By Festus Ahon
Mr. George Ushere is a chieftain of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in Delta State. In this interview, he speaks on Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan administration’s efforts to transform the state.
On assumption of office, Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan came up with a three-point agenda of peace and security, human and infrastructural development. How would you rate the governor in the implementation of these cardinal points?
The three-point agenda has been his cardinal point in the governance of the state. The governor has done so well to build peace in the state. Before now, there was the problem of militancy, waterways were difficult to ply, but now you can use the waterways without any problem.
In terms of infrastructure, the governor has evenly developed the state and the three senatorial districts. After the administration of Chief James Ibori, there were projects that were not completed. Unlike other governments which do not like completing projects embarked upon by previous administration, Uduaghan has completed all outstanding projects and started his own projects.
Ughelli-Asaba road has been dualised, work is going on, on Eku road, we now have an international airport in Asaba, new roads are being built and the education sector is superb. In the health sector, for the first time, we are having free maternal care in Delta State. The same free education we enjoyed under the era of Ambrose Ali in the defunct Bendel State has been granted to pupils and secondary school students under the Uduaghan administration.
At the tertiary level, Uduaghan has established more schools and adequately funding them. More polytechnics have been established, if you go to the three campuses of the Delta State University, the infrastructural development there is wonderful. Bursaries are paid as and when due and scholarships are given to brilliant students and I think Uduaghan is the first governor to give scholarship to first class graduates to study abroad.
The governor has done so well in agriculture. For the first time, Deltans are encouraged to go into fishery, more fish ponds are built, funded by government and allocated to youths so that they will have something to do.
The government micro-credit is wonderful, it is designed for youths who want to be entrepreneurs and they are encouraged to form co-operatives. We have a place in Sapele where youths are taken and trained in agriculture, skills acquisition centers are being established everywhere in all the three senatorial districts and students who could not go to higher institution and others who could not afford higher education are encouraged to go for skills acquisition and they are being trained in various trades. This is part of human capital development Uduaghan has embarked on and he is doing creditably well.
You are from Ughelli North Constituency II. Would you say the governor has impacted on the people of this constituency?
The Uduaghan administration has favoured my constituency very well. I am from Agbarho in Constituency II. If you go to Agbarho today we have a lot of roads being constructed. The Delta State Direct Labour Agency (DLA) has re-surfaced our roads and more roads are being constructed.
We have been given about 25km of roads via NDDC, electricity supply has improved and, in terms of appointments, Ughelli North also has its fair share.
Last year, we had a challenge of unprecedented flooding in Delta and many other states across the country and we have been warned by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) that we will experience heavier rainfall this year. We can see that the state government, as part of the steps to mitigate the flooding, has through the Ministry of Environment, started opening up the waterways and demolishing illegal structures. How would you describe this initiative?
Uduaghan is a very practical man, and, when we were faced that problem of flood, he took immediate steps to ensure that Deltans do not experience that ugly situation in the next raining season; so, it is proper to put all necessary measures in place to prevent reoccurrence. Today the Ministry of Environment and the committee on flood are ensuring that every part of Delta State that is prone to flooding, drainages are opened and the governor is taking a very bold step to destroy structures built on natural water channel.
It is necessary that these things are done to avert the ugly situation of flood which claimed a lot of lives and property last year.
Local government elections will soon be held in Delta State; and looking at the strength of the Democratic People’s Party, DPP, particularly in the central senatorial district, do you think the PDP will be able to make a headway in this area in the elections?
PDP will make a headway. This is because we had an experience in the last general elections. Politics is about time and conviction. With the administration of Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan and the policies that are being implemented, with the infrastructural development that is taking place and with the SURE-P implementation which will help to cushion the effect of the economic meltdown at the grassroots, the chances of the PDP are very bright.
Also, the mistakes of the PDP in the central senatorial district are being corrected and a lot of those who moved from the PDP to DPP are coming back, because they now know that there is no light in that tunnel. A lot of people left because of greed that, ‘if it is not me, then it cannot work’, but leadership is from God.