Nigeria (Blank NEWS Online) –:
We are a non-governmental, political pressure group. And just as our name suggests, our focus is to monitor developments and evaluate legacies of our leaders especially here in Delta State, which is our primary constituency with a view to ensuring that our people, that is the electorate get value from those who have been saddled with the responsibility of leading them.
We also take out time to monitor and x-ray the utterances and actions of other stakeholders with a view to evaluating the extent to which they promote or hinder the progress of those in authority.
It is on account of such evaluation that we consider the recent attacks in the media on the person and office of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa by a one time member of his party the PDP, Dr Cairo Ojougbo as self-serving and unpatriotic.
As a group, we are not against people or groups asking government to be accountable to the people, neither do we believe that those in authority are infallible; however, such calls must be done in accordance with acceptable democratic norms and must be borne out of genuine love for the development and growth of the society.
It is on this premise that we are challenging the issues raised by Dr Ojougbo who until recently was in the same party with the Governor before he jumped into the APC. At this juncture, we must admit that it is not our business to question the tendencies of individuals who jump from one party to the other without respect for political ideology. But we believe we reserve the right to scrutinise their actions and utterances especially when such tend to politicize the policies and programmes of the government to the detriment of the electorate.
Those of us in the Legacy Group have taken time to investigate the coroversy surrounding the deployment of Paris Club Refund across States and we found the Government of Delta State to have scored high.
I am sure that most of you here must have read in the newspapers the total sum the State got on account of the Paris Club Refund in the three tranches and how it was distributed. Hence, we consider the alarm raised by Dr Ojougbo in which he alleged improper management of the Paris Club refund as a non-issue. We believe the reason Dr Ojougbo raised this false alarm is to distract the Government and that is our concern as a group focussed on the overall development of the people.
Dr Ojougbo’s allegation of a blank budget is another issue we consider unreasaonble, unrealistic and unpatriotic. Apart from the fact that a blank budget cannot exist otherwise it is not a budget, every well-meaning person can attest to the fact that the Delta State 2017 budget was publicly presented in November 2016, passed in February 2017 and signed into law in March 2017 as reported in various media. The sectoral allocations in that budget were also well captured in those media reports so the views of Dr Ojougbo in this regard appears self-serving and not targeted at promoting peace and tranquillity, which is the bedrock of development. Again that is why we are concerned!!
In the midst of economic recession and 16 months damage to the Forcados Export Trunk Pipeline, Governor Okowa has managed to fare well in the area of Road construction, Schools Rehabilitation, Job Creation and Urban Renewal and to this end, we will confront anybody who will not take steps to encourage the Government to consolidate on these modest achievements. Here again, the cry of nothing is happening by Dr Ojougbo cannot be said to be a reward for the administration’s hard work. You can still see why we are concerned!!!
Beyond what we have read in the media and the facts we gleaned from the different Town Hall Meetings, we have also independently ascertained that inspite of the challenges of economic recession, the Senator Okowa-led administration has completed the construction of 59 roads projects covering over 612 km including 300 km of concrete-lined drains. Another 79 roads are currently under construction and, in line with his objective of urban renewal and rural development, the administration has commenced construction of road projects in areas hitherto not attended to, particularly in the creeks such as Okerenkoko, Ogulagha, Burutu, Sokebulou among others.
It is obvious that such efforts require sufficient amount of courage, determination, fairness, equity and a deep sense of patriotism to undertake.
Another reason why we believe Governor Okowa needs encouragement and not attacks is the bold step taken to reconstruct the State-owned technical colleges in Agbor, Ofagbe, Sapele, Utagba-Ogbe, Otor-Ogor, and Issele-Uku. This gesture, no doubt, has helped infused life into technical and vocational education.
Under the Job Creation Scheme, the administration has trained and established 2,324 hitherto unemployed graduates and school leavers in their choice enterprises. Many of these enterprises are not only doing well, they are providing employment for other Deltans. Some of them are now beginning to train others as well. In addition, over 4,000 youths have been trained in vocational centres in the States. The administration’s introduction of the Graduate Employment Enhancement Programme (GEEP), which is designed to cater for unemployed graduates, has also transformed the lives of a number of unemployed graduates in the state.
Beyond our knowledge of what the administration of Governor Okowa is doing to add value to Deltans, we also tried to find out why Dr Ojougbo is not seeing the positive efforts of the administration. Our investigation revealed that he had asked the Governor to allow him be in control of his Ika South Local Government in terms of elective offices and appointments, without adherence to democratic principles. But the Governor would not accede to such an undemocratic request. Rather, he encouraged him to follow democratic principles, which obviously didn’t go down well with Dr Ojougboh.
Again, Dr Ojougbo is said to have undemocratically wanted to retain his seat as National Vice Chairman of the PDP, South South. But in line with the principles of fairness, equity and justice, all the major stakeholders of the PDP in Delta State zoned that position to another Senatorial District other than the Senatorial District of the Governor where Dr Ojougbo belongs. If indeed these are the sources of his anger, again we believe it is unfortunate and, yes, self-serving.
We believe that people must play politics but not to the extent of becoming a clog in the wheel of progress. We urge politicians not to allow their personal interests to override public interests.
For the avoidance of doubt, we expect citizens to criticise the government when the need arises because it is an essential ingredient of democracy; but we hold the view that such criticisms must find a reasonable space on the track of objectivity and patriotism.
So far, we are convinced that Dr Cairo Ojougbo has not been objective, as there seems not to be any element of patriotism in his outbursts.
Deltans should rise up in one accord and reject falsehood and propaganda.
Dr. Chris Okobah
Vice President/National Leader
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