Uduaghan Sworn in

Uduaghan Sworn in Again

By Victor Efeizomo

Over the last two months, as I consulted far and wide on the rerun election, we spent time assessing and understanding the issue and the challenges that confront our people, we heard your concerns laud and Clare and we will do more to earn your trust. In the coming days we are going to focus on building trust between the government and the governed and deepening reconciliation between our various ethnic nationalities.

These were the words of Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan yesterday in Asaba, shortly after he was sworn in as the governor 72 hours after INEC declared him the winner of the rerun election in the state.

Udughan who did not hide his joy and enthusiasm of returning to power after the Appeal Court in Benin annulled his election in 2007, told a large crowed that graced the swearing in ceremony at Cenotaph , an event centre, that is administration will focus on rebuilding the state.

Our common goal is to rebuild our state, devoid of ethnicity, strife and rancour. Today , we must stand together , to reunite our people , I must say that I bear no ill feelings whatsoever , however against my opponents or those who voted against me, from now on we must return with greater vigour to the people's work founded on our three point agenda.

The visibly elated Uduaghan also stated that I assure you that this will not be business as usual. We are going to do things differently in order to articulate our common objectives. this in the time for action, and to all members of my administration, this is a time for action, I want to also let you know that I will listen more, do more and work more with you in making Delta a better state as we aggressively pursuer the delivery of our campaign promises.

The out going acting governor, Hon. San Obi in his speech said: I must commend Deltans for the peaceful manner the election was generally conducted , in spite of hues and cries of anti-democratic forces before the election, it took off smoothly and passed the litmus test of every acceptable election in any and every democratic setting.

Obi said the election was generally peaceful, fair, credible and acceptable to everyone who was involved in the whole exercise, adding that I thank all of you for accepting my appeal that our state should be a model in the conduct of election in our dear country.
Source: This Day, 11th January 2011.

 

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Uduaghan declared winner 2

Uduaghan Wins Delta Rerun Polls

FROM HENDRIX OLIOMOGBE, ASABA AND CHIDO OKAFOR, WARRI

Clark, Ogboru Allege Fraud, Want Election Cancelled, Darah Disagrees

AFTER a tortuous wait by reporters who kept vigil Thursday night at the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Asaba, Dr. Emmanuel Ewetan Uduaghan of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) was at last declared winner of the Delta State governorship election re-run by the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr. Gabriel Ada at about 6.07pm yesterday.

According to Ada,  Uduaghan polled 275,253 out of the  450,736 total votes cast to defeat his nearest rival, Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru of the Democratic People's Party (DPP) who got 138,244. 

Ada said that he declared Uduaghan the winner because the former governor duly satisfied the requirements of law.

Uduaghan, Abigborodo town in Warri North Council, in accordance with Section 27(2F) of the Electoral Act, scored one quarter of the ballots cast in 20 out of the 25 local councils in the state while Ogboru scored one quarter of the total votes in 13 local Councils.

He said:"Uduaghan has scored the highest number of vote cast and not less than one quarter in two third of the Local Government.  Having satisfied the requirements of law is hereby declared the winner."

Five out of the14 parties that contested the election however refused to sign the result as they insisted that the polls were heavily rigged in favour of the PDP. They are the DPP, Democratic People's Party (DPA), Progressive People's Alliance (PPA), Republican Party of Nigeria (RPN), People's Redemption Party (PRP) and the Nigeria Masses Democratic Party (NMDP).  

Ogboru equally faulted the exercise, saying that it was flawed in many respects.

Also, the leader of the Delta Elders, leaders and Stakeholders Forum, Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark, called for the cancellation of election alleging large-scale irregularities.

A mild drama had ensued earlier when the party agent of DPP, Prof. Jike stormed out of the collation centre in protest over alleged malpractices.

The results which started trickling in late yesterday morning drew strong protests from some youths who besieged the Commission's headquarters on Okpanam Road.

Singing solidarity songs, the protesters who hauled insults at heavily armed guards who were drafted to maintain peace demanded the cancellation of the election result which they said were marred by irregularities.

They vowed that the protest would continue unless the 'real winner' of the election was either declared by INEC or the election was annulled and fresh polls ordered.

To prevent them from storming the premises of the Commission, the police released some canisters of teargas which made people to scamper for safety.

On the call for the outright cancellation of the polls by some members of the opposition parties as a result of allegation of widespread irregularities, Ada said that the option would only be attractive if the parties came with hard evidence of manipulation and violence.

However, the Director-General of the Uduaghan Campaign Organization, Prof. Godini Darah, said that the result clearly spoke the minds of the people of the state and so should be allowed to stay instead of the cancellation as demanded by his opponent.

Darah said: "I am very happy and excited at the outcome of the election because it has proved that we had a mandate before. We will continue to be in charge of the state like we have done in the last 12 years. Our victory in the entire state from the North to Central and South Senatorial district showed that it was not parochial or limited in geographical spread."

In an interview at the INEC office, Ogboru said: "In Ethiope West, particularly in Oghara, there was so much shooting that we have to inform our agents to pull out of those areas. As at 2-3 pm, election had not taken place, so we were surprised that results were coming out. If you go to Koko as we are speaking now, you cannot find 5,000 people. So where are the 37,000 voters coming from?

"People were law-abiding, but when people started shooting and the police could not even arrest them, then we started to question what the police were doing. If the police were unarmed, why were they sent to those places when they knew that some people were armed? People were shooting sporadically into the air, chasing people all over the place. In one instance, our agents who were going to Ogbe Ijoh, Warri South West Council were arrested and detained so that PDP agents will take away the materials. They took away those materials and kept our agents there. We have to call the naval officer before they were released. At that time, the materials had gone and those materials didn't come until this morning."

On whether he would seek legal redress, he remarked: "We have to wait and see. We have to hear from the REC, Dr. Ada, to know what steps he is going to take to address the complaints that we have made. We have made very valid and pertinent claims about these irregularities.

"Deltans must be steadfast. I know that this injustice will not be allowed to stand. I am accusing the candidate of the PDP, the security officers who were on duty in the constituencies I mentioned above. I am also accusing INEC officials who were in those constituencies. They all work in cohort in concert to disenfranchised Deltans.

"In any case, we have said before that this election should not have been conducted in the first place until a proper register was made available to Deltans. Now, they disenfranchised most of us in Delta North and Central because we didn't have voters card and then came out with bogus results to undermine us. Our supporters would have to do what is always right. We don't expect them to be violent in their protests.

"Look at places like Ughelli,  Udu, Effurun, all of which are thickly populated, bringing out votes of fewer than 5,000, 10,000. If Sapele is bringing out a vote of about 8,000, how can Koko that is at least ten times less populated than Sapele bring out 37, 000. We are asking that there should be a forensic analysis of those results from those areas before the final results are announced.

"We are trying to get away from the era where people just sit down and thumb print ballot papers and come to announce them. What happened yesterday showed that nothing has changed. Election took place in most of Delta North and Central but not so in the South. Other than Isoko, there were no elections in practically the whole of South.

"While voting was taking place in Ughelli North, Prof. Attahiru Jega, he witnessed a minor incidence and instantly annulled the result on the basis of that. Ughelli North is a very big constituency with big towns like Agbarho, Agbara Otor, Orogun which are very far apart. How can the skirmish that is taking place in a place that affects another that is some 20 km? It was a very erratic and irresponsible decision by the INEC Chairman to have annulled the election."

Clark who spoke with The Guardian yesterday at his country home in Kiagbodo, Burutu Council, Delta State, said he has lost total confidence in INEC's ability to conduct free and fair election in the country judging by what he saw on Thursday in different parts of the state particularly his ward where he alleged INEC connived with some government officials to ensure that no material was sent to Kiagbodo.

His words: "If I tell you that I have lost confidence in the whole system you won't believe it. I do not know at this stage whether INEC – looking at what happened in Delta state yesterday - during the rerun election free and fair election leading to one-man-one- vote in April. I'm shocked. A situation whereby the chairman of INEC himself (Jega)went round, saw things himself and all the things that went wrong yet nothing was done to check the fraud. As someone observed, replacing Prof. Iwu with Jega didn't change anything. The same officials and same corrupt officials are still there.

"I got information that about three key INEC officials in this election had been corrupted and I included it in the advertorial I did in one of the national dailies before the election. I drew the attention of the INEC Chairman to the irregularities we were experiencing as a result of the corrupt practices of some of his colleagues whom I mentioned in that publication. That the national chairman in charge of Delta, the national chairman in charge of operations and the national chairman in charge of legal – so as far as l am concerned I took the trouble to mention to him that the INEC officials were not ready for the election."

Clark added that the voters register would have been displayed at least five days before the election.
Source: The Guardian, 8th January 2011.

 

Uduaghan Elects

Low turnout at polling stations

FROM MOHAMMED ABUBAKAR, ASABA

YESTERDAY'S governorship re-run election in Delta State went on peacefully, but witnessed low turnout of voters.

In most of the polling stations visited, voters were seen trickling out to exercise their franchise.

Ousted governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan, voted in his Abigborodo village in Warri North Council. He arrived at the village at exactly 11a.m. yesterday accompanied by his wife, Roli, and other personal aides. From there, he went directly to the Umuegbe Primary School Ward 6, where he was accredited almost five minutes later.

