Mr. Oma Djeba a former Thisday Editor and presently Commissioner for Information in Delta State in this
interview rebuffs allegations of fraudulent inflation of projects by the erstwhile administration of Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, articulates the qualifications and experience of the former Delta helmsman for the job of Governor and outlines the rule of engagement with Uduaghan’s traducer, notably, Chief Edwin Clark.
How did you receive the verdict of the Court of Appeal sacking Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan as Governor?
As the Commissioner for Information, Delta State, we have accepted it as one of those things. We are upbeat in the mood of the re_run elections and we are confident that with the overwhelming support of the people of Delta State who have seen and appreciate the enormous good works that His Excellency Dr. Emmaneul Eweta Uduaghan did and has done in the last three and a half years, I have no doubt that they are returning him into office.
Can you give us a brief highlight of some of these good works he has done?
As I have always emphasized when he came into office he came with a template, and that template is what we call the critical pillars of development and that is the three point agenda. The three point agenda, one is peace and security, second is human capital development and third is infrastructure development.
Delta as you know is a very critical state, it is like a mini Nigeria, it is a very complex State, so you need a thoroughbred human being, a first class medical doctor, a technocrat of the highest order, urbane like Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan. An experienced administrator who has gone through the whole gamut of public service at the regional level.
Having been a commissioner, having been secretary to government and then eventually Governor. So, nothing in government would ordinarily be strange to him, so you needed that experience and then you needed that exposure and then you needed that education.
Today, when you look at the men who are ruling the world we have passed the stage of school cert being Governor in this country.
Look at the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, PhD. Look at the Vice_President a well respected architect and then you now come to Delta State, you saw Dr. Uduaghan a respected medical doctor, a first class one at that and then his deputy, Prof. Amos Utama he is a professor of law, he is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and that is within the academia.
He rose to the peak of his career being a professor and within his practice, he rose to the peak by being a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
Those were the men sitting at the helm of affairs and that (Utuma) who was the Chairman of the State Tenders Board and I just read in your paper and somebody coming here to say that the Asaba International Airport was awarded at the cost of N40 billion. That is the most heinous crime you can ever think against the people of Delta North and against the people of Asaba, against the people of Delta State.
I was asking you the highlights of his achievements and you are talking about the academic qualifications. To what extent has he used his academic qualifications to transform the State?
You know that before he came into office Delta State was the hotbed of militancy and ethnic tension. But once he came into office using his administrative ingenuity, he quickly set up the Delta Water Ways Security Committee and then he created what he called a Ministry of Peace Building and Security which was domiciled in Government House and with that he was able to maintain peace and security in Delta State and with the prevailing peace and security guaranteed and from there he went on to embark on massive infrastructure.
One, the energy sector he tackled it head on. Today if you enter Delta State street light beautification is on. A friend of mine came from Canada, a professor friend of mine who was my teacher in the university, he now teaches at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada when he visited me in Warri and I drove him round at about 2. a.m. he said “this is like New York,” he couldn’t believe it. Everywhere was lighted.
Uduaghan through his infrastructure development has virtually turned Asaba to become a New York of Nigeria and of Africa, and Warri of course, he has turned it to become the Paris of our time. We are also building our IPP to complement what the Federal Government is doing.
How much is it costing you?
People think that IPP is like a vehicle that you just go to the street and you buy it and come and put it here.
The independent power projects are not as easy as you think, one there have to be various studies that are carried out and then it takes you an average of two years for you to put those turbines together, so the site may be there but it will take you two years to establish. As we speak all the various components that are required have been fully paid for.
As a government we have earmarked N13.5 billion for that project and people are at liberty to go to Rolls Royce and find out. We didn’t spend N18 billion, we didn’t spend N15 billion. We also read the allegation by one of the aspirants that what is the IPP doing in Delta Central, what is it doing in Ogharra? In effect, the people of Urhobo land are not entitled to infrastructure development? Urhobo that account for a significant population are not entitled to infrastructure? And these are the people that are aspiring to want to lead and you say what is IPP doing?
We are building up, there is free medical care as we speak, there is free education, if you are pregnant and from the point of pregnancy to delivery till the time the child is five, there is free medical care. NECO and WAEC fees are being paid free of charge so that we can build a human manpower that can serve as a major reservoir for the growth of the next generation.
Today, it is the human manpower that powers industrialization and development. We have gone past the age where people didn’t go to school and I hear aspirants still parading school cert and they want to aspire to be Governor of Delta State. In this 21st century?
Who are you referring to?
One of the aspirants visited Vanguard.
Who is that?
Chief Great Ogboru was here. He visited Vanguard. I have just told you now for instance that the President of Nigeria, His Excellency Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan PhD. see the way he is repositioning Nigeria, see his deputy a well respected Architect who is redesigning and putting this country on the world map and complementing Jonathan.
Tell me if those people didn’t go to school where would they have the knowledge to do what they are doing? Today I have just told you that in Delta State we have one of the most concentrated manpower you can think of, that is the State where you have professors, academics, industrialists,
If you don’t have it, you cant give it and the people of Delta State have come to appreciate the fact that in this age of today that we are in the knowledge world and if you don’t have knowledge, you cannot lead.
Go to Warri, go to Asaba, go to Agbor, go to Sapele, Ughelli dualisation project, go to the reclamation project, go to the Orogodo (Agbor) river project which was even a federal project but the state government moved in.
Have they finished the Orogodo River project?
No, it is an ongoing project.
How much has been expended on the airport and how much more is required to bring it to completion?
As we speak now and based on the last Exco approval of N5 billion which adds to the original cost because of the topography and terrain of the Niger Delta which were not originally factored in and also based on the requests of the supervisory agency like NCAA and others the cost as of today is N17.5 billion which is not even up to 50% of what some people who are mischievous.
The total cost of the airport as at today is N17.5 billion whereas you have some mischievous characters who are ill_informed and that is why I said that education is very important and knowledge is key to development.
As I came here now if I want to take on you I would go and study about you to update myself about the current situation rather than come to dish out voluminous tissues of lies and ignorance.
To worsen the situation I have just told you that as a government we will not respond to him because at the appropriate time the people of Delta North comprising Agbor, Ika, Anioma, Oshimili, Ukwani and so on will respond to him because he has told them clearly that they are not deserving of infrastructural development, that they don’t deserve an airport.
He also went on to say what is IPP doing in Urhobo land? Do you know that Urhobo land used to be the commanding height of commerce and I can say it today that some of the greatest industrialists we can think of, talk of Olorogun Michael Ibru, Gamaliel Onosode, captains of industry they are all well respected Urhobo industrialists and if a society is to move forward, you need power, you need energy. If there is no power there is little we can do in this place, you will not see me, I will not see you. Vanguard will not even be able to print.
So, the state government conceived the IPP project, yet an aspirant is asking what is the IPP project doing in Urhobo land?
Urhobo people will reply him at the appropriate time.
You say that most people in Delta State are appreciative of Dr. Uduaghan. What do you say then of the continuing determination of Chief E.K. Clark to stop him?
Chief is our father and Chief is father to Governor. Governor is Chief’s political son, therefore Governor (Uduaghan) will not do anything even in the wildest of imagination to undermine Chief. So, the relationship between Dr. Uduaghan and Chief is that of father and son. Uduaghan will not do anything to undermine Chief at all and he has consistently said so.
Throughout the three and a half years he went to consult Chief on policy issues. It is just some people and Chief has said it that Dr. Uduaghan is his son, so to that extent Dr. Uduaghan does not have any problem with Chief at all.