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Uduaghan’s Delta in the sand of time

I WAS in Asaba sometime in August last year to get an impression of the city and the state.

It was the first time I was returning to Asaba after 31 years, when I was a Higher School Certificate (HSC) student of Saint Patrick’s College, Asaba – a subject I will return to later.

As part of the visitation, we toured some of the projects the governor had completed or were on-going at the time, and ended up with an interview session late into the night with the governor.

As I sat through the interview which lasted barely 30minutes, you could see that the Delta helmsman is a man with his eyes trained on history.

The governor is also a man blessed with a simple way of life and a very analytical mind. As he explained on that occasion, “Delta Beyond Oil” has become the barometer to the future Delta that he is presently shaping.

When the oil resource with which Delta is abundantly blessed finishes one day or declines in value, as may likely happen someday, where will the people and the state be? Finding answers to this question clearly, is his overriding drive.

As part of the process of preparing Delta for this inevitable outcome, he has developed three major items, namely human capital development, infrastructural development and peace and security.

As he posited in his interview, the three items are interwoven and the significance of the tripod to his immediate constituency (Delta Sate) is there for all to see.

In the build up to this administration, security, the absence of it, that is, was a major issue in the daily lives of Deltans. Deliberate and coordinated efforts therefore had to be made to procure and sustain peace and security in the state.

Today, apart from the infrequent cases of kidnapping, that lives are mostly secure in the state is a mark of how well the governor’s strategy and hands-on approach has worked.

On infrastructural development, a lot has happened since Governor Uduaghan assumed office.

We arrived Asaba from Lagos by air, thanks to the new airport built by his administration. I have read criticisms on how expensive the airport is, and that it is poorly sited, too close to town.

Apart from the huge impression the airport had on me as a first time visitor, I returned to it, later in the day, for a proper facility tour and briefing.

The airport, conceived as an international cargo airport, is strategically located to benefit from the age-long business preoccupation of surrounding and nearby towns of Onitsha, Nnewi, Awka and other South-East states, and not forgetting Delta State too, were activities around oil and gas holdings, not to talk of new initiatives in agriculture and commerce are bound to benefit from and feed the new airport.

Already, the benefits are accruing, as the governor talked of a number of new warehouses springing up within Asaba and neighbouring towns.

In fact, I could not help but notice that somehow, Asaba has significantly worked its way up the preferred destination for conferences, summits and what not in the country.

It is not difficult to see that easier access made possible by the new airport has hugely contributed to this welcome development. Well, what I also found out is that Asaba has become the new headquarters of the country’s booming Nollywood industry.

When I asked why, I was told that the massive construction of new estates and hotels provides the ambiance and locations conducive for business.

This was confirmed on another visit in December last year, when the hotel I lodged in had a number of Nollywood stars in residence, and doing their thing.

We also toured the Asaba-Ughelli dual carriageway. This is a project which the governor confirmed to us in the interview later as very close to his heart.

This project which was awarded in three segments to three different contractors apparently to hasten its completion has left the governor and people of the state with mixed emotions.

Whereas, the first and final legs of the road project are not making as much progress as was expected, the middle and by far, difficult part of the road project is making good progress.

The defaulting contractors that have handled big and more sensitive projects for the state in the past is leaving the governor with a difficult choice to make, but he says he might be forced to revoke the contract.

The ICT Park sited on the outskirts of Anwai-Asaba, presents a picture into the future. Located on an elevated landscape overlooking the River Niger from across the road, it cuts the picture of a serene, picturesque and reflective hob.

Even though at the time of our visit, the Park has not taken off beyond foundation, it does not fail to remind you of the famed Silicon Valley.

As it was explained to us, the park is proposed as a joint venture between ICT private sector investors, the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) and the state government.

When fully built it will be a dream place both for its location and value, adding much more to the profile of the state than many can envisage now.

This brings me to the all important point of human capital development.

Whereas, physical infrastructure is important in the development of any political entity, it is the quality of the human capital available to it that can largely determine its advancement or the lack of it.

Mr. PERCY OWAIYE, a researh &development consultant, wrote from Lagos.


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