By Godwin Utuedoye

 

 

Gov Okowa during the media brief

Gov Okowa during the media brief

Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa has refuted claims that his relationship with his immediate predecessor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan is frosty saying that those orchestrating the missive are ignorant and that “there is no love lost between the two of us”

Governor Ifeanyi made the clarification during his quarterly media briefing with journalists on Tuesday, February 7, 2017 at the NUJ press centre, Government House Asaba.

The governor who gave hints on different programmes of his administration lamented the price of crude oil which he said has gone down drastically thereby affecting the entire economy.

Noting that Delta State before the recent  blowing up of the Escravos trunk pipeline occupied the first position in terms of states producing large quantity of crude oil but said presently, Delta state now occupies the fourth position with Akwa-Ibom, Rivers and Bayelsa states topping the list. The governor said about 250,000 barrels of crude oil is been lost daily from Delta State alone to militant activities.

The governor said the just concluded Delta State Economic Summit achieved huge success and the document of its outcome will be made available at the next State Executive Council meeting and added that other actions that needed to be taken would be reviewed.

He reassured that the State Government was working hard to seeing the Delta Commercial City took off even though people were skeptical about Public, Private Sector Partnership in Agriculture, which was the main issue discussed at the summit, a situation that has made Foreign Direct Investment in the sector difficult.

Governor Okowa said government is still studying the document but promised that the Commissioner for Economic Planning and his team will make a formal presentation at the next State Executive Council meeting.

On the Ogbeh-Ijoh/Aladja communal crisis, Dr. Okowa assured of government readiness to put an end to the crisis which he said has warranted needless killings.

He assured that his administration was determined to resolve the issue of the disputed parcel of land between the two communities disclosing that the said parcel of land was presently being bulldozed by the State government to ensure maximum security of the area.

Commenting on the IPP project in Oghara and the Warri Industrial park, the state governor said government was assessing what is exactly on ground, the likely effects of what is on ground,  examine possible progress  and the next line of action to take –either to continue to partner with investors or sell it out.

He said a lot of investors are already coming but on the Warri Industrial Park, he stated that many issues relating to land ownership were yet to be resolved.

He however assured that the whole process will be revisited so that the private sector can come in forcefully.

When asked whether Delta State will keep to the December 2017 Digital Broadcasting, the Governor said the Commissioner for Information will brief the public on that.

On the issue of Fulani Herdsmen, the governor stated that until the country make grazing ranches in specific places, the problem of clashes will linger as the constitution of the country does not permit anyone to stop another from entering other parts of the country. But said the State government was working hard to ensure a mutual understanding between the herdsmen and their host.

The Governor informed that to ensure the reign of palpable peace, a Fulani man has been appointed at the state level to mediate between the herdsmen and the state in order to create a harmonious relationship to avoid the incessant loss of lives and properties on both sides but warned that government will not tolerate any one who will perpetuate crime and cover up as a herdsman.

On the Asaba-Ughelli dualization road project which has not been completed, the governor laid blame on paucity of fund to complete the project.

He said the road project was divided into three sectors with sector B completed while sector A is half way. He maintained that funding has been a major challenge but said certain amount was approved for the road project in the 2017 budget which he said will be given to the CCC Construction company handling the sector A. While the sector C he said, the same contractor handling it is also handling the Asaba International Airport project which he is very vital to the state economic and commercial activities. He said he wouldn’t want to disturb them as the state needs a quality job but promised that as soon as the airport project is completed, the Sector C linking Ughelli will commence.

On what government is doing with the 13% derivation, governor Okowa said, the salary wage bill of the state is so large that about 7 billion naira is spent on salaries. He said there are over 1000 primary schools in the state, the same thing at the secondary level and 62 functional government hospitals in the state. All these he said, are areas where money is spent. He also said the Niger-Delta region cannot be compared to other areas or regions in the country as the cost of building a 15 kilometer road in Delta State is higher than the cost of building a 50 kilometer road in the North due to the soil texture and the topography.

He gave an instance of an estimate he received on the construction of about 15 kilometer road from Ayakoromo to Burutu which he said was 34 billion naira but said whereas his counterpart in Nasarawa state is building a road of 50kilometers for just 3 billion naira.

The state governor appealed for understanding as most of the projects awarded by the previous administration was done with the hope that oil price will be stable but the reverse is the case presently.

He call on Deltans to support his administration as he has the feelings of the masses at heart and charged militants to eschew violence and incessant blowing of pipe an act which sabotages government efforts in developing the area.