Delta State governor, Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Udaughan is one governor who has indeed lived up to the expectations of Deltans since he emerged seven years ago. He has remained focused in ensuring that the people enjoy the dividends of democracy
Gov. Udaughan’s style of leadership is second to none, in spite of the seeming political shenanigan displayed by his opponents and despicable attempts to derail his vision; he is less perturbed and distracted. So enviable is his achievement that some of his opponents admitted that he is indeed on course.
To say Gov. Udaughan has recorded an unprecedented feat in the construction of roads is like stating the obvious. He has completed so many road projects while others are under contraction.
For instance, Asaba, the capital city of Delta State is wearing a new look as contracts for extensive urban renewal of the Asaba capital city was awarded in 2012 for over N13billion. According to National WAVES investigation, the project was embarked upon to ease traffic flow in the city and over 40 roads have been completed.
Roads that have been completed in Asaba are Nnebisi Road/ Dennis Osadebe way, which were resurfaced and dualised, Ezenel Avenue. Some feeder roads also benefitted from the Udaughan administration road network. They are Ogagifo Street, Junior Staff Quarters Road, Victor Anene Road, Festus Okubor Road, Bolatsi Dudu Road, Federal College of Education (Technical) Road DBS Road, old Anwai Road, Victor Anene Road, Okpanam Road and many others.
So passionate is Governor Udaughan on mototable roads and infrastructure that he ensured that work continued on the Asaba International Airport despite the fact that small and big aircrafts can take off and land safely at the airport, finishing touches are still ongoing. The airport is designed as human and cargo airport.
Gov. Udaughan in an interview recently said that beyond social benefit of the roads, economic variables were put into consideration. For instance the 7.6km Umeh Road in Isoko South Local Government area which is being constructed at a cost N3.625billion and the 148.9km Ughelli /Asaba Road dualistion which was awarded at N44.7billion is embarked on to complement the Asaba international Airport, the Osubi Airport, Warri Airport which is currently upgraded and the Warri Port and other Ports in State. The huge construction works going on in Delta State will also ensure that activities in Lagos Port are diverted to Warri and other ports in state.
All these infrastructures being put in place which will definitely attract investors are benchmark toward Delta Beyond oil initiatives which is conceptualized by Gov. Udaughan.
The amiable governor has also solved the security problems facing the state to a large extent. What with the near eradication of kidnapping in the state. This he achieved by gathering intelligence report on the activities of the kidnappers and ensuring that the new king of the domain is not given staff of office and demolishing the building were the kidnappers keep their victims, while the governor will be remembered by the elite in Delta for having the rare privilege of flying directly to Lagos or Abuja as the case may be. The rural women will remember the governor for having to deliver in a hospital with the state of the art facility free of charge.
Other achievements of the governor are the free maternal healthcare, free under – five children health care services to reduce mortality rate by 50 per cent, the highly subsidized public transport schemes, the micro – credit programme, that has over 85, 000 beneficiaries, the farmers support programme, the multiple viewing centres where youths now have opportunity to collectively watch and cross – fertilize ideas on sporting activates around the world, which has also brought many laurels to the state, including winning the national sport festival in a landslide, the re-opening of 42 schools in the riverine areas shut down in the wake of the ethnic crises in warri, Streetlights and beautification of project in Asaba, Warri and other major cities and towns of the state.
Another area in which the governor has not compromised in developing the state is the area of industrialization; Gov. Udaughan has repeatedly talked about industrialization of the state as a key tool to job creation and empowerment, to this end, some investors from Saudi Arabia and India had visited the state and according to the hardworking and unassuming governor of Delta State when asked what their mission was he explained thus
“The Saudis came here mainly for the Petrochemical plant which is located at Koko. The Indians were here also for the Fertilizer plant located at Koko.
“Let me first of all start by saying that these projects were initiated by the federal government under President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, through the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), through the Ministry of Petroleum Resources in conjunction with foreign firms. We are lucky that these projects are located in Delta Sate. These projects started several years ago when the NNPC started the Nigerian Gas Master Plan. Then, I was just coming in as the governor during my first tenure and I took a lot of interest in what they were doing, knowing that Delta is a state with a lot of gas resources apart from the oil.