Amidst tumultuous song, the former governor, who arrived at the village from Ugberu Koko on a Naval speedboat with the registration number NY 4830 FM, greeted the people in the four polling units that constituted the ward, who have patiently queued up waiting to be accredited.

The accreditation exercise itself did not commence until about one and a half hours after the 9a.m. commencement time by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

However, the accreditation went on smoothly as prospective voters waited patiently for their turn. Similarly, the former governor voted at the same unit.

After casting his vote, Uduaghan expressed satisfaction with the preparations leading to the conduct of the exercise.

He said: "Well, the process has just started. First, we can see the enthusiasm among voters, but so far so good.

"You can see that INEC has been able to get the materials to the rural areas. This is a very remote area and so far so good."

The former governor expressed confidence that he would carry the day, adding: "If I'm not optimistic, I would not have taken part in the process, but like I said, the turnout of the people is very impressive – an indication that the people are becoming politically aware."

But while the there was orderly conduct in his community, the situation was quite different in the nearby Sapele Local Council, where hundreds of voters protested on account of not finding their names on the voters' register.

This was contrary to the claim by the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega, that the old register had been thoroughly clean up for the exercise.

Briefing the Resident Electoral Commissioners in Abuja on Tuesday, Jega said because of the shortness of the time left to conduct the Delta State re-run election, the commission had decided to clean up the old contentious register, where a lot of errors were corrected.

But at Ward 4, units 16 and 17, hundreds of voters protested the non-appearance of their names on the voters' register.

For instance, in unit 16 of the ward, out of the 95 people who are registered to vote, only 27 people were able to find their names on the register.

Some of the people The Guardian spoke to alleged bias against INEC because they felt the place was the backbone of the support for the candidate of the opposition Democratic Peoples Party (DPP), Great Ovedge Ogboru.

At Okpanam, Ward 9, near Asaba, the state capital, the collation officer confirmed to reporters that most of the people could not find their names on the voters' register, but that they were directed to the appropriate places where they could find their names.

As at 3.30p.m., he confirmed that results from only three units in the ward had so far been received.
Source: The Guardian, 7th January 2011.

 

Delta Tackles Kidnapping, ACN Decries Insecurity

FROM KELVIN EBIRI, PORT HARCOURT

DELTA State government yesterday set up a combined military task force to rid the state of kidnappers in the wake of the recent abduction of 15 school children by ransom-seekers in Abia State.

The development came as the National Association of Seadogs (NAS) urged the Federal Government to take an immediate and sustained action against incessant kidnappings in the country, especially in the South West, South East and South South regions.

Meanwhile, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has expressed grave concern over the worsening security situation in the country, saying the Federal Government has failed "woefully" in its key responsibility of ensuring the safety of lives and property and must now admit its failure and make amends.

Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, who inaugurated the team in Warri, warned hoodlums planning to use the state as a safe haven for carrying out their criminal activities to turn a new leaf or face the full weight of the law.

According to a statement, the governor affirmed that the state government's action was in response to the recent kidnap of 15 children in Abia State by criminals, noting that "the way Nigeria is, once something happens elsewhere people tend to copy it in other places."

He directed the military to comb the nooks and crannies of the state for known kidnappers and suspects in order to ensure that there is no similar incident in Delta.

"This is a state that has zero tolerance for kidnapping. We have done it before and we can do it again. We achieved near zero tolerance, but right now, it is like some persons outside the state who are into kidnapping have sneaked into the state and we are determined to fish them out, whether from this state or outside the state," Uduaghan said.

The governor revealed that 80 persons are currently facing trial for kidnappings in the state, adding that "death penalty has not stopped any crime in the world, even in the days of public execution of armed robbers, you still see people robbing while it was going on."

NAS President, Oscar Egwuonwu, in a statement to mark the country's 50th independence, said government must not compromise on adequate security of lives and property, anywhere in Nigeria, in its collective effort to build a virile nation.

To this end, he canvassed that the police be decentralised to pave way for state and community policing in line with what is prevalent in other climes.

Similarly, the Lebanese community in Port Harcourt has appealed to the abductors of a Catholic priest of Lebanese extraction, Father Joseph Keiruz, who was abducted at Obehie Abia State, to release him.

A member of the Lebanese community who pleaded anonymity has appealed to the Federal Government to expedite action towards the release of Father Keiruz.

"Father Keiruz is a missionary catholic priest and was kidnapped on Tuesday 21st September at Obehie about 11:30am. Up till now, he is held captive in the hands of the kidnappers. We appeal to the Federal Government to assist us free him, the priest is an asthmatic patient and we fear he does not have access to his medication. He was in Abia on a missionary mission," he said.

In a statement issued in Lagos yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the ACN said the abduction of 15 school children in Abia State on Monday is the high-point of security failure, wondering how "Nigeria can expect to be counted among decent nations when its children cannot even go to school safely."

It also wondered how the government could expect to host hundreds of important guests from around the world to a banquet to celebrate the nation's 50th independence anniversary, when 15 young and innocent children are incarcerated by depraved gunmen.

''As we write this piece, those 15 school children are still languishing in a kidnappers' den, just like hapless youth corpers and many other Nigerians and foreigners. Yet, there has been no expression of outrage by our leaders, beyond a tepid statement by the presidency," the statement read.

The party noted that ''even in countries at war, women and children are largely spared the agony that our own most vulnerable citizens are being subjected to in peace-time Nigeria. Yet we have a myriad of security agencies, including the police and the State Security Service (SSS), whose duty it is to ensure the security of lives and property.

''It is time we took another look at these agencies to see if they are well equipped, in terms of attitude, training and necessary tool, to carry out the responsibilities they are saddled with. The government must also be ready to wield the big stick against top police bosses who seem to have lost the initiative to the criminals. Enough is enough,'' ACN said.
Source: Leadership, 1st October 2010.

 

Church executes 4 water projects in Warri

Emma Amaize and Akpokona Omafuaire

WARRI — THE Believers' LoveWorld Inc. Delta State, is to commission four water projects to put smile on the faces of residents of Agbassa, Mechanic Village, Igbudu and Merogun in Warri, Delta State and rekindle their spirit of nation building on the occasion of the country's 50th independence anniversary.

Pastor in-charge of Warri, Pastor Siji Dara, stated this when the church launched its "Reach out Nigeria,"  a pet project of the church's President, Reverend Chris Oyakhilome, adding: "we will be organising a football competition to groom youths and will provide  computers to the Okere Prison in Warri to ensure that inmates are well rehabilitated, we engaged in rehabilitation of several schools and provision of furniture before now"

He said the programme with the theme, "50years, 50smiles, 50heroes…celebrating Hope in the Jubilee" was also to raise the hope of a better Nigeria in the people, adding, "We will be giving out several million copies of Rhapsodies of reality, we believe that there is reason for Nigerians to celebrate, Rev. Oyakhilome believes so much in the Nigerian projects, we might have had several bitter experiences about the country but there is hope, the future is bright".

Pastor Dara said,  "We will give out a thousand copies of Rhapsodies to Hotels and prison", pointing that as part of the  celebration, some items would be donated to Old Peoples Homes and Orphanages because the church believes so much in unity of the country and that no aspect of it will be left out".

On his part, Governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, who represented by Chief Frank Omare, Commissioner for Housing said, "We acknowledge the various contributions of the Church to Nigeria and Delta State", adding, if not for Christians and the sincere prayers, there wouldn't have been peace in the state, what the Church has done cannot be quantified in monetary terms."
Source: Vanguard, 30th September 2010.

 

Mayhem in Asaba as policeman kills driver, cult groups clash

By Austin Ogwuda

ASABA — HELL was let loose on Monday night in Asaba, Delta State capital, when a Mobile Policeman shot dead a commercial bus driver over alleged traffic offence.

The incident took place between Traffic Light and Mammy Market along Nnebisi Road, Asaba. Vanguard gathered that the policeman and his colleagues were in a Hilux van, when the said bus driver reportedly hit the van and fled. The policemen pursued him and as the escort van tried to double-cross him, the bus driver jumped out of the bus and started running but the trigger-happy policeman shot him at the abdomen and he died immediately.

Vanguard gathered that immediately the bus driver gave up the ghost, passersby mobbed the policeman, who fired the shot while other policemen in his company fled. He was beaten to pulp.

Also the same night, rival cult groups clashed in Asaba, shooting sporadically,which forced many shop owners to lock up.
Source: Vanguard, 29th September 2010.

 

Niger Delta Gulps Over N2.1tr – Orubebe

CHRISTIANA ESEBONU, AND JULIANA ANCHEDO, ABUJA

A Whooping sum of N2.1 trillion has been earmarked  by the Federal government for developmental projects to ensure rapid socio-economic growth in the Niger-Delta region.

LEADERSHIP  checks revealled that  this amount is to be expended on infrastructural ,environmental , human capital and security projects.

The minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Elder Godsday Peter Orubebe confirmed the estimate, adding that  the ministry has surmounted all odds to attain huge success in ushering in development to the once neglected and restive region which has confounded  book makers as its reputation within nineteen months of its establishment is record breaking.

Orubebe    yesterday in Abuja during the ministry's 2010 ministerial press briefing, further gave a break-down how the budgeted funds would be expended

According to him, the federal government which is so committed  to reposition the region has proposed  pragmatic programmes to be implemented for the betterment of the region .

