By Fred Latimore Oghenesivbe, JP.
Covid-19 pandemic had in the past one year slowed down both economic and academic activities and also led to the temporary suspension of some ongoing construction projects across the country, including Delta state, in adherence to series of lockdown and protocols.
In Delta, the Governor, Senator Dr Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, being a medical doctor, ensured that appropriate measures were taken to keep Deltans safe, and that include putting on hold regular inspection and inauguration of ongoing and completed projects across the three senatorial districts.
But that is in the past now as he bounces back to full scale good governance and have since commenced inspection and commissioning of projects. Former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Governors of Bayelsa and Edo States were also in the state recently to join Okowa for the commissioning of some gigantic projects embarked upon by this administration.
Okowa and Obaseki stood side by side as brother PDP governors to commission the Effurun-Otor-Ovwor-Olomu bridge and the 34 kilometers Otu-Jeremi-Okwagbe road, linking several communities in Ughelli South Local Government Area.
These projects comes with huge economic benefits for the various communities particularly for those in commercial transportation business, traders and holiday makers who hitherto could not access these routes now connected courtesy of Gov. okowa’s good governance initiatives.
These network of roads and bridges have become huge surprise to the people because promises made in the past by federal agencies were never fulfilled, until Okowa came on board in 2015. Within five years of this administration he awarded over 500 contracts, a deliberate effort to ensure that communities in Delta are linked together with good roads.
The various completed road projects across the three senatorial districts has greatly facilitated transportation of goods and services, movement of raw materials and cash crops to point of sale without difficulties, and in the same token prolonging the life span of vehicles plying our roads.
The 34 kilometers Otu-Jeremi-Okwagbe road is one of the projects that has endeared Gov Okowa to the hearts of the good people of Ughiemwen, particularly residents of Okwagbe, Jeremi, Oginibo and environs.
Gov Obaseki of Edo State while speaking during the ceremony described Okowa as not only a roadmaster but a social, economic and physical bridge builder, who through visionary leadership, determination and good governance initiatives ensured that roads and bridges in Delta are built to standard.
Obaseki asserted that Okowa has worked so hard to become a champion of modern day democracy, consistently executing mega projects and fulfilling electioneering campaign promises to the good people of Delta State.
The Edo State governor used the occasion to call on the federal government to consider upward review of the 13% derivation funds for oil producing States, noting that as the economic nerve of the nation, oil producing States/communities deserve a fair share of the national cake, not peanuts.
He observed that the current 13% is grossly inadequate due to the huge cost of road projects and other infrastructure development needed to level up the deplorable state of underdevelopment in the South-South geopolitical zone, the Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs.
He said that the peculiarity of the environment in the South-South had made it quite expensive to develop infrastructure, especially roads, in the area, and commended Gov Okowa for the prudent application of the insufficient resources available while blocking linkages and irrelevant expenses in the course of governance.
Obaseki, said that with the quality of projects being executed by Okowa across Delta, it was obvious that he would do more with enhanced funds, which is why there is the urgent need for the federal government of Nigeria, to heed to the call for upward review of proceeds for oil producing states, from oil exploration and sale of crude oil, adding that it was and still a great disservice and injustice to handout peanuts to oil producing states, while FG takes the bulk of the proceeds.
He pointed out that the inaugurated bridge and road projects would enhance the economy of the communities and also connect them to other parts of the state, noting that good road networks is an integral part of infrastructure development and catalyst for economic growth.
“Okowa is a champion of modern day democracy and represents the ideals of great leadership, particularly with the quality of work he does with the derivation funds. He is an amazing personality and patriotic Nigerian.
“He is a brilliant leader who understands the importance of roads and infrastructure in the lives of the people and communities, and that is why he has continued to prioritise the construction of roads in Delta, as panacea for economic growth, job and wealth creation for Deltans.
“The construction of this bridge and roads will lead to the development of the communities and I must commend the governor for connecting the Urhobos and Ijaws with the Okwagbe road,” Obaseki said.
In his remarks, Okowa said that the Effurun-Otor-Ovwor bridge was one of the major requests of the people when he visited the communities in 2015.
He said that the vision of his administration was to connect Delta communities with roads, bridges and other basic amenities, adding that his administration had awarded contracts for no fewer than 500 road projects, with many already completed.
The governor commended the contractor of the projects, Obakpor Engineering Limited, for its engineering prowess and assured that he would deliver on the Ovwor hospital project in 2022.
“When I came to inspect the bridge while under construction, it was a very exciting moment even more exciting than what I saw today because I saw a traditional ruler walk on a wooden bridge to come and meet me on the other side of the bridge.
“Today, I believe that my joy knows no bounds because we have truly brought joy to the people of Ovwor-Olomu/Effurun-Otor.
“As the Commissioner for Works did say, we are currently continuing on the Trans-Warri road with several bridges and it is our hope that we will complete that project leading to Ode-Itsekiri in the course of our tenure.
“The Ayakoromo bridge is still undergoing construction, the Orere bridge in Ewu kingdom has just started.
“We made a promise last year and the project was awarded this January and it will cost the state government over N9 billion.
“The Benekuku/Kwale bridge has gone very far and it is about 75 per cent completed. We are hoping that by the end of the year, we should be able to commission that bridge.
“That bridge leads across to all the Agip facilities in Ndokwa East Local Government Area where we also have the gas plant and the power plant.
“We have also started the Isheagu/Ewulu bridge that links Isheagu town with Ewulu in Aniocha South Local Government and we will continue to do the best we can for our people,” Okowa said.
Commissioner for Works, Chief James Augoye, had said that the Effurun-Otor-Ovwor bridge was first awarded in 1979, re-awarded by OMPADEC in 1991 and abandoned, and later awarded in March, 2017 by the Okowa administration while Otu-Jeremi-Okwagbe road was awarded in March 2016 and completed in 2019.
Augoye said the bridge which was 100 metres and approach road of one kilometre was one of the many bridges that the administration embarked on.
Earlier in his welcome address, Dr Kofi had thanked Governor Okowa for placing premium on road construction in the state.
He said the succesful completion and inauguration of the Otu-Jeremi-Okwagbe road would restore economic activities in the communities, adding that his administration was inspired by the Okowa’s SMART Agenda to embark on the construction of internal roads in the council as well as skill acquisition programmes for youths in the area.
The Okobaro of Ughievwen Kingdom, HRM, Dr Matthew Egbi, Ohwahwa 11, had thanked the Governor for transforming the communities of Otu-Jeremi, Eyara, Imode, Oginibo, Okwagbe with a loop to Oghior and Otu-Jeremi
He said Ughievwen Kingdom is an investors’ haven as a major contributor to the nations oil and gas assets.
“It will be recalled that I led a delegation of the Ughievwen people to your office during your first term in office to request the construction of this road.
“With the construction of these roads we are now free from the hazards occasioned by the state of the roads until your kind intervention and we are eternally grateful to you our dear governor,” the monarch said.
Also speaking, Orovworere of Effurun-Otor Kingdom, HRM Johnson Duke, King Duke II, described Okowa as a listening governor who acts on the genuine demands of the people.
He said with the construction of the bridge, the communities now have direct, seamless and stressless journey to their various destinations.
Representative of Okwagbe communities expressed delight on the inauguration of the road, adding that the community suffered untold neglect and hardship since 1980 when the administration of Professor Ambrose Ali started the project but was abandoned by subsequent administrations.