I took an interest in what they were doing in developing the Nigerian Gas Master Plan. I got in contact with the officials in NNPC and I was invited by NNPC to be part of the team that went round the world on a road show for the Nigerian Gas master Plan. And at those meetings in UK, Singapore and other parts of the world, I had to talk on the security issues in the Niger Delta because then security was a major problem, I did this because I was hoping that the Federal Government would use Delta State whatever project they wanted to develop under the Nigerian Master Gas Plan.
I got in touch with a lot of people and fortunately the master plan was unveiled and today we are happy that Delta State is a major beneficiary of the master plan. The gas master plan has three project facilities; one in Akwa Ibom, the second is in Rivers State and the third is in Delta State. The feasibility study contract for the one in Delta State has been awarded.
But beyond that, we found out the because of this master plan, companies have already started taking interest in setting up petrochemical plants in Nigeria, and Delta State was chosen as one of the favoured locations of the petrochemical plant by the Saudis. Also, when the Indians came, they chose Delta State as a favoured site for the fertilizer plant. And fortunately, at the same time too, one of the things that still help us to the Koko location is that the federal government pursued very rigorously under the Yar Adua’s administration the issue of giving us two export free zones in the state. One in Koko and one in Warri, he graciously approved for us- the Koko free zone.
And that helped us in locating this plant there because we know that many investors, from the word go, are interested in the tax they pay. So because it is an export free zone, Koko was a favourable site for the plant. We are still pursuing the Warri Export Free Zone. As I said, investors were the ones who really decided the best site for them to locate their plants. They had taken the one in Koko because we have done a lot of work in ensuring that Koko become an export free zone, coupled with the fact that we also have peace in Delta State, and that we have followed closely the issue of Gas Master Plan.”
Throwing more light on what the Nigerian Gas Master plan is all about the governor explained that “The Nigerian Gas Master Plan is an arrangement that ensure that the natural gas that come from the ground is fully utilized. Every industry in the oil and gas industry is prospecting for oil. There is no company that is prospecting for oil ended up in having a bye product and that is gas. So that is what they call flared gas. Now what happens is that most of it is seen as a waste product.
We have a plant that dries some of this plant gas and use them for power plants, for fertilizer plants, chemical plant and even your cooking gas and all that. So the gas that is been dried as gas is being sold and that gas is tied to the West African Gas Project Pipeline which some of it is in Sapele Power Plant. We also have the AG Gas Plant in Escravos by Chevron.
The bulk of the gas that comes with oil is flared. What the Federal Government wants to do with the master gas plant is to ensure that all the gas that is flared is collected to a port that all the gas that is being collected is pulled towards that central processing plant which will dry the gas. These processes take the waste part away and leave the dry gas for the domestic use. And what is domestic use; people who run fertilizer plants, people who want to put it into gas cylinder and sell to people in their homes and there is power plant. The gas plant is very vital and one of the benefits is the petrochemical plant.
Now the petrochemical and fertilizer plants are huge projects that amount to over 10 billion dollars. In fact, the two of them will take about 16 billion dollars and it will be one of the heaviest investments in this country in recent years. And having a 16 billion dollars investment in a state is a good development because of the opportunities it will create. The opportunities will be two parts. The construction alone will employ a lot of our people. There is also the indirect benefit for those who sell drinks to the people that are constructing. For example, the women who sell soft drinks or rice at the construction site for the construction workers will benefit from it.
The public transport owners who will transport the workers from Warri to Koko will also benefit from it. So the benefits are quite huge. And of course when the plants are finished, they will employ many thousands of persons and many of them will be people from Delta State. So we have a lot of benefits from it and there are several industries that well spring up from these plants. Industries that will utilize the bye production of these plants, and industries that will make parts for these parts will also benefit. So with the cooperation of every Deltan and everyone around the futures is very bright.’
National WAVES gathered that one of Uduagban’s pet plans is optimum economic transformation of the state which he has repeatedly stressed that is dear to his heart. No wonder in his words, President Goodluck Jonathan, described Uduagban’s play politics with development.