In his address, Orubebe  disclosed that the contracts  for the construction of nine (9) comprehensive skill acquisition centres which will cost over #27 billion have been awarded.

Additionally, he pointed out that the dualisation of the 731 kilometre East-West road which cuts across  Delta  and, Akwa  Ibom  states  with over 40% recorded progress is expected to cost over  N200 biliion  and is marked to be completed by 2012.

On the Coastal Road High way, he said the  contract is set to be awared in October and commissioned by 2015,  and  explained that the dual carriageway is estimated to cost about #1.5 trillion .

Other projects, according to him, are the east-west railway, post-amnesty intervention project which has  N5billion appropriated for it in the 2010 supplementary budget.

On the list also is the 35 kilometer long Owerri -Elele road which he said   would  cost about N21.5billion , and the Obehie-Akwette road which is to consume about #13.2billion, as well as housing for the deltans which  has  N6billion mapped out for it.

He identified  the task ahead as a challenging one, however, Orubebe was optimistic that  given a fovourable environment his administration would do exploits in the region.

He revealed that an integrated master plan for the regions development is in works which  would enable the various stake holders  play their roles properly to position  the region on the world's  map.
Sources: Leadership, 14th September 2010.

 

Gunmen Kill Business Man In Delta

Kola Niyi-Eke, Asaba

Dare devil gunmen have killed one Edafe Moovin in Oghara, Delta state after he was said to have been pursued to tight corner where they rained bullets and snuffed life out of him.

The deceased wife, Mrs Janet Moovin told Leadership Sunday that her husband met his waterloo that fateful morning as she was informed of his traveling to Koko to effect repairs of one his lorries that broke down two days before the incident.

She disclosed that few minutes later, she heard the sound of her husband's vehicle leaving the premises and in a twinkling of an eye, another sound of gun shots were consistently registered around her residence which attracted her attention through the window only to see an unregistered vehicle with four occupants zoomed off.

According to her, on hearing the sound of the gun, she and her son  rushed outside only to find her husband in a pool of blood with deep cut on the side bow gushing out blood profusely.

The widow said that she removed the bullets that pierced out from the other side of the husband's bone while she tried to revive him but discovered that he had given up the ghost

Unconfirmed sources said that the gunmen on arrival at the scene allegedly turned away children who had come to fetch water at the premises of the late Edafe when they (suspects) blocked the road leading to the victim's house.

During the struggle, our informed source added, Edafe was told to get into the boot of their vehicle which he refused before they unleashed terror on him.

However, further investigation revealed that the corpse of the victim had since been deposited at the general hospital's morgue in Oghara.

ASP Charles Muka, police image maker in the State confirmed the incident adding that police in Oghara are still on the trail of the gunmen.
Source: Leadership, 12th September 2010.

 

Militants Ban Dokpesi From Niger Delta

ANAYO ONUKWUGHA, PORT HARCOURT

A militant group, the Joint Revolutionary Council (JRC), has declared a chieftain of the South-South Peoples Assembly (SSPA,) Chief Raymond Dokpesi, persona non grata to the Niger Delta region, descrbing him as a bad leg in the aspirations of people of the region.

This is coming barely 24 hours after chiefs and leaders of the South-South, including prominent Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark, suspended him from the SSPA at the end of its meeting in Abuja.

The JRC, which comprises  the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force (NDPVF) and the Martyrs Brigade, said Chief Dokpesi did not mean well for the region.

Although the militant group did not state the reason for calling Dokpesi a black leg, but their position may not be unconnected with Dokpesi's current job as the director-general of the campaign organisation of erstwhile military ruler, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida.

The position of the JRC was contained in an electronic mail entitled, 'Dokpesi: Persona Non Grata in the Niger Delta', deposed to by JRC spokesperson, Cynthia Whyte.

The group stated that "any Niger Deltan who will trade the destiny of millions of people of the region for filthy lucre is not worthy of existence."

The statement reads further, "In furtherance thereof, we demand that all persons advancing the cause of Southern and Niger Delta interests should immediately cease every relationship with Raymond Dokpesi and all of his business interests.

"Government institutions and parastatals, youth groups and all others are hereby warned from participating in programmes run by Raymond Dokpesi.

"However, let us commend all those who have chosen to remain resolute and fight the Jonathan cause despite the of grim persecution, financial and social temptations, the group said.

"We commend the likes of Chief Dumo Lulu Briggs, Professor Kimse Okoko, Chief Edwin Clark and all the governors of the various 'Bantustan' states across the Nigerian state even though we are aware that certain governors in the Niger Delta secretly do not wish Jonathan well."
Source: Leadership, 10th September 2010.

 

Delta Road Projects Gulp N150b In 10 Years

KOLA NIYI-EKE, ASABA

Detla State road projects have consumed  about N150 billion in the last 10 years.

Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan disclosed this when reacting to allegations of embezzlement by political opponents to journalists in Asaba.

According to him, between 1999 and 2009, his government awarded contracts for the construction of various roads to boast infrastructural development in the state.

He said his  government had required a total sum of N52 billion to be able to carry out the project of providing basic needs for schools.

The governor expressed dismay over inflammatory rumour perpetrated by those he called "enemies" of the state, pointing out that the dearth of infrastructure development as seen by the "enemies" have been upgraded to a standard.

While urging Deltans to keep abreast with political trends back home by ensuring that they know their constituencies and wards, the governor warned against rumour mongering, saying it brings  distrust in any governmental system.

Governor Uduaghan noted that education remained the key to development and good leadership, but wondered why more than half of primary school teachers in Nigeria are rated as unqualified.
Source: Leadership, 10th September 2010.

 

Four killed, Many Injured in Delta Youths Clash

By Simon Utebor, Warri

No fewer than four persons were feared killed and several others sustained injuries as rival youth groups clashed in Effurun, Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State, on Wednesday.

Our correspondent gathered that trouble started on Tuesday when some suspected miscreants from Ekpan clashed with youths at the JJC area of the metropolis over leadership tussle.

An eyewitness, who craved anonymity, said the fracas was triggered by an attempt to bury the remains of one of the youths, identified simply as Abel, who was allegedly killed by some miscreants.

He said that a certain 'kingpin' on Airport Road area insisted the corpse must not be buried since his permission had not been sought.

This development, he told our correspondent, infuriate youths leader from JJC, who decided to invite some youths from Ekpan to attack the 'kingpin.'

He claimed, "It started about 10pm on Wednesday. When the Ekpan youths came, the situation changed. The Ekpan youths in collaboration with the JJC youths overpowered the youths from the Airport Road area and the burial was carried out. However, this did not go down well with them as they decided to fight back. That was what threw the entire metropolis into pandemonium.

"I can say that more than four persons died. Many people also sustained serious injuries. We did not see policemen during the fracas. So many people who were scampering to safety sustained injuries while running for their lives. It was such a black night. I will never forget it."

Another eyewitness, who identified himself as Charity, told our correspondent that the rival youths employed all sorts of dangerous weapons, including machetes, clubs, pump action riffles in the fracas.

Our correspondent gathered that policemen did not come to the scene of the fracas, but only showed up after the situation had calmed down.

But the Divisional Police Officer, Ekpan police station, Mr. Mohammed Muazu, told our correspondent on the telephone that if the police did not intervene, the matter would have assumed a more dangerous dimension.

He confirmed that people were killed in the fracas but he did not clarify the exact number of persons who died during the confrontation.

Muazu promised that his division would take appropriate steps to ensure that those behind the fracas were apprehended and prosecuted accordingly.

Efforts to speak with the Police Public Relations Officer, Delta State Command, Mr. Charles Muka, were unsuccessful as his telephone line was switched off as at press time.
Source: Punch, 10th September 2010.

 

Uduaghan Comfortable with INEC Time Table, Says Campaign Organisation

ANONYMOUS

The campaign organisation for the re-election of Emmanuel Uduaghan as governor of Delta in 2011 has said that the governor is comfortable with the elections timetable. The organisation said that the timetable released by INEC on Tuesday was long expected and would make the organisation to put its "long prepared" strategies to work. The deputy director general of the organisation, Festus Okubor, told newsmen in Asaba on Thursday that the governor "has been waiting for the timetable and is very comfortable with it". He said that the governor and the group recognised INEC's constraints and commended the commission for producing a "realistic programme" for the elections.

He said that the timetable gave hope for credibility of the exercise. Okubor called on the political class to instead of picking holes with the timetable to support the commission to deliver on its mandate of giving the nation a credible election. He said, "The Uduaghan 2011 Campaign Organisation and the governor have always been ready for the elections and now that the timetable is out, we will commence a peaceful and issues-oriented electioneering. "Uduaghan's performance in the state so far puts him in a confident mood for triumph at the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)'s primaries.

"We will go into campaigns and there we will tell the electorate, at every stage, the realities about the governor's efforts at practical prosecution of his three-point agenda." He added that the governor had executed landmark projects that would continue to impact on the lives of the citizens.

The campaign organisation's boss called on opponents of the governor in the gubernatorial race to eschew bitterness in their campaigns as it was clear that most of their 'attacks' on him were personal.

He also said that some of the governor's opponents were persons whose activities "will not in anyway, translate into value for the people". (NAN)
Source: Business Daily, 10th September 2010.

