Amaechi Udemba is one of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s media aides in Delta state. He speaks with Editor of Emeraldng.com in his office on the achievements of his boss within the past two and a half years.
Tell us about the projects the governor has so far executed in the state
This administration has commissioned quite a number of roads since it came on board. The roads are in every local government area of the state. Most of the projects are road constructions and rehabilitation.
Beside roads, what are other tangible projects you can boastfully say that the governor has executed within the past two years?
Let me start from the skills and job creation programme. Maybe, you can call that software because it’s not something you can touch. We’ve done so much in terms of creating jobs in the informal sector. No country survives where all you do is to employ people into the civil service. We want to bring back that middlemanship that has fast disappeared from our economy. These are people in the bracket, they are neither poor nor are they super rich. That’s what we see in the informal sector.
This government has created over 2300 of them. This was done in the area of agriculture, acquaculture, fashion, welding and others. Through that we’ve taken our youths off the streets. A lot of our youths have embraced the skills programme of this government. They are now busy, they are no more constituting nuisance to the society, they are now employers of labour. There are quite a number of youths working under them.
But if we move away from job creation, we now go to the hardware achievements, that is talking of roads. Not quite long the exco awarded additional five roads to be constructed. Some are in Warri North local government, others are in Ughelli south local government, Ughelli north local government, Aniocha north and Oshimili south.
We have also built quite a number of hospitals and re-equipped others. Don’t forget the governor is a medical doctor by training. He places huge emphasis on the health sector. The contributory health scheme is part of the effort to bring health programme closer to our people and make it affordable so that even without money in your pocket, you can approach any of the hospitals in the state and you will be attended to if you have any health challenge.
If you also go into the issue of education, we have rehabilitated a number of public schools in virtually every part of the state through SUBEB. We’ve provided equipment and facilities like reading desks, chairs and teaching materials. We have even installed solar powered boreholes to provide water in all the schools. Take time off to visit the schools, you will see that there exists pipe borne water powered by solar energy where our children can wash their hands for improved sanitary condition. This administration has done that. And we are still doing more.
In the area of sports, of course you are aware that Asaba stadium will soon be up and running, the government is making the stadium ready because we are preparing to host the African Athletics Championship. That is in the area of sports. Apart from what we have been doing through the micro credit, the shoe factory in Issele Uku is now a centre of training. The other day, the governor visited there to witness the passing out of those who have been trained in shoemaking, more people are going to be trained, the place is now open for business. This is so that we can beat the Aba shoe market. We have state of the art machines in that place that can quicken the process in making sure that we match the international market.
This administration has done quite a lot and it’s always proper that we continue to pray for this government. We are in government at a very difficult time. But we are not shying away from the challenges. God has given the governor wisdom to pilot the affairs of the state through prudent management of resources. We should cooperate with this government, we should not think that it is possible to fix government in one day.
Actually, the government has constructed many roads but the problem is that many of them are not solid. They cannot stand the test of time. Some of them are getting broken. The depth of some is not thick
Yes, there could be some element of truth in that. Of course that has informed the issue of the ministry of works to now make it compulsory that any road constructed by any contractor that fails within one year, the contractor will be responsible for its repair. This is part of agreement the ministry has entered with the contractors that if you construct a road and after commissioning within one year, the road fails you will come and fix it yourself. This is to ensure they give us durable roads.
These are issues that dould be due to human errors. But we are mindful of it. We are not saying what people are saying may not be correct. We have deviced internal mechanism, part of which I have just told you now. The contracting firm will fix it with their own money, not at extra cost to the state government.
Okpanam road is a major road running through through the length of the city to the express. People are afraid that Ibori couldn’t do it, Uduaghan couldn’t do it. And now, Okowa’s first term is running out, next year campaign will start. There is the belief that government is playing with that road
No, government is not playing with the road. People should give credit to this government for being a government that talks and keeps their words. The governor has assured Deltans that he is going to complete work on the Okpanam road. And by the special grace of God he will finish it. Take my words.
Now look at the issue of flood, it has been a problem in Asaba. Most people believe that if government should control the water through to River Niger, it will be good, this will help control flood and keep the town clean
The issue of flooding in Asaba has been a recurring decimal. But the governor is mindful of this. And already, contract has been awarded to a reputable firm that will deal with the issue of drainage and flooding of Okpanam road, Jesus Saves road to DLA road. But you can’t do these things when the rains are here. Obviously, now that the rains are gone, you would have seen surveyors taking some measurements on the road.
This flood issue has been on during the past administrations but we want to put a stop to it. It’s going to cost a lot of money but the governor wants to ensure that this matter is over and next year, even if there will be campaign, government is still going to be running. He will still be committed to his programmes. There is no fear of leaving government for campaigns, not so with Governor Okowa.