Knowing fully well the importance of what investors can attract to a state, the governor revealed his plans when asked which other investors are coming to the state and what is the government plan on revamping the ailing industries?
According to Governor Uduagban “The thing is that there are so many people coming in for investment in the state. At the same time too, many of them trusted that their investment is safe here. I will tell you one area in which we have problem, in which I believe that God will help us. When I started so many people came and said just give us land. I gave over 15 investors land.
We have some Chinese who are interested in putting fertilizer plant in Kwale area. We are getting in touch with them and in fact we have signed some MoU with them. We also have some Chinese who are also interested in taking over the Bendel Steel Structure at Enerhen. We also have investors who are interested in agriculture, in the mode of Obasanjo Agric Farm which aimed at making it one of the biggest poultry farm in Nigeria established in Delta
It is going to be an integrated poultry farm. Right now, we are already producing eggs and it quite a big farm. We also have investors that interested in other agriculture stuff like banana and cassava. Of course, we have the Oleri Tourism Park, the Delta Sate leisure park. It is already been under construction and it is going to be one of the biggest in the world. We have investors who are coming and who want to take over some of our industries like the Bendel Plant Factory. We are signing an agreement with the Chinese and some independent people. So we have a lot of investors.
On our airports we have people who are interested in the cargo concession, the airport itself and even the furnishing of the airport; we have people who are interested around Asaba now and around the airport, we have so many people who are interested in the building warehouse for the traders to have where to put their goods.”
Political analysts have opined that Uduagban achieved so much because he is never afraid of opposition. With the level of negative criticisms from propagandists, some other persons would have been discouraged. Dr. Uduaghan is aware that they are not interested in development; all they want is to criticize.
On Saturday, June 19, 2010, the first President Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria ever produced from Niger Delta region and the south-south geopolitical zone of the country, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan paid a one day working visit to the state to commission the multi-billion Delta State University Teaching Hospital (DSUTH) and the Navy Logistic Headquarters of Ethiope West Local Government Area of Delta State.
Despite all criticisms, the number one citizen without mincing words commended Governor Uduagban for ensuring the completion of the multi-billion naira projects which was started by former governor of the state. Chief James Ibori adding that it’s not ease for a state to single –handedly fund such a capital intensive project such as the Naval Logistics Command headquarter before writing the Federal Government for refund. “It is not easy for a state to built this kind of edifice and hand it over to the federal government in most cause, Sate ask for refund but the state (referring to Delta) has not ask for refund and this structure was built on a virgin land and donate to the federal government for the use of the logistics Command of the Nigerian Navy. We sincerely thank and appreciate you” (referring to Delta State Governor).
Governor Uduagban who took time to abreast the President with some of the achievements his government has so far recorded state that “Three years ago on assuming office we placed before our people three-point agenda of peace and security, Human Capital and Infrastructure Development as the road map for broad economic development of the state.
Our vision was defined by our goal of building a Delta State without oil, a state that will explore other opportunities outside of oil, a state that will develop clean energy as means for creating jobs and eliminating poverty. We have begun this work, which at the beginning looked like a tall order. In pursuing our goals, we were determined to give every Deltan a sense of belonging, in particular the oil producing communities.
To drive the vision, we created the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development commission ( DESOPADEC) which receives fifty per cent derivation fund. The mandate of the commission is to interact with the people. Gauge their felling, assess their needs and address them. Today developments are reaching the riverine communities long neglected. There is still much work to be done, but we have made a good start. Our infrastructure vision across the state is no less ambitious, with the overall aim ensuring economic development.
Delta state is so well situated it can be a major logistics hub for the region, thus our emphasis on building major transportation infrastructure to take advantage of the opportunities available. Our investment in power supply, urbanization, industrial clusters, ICT development, transportation and road constructions, have the simple objectives of creating employment and reducing poverty. Most of these projective were begun three years ago and its impact as you shall see has been terrific. Aside from Asaba International airport runway, we have three industrial clusters in the pipeline.
We have the Warri Industrial Business Park, the Koko Export Free Zone and the Asaba ICT Park. Substantial resources will be devoted to these projects, both from government and the private sector partnering with us. As these projects take shape, your Excellency will be briefed and hopefully will find the time to visit us and be part of its progress and success story.