 

No vacancy in Govt House Asaba —Warri Ijaw

WARRI—THE Ijaws of Warri from the three local government areas in Delta State, yesterday declared that there is no vacancy in Government House, Asaba, as they passed a vote of confidence in Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan as their preferred candidate for the 2011 election, in view of his outstanding performance and representation.

Chief Dennis Otuaro moved the motion, which was seconded by Chief Jimmy Taylor at a town hall meeting on the re-election of Governor Uduaghan, held in Warri.

According to the convener of the meeting, Chief Frank Omare, Commissioner for Housing, "We gathered as believers of an epoch making event in our collective history, the only leader the Ijaw of Warri knows is Governor Uduaghan. He is at the forefront of President Goodluck Jonathan's re-election."

Uduaghan has empowered many Ijaw sons and daughters."

"Uduaghan is our own, he has appointed so many Ijaws, built schools and is constructing a new town in Okerenkoko. We want to support him so that he can complete the many works he is doing in our land,"Omare said.

Moving the motion, Otuaro said "Uduaghan has done well, he also meant well for Deltans, I hereby move a motion that we support him for 2011. I want us to declare that there is no vacancy in the Government House Asaba come 2011."

Chief Taylor, Director, Direct Labour Agency, added "I second the motion for the endorsement of Governor Uduaghan and also affirm that there is no vacancy in Government House because he will continue till 2015. He has done well. I call on all Deltans to support him."
Source: Vanguard, 8th September 2010.

 

Uduaghan Pledges to Implement Vision 2020

EDITOR

GOVERNOR Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta has assured Deltans that efforts would be intensified on Vision 2020 document to ensure that when operational, it would bring rapid development to the state.

The governor, who spoke at the weekend in Asaba during the closing ceremony of a two-day meeting of the council members of Vision 2020, described long-term economic plans as vital for growth and development.

According to him, without such long-term plans, states and countries would be groping in the dark, thereby missing their mark and mission.

Uduaghan said that without economic development plan, a state would be in constant confusion, experiencing severe clog in its wheel of progress and development.

The governor, therefore, explained that with Vision 2020, the state could forecast into the future and gauge its resources and take care of every sector of the economy.

Promising to use the Vision 2020 document to prepare a roadmap to boost the growth of infrastructure in the state, Uduaghan urged members of the committee to ensure that ministries, extra-ministerial departments and parastatals were sensitised to be fully involved in the implementation of the Vision 2020 document.

He added: "Vision 2020 document is expected to guide us in our plans so that we tackle the problems in all sectors properly and do what is right".

Uduaghan was optimistic that members of the committee would work hard to satisfy the yearnings and aspirations of Deltans.

He commended the council members for their commitment and sacrifice and prayed God to sustain the passion in them as the task ahead was challenging.

Meanwhile, indications emerged that about six weeks old strike embarked by medical and health workers in Delta State would be called off in a few days.

This is sequel to a meeting held between representatives of health workers, Nigeria Labour Congress and Uduaghan in Asaba.

Speaking to reporters at the end of the meeting, various union leaders were optimistic that the strike would end very soon.

They expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the meeting and promised to brief their members so that the strike could be called off.

The State Chairman of the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives, Ejiro Egbedi, expressed appreciation to Uduaghan for his open door policy and for personally negotiating with them.
Source: The Guardian, 7th September 2010.

 

Delta Has Decided for Jonathan, Says EK Clark
•Uduaghan absent at rally but DTSG provides security

From Omon-Julius Onabu in Warri

South-south leader, Chief Edwin Clark, yesterday in Warri, Delta State, said the people of Delta State have decided to back the candidacy of President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2011 presidential election.

Clark, who spoke to THISDAY after a rally in Warri attended by a large crowd of people from all the local government areas in the state, said the gathering in which every local government area sent a minimum of about 400 respresentatives indicated clearly that the state has taken a decision on the 2011 presidential election and that the decision is that Jonathan is their choice candidate.

Clark said supported the rally after going through THISDAY's Political Tren-ding report which indicated that PDP delegates from Delta State are still undecided.

Clark said yesterday's rally was a clear signal from the people of Delta State that they have decided to support Jonathan.

"After this rally attended by thousands of people and in which each local government area has a minimum of 400 people, you people can see that Delta State is not undecided. We have decided to support Jonathan," he said.

The rally planned to mobilise support for the President held at a public field on Refinery road in Warri had in attendance, the two senators from the state who are PDP members- James Manager and Adego Eferekeya, former senator Francis Okpozo, former governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, former presidential spokesman, Dr. Doyin Okupe, both of whom were present to offer solidarity support, and party leaders from all the local government areas.

In an apparent demonstration of the fact that the rally was aimed at showing how the people would vote in the presidential election, Clark told the people that "you have said it all. I am happy we have all agreed that Jonathan is our candidate."

He also commended the people for backing Jonathan to run for the presidency in the next election.

Also, speaking at the occasion, the senator representing Delta South District, Senator Manager, said Jonathan's presidential candidacy was a reality.

 

Manager, who allayed fears about any rift between Jonathan and Uduaghan, noted that the support for Jonathan "is a must for the people of Delta State". He said all senators from the state had decided to give the President their full support.

Also speaking at the rally, Ezeife told the people of the Niger Delta that they did not have any reason not to support one of their own for the presidential position of the country. "You must endeavour to support Goodluck Jonathan", he said.

Manager's colleague, Senator Eferakeya, representing Delta Central Dis-trict, said the South-south zone should take advantage of the opportunity offered by the 2011 polls to rewrite the history of Nigeria.

Prof Eferekeya said the ascension of President Jonathan into his present position was divine.

The rally also had in attendance, aspirants for different offices like the gubernatorial, state and National Assembly seats who came with their supporters. The supporters wore branded T-shirts, caps and generously displayed banners and posters to spread the message of their candidates for the various offices.

However, the rally was not attended by any Delta State government official. THISDAY gathered that the absence of Delta State government officials at the rally was occasioned by the fact that the organisers did not inform Uduaghan about the gathering.

A source said when the governor heard about the rally just before it started, he directed the police commissioner and other security agencies to ensure the security of the people at the rally.

The governor dismissed the advice from some of his supporters that he should order the cancellation of the rally. He also gave a stern warning to his supporters who were threatening to disrupt the proceeding.

"Governor Uduaghan gave serious support to ensure the success of the rally even though neither he nor any government official was present," a source said.
Source: This Day, 5th September 2010.

 

'After Infrastructure, We Need To Build Human Capital Resources For Niger Delta'

BY ARMSFREE AJANAKU ONOMO

FOR an interventionist agency that was set up some 10 years ago, the Niger-Delta Development Commission has since gone on to occupy an important position in the expectations of the people of the region. So much have the expectations being that successive leaders of the commission have grappled with the right formulas to tackle the myriad of challenges confronting the people within its sphere of operation.

During those humble beginnings 10 years ago, there was a near fanatic focus on infrastructural development as the only way to pacify the restive youths of the region. The thinking was that if Niger-Delta cities became like Abuja, the agitations would simmer. Very few reasoned that even if there were beautiful bridges and roads, if the human beings around are not empowered to find life meaningful enough to use such infrastructure, there would still be issues.

So after a decade of near exclusive focus on physical aspect of development, the commission is now re-aligning its programmes in order to impact on the crucial area of human capital development.

So, it was that at a breakfast meeting with editors in Lagos last week, the man who calls the shots at the NDDC, Chibuzor Ugwoha tried to dissect the fine points of the paradigm shift at the commission.

 

The MD/CEO gave an inkling of the new direction when he observed that infrastructural development alone would not solve the many problems of the area. Speaking passionately, he reflected that for development in the area to be rounded, and beneficial to the people, the development of human capital had to be taken as seriously as the quest to build infrastructure.

So why did it take the commission nearly 10 years to come to this realization? Ugwoha explained that the realities of the period made it necessary for his predecessors to focus on infrastructure, since the people were interested in seeing action. "They (predecessors) had to address some very urgent issues, so that people can see that actions are being taken. But now, if we must sustain development, we need to go back to do the right thing, and that is what we are doing. We started our race with countries like China, South Korea, Brazil, India; they realised on time, and they went for human capital development, and today, see where they are. Even in this country, if attention is placed on human capital development, I bet you, Nigeria will be a different country in the next 20 years…"

He continued: "Some people felt that in resolving the developmental challenges of the Niger-Delta, efforts should be placed on infrastructural development— build roads, build hospitals, build schools, give credit to some people, and then you will bring about development. I agree with that totally, but I also believe that infrastructural development alone will not solve the problem. We need to look at the root cause and the effects of the problem."

So as a way of moving forward, Ugwoha is of the view that there should now be more emphasis on human capital development. Why does he think so?

"Every infrastructural development is supposed to create jobs and satisfaction, but the job that is being created, who is it for? If the job you are creating is for the people of that place, then you have solved the problem of unemployment, and then you will be putting food on the table of people. But if the job you are creating is for people who do not live in that area, then you will be putting food on the table of some people somewhere, and those who are living where that job is being done, will still be languishing in poverty, and of course, you know what the result will be."

As a development expert who cut his teeth as a community relations expert for Total, the NDDC boss went on to throw light on strangulation the agro allied economy has suffered in the face of the dominance of the oil and gas industry.

