By Tony Eluemunor
Delta state turned 30 on August 27. When Chief James Onanefe Ibori became Delta State in May 1999, the state was less than 10 years old, so he helped in laying the true foundation on which the state development has rested.
Chief James Ibori constructed or completed bridges abandoned for decades by Federal agencies: Ughoton-Omadino, Aboh (Ase River), Bomadi (over River Forcados, the 600-metre long span wonder should be one of the poster projects of the Ibori administration) bridges are such major commercial and social arteries connecting Itsekiri, Ukwani and Ijaw coastal rural areas respectively to the mainland.
Following in their wake are the Olumo (to link the oil-bearing districts of Ughelli South, Ughelli North, Burutu and Udu LGAs to the Warri and Effurun economic zones) and the Trans-Warri Ode Itsekiri access road and navigational bridge (navigational, because it would not disturb marine traffic as it spans vast miles upon miles of space to Ode Itsekiri or Big Warri), this ambitious project may just have only the 30-kilometre Third Mainland Bridge, Lagos to contend with in Nigeria. Planned in three phases, the Ode Itsekiri project bore the price tag of over N30 billion.
Then there is the Ubefan-Madangho Road—a 30-mile stretch through a swampy terrain; price tag—N5.2 billion. The Okerenkoko-Pepe Ama-Kokodiagbene Road, just 20 kilometres long, owing to the swampy terrain, cost about N5 billion.
Ibori awarded to tar the the Aniocha “Inner Ring Road” for the first time in 60 years —from Ubulu-Unor, through Ubulu-Uku, Issele-Uku and then to Obompka and back to Issele-Uku in an inverted U formation between Issele-Uku and Obompka through Idumuje–Ugboko and other villages .
Ibori built a floating market for Ogheye community in Warri North LGA; with a fire station, water works, post office, bank, police post, health care centre, etc, all at a cost of N1.3 billion. Ibori also provided N1.1billion for 34 Jetty/Waiting Sheds, landing infrastructures for the operation of Ferry Boats in 34 communities in the core riverine LGAs of Warri North, Warri South, Warri South West, Brutu, Bomadi, Ndokwa East and Oshimili South, apart from the concrete jetty at Ugbege in Warri North.
As Ibori explained the philosophy behind the electrification projects during a meeting on the Niger Delta region, which former President Olusegun Obasanjo hosted at the State House Banquet Hall in Abuja, “Most of the communities in the seven riverine LGAs of the State i.e. Bomadi, Brutu, Warri South, Warri South West, Warri North, Patani and Ndokwa East, are located in mangrove swamps and creeks. These communities are substantially unlinked to the national grid on account of their so-called ‘difficult terrain.’
Power supply to riverine communities, where it existed, had therefore been mainly through diesel-powered generators with attendant high operational costs that rendered the schemes unsustainable. The challenge of providing electric power in the riverine communities of the state has been so daunting that successive governments since the colonial era have been unable to tackle it. Even the Federal Government’s avowed policy of extending the national grid to the headquarters of every LGA in the country could not be implemented in the riverine areas.”
The import of what Ibori said was that neither Obasanjo nor other governors had attempted what he was already achieving in Delta State. And he was right! By the time the two terms of a total of eight years of both President Obasanjo and Ibori’s colleagues in the other five South-South geo-pollical zone’s states had ended, the swampy sections of the Niger Delta States were largely as unaffected by development as they were in 1999. The only visible change was in Delta and Bayelsa states.
The electrification project, included.
“1.Tower crossing of the Forcados River with 33 KV overhead high-tension wire line from Okwuagbe Watersode to Okirika and extension of electric power supply from Okirika westward to Ayakoromo; and eastward to Ofrukama, Ezebiri, Ogodobiri, Okoloba, Okubo-Ama, Akugbene, Ogbeinama and Esama;
11. Tower Crossing of Creek with 33 KV overhead high-tension line from Ophorigbala to Gbekebor and extension of electric power to Gbekober and Obotebe;
111. Extension of 33 KV overhead line from Koko (NPA Jetty) to Adagbrasa, Ebrohimi, Obaghoro, Tebu, Gbokoda, Ajametan, Opuama, Idebagbene and Lagos Junction with Tower crossing of rivers and creeks at Ughwoton and Gnokobia junctions;
1V. Extension of 33 KV overhead high-tension line from Ekpan to Omadino and down to Okerenkoko;
V. Extension of 33 KV overhead high-tension line from Bomadi to Oboro, Okpukunu and Gbaregolor.
Involved here is the construction of some 203 kilometres of 33 KV sub-transmission lines employing galvanized steel towers and about 72 kilometres of township distribution networks using concrete poles and a total of 38 300 KVA and 33 KV/415V transformers at the mentioned communities. Income Electric Nig. Ltd won the N10 Billion project.
Thus in electricity provision alone, communities such as a 42-kilometre 33 KV Patani-Ughelli overhead line, Patani-Ohoro-Everi,Ughuwerun, Unenurhie, KolawariAven, Okwagba (three sub-stations) Eghwu (two sub-stations) Umolo (two sub-stations) Oginibo (two sub-stations), Uzere, Otokutu (three sub-stations), Ogwashi-Uku, Ewulu, Ishiagu, Utumara, Adegboyeri, Unoghovo, Ijomi, Isselegu, Ugilliamai, Utagba Uno, Otutuama, Esaba, Ophorigbala, Ighweriogun, Arhavwarien, Aladja (reinforced), Igbide (tension lines replaced) Ozorro (reinforced), Irri (reinforced), Emevor (reinforced), Agbarha-Otor (sub-station), Ughelli (five transformers/substation), Imodje, Orhokpokpo, Okidiowa, Abigborodo, Umeaba, Ikpogin, Otor-Owhe, Aragba-Orogun, Onicha-Olona, Evbonoghor, Ugbokpa, Ugbakele, Ukperheren, Ekrota. Obudu, Okpapka (upgraded) Opete (upgraded) Isiokolo (upgraded) Bomadi (upgraded), Oleh (upgraded), Ode-Itsekiri (upgraded), Okuogume (upgraded) Oviri-Olumu (upgraded), Obi-Agbor (transformer), Obi-Anyima (transformer), Okpara (transformer). Ibori completed over 450 electricity projects.
After electricity, the next need of the rural areas is usually water. As Ibori first ran pilot schemes at Abari (Patani LGA), Ugbimidaka (Sapele LGA) and Ossisa (Ndokwa LGA), then he went full swing across the state—with hand pumps and mini-motorized water supply schemes in certain places. This enabled over 250 water schemes to be operational in 25 LGAs—with emphasis in the rural areas.
Delta came tops in a 2006 United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) assessment of developmental indices in all the South-South states; quality of life enhancement by measuring access to education, number of school-age children in schools, electricity and water supply, life expectancy, income per capita, etc.