The Asaba airport should be ready by end of the year and we trust Mr. President will accept our request to commission this airport, which should be one of the best in the county. Mr. President Sir, I take pride in stating that in terms of highway, uban and rural roads development, drainage schemes, and waterways, structures, our record is impressive. A few samplers will demonstrate this: a few samplers will demonstrate this: we have completed over 483.67km of trunk roads, more than 93.55km of urban and township roads and awarded additional contracts for the construction of another 51.52km of urban and rural roads. In the same vein, 669.02km of drainage works are under construction in various parts of the state, out of which 424.79km have been completed.”
A few weeks after his inauguration on May 29, 2007 Governor Emmanuel Uduagban of Delta State organized a one day stakeholder’s summit and two days retreat at Grand Hotel. Asaba and Songbai-Delta, Amukpe, Sapele for all top government functionaries, there he rolled out his three point agenda, peace and security, human capital and infrastructural development which would act as guide in his development move.The Warri crisis, political rumblings and youth militancy in the state between 1999 and 2007 brought distraction and suppressed transformation.The instability led to non functional industries, bad road, low indigenous participation in the oil industry, poorly funded educational institutions, limited Knowledge of investment opportunities and uncompleted projects by the James Ibori led administration.
To break the ice, especially in the area of human capital development Governor Uduagban decided to use a two – pronged approach.
The Delta State Oil Producing area Development Commission DESOPAC and the state government DESOPADEC which was constituted 16 July, 2007 is saddled with the responsibility of managing 50 per cent of the derivation funder revenue to the state.
Barely a year after, DESOPADEC which received a grant of N30 billion appropriations for 2007 from the state government recently, have over 200, 000 persons treated of various ailments since the commencement of the exercise in 2007. Though the beneficiary oil communities are comfortable but as marginalization.
Uduagban since inception of office has paying for students the West African Examination Council, WAEC and National Examination Council NECO fees of indigence candidates.
As if that was not enough, governor Uduagban embarked on the construction of 10 new modem Primary School across the three senatorial districts of the state which are been upgrade and to expose pupils early in life to electronic learning and academic excellence.
Dr. Uduagban disclosed that the model Primary Schools would comprise of Nursery and Primary Schools and teachers for the schools would be trained by the British Council and donor agencies.
He said although primary school are the responsibility of Local Governments, the model primary school will be funded and run by the state Government so that the burden would not be too much for local Government to bear.
The governor explained that when the schools become functional, the standard obtainable would be comparable to some the best in the world.
Dr. Uduagban said the schools have the capacity to admit 420 pupils in the Primary section and 60 in the Nursery section.
The governor said the classrooms would be will be equipped and every child will be given the privilege to be admitted into the school. “These Mode Schools are going to be different. Apart from their ultra-modern looks, they are going to be well equipped with the state of the electronic leaning equipments,” he said.
In its determination to reposition Asaba as a hub of social, economic and political activities, an airport at a cost N17 billion has taken off. The airport, according to Austine Ayemidejor, Special Assistance to the Governor on the Airport said it would have three kilometers run way and capable of catering for passenger and cargo planes.
He said it will be ready for commissioning in the next two years. “The stress of flying to Benin before coming to Asaba will be eliminated despite the good roads. bigger markets and employment would be created in the state.
To convince doubting Deltans, the Governor empowered the state Beautification Sanitation Task Force for Asaba and Warri and Ministry of Power Energy with N20 billion for electricity for both rural and urban centers.
On transportation Governor Emmanusel Uduagban who has bought over 200 vehicles recently commissioned 100 Hiace Toyota buses to cushion the effect of the removal of fuel subsidy as well as directed commercial transporters to revert to the old transport fares before the subsidy removal.
He also immediately set up a three man palliatives committee on the removal of fuel subsidy with boardroom guru, Mr. G.O Onosode as chairman, with Chief Philip Asiodu and Mrs. Elizabeth Adegite as members with the mandate to monitor the implementation of the proceeds from subsidy removal in the state.
