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Meager trouble over mega projects in Delta

Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South
FROM the political happenings in Delta State,  it is certain that the bad blood between the ruling People Democratic Party, PDP, and its rival, Democratic People Party, DPP – Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan and Chief Great Ogboru are leaders of both parties respectively – is not likely to cease soon.

For about one year now, it has been intense fighting over the 2007 electoral mandate given to  Uduaghan, which was annulled by the Court of Appeal, Benin City, November, 2009, but revalidated by the Delta State Governorship Re-Run Tribunal sitting in Asaba after Uduaghan’s victory in the governorship re-run, conducted in January, 2011, and which was challenged by Ogboru.

Uduaghan

Presently, the combatants are awaiting the verdict of the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal on the April 26 governorship poll.

But the latest feud is not about the verdict of the court; it is over Uduaghan’s discharge of his mandate to the people.

Latching on a resolution by members of Delta State House of Assembly, who adjourned sine die,  October 27, calling on Uduaghan to, as a matter of urgency, “direct  all contractors handling critical projects in the state, especially those handling drains in Asaba and the dualization of Asaba/Ughelli roads, to ensure that those projects are urgently completed to ensure Deltans enjoy dividends of democracy, rather than seemingly playing on the intelligence of Deltans”, the DPP rolled out the war drums once again.

Brimming with fire, the state chairman, Chief Tony Ezeagwu, in an advertorial, charged Uduaghan and the PDP for allegedly mismanaging the state resources.

In the statement, entitled, “Uduaghan: A time to give account”, Ezeagwu stated, “The mismanagement of Delta State resources by Governor Uduaghan has reached an alarming proposition. To give credence to this, Delta State House of Assembly, in an unprecedented and bold move, last week, adjourned sine die (suspends plenary) until Governor Uduaghan delivers on good performance”.

The DPP leader interpreted the lawmakers’ action as a clear vote of no confidence on Uduaghan and saluted their courage for vowing not to reconvene sitting until the contractors who abandoned work return to site and complete all projects in the state.

DPP faithful in the state cheered their chairman and the issue became the topic of discussion. Reacting to the matter, which generated quite some tension in the state, the Delta State Commissioner for Information, Chike Ogeah, accused DPP of practising “politics of hate and mischief”.

He said the resolution by the lawmakers, which aligned with the commitment of the executive branch in fast-tracking execution of projects geared towards improving the state’s infrastructural base, was given a wrong motive by the opposition party.

Uduaghan, who spoke on the controversy in an interactive session with newsmen in Warri, on Tuesday, was also at a loss over why anybody would read a different motive, other than what the lawmakers intended with the motion.

He said a copy of the resolution reached by the lawmakers was sent to him by the House of Assembly and at no time did they indict him for non-performance as insinuated by the rival party.

He said the observation of the lawmakers was in respect of the drainage project in Asaba and the Ughelli-Asaba dualization project, which the executive had already taken steps to revoke the contract of one of the erring contractors before the motion was passed.

As far as the governor was concerned, there was no need making a mountain of a molehill on the motion, as the lawmakers were only complementing the action and initiative of the executive with their resolution.

With the disagreement between the PDP and DPP over the real intention of the lawmakers, the matter was, so to speak, thrown back to the House, which resumed sitting 13 days after it adjourned sine die, October 27.

At the sitting, on Wednesday, November 9, the House condemned, in strong terms, the advertorial published by Ezeagwu, saying its resolution was mischievously interpreted.

The  members unanimously passed a motion exonerating Uduaghan from blame over the  slow pace of work by contractors on the affected projects and  also passed a  of vote of confidence on the governor.

Lawmakers who contributed to the debate before the motion was passed, including the prime movers of the earlier motion that led to the indefinite adjournment, Messrs. Denis Omovie and Johnson Erijo, expressed bitterness that  the intention of the motion was misconstrued to achieve cheap political point.

Ironically, members of the DPP in the House of Assembly also joined their PDP counterparts in pooh-poohing the publication of their party leadership.

Concluding  deliberations on Wednesday, the Speaker , Hon  Victor Ochei, announced that the House was setting up “an administrative panel of inquiry to be headed by Hon. Johnson Erijo to examine the remote and immediate causes of non performing contracts with a view to bring erring contractors to book”.

The panel, which is expected to commence sitting this week, has two weeks to conclude its assignment.

It was indeed a sad day for those who thought that they would gain some political mileage with the attack on Uduaghan and the PDP.

Before the House resumed, on Wednesday, the executive branch, in compliance with the motion, had also directed the affected contractors to return to site. chief press secretary to the governor, Mr. Sunny Ogefere, in a statement, said: “The governor has directed all contractors executing projects in the state to return to site immediately or be sanctioned”.


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