NEVER have we seen or witnessed a government that loves to use all manner of publicity stunts to make itself look good in the eyes of the world, like we have seen exhibited by the current Delta State Government led by Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan. In fact, such publicity by the Delta State government are often coated with ‘sweet talks/write ups’ that are pleasing only to the eyes and ears but all aimed at deceiving the public. It is even sadder to note that the democratic attributes of ‘transparency’ and ‘accountability’ embedded in ‘good governance’ have practically eluded Delta State in all ramifications within the past fourteen years or so. This has made Delta State Government to be branded by well-meaning Nigerians and social critics as a “self-perpetuating government” of the ruling party, which ultimately makes whatever the government does, a well-decorated ‘white lie’ specifically designed for ‘deception’ – for the benefit of some few but to the detriment of many.
Like every of its past and present agendas, the above explanation is how best we can describe the current Delta Beyond Oil (DBO) initiative of the Delta State Government led by Dr. Uduaghan. The said DBO Initiative according to the Delta State Government, portends “diversification from only one source of revenue and exploring other potent sources of revenue capable of creating more wealth than the single source and by so doing, exploring other sectors like agriculture, tourism, transportation etc, all geared toward increasing internally generated revenue.” And during the 2nd South-South Economic Summit in 2012, many well-meaning Nigerians like us were perplexed by the contents of the welcome address of the Delta State Governor who was the host of the said event. Our perplexed state of mind is hinged on the fact that the contents of the said welcome address, with its ‘usual’ colourfully flamboyant words of expression, did not represent, justify or commensurate the “realities” on ground in Delta State, as regards having a diversified economy.
Before we go any further, let us make it categorically clear here that we are not using this to witch-hunt or castigate anyone. We do not belong to any political party neither are we affiliated or linked to any political interests. Our aim here like always, is to praise that which is worthy to be emulated by our political leaders and to equally condemn (where necessary), that which is bad and unworthy, without fear or favour. Our deepest desire here is to bring to limelight some of the pressing issues in our polity, specifically in Delta State, with the hope that those concerned will change their ill-advised ways as custodians of state resources for the general good of all and sundry and not for some selected few.
Let us also state here; not that we have anything against the Delta State Government, far from it and completely out of the question. As a matter of fact, the said DBO Initiative and some (not all) of the other programs and agendas of the Delta State Government are worthy steps we believe, if honestly carried out can turn things around. But the problem with this administration and even that which came before it, has always been their “insincerity” in holistically and honestly “implementing” most of their agendas, especially in the management of the huge Federal allocation and State revenues that accrues to the State. This is where the problem lies. And as such, most of the programmes, projects and agendas initiated by the Delta State Government and its Agencies and arms are more like avenues through which State public funds are misappropriated and mismanaged. In fact, some of the projects embarked upon by the Delta State Government, which we would explain further here later, are more like ‘after thoughts’ that demonstrates how ‘visionless’ the administration is. Even the  structure, composition and adopted style of administration of the Delta State Government Development Intervention agencies like DESOPADEC, is nothing to write home about as it is ‘designed’ to fail and achieve practically nothing concrete right from its inception.
The truth is that we are even confused as to where to start x-raying and analyzing some of the anomalies evident in the entity called Delta State and its present administration. The issues are so much that it makes one sick to the stomach and tired of it all. But we have to try our best, no matter how lengthy this write up may seem, to paint a clear picture of what is being considered here and we plead and hope that relevant stakeholders will have the patience to read everything and get the message.
Without mincing words, the situation in Delta State is so sad and pathetic that one can only hope for some “divine intervention or the miraculous”, for any major positive and wholesome change to take place. Delta State is a practical example of the unfortunate status most African countries finds themselves in presently; where the political leaders over the years have practiced “voodoo democracy” by using every trick they can muster to remain in government circles and refuse the peoples’ voice, votes and interests to count or matter in their development. And when the people are denied the right to choose their preferred political leaders, what we have evident over the years are political leaders without vision and sacrificial commitment.