"The Niger-Delta area is known for agriculture, whether it is farming or fishing, and then somewhere along the line, the oil and gas business came along; but the people were originally farmers, and they trained up their children along that line, but when the oil business came, they needed skills that were different from those for farming. The skills that are required to work in the agricultural sector are not the same as those required to work in the oil and gas sector industry, and so the employment created by the oil and gas industry was not part of the occupation of the people. So jobs were created, but there was still unemployment."

He continued: "Two economies had been created, the oil economy and the agricultural economy; of course we know that the oil economy is more lucrative than the agricultural economy, and people would want to go for the best."

To find a solution to the problem of alienation from the oil and gas economy, and the resultant unemployment, Ugwoha asserted that the only option would be to take decisions to create the skills that are needed so that the people would be a part and parcel of the economic activities, and by so doing, the indigenous economy would be aligned with the principal economic activity. That, he assured, will go a long way to solve the problem.

To drive home the point, the NDDC boss had a ready example; "If a man is gainfully employed, he will be able to send his children to school, he will build a house, he can afford services, and he will want to live, and not to die. But when a man is hungry, and has no hope, he will want everything to end today because tomorrow may be even worse."

So in concrete terms, what are the areas in which the commission has been engaged in skills and capacity building to help the people of the region take their destinies in their hands. One area Ugwoha dwelt on was how welding had been explored to provide cutting edge opportunities for youths in the region.

He captured the exertions of his team thus: "We discovered that oil and gas activities, as an engineering concern requires certain individuals who must provide certain services, such as welding. Welding is very important in every engineering job, especially in oil and gas. With pipelines running several kilometers, nobody will manufacture one pipe that is 10 kilometers long, somebody will need to weld the parts together; you cannot get that from roadside welders.

He continued: "It requires special training to weld pipes in such a way that they will not give way. What we did was to engage the Nigerian Institute of Welders to help us train welders to have the kind of skills required for this kind of jobs, so that the international oil companies would not be able to reject them (on the ground that they don't have the skills). To do that, we had to set up a workshop at Petroleum Training Institute, in Effurun, Warri and it was equipped to the world standard, so that the people would be able to train with the same equipment used, and the same curriculum that is required."

That effort produced 25 who were selected after rigorous tests at the end of some real training in Effurun. For further honing of their skills they were taken to South Africa, where 24 out of the 25 made the cut. These 24, apart from being billed to serve as trainers to 700 others the commission is projecting to train, are now qualified to work like anywhere in the world. 'Today', Ugwoha says, "there are only 38 internationally certificated welders in Nigeria. Out of this 38, NDDC has produced 34."

Still on the potentials in welding, the NDDC boss said about 2700 internationally certificated welders were needed in Nigeria.

"What we have today is only 38. Who are the rest? They are Indonesians, Lebanese, Chinese, and the jobs our people should have taken over are being done by some other people. It means those that should have been absorbed in these jobs are at home unemployed. Why? It is because they don't have the required skills. Some of us do not know that many of these welders are paid as much as between N500,000 and N2 million a month. I tell you, when you have a son who is paid N2million a month, you know the impact such a son can make."

Beyond welding however, the Niger-Delta also requires high-level manpower to participate and drive the industry. According to Ugwoha, this is what informed the commission's Foreign Scholarship Scheme, which he said had provided 200 Niger-Deltans with scholarships, each to the tune of $30,000.

To intervene and solve the problem of graduate unemployment, he said, the NDDC had to establish the Niger-Delta Technical Aid Corps.

"The idea is to create jobs for the teeming unemployed graduates, and we decided that through this scheme, we want to mop 2000 unemployed graduates. We called for application, and we received 57,000 applications. In the arrangement, NDDC pays the employee N30,000, while the employer pays N15, 000."

Nonetheless, the new focus on human capital development does not mean that other areas like infrastructure and agriculture would suffer. On other infrastructure, the NDDC helmsman pointed out that 45 Mega Projects awarded by the commission, which were being executed by various contractors were being closely monitored to ensure that the contractors handling them do not default. Ugwoha added that the 630 Kilometer Coastal Road, which is billed to cost N1.8 trillion, had been designed, while a dialysis centre being built by the commission would become operational in the first quarter of 2011.

In the area of agriculture too, Ugwoha enthused that some of the NDDC's rice farms located across the states of the region were ready for harvest, and that the rice produce there could compete favourable with any currently on sale in Nigeria. To make rice production another area of choice for interested farmers, he said the commission's rice mill located in Elele in Rivers State would prove to be a useful asset.
Source: The Guardian, 5th September 2010.

 

ASABA AIRPORT PROJECT Slow Steady Journey To A Heart Desire

FROM HENDRIX OLIOMOGBE, ASABA

BUILT on a vast virgin land on the Benin-Asaba expressway, what looked like a pipe dream in July 2008 when the foundation stone was laid by the former National Chairman of the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Vincent Ogbulafor will soon turn to reality if all goes according to plan.

Beaming with optimism, Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan recently announced that going by the progress of construction work on the airport; it is scheduled to begin operations very shortly.

The governor who dropped the hint while inspecting the extent of work done so far said that work had progressed more than he imagined and that the first aircraft will indeed land before the year runs out..

Uduaghan expressed satisfaction with the pace and quality of work and supremely confident that the period was realistic because all the equipment needed were on ground.

When the Commissioner for Information, Mr. Oma Djeba assured on January 4, 2008 that the government was determined to building an ultra modern airport in Asaba, not many took him serious. The project which had been in the pipeline for some time was after all going to see the light of the day.

Towards the realization of the dream, the state government according to Djebah immediately made available a total sum of 1.5 billion Naira out of the 5 billion Naira initially earmarked for the construction.

With an intial 3.2km runway, the proposed airport which will have an ultra modern terminal building will also have a car park that can accommodate over 1,000 cars.

Despite the fact that the state government already has an airport at Osubi near Warri but the Delta Government spokesman defended the project saying that it is not correct for the people of the state to travel by roads to neighbouring states to board aircraft each time they want to travel.

He said:"We need to have our own airport in our state capital. The project is very important to the state government and is the reason why Uduaghan has made available a sum of 1.5 billion Naira for the immediate take off of the project."

As for Osubi Airport, Uduaghan assured that it will not be neglected as expansion work to pave way for the landing of bigger aircraft is on.

At the ground breaking ceremony, Uduaghan had promised to complete the project well ahead of the twenty four months duration.

He said that the airport project was initially valued at 14 billion Naira, a sum which the government could not afford until it was scaled down to the current figure of 7 billion Naira.

As a result of the expansion of the runway, he said that the airport can accommodate big passenger and cargo planes.

He said that he decided to realize the project which was conceived by the government of former Governor James Ibori because of so many reasons.

According to the governor, people in Asaba have to travel to neighbouring states to board aircraft and in the process wasting several man hours on the road because of the simple bfact that the Delta State capital does not have an airport.

Talking about the

With the huge eastern market just across the River Niger, he said that the project will be viable when completed."Asaba has been suffering the problem of no airport for a very long time. This will not be an abandoned project. Asaba is long overdue for an airport and we are determined to complete it no matter the cost," he vowed.

Besides, the governor said that once the project takes off, a lot of jobs will be provided to the people, adding that this will go a long way in checking youth restiveness in the state which is very rampant because of the high rate of unemployment.

According to him, the project was embarked upon to encourage investors and will be a major link to many parts of the federation when completed.

Assuring that the airport will create economic boom in the state, he said: "The airport is located in Asaba because of the strategic position of Asaba itself. Asaba is the quickest link to the east. The federal government has approved the license for this airport. With this we are going to accelerate work on it and complete it within a few months time. The airport will become functional soon."

Moved by the extent of work when he visited some few weeks back, the governor was emphatic: "I am quite happy with the pace of work at the airport, a lot have been done since the last time I visited here, we seem to be moving faster than the deadline and in the next six weeks aircraft can land in the airport."

An elated former Minister of Finance and currently the Managing Director of the World Bank, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-lweala commended the project emphasizing that it would be an excellent business gateway to the eastern part of the country when completed.

Mrs. Okonjo- lweala who had accompanied Uduaghan on an inspection tour of the project expressed delight that the state governor not only had the will to commence the project but was determined to complete it as quick as possible from the facts on the ground.

She said: "l am very happy with the state government's initiative to construct this kind of airport, this is an excellent business way to the eastern part of the country. It will help improve on the economy of the state and attract massive development."

She predicted that the airport will definitely render unparallel services in the aviation industry in the country when commissioned.

Even before the completion of construction work, the Federal Government promptly granted an operational license to the airport, citing the facilities on ground which the former Minister of Aviation, Mr. Babatunde Omotoba said are of high standards.

For not being consulted before the commencement of work, the Federal Airport Authority of Nigerian (FAAN) the apex regulatory body in the aviation industry had initially faulted the extent of work on the airport during an earlier inspection tour.

But when Omotoba visited in company of Uduaghan, he gave the governor a path on the back after inspection for taking the initiative to build the airport, saying it will boost the transportation industry in the country.

