some persons have argued that it was an unnecessary venture especially in light of the harsh economic condition people are living in. As promised by the Governor, on the 9th day of May, 2017 the Governor hit the road.
The first ports of call were the two Isoko Local Government Areas. Though the Governor in his usual character had humbly stated that “This tour is very important to us because it will enable us appraise ourselves and talk to the people directly and also hear from them on the policies and programmes of the government”. It wasn’t to be because from the writer’s vantage position, it was discovered that this government has done so much and that due publicity had not been given by all those concerned. From the programme of the governor one would see that a day is set aside for inspection/commissioning of completed projects while another day was for town hall meetings. To the average mind, the question was what has he done since? What is he going to inspect not to talk of commissioning? But the “Ekwueme” took many by surprise.
On the 9th day of May, 2017 the governor kick started what could be termed as harvest of achievements. First on the list was the commissioning of old Ozoro/Oleh road at Ozoro in Isoko North Local Government Area. Thereafter, the train moved to the reconstructed Amawah/Idheze road in Isoko South Local Government Area. Not done yet, the governor and his entourage by way of proving that there will be no room for abandoned projects inspected Ozaha Modern Primary School and went to also inspect the level of work done at Emore grammar School, all in Isoko South Local Government Area.
In a chat with the press immediately after the exercise, the governor made it clear that what was being witnessed was as a result of careful planning despite the paucity of funds ravaging the state. He used the opportunity to commend the benefitting communities especially the youths for partnering with the government in ensuring that the execution of the projects went unhindered.
He appealed for more support and cooperation. To buttress the point that he was not embarking on the commission for self aggrandizement, the governor humbly rejected a chieftaincy title when the obviously elated Odio-Ologbo HRM Anthony Ovramwah hinted that the community was ready to confer a chieftaincy title on him. Senator Okowa didn’t mince words when he made it clear that he would want chieftaincy titles after his tenure when people will be giving it as a token of appreciation when they must have appraised themselves with his achievements.
The next day, the governor was ready to face the people in a town hall meeting. The obvious reason being that ‘he who is standing well has nothing to fear’. While some state executives are hiding from their people Okowa is ready to face his people.
At Ozoro and Oleh the governor in his opening remarks had informed the people that his administration was ready to deliver to the people infrastructure that will stand the test of time. He made it clear that despite the economic down turn in the nation, Delta State was worst hit due to the vandalism of oil installations which had greatly hampered the inflow of the needed resources for even development of the state. He had told the people that awarding contracts was not the problem but awarding contracts that can be funded to completion. Obviously the governor has no stomach for abandoned projects hence contracts will be awarded subject to availability of resources. He informed the people that since 2016 the oil that has been lifted from Delta State has been very minimal due to the destruction of the Forcados export trunk line. As if that was not enough, the economic recession that the nation has been dealing with has weakened the state financial muscle.
Answering questions about the payment of salaries, the governor stated that the state did not owe her workers but for that of the local government workers, the state due to reasons giving above and the low price of crude oil was finding it difficult to assist the local government in the payment of salaries. The governor did not leave them in a hopeless situation, the signs of economic recovery are showing therefore once the state is in a better position, the local governments will be assisted to offset the salary arrears owed to their workers. On the vexed issue of the marauding herdsmen, Senator Okowa once again called on the federal government to urgently fashion out policies that will check the menace of the rampaging herdsmen. That notwithstanding the state is also working with the security agencies to check the menace. Speaking on the need to ensure constant supply of electricity as requested by the Isoko nation, the governor assured that his administration would work with relevant stake holders to boost electricity supply to the Isokos.
The following week it was the turn of Sapele and Ethiope West Local Government Areas. As usual, the governor started with commissioning of the upgraded facilities at Sapele Technical College and commissioning of Ogaga road project. He thereafter inspected the reconstruction project of Ikoyo Avenue as well as the inspection of tomato cluster farm at Amukpe. The entourage thereafter commissioned the expanded Oghara junction to Otefe road and equally flagged off the construction of Ogwefe/Ugbenu road. Meeting the people the next day the governor in the two local government areas reiterated the desire of the government to make the state very viable through the execution of people oriented projects and appealed for calm assuring that no part of the state will be left out in the scheme of things.
During the interactive session held at Oghara and Sapele, the governor once again informed the people about what has been achieved, the challenges being faced and appeal for understanding and support to enable the government surmount the daunting challenges including the fact that the Independent power project would gulp up to about 20 billion naira before it could come on stream. He stated that options are being weighed as to how to manage the project. He observed that the people of Sapele were peaceful in the demonstration against epileptic power supply and assured that government is working assiduously to alleviate the challenge. He also told the people that his government had executed projects that have positive impact on the people. These include roads, schools, and markets among others.