It is even more saddening to note that majority of Deltans as “followers,” are adding fuel to the fire. It is rather unfortunate that the culture of impunity and mediocrity has become the acceptable norm in Delta State, and the majority of the populace in Delta State as “followers”, are not helping matters. Though a national phenomenon, it is in Delta State that ‘thieves’ in political circles are celebrated and exalted without any iota of shame, rather than condemned and told the truth. People tend to ‘worship’, adore, and respect those that are in government circles who, obviously, from their lavish lifestyle and affluence in wealth, indicates that they have been stealing public funds under their care. To make matters worse, our political leaders in Delta State usually bask in such euphoria of ‘pubic praises,’ especially when they ‘manage’ to execute one project/programme or the other; making it look as if they are doing Deltans a favour. But this is not how things should be.
Every time one looks around Delta State, compare what one sees with what the State earns and accrues as revenue on a monthly basis, one is left seriously disturbed as to how long must we remain in such pathetic condition. But of course, those that are ‘gaining’ and ‘benefitting’ from the system (no matter how distorted it is), will argue here and tell you otherwise that “all is well”. In fact, since the inception of Democratic rule from 1999, it seems like Delta State has practically been run under ground by past and present political leaders; for nothing seems to be working. It is like a vehicle with a knocked engine on the highway and is being pushed to start. Every sector of the state is bedeviled with one problem or the other, all of which are indications of “cumulated years of bad governance.” Infrastructural projects are usually poorly and haphazardly carried out; institutions and agencies of government and their activities are heavily-influenced-politically; government contracts figures are usually bloated to satisfy various interests, not to talk of the preferential way such government contracts are awarded and even ‘re-awarded’ severally to misappropriate more public funds, and the list continues. The really sad part about all of this is the fact that when one considers the enormous amount of revenues that comes to Delta State Government coffers; one would continue to wonder the level of greed exhibited by the past and present administrations.
To give us a glimpse of what we are saying here, Delta State, which is one of the ‘major’ states of the oil and gas producing Niger Delta region, is amongst the highest earners of Federal allocation in the country. Let us consider some facts and figures from 2012. Following the promise of President Goodluck Jonathan at the inception of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P), on commitment to transparency and accountable implementation of the programme, the Federal Ministry of Finance, through the Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, started making available the breakdown of subsidy savings allocated to the Federal, States and Local Government. For instance, for August 2012, Delta State got N1, 249, 164, 421.92. This amount included the 13% derivation while in the subsidy savings at N97 per litre, Delta State got, N188, 148, 007.01. For the distribution of revenue allocation to state governments by the Federation Account Allocation Committee for the month of July, 2012 which was shared in August, 2012, Delta State made up of 25 local government areas got a Total Gross Amount of N20, 550, 712, 001.30 and a Total Net Amount of  N17, 962, 569, 852. 75. Ughelli North, Warri South and Burutu Local Government Areas had the highest revenue allocations to local government Councils for the month with N213, 668, 720. 95, N203, 854, 422.70 and N185, 375, 240.96 respectively, while the lowest were allocations to Patani, Bomadi and Aniocha South Local Government Councils that got N130, 719, 212.28, N185,375,240.96 and N141, 446,624.83 respectively. From the Federation Allocation, Delta State gets N24billion monthly aside the N4billion Internally Generated Revenue, of which presently has risen to about N50.4 billion according to the Chairman of Delta State Internal Board of Revenue, Hon. Onowakpo.
Further facts showed that a total of N8.8 trillion was actually accrued to the three tiers of government from the Federation Account between January and December 2012 from the statutory and VAT allocations. According to a report, this amount is exclusive of other allocations such as Derivation (for oil-producing states), Excess Crude Account, Domestic Crude Account, Subsidy Reinvestment Programme (SURE-P), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation refund and foreign exchange differentials. And from statistics provided then by the Federal Government, South-South states received the highest allocations, with Akwa-Ibom receiving N217,776,188,886.07, followed by Rivers State which received N177,488,261,117.17. Bayelsa State got N115,743,144,031.67; and of course, Delta State got a total of N156,052,071,645.19, while Edo State got N68,169,040,433.24. Cross River State N63,894,575,941.74.  Then for the month of March 2013, the gross revenue from the Value Added Tax (VAT) witnessed an increase of N1, 492 billion. The sum of N64, 199 billion was available as against N62, 707 billion distributed in the preceding month. A breakdown of the distribution showed that for the month of March 2013 alone, the Federal government got N232, 529 billion (52.68%) as against N209, 856 billion received for the month of February.  The State governments shared a total of N117, 942 billion (26.72%) as against N106, 442 billion received for the previous month. The Local governments shared N90, 928 billion (20.60%) against N82, 062 billion received for February. The oil producing states, which includes our dear Delta State, shared the sum of N55, 008 billion as 13% derivation revenue for the month of March 2013 as against NN47, 484 billion collected for February 2013.