Omotoba said: "You have made the right decision by building an Airport of International standard in Asaba, I have gone through the work you have done so far, I must tell you that I am very pleased project because you have channeled your resources in the right direction. I want to assure the people of Delta state that we will provide all the support to ensure that you deliver the dividend of democracy not only to the people of Delta State but to the people of Nigeria."

For Deputy-Governor,Prof. Amos Utuama (SAN), the head of the project the aim of the state government is to make the airport a world class.

Utuama said that the project will go a long way in making the government to realize its dream of turning the state to the hub of economic activities in the country.

But against the backdrop of concern that the Asaba Airport may turn out to be a white elephant project following the shifting of the completion date, Utuama assured that the project will be completed by the end of the month as over 80 per cent of the job has been completed.

On an inspection tour to verify the extent of work done by the contractor, Utuama, who is in charge of airport projects in the state, , noted that the airport was schedule to be completed within 24 months.

The Deputy Governor remarked that he airport was scheduled to be completed within 24 months originally, defending that eighteen months into the commencement, the government has not exceeded the deadline.

He said: "We are quite ahead of time in the completion. From what I can see, I will say 80 per cent of the work has been done. It is going on as planned. The effort of the contractor is commendable, it is moving beyond our expectations in terms of plan schedule. It is at the finishing stage, that is dotting the I's and crossing the T's. We are optimistic that going by the current speed the airport will definitely be delivered by April."

The Special Project Director of the Airport, Mr. Austine Ayemidejor who gave reasons for the delay in the completion of the Asaba Airport said that 80% of work has been achieved in virtually all aspects but that the expansion work on the airport project which has gulped 10 billion Naira so far was the real reason for the delay.

Ayemidejor said that the runway which was supposed to be 3.2 km originally was later extended to 3.4 km.

He said that there is also an additional work at the terminal building by introducing a concourse to receive the three passenger bridges. "Initially we thought that a 50 metre taxi way will be able to solve of taxing for the purpose of aircraft that are landing but now we have over 1.5 km taxi way. There are four taxi ways as against the one that was initially planned form," he said.

He said that save for the addition, the original February deadline for the completion was feasible but assured that the project will get off the ground before the end of the year. "We will be through with Asaba Airport project before the year runs out. The expansion was the reason for the delay," he said.

Massive filling with stone base to be followed with the priming of the remaining 200 metre will soon be completed while everything required for the completion of terminal building is on the ground waiting for installation. These include the escalators, lifts and the three passenger bridges.

As for the vital Control Towers, the he Project Director explained that the navigational aids are all ready waiting for installation. So also are the instrument landing systems, furnishing, cladding of the terminal building and control tower. Work on landscaping the premises of the airport is on.

On the ground are the fire service station, the apron, the expansive parking space which can accommodate 1,300 cars, the access road and the taxi way. "We have achieved 80% in all these areas. We are convinced that within a very short period of time, the airport will be ready for operation," he said.

The major challenge, he remarked was the heavy and late rains which continued up till last October. That definitely affected excavation and filling of major part of the runway.

As for funds, Ayemidejor said the state government has been very generous, adding from an initial cost of 6.4 billion Naira, the total cost had ballooned to 12 billion Naira, an amount he insisted was "comparatively reasonable for putting the massive infrastructure in place."

An Asaba based businessman, Mr. Joel Chukwu said that the airport is definitely going to impact on the people living around the Delta State capital and its catchment zone when fully operational.

He said that most times, he has to travel for some two hours by road to Benin, neighbouring Edo State to catch a flight to Lagos and Abuja but with a fully functional Asaba Airport, all that will be story.

An Onitsha, Anambra State trader agreed, who simply gave his name as Okeke explaining that he and his colleagues in the famous market town intend to make full use of the airport which will be both a passenger and cargo airport.

Located on the opposite sides the River Niger, Okeke advised that Asaba and Onitsha should economically cooperate for mutual co-prosperity. For the strategic location of Asaba, the merchant said that instead of transporting his imported goods by road from the ports of Lagos after offloading, he intends to fly them by cargo plane straight to Asaba, about 5km to Onitsha.

Apart from the bad road, there is also the fear of highway robbers who way lay vehicles on the road, stripping them of their properties and money. Some are even killed. "As for me and my colleagues, all that will be history when the Asaba Airport takes off," he said.

With the sorry state of the Benin-Lagos expressway, John Emeka, a Lagos business executive and a native of Issele-Azagba just about 5km  said that he had prefer to fly to Asaba before boarding a taxi home. He said optimistically: "I have prayed for this moment for a very long time," he said.

With a dismissive wave of the hand, some naysayers had labeled the plan by Uduaghan to build a befitting airport in the Delta State capital as a white elephant project. Going by the extent of work, there is no there is no doubt that the airport project which is his administration's star project is set to get off the ground.
Source: The Guardian, 5th September 2010.

 

Official explains delay in Asaba airport's completion

FROM HENDRIX OLIOMOGBE, ASABA

REASONS for the delay in the completion of the Asaba Airport have been given by the Special Project Director, Mr. Austine Ayemidejor.

He told journalists in Asaba that 80 per cent of work has been achieved in virtually all aspects but the expansion of the airport project, which has gulped N10 billion so far was the reason for the delay.

Ayemidejor said that the runway, which was supposed to be 3.2 km originally, was later extended to 3.4 km.

He said there was an additional work at the terminal building by introducing a concourse to receive the three passenger bridges. "Initially, we thought that a 50-metre taxi way will be able to solve taxing for the purpose of aircraft that are landing but now, we have over 1.5 km taxi way.     There are four taxi ways as against the one that was initially planned for", he said.

The project director said a massive excavation work that will result in the cutting of a 1.2 km runway with a depth of about 9 metre was seriously on.

He said save for the addition, the original February deadline for the completion was feasible but assured that the project would get off the ground before the end of the year.   "We will be through with Asaba Airport project before the year runs out. The expansion was the reason for the delay", he said.

According to Ayemidejor, massive filling with stone base and the priming of the remaining 200 metre have since been completed while everything required for the completion of terminal building is on the ground waiting for installation. These include the escalators, lifts and the three passenger bridges.

As for the vital control towers, the project director explained that the navigational aids are all ready waiting for installation. So also are the instrument landing systems, furnishing, cladding of the terminal building and control tower. Work on landscaping the premises of the airport is on.

On the ground are the fire service station, the apron, the expansive parking space, which can accommodate 1,300 cars, the access road and the taxi way.

"We have achieved 80 per cent in all these areas. We are convinced that within a very short period of time, the airport will be ready for operation", he said.
Source: The Guardian, 30th August 2010.

 

Delta government moves to check erosion

THE Delta State government has assured of its determination to check the problem of erosion through the construction and rehabilitation of roads in the state.

The state Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, who disclosed this at the weekend during a thanksgiving service to mark the 19th anniversary of the creation of the state at Christ Missionary Crusaders Church, Ekpan said immediately the rains were over, contractors would swing into action.

Uduaghan said the roads to be constructed had been carefully selected and spread across the state so that there would be even development.

He disclosed that special attention had been paid to the control of erosion in Asaba, Warri, Agbor, Effurun, Ozoro among others and assured that within the next few months Delta residents would see the difference.

Explaining further, the governor said: "We are already working on the roads and we are dealing with erosion. The rains are disturbing and I know that some persons have drawn my attention to some of the roads, but I assure you that all will be over soon."

Uduaghan who promised to continue to provide democratic dividends to the people enjoined stakeholders in the education and health sectors not to sabotage the efforts of the state government through the collection of illegal fees and levies.

He regretted the unwholesome attitude of some school heads and health workers who collect illegal fees from students and pregnant women respectively even after the state government has abolished such fees.

The governor specifically mentioned the West African Examination Council (WAEC) and the National Examination Council (NECO) fees as well as some fees paid in the hospitals and warned that the monitoring team moving across the state would deal ruthlessly with anyone caught sabotaging the good intentions of the state government.

His words: "I want to call on those still collecting fees, levies and hospital bills from students, pregnant women and nursing mothers to stop. We are not going to tolerate them anymore."

Uduaghan called on the residents to cooperate with his administration so that the peace and security won a few years back could be sustained.

Explaining that when the state was created, security and peace challenges featured prominently, he thanked God for the peace the state was enjoying and called on all Delta residents to be more united than ever before so that the state could move to the next level.

In a sermon titled "the blessing of God or the blessings of God" the president of CAN and founder Word of Life Bible Church, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, urged Christians to pray for the blessing of God which he described as intangible and not the blessings of God, which he said were the tangible.
Source: The Guardian, 30th August 2010.

 

Armed Robbers On Rampage At Delsu

KOLA NIYI-EKE, ASABA

Matchete 61-Year-Old Man

Armed robbers have unleashed a rampage of terror unchallenged at Delta State University, An-wai Campus, Asaba, where they cut severally the body of 61-year-old Samson Nwabuegwu, who works in the Works and Services department of the institution.

It was also disclosed by the victim that, before this recent attack, armed robbers had earlier cut one of the staff on the waist with cutlass, thereby sustaining a severe injury he is still nursing.

Narrating the ordeal to LEADERSHIP SUNDAY, the victim, Mr. Nwabuegwu, said the ugly incident happened on the midnight of Sunday, 8 August, 2010 about 2.30 am, while sleeping with his wife and children.

