BY NORBERT CHIAZOR
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa gained power as the 4th civilian leader of Delta state with a broad-based political docket, codified as S.M.A.R.T Agenda.
A Five-point work plan, S.M.A.R.T simply connotes Strategic Wealth creation projects and provision of jobs for all Deltans, Meaningful peace building platforms aimed at political and social harmony, Agricultural reforms and accelerated industrialization, Relevant Health and Education policies and Transformed environment through urban renewal.
The environmental impact of Okowa’s coming since 29th of May 2015 is a tale worth amplifying.
Urbanization and rural integration of Delta had particularly found expression in road infrastructure. The Asaba example is vivid.
Asaba was Nigeria’s first colonial capital under the British Royal Niger Company from 1886.
About 100 years after colonialism,it acquired a new destiny as capital of Delta on 27th August 1991 when the Babangida military government created Delta and Edo ending unforgettable Bendel state.
But the epic tale of Asaba embedded in her historical pedigree scarcely match the physical outlook.A civil service city that had over the years laid slow, sleepy and sedentary.Efforts of successive civilian governments in Asaba,were bogged down by enormity of underdevelopment, heightened by totalitarian climate of endemic military rule.
When Okowa first stood to take oath of office as governor,Asaba was clearly on his mind.In his inaugural speech at the cenotaph, he made a proclamation creating Asaba Capital Development Agency poised in “driving the initial process of governance”.
Waxing proactive, he authored an executive bill to add statutory power to the agency.
Building circles of roads and mega drainages,Okowa dressed Asaba to command popular prestige.
With Cable Point Dual Carriageway and several township roads, residents of
Asaba now have routes to beat the perennial gridlock of the key access way,the Nnebisi road.
If road network had beautified Asaba,flood control made it more attractive.
A multi-billion naira storm drainage project had saved most residents of the capital city from dangerous flooding.The flood menace in areas like federal medical centre axis, Direct Labour DLA ,Okpanam Road, Maryam Babangida way, DBS road and Ralph Uwechie road among others have been mitigated to the fair relief of all.
Today Asaba lay neat and orderly in social sanity.
Warri….Imperial and neocolonial conflicts had thrown the city on the throes of degeneration but the Warri ethnic crisis of 1997 – 2004 would serve as the final death knell.
A needless war masterminded by military actors who instigated age – old Itsekiri, Ijaw and Urhobo neigbours against themselves and thereafter left Warri in tatters.
But it took the sacrifice of civilian government of Chief James Ibori,( 1999- 2007) to put off the smoldering gun fires, that ravaged the oil city which broke out sadly as the Oghara born governor came to power.
The successive Emmanuel Uduaghan administration would make efforts to maintain calm in Warri metropolis after a disquiet that erupted later following violent rebellion by Niger Delta militants, unimpressed by the neglect of the oil rich but impoverished region by the central government.
But the wounds inflicted on Warri by the erstwhile military misadventure exacerbated by youth insurgency,had gone so bad manifesting in total shut down of the famed city as multi national oil companies, subsidiaries and local businesses relocated or collapsed. This left Warri in desolate gloom .Till date, a cauldron of decay.
The arrival of Governor Okowa and his measured steps towards Warri had raised hope of a renaissance.
Okowa’s willingness to give Warri respite is best exemplified by the establishment of Warri-Uvwie Area and Environs Development Agency (WUEDA) . Empowered to bring sustainable social infrastructure to the twin cities of Warri and Effurun, the body has since risen to effect a positive change.
Over N3billion contracts have been awarded for storm drainages in Warri Uvwie metropolis.With flood control measures in place, the government is poised to undertake expansion and rehabilitation of the long Warri -Effurun Sapele road ,stretching to Enerhen Junction.
Agbor which was almost submerged in erosion before the rise of Okowa is now a charming city bedecked with an expansive dual carriage way.When ever the sun goes down,a burst of street lights cascades on the city, illuminating a radiant vision of sunshine like seasonal summer.
The long drawn Ughelli – Asaba dualisation project has witnessed great improvement.The Kwale -Ogume- Obiaruku and Ozoro -Oleh roads developed by the Okowa administration have brought respite to the people
Just like the construction of Ekete main road, off DSC Expressway, rehabilitation of Ekreravwe/Orhoakpor/Isiokolo Road,Abraka Township Roads Phase 1, as well the 8. 5km Ughelli-Afiesere-Ofuoma road in the heart of Delta central.
For Riverine Delta,there are the Main Axial Road and Okerenkoko Township roads Asphalt Overlay of the 19.7km Obutobo 1 –Obutobo11 – Sokebolou – Yokori road .
10.8km Okpare-Umolo-Ovwodokpor-Kiagbodo road among numerous others.
A 25.8 kilometers Trans Warri-Ode-Itsekiri bridges and access road project under construction would be ready by the end of 2021.
From Asaba to Isaba,Akugbeni to Agbor, Okpanam to Okpe, Warri to Irri, Issele Uku to Shekelewu ,Idumuje -Unor to Idjerhe ,Ogume to Ogulagha, Oleh to Odimodi, Koko to Kokodiagbene…..Okowa has made salutary impact in urbanization and rural integration, with reference to construction of thousands of kilometers of roads.
Even with the milestones,they are many bad roads that need attention across Delta,given the vastness of the state. The will to do more is there.
Under Okowa, passion for road infrastructure is unassailable. Capital projects especially roads stand as best dividends of democracy under Okowa’s watch.
The best is yet to come with the disclosure by the Delta state commissioner for Information Mr. Charles Aniagwu that the Okowa administration is set to present a draft of 2021 budget estimate of N378 billion to the State House of Assembly for approval.
With the energy and drive of the road man in government house,Delta sails in safe hands.
CHIAZOR is special Assistant to Governor Okowa on Media.