Of more recent is the summary of distribution of SURE-P and other Federal allocations for the month of May shared in June 2014, as published by the Office of The Accountant-General of The Federation, Federal Ministry of Finance, which showed that Delta State got N1, 027, 490, 326.44 (for SURE-P including 13% derivation), and is amongst the South-South States like Akwa Ibom, Rivers, and Bayelsa with the highest figures received for just that month alone. And the total gross amount for the same month for Delta State stood at N14, 867, 591, 158.05, and so on do the figures go. Let us bear in mind that these staggering figures of federal Allocations come into Delta State Government coffers on a ‘monthly basis’.
We decided to take our time to present summary of some these figures to give us an idea of the sort of public funds available to various to Nigerian political leaders, in this case Delta State, to transform their respective States. And let us not forget that all these monies are different and separate from the State’s internally generated revenue that nobody has any idea of what is really the monthly amount that comes into government coffers. The question begging for answer is: Why are states like Edo with N8billion monthly allocation (from August 2012 allocation), are moving on the “fast lane of development” but Delta is grappling with infrastructural development with poor road network across the state which shows that the amount received monthly is not commensurate with what is on ground?
Even when questions are asked and calls made for more accountability (like we have always been doing all these years), satisfactory answers are never given/provided, neither does the government change from its misguided ways. Rather they are quick at defending themselves and justifying their ill-advised and deceptive actions, which we are very certain they will do as soon as this write up is made public.
Whereas, when we look around Delta State, it is as if everything seems to be in a standstill. It is as if the government has gone to sleep, as there is practically nothing concrete that is happening in terms of needed developmental efforts. Our road networks are all virtually in a terrible state of abandonment with unspeakable pot-holes and gullies. For instance, major roads in Warri, Effurun, Ugboroke and environs, are in a state of disrepair. The rainy season has even made them worst, as there is no proper drainage systems and waste management processes to ease the situation. Take for instance the all-busy and commercially viable Airport Express Road, which was recently resurfaced from the New Internal Board of Revenue building down to St. Mary Junction, the said resurfaced areas of Airport Road was so poorly done that the rains have practically washed off the resurfaced layer. Some areas like Ugboroke junction are even worst off as the resurfaced layers of Airport Road emit dust when dry, leaving motorists and road users to suffer greatly. Many have even argued that the Airport Express Road would have been left the way it was (which was still manageable) before the so called resurfacing job.
Other road networks in Warri and environs that are seriously begging for attention include the incomplete Udu road rehabilitation, the abandoned Oruwhoroun Road, the several damaged portions of PTI Effurun Road, the incomplete Okumagba Avenue Road, the forgotten Giwamu, Ugborikoko and Apalla Roads, the developing pot-holes in several areas of Ugboroke layout road, etc. This is just the few examples in Warri and environs. The situation is the same in other cities of Delta State, including the State Capital Asaba. Then there is the ongoing  Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Lane on the famous Warri-Sapele Road that presently runs from Japka Junction to Enerhen Junction. The said BRT Lane Project, which can best be described as an “after-thought” and “un-planned” project of the Delta State Government, has been replete with a lot of problems that have made it a nightmare for road users and motorists. Because of the size of the Warri-Sapele Road, the said ongoing BRT Lane Project is making life hell for motorists that are now forced to squeeze themselves and use the little space remaining on the side. The issue of ‘Side-Walk’ by pedestrians is completely out of the question, as people are seen treading on any available space close to buildings to get their destination.
One cannot help but wonder how a State Government and its Contractor can initiate a BRT Lane Project on an existing narrow expressway without first “expanding the road” (with good drainage system) to adequately accommodate the BRT Lane and other road users by the side? Who starts such a huge project that would deface existing structures without first sitting down to appropriately plan and strategize each stages of the project and how best to go about it? It was after the project was initiated that it became clear that adequate plan was never made to address a lot of things. Even though the Delta State Government was reported to have promised to expand the said Warri-Sapele Road before work would continue, that has remained to be seen up till now.  Also, with the current width/size of the said BRT Lane, it will be hazardous and even dangerous for the Delta State Government to use the usual big Marcpolo buses for its BRT Transportation because it will not be safe for such Bus sizes to pass on opposite sides on its lane. Not unless the Government intends to use a smaller type of Buses for its BRT Transport scheme.