Governor Uduagban stated that his administration would take delivery for 500-seater Marco polo buses and 130 boats for the effect of the fuel subsidy removal on Deltans. “So far we have a total of 100 salon cars for taxis and over 500 buses in the scheme deployed to various areas of the state to improve on the transport of Deltans.”
On electricity, the Uduagban administration has no doubt done enough on this sector with the connection of communities into the national grid as well as the provision of transformers even at the state government was not mindful of the fact that economy, realizing also that the current 100 megawatts being distributed within the state by the public electricity and wane its economy of undue dependence on oil, hence it has opted to build an Independent Power Plant (IPP) to boast public power supply in the state.
However, the euphoria and sense of eureka attended this well-thought out project soon began to ebb as it (Project) could not take –off after what seemed like an acon because of its complex nature, coupled with the fact that turbines, the nucleus of such projects, are usually customized, built according to specifications, and not readily available off the shelf like other commodities
As the United kingdom-based firm, Rolls Royce Energy, which the contracting firm had approached to design the turbines was still on it, the rumour mills, obviously fuelled by ignorance of the complexities associated with such projects, many Nigeria projects abandoned.
This is why the Monday, May 7, 2012 inspector of the first batch of the turbines that have been delivered at the site of the project in Ogbaraki, Ehthiope West Council Area is significant in more ways than one. Like the secretary to the state Government, Comrade Ovouzorie Macaulay, rightly observed while addressing journalists at the occasion, the development had brought to a close the insinuation that the project is another white elephant.”
The IPP, upon completion, also has the capacity to generate employment for the teeming population of the state, particularly youths who may wish to embrace entrepreneurship. What is more, economic activates would boom and more Deltans avail themselves of the stable power supply to establish their erection has completed.
The present administration true to its words has done a lot in diverse ways from empowerment through Agriculture and Farmers Support Programme, (YETA – ESP), the Delta Micro Credit Programme (DMCP) and developing the people, as recorded in the Micro, to building generational infrastructure on ground which are aimed at further transforming the economic landscape of not only the state, but will benefit neighboring states.
Wow! was the involuntary expression of a recent visitor to the state when she in company of her other media team were conducted round the new Government House Project which is nearing completion in Asaba, the Delta state capital, by the Hon. Commissioner for Special Duties, special infrastructure Barr. Mrs. Orezi Esievor.
The visitors who could not visibly hide their feelings described the facility as magnificent.” Also, the project Director of the trans – Warri Ode Itsekin road /bridge project in Warri south local government, Mr. Otimenyi Adams described the bridge project as one of the wonders of Uduagban.” Indeed the initiative is aimed at linking ten communities which were hitherto disconnected from land, social life and any form of business life, are speedily getting connected. An interaction with Mr. Adams reveled that benefiting communities of life, Ubeji, Ajeta Orugbo, Usele, Ugbodede, Ajigba, Inorin, Ijala and Ode Itekiri.
No doubt, it takes great courage and a clearly defined sense of purpose to undertake this kind of project considering the very marshy terrain of these communities, of course they must be attended to, their basic need which is access road that will connect them to land and people for social life and basically for economic development and enhancement as well as transformation must be attended to.
With this project in place, these communities are not being given a sense of belonging as business and buildings are already springing up and being cited in these areas.
Thus, the administration has such health programs as the free-under five health programme where all the children within the age bracket of 0-5 years are taken care of irrespective of the ailment
The free maternal health program which enables the government hospitals attend to pregnant and expectant mother from conception to the period of delivery free of change. In fact, one of the senior officials at the Warri Central Hospital disclosed that the Antenatal care unit of the hospital records up to two hundred to four hundred attendants on daily basis. The services including serious advocacy issues on care during pregnancy to other is – sues aimed at reducing maternal and infant mortality, which, she said, had greatly reduced since the pro-gram was introduced by the government.
On the free rural Health Scheme program, the government of Delta State under Uduagban has attended to the rural people in all parts of the state, treating various health needs of the people irrespective of the nature of the ailment free of change. This is scheme which demographic reach cuts across all ages and sexes issues bordering on fibroid, hymenia, partial blindness and other sundry health challenges are.