ByÂ Ejiro Idama
IT was during the peace mediation organised by erstwhile Governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori in respect of the 2005/2006 Ijaw/Itsekiri conflict in the creeks and Warri, that Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan, then the SSG publicly disclosed his intention to vie for the governorship position of the state after denials and suppressions of rumour mill leaks.
â€œSo bold,â€ I retorted to a friend who showed the report in a newspaper to me. A point Dr. Uduaghan confirmed in subsequent interviews during his campaign that he only approached Chief Ibori after his electoral victory in 1999 to be appointed his physician. But like the popular aphorism goes: â€œGod gives power to whoever He wishesâ€. Thus, began the journey from Commissioner for Health to Secretary to the State Government and now Governor Delta State.
Leadership is an art delivered in style and to succeed it must have been motivated by an audacious ambition nurtured over a long period. On Thursday, April 1, 2010, what would have seemed ordinarily as April fool gimmick, the state government announced it had approved plans to establish four polytechnics across the three senatorial districts of the state!
Unbelievable, one would have conjectured considering the huge amount of money it would involve. But no, it is an initiative intended to create an enlightened youth citizenry and curb restiveness, the Commissioner of Education, Dr Hope Eghagha has said.
These tertiary institutions are to be located at Aboh in Ndokwa East Local Government Area on the water front of River Niger, an old colonial administrative town almost long ignored. The wisdom in the attempt to revitalize the place will no doubt bring a new lease of life. The second one will be sited at Bomadi Headquarters of Bomandi Local Government Area along River Forcados on the Atlantic Ocean, a hitherto seat of educational pursuit during the 1950s, but gradually losing that reputation.
The third is to be sited at Sapele in Sapele Urban Local Government Area. The choice of Sapele is unique and an answer to the claim of neglect and marginalisation in this democratic epoch by its residents. In fact, Sapele was a notable modern town on the same platform with Warri during the 1950s â€“ 1970s.
Something happened due to the development of new roads on its periphery thereby taking patronage away and subsequent closure of the Puntu, a once epicenter and cynosure of travels; the closure of the Sapele Port,Â diminished the economic and social importance of the place.
The fourth will be sited at Abigborodo in Warri North Local Government Area. It borders the water front of the mangrove swamps of the Atlantic Ocean . It is the home place of Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan. The clamour might not have been there because the little town is being presently served by a primary school and a very modern secondary school. However, its presence could serve an agent of educational enlightenment not only for that community but could stretch to Jakpan, Koko and, in fact, the whole of Warri North.
Many people with myopic view of the politics of the state would question the rationale of four more polytechnics in the state. With already some at Ozoro, Otefe, and Ogwashi-Uku and College of Physical Education and Science, Mosogar and may jump to the erroneous conclusion of political consideration with 2011 elections in mind. Politics or no politics the state must be developed, opened up and given the capacity to compete in a fast technologically growing world.
No state in the federation can compare with the quest for education in Delta State. The present effort marks a monumental achievement and the location of these institutions will open up dormant communities. And it is in keeping with the governmentâ€™s announced three-point agendaÂ of â€œhuman capital development, peace and security and infrastructural developmentâ€ on assumption of office. So it is within the peopleâ€™s expectation, electoral advantage or not.
The vision behind this is encapsulated in this state Government official statement: â€œApart from enhancing the human capital development programme of the state government through the equipment of young Deltans with the requisite technical expertise for the development of the state, the four polytechnics would also assist in absorbing the teeming population of qualified young Deltans, who hitherto had been unable to secure places in tertiary institutions across the countryâ€.
And as a popular columnist, Willy Bee put it: â€œThe splash of four more polytechnics in some of the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods has shown that he (the governor) means well as he has always said that every part of Delta State would feel this impactâ€.
What this decision to establish four polytechnics has shown, is that beyond the audacity to lead, the governor seems to understand the needs of Deltans and has a keen interest to develop the place with the assistance ofÂ a team of aides working in accord with him.
Mr. Idama,Â aÂ public affairs commentator,Â writes from Asaba, Delta State.