We will be working in the midst of the campaigns. The governor wants to start with the drainage first before constructing more roads. Don’t forget if you do anything on the roads, the water will wash it away. So, the governor wants to ensure that the flooding matter is handled first to appreciable level before we work on the road.
Now from all you have said, can you boastfully say the governor has fulfilled his campaign promises to the people of Delta state?
Yes, the governor has fulfilled his campaign promises to Deltans. The campaign promises are anchored on the SMART agenda. If you look the Strategic wealth creation and provision of jobs for Deltans, I told you that over 23000 jobs have been created. And it’s still counting through the job creation office, through the micro credit office, through providing enabling environment for private sector to thrive like the shoprite, you know Deltans are the ones working there.
If you look at Meaningful peace building platforms aimed at political and social stability, of course you know we have a body led by Professor Sam Oyovbaire that goes round ensuring that our people live in peace. To ensure that peace exists because without peace we cannot do anything in the state. The governot put that committee up immediately he came into office. He wants to be sure that he has a platform where people can express their anger, they can go and pour out their heart. They have been working very hard. That’s why today Delta is a very peaceful state. Our people are living in harmony. The state is more peaceful than before. That is due to the fact that the governor is working with everybody in providing peaceful platform for the state.
The issue of Agricultural reform, of course that has been achieved in the state. We are one of the leading states in agriculture. We have a very vibrant synergy between the government and the farmers. The CBN anchor borrowers loan is doing very well in Delta state. More of our people are still going to benefit from it. The ministry of agriculture is working with all international agencies so that our farmers get the best incentives that come in. Of course, the youths now take to agriculture through the job creation office. We train the youths and also give them starter packs to start their business.
Our youths are involved in acquaculture, poultry, piggery and so many agricultural business that has helped them to grow. Of course, you know the governor’s huge intervention with the camp 74. It has helped to bring succour and relief to the acquaculture industry.
Relevant health and education policies, of course I told you earlier that through the SUBEB, we have intervened in primary schools renovation, building new ones, equipping them with educational materials, equipping them with infrastrutures to ensure there is a conducive environment for learning. The schools in Delta are probably the only schools in Nigeria that have solar power pipe borne water. And that is because the governor feels that our children should also enjoy some of the good facilities in the state.
Today, we are making our public schools look decent. That is why today if you go to most of the public schools, what you see is new buildings, new sitting environment, conducive learning environment, improved learning materials and others. In the area of health, you know that the ministry of health is looking at the general hospital at the back of cenotaph. I’m sure very soon Deltans will be told that the place is ready, we are going to equip it. That place has been there for some time and when the governor cam in, he said no, he is going to ensure that place is ready for use.
If you look at Transforming environment through urban renewal, you see road constructions, you see the link roads in Asaba they have virtually been tarred, except some few areas that have not been worked on. Those ones have been accommodated in the next year’s budget. That is what we do in order towns like Ughelli, Warri and others. All the link roads are being tarred to make the state beautiful and conducive and make it attractive to investors. Investors cannot come to the state if these things are not there.
So, I think by and large the governor has fulfilled his promises to Deltans vis a viz the available resources to the state. Don’t forget that I said earlier the government is in power at a very difficult time. But he has been able to do this much through prudent management of resources and he has a very good team working with him.
Now, how do you silence the oppositions that are campaigining against the governor?
Well, we are not afraid of opposition, if there is no opposition there is no democracy. The only thing is that they should stop spreading falsehood. You want to criticise the government which is normal, criticise constructively, don’t criticise the government just for people to say you are talking. The problem with the opposition in Delta is that it is all about propaganda.
Yes, I agree that they got to power through propaganda at the federal level and they feel they want to sustain themselves in power through propaganda still. I think Deltans and Nigerians are becoming wiser now. Tell the people the truth. Recently, I went round the state, the road constructed and commissioned by this government, some persons under the guise of opposition will go and move our signpost and install it in a road that has not been tarred and snap it and put on facebook, that’s wickedness and not opposition. That is what I have discovered that is going on of late but that’s not the way to go.
We want to see opposition that is truthful, tell the people the alternative. When we do well, commend us, when we don’t do well tell us where we have failed, truthfully, honestly without deceving the people, without telling lies. We are saying criticise us truthfully, we are not worried about opposition. We will continue to do our work, we will continue to award more projects, this government is the only government that will not leave any project abandoned at the end of eight years. This is because before a fresh one is awarded the previous one is completed. That is why we are not awarding projects in large volumes. We want to be sure those we award we have money to pay. There is no need awarding projects and we don’t have money to pay. We award five projects we have money to pay for them.