He said he heard a knock on his door, and when he asked from inside who is that?, one of the robbers answered, saying, we are armed robbers, adding that if he fails to open the door, they will kill him once they force the door open.

At that point, he refused to open the door, knowing they are robbers. The  robbers continued trying to open the door, and it took them about 30 minutes before they broke the door open.

He said they asked him to lie down which he did, then they search everywhere in the house and took away his handset, his wife and sister handsets plus his N10,000.00 including another N7,000.00 belonging to another occupant of the house.

The victim said after collecting the money and the handsets, he was given a thorough beating of his life, where cutlass was used severally on his back by the hoodlums.

He said the robbers were numbering about 10, but four entered into his house, they range between 20-30 years of age.

Mr. Nwabuegwu said he has reported the matter to the police at A Division, Asaba, the Chief Security Officer of the School, Mr. Akpomuvwe and the school authority. When contacted on the matter, the Provost of DELSU, Anwai campus, Professor Sam Ukala declined comment, saying he has no power to speak on the matter, but directed our correspondent, to the Vice-Chancellor at Abraka for comment.Meanwhile, the Police Public Relations Officer for Delta State  Police Command, ASP Charles Muka, confirmed the incident, saying that three persons have been arrested having been seriously suspected over the incident.

Muka equally added that, the incident was a burglary issue, adding that police is investigating the matter and have beef-up security around the campus to avoid future happenings.

LEADERSHIP SUNDAY, investigation revealed that there have been palpable fear and tension in the last few weeks following some persons suspected to be rapists, who have invaded the campus at night.

According to our informants, the suspected rapists are said to be armed with dangerous weapons during their nefarious activities and have allegedly descended on no fewer than six female students of the school, when they are alleged to be raped inside the thick forest within the school premises.

But the police image maker ASP Charles Muka, however assured that the suspects will be brought to book by the law enforcement agents who are already on their trail.
Source: Leadership, 29th August 2010.

 

Warri community protests demolition of houses

THE people of Ogbe Ijoh Urban community in Warri, Delta state, yesterday, stormed the office of the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) zone 5 Benin City, calling on the Inspector General of Police to investigate the alleged demolition of their houses and properties on the orders of a prominent resident of the area.

The community leaders  shortly after  presenting their petition to the AIG, Mr Muhammed Abubakar, complained that they have lived in the area for over 20 years but some time in 2007, the said prominent resident laid claim to the entire community land and started demolishing their buildings.

In their petition dated 10th of August, signed by one of the community leaders, Mr Paul Tusemone, it recalled that the entire occupants of NPA Warri, which was historically sold to the colonial government by the deed of lease for 99 years, on the 30th of July 1906, "now belongs to Ogbe Ijoh people following the expiration of the lease"

He made his desperate effort in 2007 when he evicted some hundreds of market women that normally eke a living at the water front through petty trading.

The petition therefore appealed to the Inspector General of Police, Mr Ogbonna Onovo to investigate the matter because "the community members are now being threatened each day if they refuse to relocate even after several efforts have been made to make Chief Smooth understand that it his claim of the land was inhuman".
Source: Vanguard, 20th August 2010.

 

Delta Endorses Okocha

By Agency Reporter

The Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Udaughan, has endorsed former Super Eagles

Jay Jay Okocha

captain, Austin Okocha, as the state's candidate for Saturday's election into the board of the Nigeria Football Federation.

Chairman of the Delta State Sports Commission, Mr. Amaju Pinnick, who stated this added that aside the endorsement, Governor Uduaghan also donated a parcel of land to Okocha to enable him to settle down in the state and contribute his quota to the development of sports in Delta.

Pinnick added that the endorsement of Okocha by the governor does not stop other Deltans interested in the NFF elections from pursuing their ambitions.

Responding, Okocha said he decided to enter the race into the board of the NFF as a result of the maladministration of the present board that had taken the game of football backwards.

Okocha said he was not going into the board for selfish reasons as he could have decided to remain in Europe after his active playing days.
Source: Punch, 20th August 2010.

 

Delta alleges plan to blackmail Uduaghan

FROM HENDRIX OLIOMOGBE (ASABA) AND CHIDO OKAFOR (WARRI)

DELTA State government has alleged that some "unscrupulous politicians, in furtherance of their inordinate ambitions and the mistaken belief of an emerging political vacuum, have been holding nocturnal meetings with the sole aim of launching series of media attacks" on it "in the coming weeks".

It said two of such politicians belonging to separate ethnic groups and one of whom has been a major beneficiary of the patronage of the dominant political family in Delta State, have particularly been seeking to recruit reporters, editors and columnists with the hope of blackmailing the administration of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan".

According to a statement by Uduaghan's Press Secretary, Mr. Felix Ofou, "part of the plan is to 'expose' alleged shady deals of the Uduaghan administration through the use of fictitious, cooked up and non-existent figures, all in a desperate bid to put the government on the defensive and ultimately lose credibility".

Ofou added: "While we concede the right of these disgruntled politicians to hold and express opinions on their perception about the Uduaghan administration, let it be known that neither blackmail, witch-hunt nor outright chicanery would dissuade the government from keeping with the electoral promises to Deltans at home and in the Diaspora.

"Governor Uduaghan remains unflinchingly committed to the three-point agenda of peace and security, human capital development and infrastructural development. Gang-ups, media attacks through sponsored articles and stories, or campaign of calumny cannot distract the government or make it lose focus".

Already, three prominent Deltans have openly joined the 2011 governorship race on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). They are retired military officers, John Kpokpogri and Prof. Saliba Mukoro, who are of the Isoko ethnic group, as well as Chief Ovie Omo-Agege, an Urhobo. They have all scored Uduaghan low on performance, vowing to break what they describe as a family power cabal or dynasty that he inherited from his cousin, exiled former governor, James Ibori.

There are also speculations that Niger Delta Affairs Minister, Godsday Orubebe, an Ijaw, is interested in Uduaghan's job although he has not declared his intention. He is also of the PDP.

However, two Isoko PDP stalwarts, Mr. Itiako 'Malik' Ikpokpo and Ferguson Onwo, have said that based on his performance and the party's zoning policy, Uduaghan deserves a second tenure. But Mr. Clement Udonor, also an Isoko and the leader of a group, Movement to Break the Cabal and Family Dynasty in Delta State, disagreed, saying that "Kpokpogri, who excelled as a former Naval administrator, is needed at this critical juncture of the state's impoverishment to rescue and steer its sinking ship".
Source: The Guardian, 17th August 2010.

 

'Uduaghan Has Taken Delta To The Next Level In The Last Three Years'

BY SAMSON EZEA

DELTA State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Oma Djebah, recently spoke to some journalists in Lagos on the alleged non-performance of the Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan administration and other issues affecting the state. SAMSON EZEA was there and reports.

What is your react to the recent allegation that Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan's performance is not commensurate with the allocations accrued to the state since 2007?

It is not true that the Uduaghan administration has not performed. His achievements in the area of massive infrastructural developments that are all encompassing and multi-faceted are glaring and self-evident.

His administration has taken Delta State to the next level in the last three years, compared to other states and what he met on ground when he came into office. Across the three senatorial zones, he has completed many projects, while many are still ongoing.

For example, within the Delta Central, the government has completed the Effurun Roundabout, dualisation of Ughelli-Asaba, PTI-Jakpa roads, completion of Oghara Teaching Hospital, Olorin Bridge, General Hospital at Usi Okolo and others.

In South zone, it has completed the Bomadi-Gbonegolor road, Renal Dialysis Centre and Oxygen generating plant at the Central Hospital Warri, Sapele-Agiborolemeji road, Koko-Uba-Egbelemeji road, and dualisation of Boren Avenue.

In the North zone, you have the Orogodo Erosion Control project in Agbor that is ongoing, dualisation of Asaba-Ughelli road, which is also ongoing. There are also the international airport project in Asaba is almost completed, the dualisation of old Lagos/Asaba road, Boji-Boji, building of markets at Abara and others.

There are so many other projects in the area of health, energy, tourism and others. All the projects were achieved and kick-started within three years of the Uduaghan administration for the benefit of Deltans.

But some stakeholders in Anioma recently alleged that Delta North had been neglected?

Right from inception, the governor made it clear that he would govern based on a template of a three-point agenda of peace and security, human capital and infrastructural development. So, it is not true that the government has neglected the Delta North zone.

As I said, projects have been completed in the three senatorial zones. The governor has the interest of all Deltans at heart, irrespectively of their zones.

Those making such allegations are being mischievous; they know that what they said were blatant lies and misinformation targeted at rubbishing the government's landmark achievements in the state. 

Indeed, the broad generality of the people of the zone have been appreciative of government's development strides in the area and have showered praises, recognitions and awards on the governor.

Where were these stakeholders when Anioma people rolled out the drums to celebrate the governor and thank him for his achievements in the area at a grand reception in Asaba early this year?

Is it true that the government has received N650 billion from the federation account in the last three years?

This is very far from the truth. The administration, since inception, has never received such colossal amount from the federation account. As a transparent government that adheres to the tenets of due process, the Delta State Ministry of Finance publishes the audited accounts of the state government annually, and the records are there for all to see.

For the avoidance of doubts, available records, which are also published periodically in national dailies, show that the total net amount received from Federal Account from May 2007 to June this year is not in any way near the region of N650 billion.