Let us also remember that the Delta State Government had embarked and completed the construction of several Bus Stop Terminals/Shades in major cities of the State, which were never used by Deltans or public transporters till date. Not that these Bus Stops Points are not good, but the fact is that they were never needed in the first place by Deltans, going by the dynamics of the transport sector in Delta State. But our Delta State Government and its cabinet are very good at copying what they see in other States like Lagos, without first considering if such projects will work in the State or accepted by the people; thereby making such projects a complete waste of public funds.
We are however not surprised by these unfortunate developments in the infrastructural developments of Delta State because of the issue of “vested selfish political interests” in government circles, which has made the appointment, award of contracts and job execution to be heavily-influenced politically. Take DESOPADEC for instance, despite the fact that it is supposed to be an interventionist Development Commission of the Delta State Government that is meant to use 50% of the 13% Derivation funds of Delta State to develop oil-producing areas of the State, the Commission cannot boast of any meaningful concrete and sustainable project/programme it has executed since inception, especially in recent times. This is because DESOPADEC is heavily-dominated by politicians and political interests at its Management level. It is therefore impossible for DESOPADEC to actualize what it was established to do in the first place. It is as if DESOPADEC has gone to sleep and has become a conduit pipe through which State public funds are misappropriated by some selected few.
We have advised the Delta State Governor on several occasions that If the Delta State Government truly desires to develop the state beyond the wildest imagination, it should borrow a leaf from its Rivers State counterpart by restructuring DESOPADEC like that of the Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency (RSSDA). Although it is fashioned in the concept of DESOPADEC, the RSSDA works in a partnership arrangement with Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC). Going by this arrangement, Shell (SPDC) personnel who are largely indigenes of the state are seconded to manage and execute all capital-intensive infrastructural projects/programmes of the state. The beauty of it all is that these Shell staffs are all in the pay-roll of their parent company and not the government. It is equally worthy of mention that all the personnel so drafted are technocrats and experts in their respective fields, and not politicians. Although the first Director-General (DG) of the Agency was a Shell Staff by name Bolaji Ogunseyi, however a native of Rivers State, Mr. Noble Pepple, also a Shell staff, was appointed to take over in January 2010. One Roosevelt Eki, another staff of Shell and an Ijaw from Bayelsa State (who was the Project Manager for the Osubi Airstrip Project), was appointed to assist the DG.
Mr. Noble Pepple, who is on secondment from Shell (SPDC), came to the job as DG/CEO of RSSDA with his strong expertise and pedigree in sustainable development, change management, personal and organizational leadership. He is responsible for the major transformation that RSSDA has undergone since 2010, which has seen the Agency achieve key delivery milestones and placed it on sound footing for even greater success. Under his leadership, RSSDA won in the Gold category the prestigious 2012 International Star Quality in Leadership Award given by the Business Initiative Directions, an international organization which champions the global promotion of better business reputation and excellence. Other key experts that make up RSSDA include Boma Jack, a lawyer and an expert in sustainable development in Shell.
All the departments are being managed by Shell Staff. All recruitments for the Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency are carried through Shell, without an iota of influence from the government. The Rivers State Governor, Amaechi allows the RSSDA to run on its own without any government intervention or influence. To spell it out clearly, Shell personnel are given a free hand to manage all activities of the Agency. The Rivers State Government does not interfere with the administration/management of the Agency. If you look at the RSSDA Board, none was appointed or recommended by the Rivers State governor. This is the opposite of what we find in Delta State with DESOPADEC that is heavily influenced by the Delta State Government.
When the RSSDA got wind of the Divestment of oil and gas assets in Delta State, they immediately started floating a private company called Treasure Energy Resources Ltd. And if you look at the Management Board of the company, which include Rev. Precious Omuko, Prof. Nimi Briggs as members, and Dr. Eddie Wikina (a former GM of Local Content in Shell), as Managing Director/CEO, and Chamberlain O. Oyibo (a former Group Managing Director – GMD of the NNPC) as Chairman, one would see that these are professional technocrats and experts in their various fields of sustainable development. None of them is a politician nor were they appointed or under the influence and dictates of the State Government. Rev. Precious Omuko, a former Director in Shell, is the Vice Chairman of Treasure Energy Resources Ltd and also Chairman of RSSDA. The interesting part is that at the moment, Treasure Energy Resources Ltd vision is to buy a stake in Shell’s divestment in the Eastern Operations of Rivers and Bayelsa States, so as to develop these oil and gas assets locally. This is different from what we observed in Delta State with Shell Divestment in the Western Operations. In fact, it was alleged that the Delta State Government had used fronts to try to acquire Shell oil and gas assets for their selfish interests and not the interest of the people. In order words, they were more interested in buying oil blocks for themselves, just the way they were said to have been buying several investments in Asaba, Abuja and Lagos. Some might say these are rumours, but we all know that there is no smoke without fire, and for every rumour, there is an atom of truth in it. The fact remains that the Udughan administration is a failure when compared to its neighbors of Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State and Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State.
However, it is all not bad in Delta State. To be fair, the present Delta State Government led by Dr. Emmanuel Udughan, has tried in the renovation/refurbishing of some State primary and secondary schools in the Urban areas of the State. The remodeling and reconstruction of strategic roundabouts like Enerhen Junction and Jakpa Junction. And also, the provision of Urban Mass transit buses for transportation within the State. However, even these ‘good’ attributes of Governor Uduaghan administration, are executed on ‘selective’ grounds. Take the renovation/refurbishment of State Primary and Secondary Schools in Urban areas of the State for instance, one would notice the lopsided upgrade of educational structures and see the discriminatory interest in favour of his native Itsekiri against the neglect of other tribes like the Urhobos in Warri and environs. Go to Dom-Domingos College, see Nana College and others around Itsekiri strongholds, he has transformed them into mini universities, but go to Urhobo College, Hussey College, Unity College of Commerce – UCC (by Igbudu Market), Esi College and even Government College Ughelli, you will see the neglect. These schools are amongst the oldest in Delta State and very high notable people from the South East and South West were products of these schools that neglected today. The schools that have Itsekiri names are given attention by the Uduaghan administration while those with Urhobo names are left in squalor.
More so, for a government that barely has five months to exit from office, one begins to wonder what will the faith of some of the ongoing projects in the State, especially in Warri and environs. These include the BRT Lane, the Fly-over in Effurun Round-about, the Streetlights that are no longer sustainable, The Osubi Airstrip that needs to be upgraded to international standard but appears to have been abandoned, the countless numbers of bad road networks, etc. Take the Osubi Airstrip near Warri for instance; the Osubi Airstrip is currently being underutilized because of its size. You cannot get a flight from Abuja to Warri at the weekends except you pass through Benin. There is nothing wrong with the Airport in Asaba, especially since it is located in the State’s Capital. But one would have espected that by now, the Delta State governor ought to have asked the federal Government to take over the Osubi Airstrip and upgrade and expand it to an international Airport since it is strategically located in urban Delta. As we all know, the Osubi Airstrip is a standard Airstrip privately owned by Shell. However, it ought to have been taken over by the government and upgraded/expanded to make it more commercially viable. But because of the location of the Osubi Airstrip, the Delta State Governor is playing politics with it and not doing anything.
There is also the  Warri Industrial Park often talked about with so much publicity, but this is merely more on paper than in reality. In fact, most of this administration’s projects/programmes are mere propagandas and publicity stunts aimed at scoring cheap political points for “future political ambitions” of the State Governor and his supporters.
The crux of the matter is that Deltans, especially those in political circles, should stop all the praise-singing and sycophancy for things to change for the good of all. We should stop deceiving ourselves by telling our political leaders the truth and nothing but the truth. The few people that praise the Delta State know in their deep hearts that this administration in not performing as expected. But they will prefer to praise the governor because of what they are gaining or expected to gain from the system. We simply cannot continue like this. Praises and sycophancy did not make Europe and America what they are today. Praising Governor Uduaghan for doing nothing will not take us anywhere as a people.
If we most move ahead as the people of Delta State, then this culture of widespread celebration of mediocrity, no matter how long it has been with us, has to be uprooted and done away with; both from the political leaders and the followers. No matter how hard or daunting this task may seem, we believe there is no problem that has no solution. But we must acknowledge the fact that we have a problem as a people in this regard, and then we can take the necessary steps in addressing it. Not acknowledging that we have a serious problem in Delta State with our present crop of political leaders, will be the greatest self-delusion of all.
Zik Gbemre, JP

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