Of the amount made available to the state, a substantial chunk goes into recurrent expenditure, including salaries, pensions, gratuity, and subventions to ministries, departments and agencies, as well as assistance to local government councils.

The Delta State Oil Producing Area Development Commission (DESOPADEC), which is statutorily entitled to 50 per cent of oil derivation revenues accruing to the state, receives its due net allocation. What is left to implement capital projects throughout the state is marginal. But due to the prudence of the governor, a lot has been done, in terms of capital projects.

So, the allegation is just a political tool to impugn the integrity of the administration.

Even as a member, how would you assess the administration?

The governor is an innovative administrator, a technocrat of the highest order, a first class medical doctor and leader loved by his people. All these led to the conceptualisation of the three-point agenda at its inception.

As one would have noticed, peace has returned to Warri. Ethnic crises, differences, hostilities and all those negative attributes of the past have vanished. With peace in Warri, industrialisation and commercial activities are springing up rapidly.

When we had the first Information Summit in the state, where the true face of Delta was unveiled, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, former Secretary General of the Commonwealth and all the big wigs of the private sector attested to the fact that Delta is making progress and moving very significantly in the positive direction, all to the credit of the governor.

There have been rumours of the governor public spending. How do you react to this or is the government broke or going broke?

I have heard the rumour, but nobody has openly confronted me on it until now. I don't think anybody cabinet member would say that.

For one to posses all the qualities I earlier attributed to the governor, he must be financially disciplined. It is clear that it cannot be business as usual. The government has consistently said this, because we are moving from an economy that is mono-dependent on crude oil to an economy that is multi-dimensional. 

So, we must break away from over dependence on oil to chart a new course. To that extent, the governor is building an economy that is diversified. It is not a question of locking the treasury; he is tightening the belt, so that we can engender some fiscal discipline.

The most important thing is that public funds are being expended prudently by the government to better the lots of the people, who are now feeling the impact of good governance in the state.

The government has articulated a well thought out agenda to make Delta State the hub for activities for adjoining states, such that the spin-off will bring tremendous goodwill and economic prosperity to the citizens. There is a well laid-down plan to rejuvenate the ports in Koko, Warri, Burutu and Sapele and consequently instil a fresh verve into the maritime sector of the state.

Already, work on the ports through which goods and services will take a cheaper and easy route into the state and nearby states has commenced. Never in the history of the state has the expansion and utilisation of the ports as a revenue base been given such priority and attention.
Source: The Guardian, 14th August 2010.

 

Chevron rules out compensation over
Delta Oil Spill

FROM CHIDO OKAFOR, WARR

CHEVRON Nigeria Limited has resolved not to pay any compensation over a recent oil spill in Ekpan, Delta State, claiming that it had been absolved of complicity in the development through a comprehensive joint investigation visit (JIV) to the area by relevant government agencies.

To prove that the spill was allegedly blown out of proportion by operators of the fish farm in the area, Chevron yesterday presented documents from the joint investigation from the National Oil and Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) and Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).

The oil firm also argued that the cluster of fish farms, which is well protected by separation walls, was not impacted by any spill from Chevron's dockyard.

According to the JIV document dated July 23, 2010, NOSDRA stated that the incident occurred when a tugboat belonging to a Chevron contractor sunk near the dockyard, spilling eight litres of diesel into the water, which the oil firm claimed to have cleaned up immediately upon NOSDRA's prompting.

Chevron, which spoke through a media official yesterday, said the spilled eight litres were too insignificant to impact the cluster of fish farms located 10 miles from the Chevron Dockyard.

The oil firm said the NOSDRA team had earlier uncovered a sunken wooden boat used for illegal oil bunkering near the fish farm several weeks before the tugboat incident, stressing that the wooden boat used by oil thieves may have impacted the fish farms.

But the Delta State government had last weekend alleged that the tugboat spill impacted the fish farms, which are partly owned by the government via the micro-credit scheme.

The Deputy Governor, Amos Utuama, led a team of government officials to the location last week to assess the damage.

Earlier, the firm's General Manager, Femi Odumabo, in an official statement by Chevron, stated that it was impossible for the eight litres of diesel "contained within Chevron facility and cleaned up immediately" to impact on fish ponds about 10 miles away

Odumabo said the oil company was willing to work with the government regulatory bodies in determining the source of the spill polluting the fishpond, saying "the spill, which is being claimed to have killed thousands of fishes, could not have been the two gallons spill from Chevron yard".

He added: "We carried out a joint investigative visit with the DPR, NOSDRA and Delta State Ministry of the Environment officials and representatives of the community within the immediate vicinity. The findings of the JIV were documented on forms provided by government agencies and signed off by all parties. The outcome reports that the volume was eight litres with little or no impact.  

"Moreover, the spill was confined to our property and cleaned up immediately. In addition, pictures of the incident and helicopter surveillance records were taken within hours of the event, which also support these findings".
Source: The Guardian, 13th August 2010.

 

Delta accuses Chevron of Insincerity
on Oil Spills

From Hendrix Oliomogbe, Asaba

THE Delta State government on Tuesday accused American oil giant, Chevron Nigeria Limited, of insincerity in the recent oil spills in Warri, Delta State.

The Commissioner for the Environment, Dr. Bello Orubebe, who accused Chevron, disclosed that over 18,000 litres of oil and not eight litres as claimed by the oil company were spilled from an ill-fated boat in the company's dockyard in Warri.

Orubebe, who spoke with journalists in Asaba, said that 21 days after the spillage, which resulted in the death of almost 52,000 fishes at the neighbouring fish farm at Ekpan, Uvwie Council, the multinational oil company was yet to embark on any clean up exercise.

Flanked by his Information counterpart, Oma Djebah and the Executive Director to the Governor on Micro Finance, Antonia Ashiedu, Orubebe said Chevron's failure to own up was lamentable.

While admitting that the spillage was not on the same scale as that of BP in the Gulf of Mexico, United States, (US), he said the leadership and sense of responsibility demonstrated in America was clearly lacking in the case of Delta State.

According to him, the seriousness which the government attached to the spillage was the reason why Deputy Governor, Amos Utuama, promptly visited the site and set up an inter-ministerial committee comprising members of his ministry, Delta State Environment Protection Agency, Ministry of Justice, the Executive Director to the Governor on Micro Finance and the Special Adviser to the Governor on Oil and Gas.

He accused the oil company of stonewalling, saying: "An example of stonewalling by Chevron began on August 4 when the company refused to allow access to its facilities and source of the spill, stating that it needed two weeks to prepare to enable it allow members of the committee to visit their facilities.

"This decision under an extreme emergency that we have at hand demonstrated to us the insensitivity and cover-up strategy by Chevron of the scale of the spill that has occurred".

He regretted that not even the intervention by federal agencies like the Department of Petroleum Resources and the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agencies has prompted the oil company to swing into action.

Source: The Guardian, 12th August 2010.

 

2011: 'Delta Elders are firing Uduaghan from the moon' , says Chief Ogbo,

By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South

UNTIL he returned to the PDP, which he originally belonged to recently, Chief Tony Ogbo, a one-time acting chairman of Oshimili North Local Government Area of Delta State gave the party jitters, as the chief spokesperson of Chief Peter Okocha, the AC gubernatorial candidate, whose court case against the incumbent governor, Dr, Emmanuel Uduaghan, generated a lot of tension for the PDP.

That is a matter of the past now. But what really  happened in Okocha's camp during this trying period and finally,  when the Court of Appeal dismissed the case? What kind of overtures did Uduaghan make to Okocha? Did he bribe him as was speculated? Why is Chief Ogbo back to PDP? How did the Okocha camp see the Uduaghan government when the battle was on and how does Ogbo see the opposition  mounted against Uduaghan by the Delta Elders, Leaders and Stakeholders Forum, led by former Minister of Information, Chief Edwin Clark? The political tactician speaks to Saturday Vanguard . Excerpts:

We didn't leave PDP. We were shut out

I worked for the re-election of the former governor, Chief James Ibori in 2003 and thereafter, the issue of who becomes the governor of Delta State in 2007 came into play and we were of the opinion that power would shift from Delta Central senatorial district to any other senatorial district, and the present state chairman of the PDP, Chief Peter Nwaoboshi, then a commissioner under Ibori, carried out that campaign of Equity 2007.

He was at the centre of the campaign that power must shift. And made people like us move out of the PDP in 2007 was when after the Ogwashi-Uku primaries because we were preparing for the primaries, you would recall my principal then, Chief Peter Eloka Okocha, was heading for the primaries. He attended the screening exercise, headed by two-time governor of the defunct Bendel state, Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia in Port-Harcourt and thereafter, he was not given clearance to contest the primaries and so, we felt that he ought to have been given a chance and he failed.

That is a different thing. He was shut out of the primaries and we felt that was not good for democracy. We did not leave the party per se. This is the impression a lot of people have that Okocha, Ogbo and others left the party. No, the party shut us out and said we should go and when the door is closed, you look for another place to inhabit. That was what happened in December 2006.

Court of Appeal ended Okocha era

We joined AC thereafter and what we tried to do was to ensure that Okocha's vision for greater Delta state is known to people because as at then, people did not know his plan. He had a very good manifesto where he said he was coming to build an international airport in Asaba through BOT (build, operate and transfer) and he has a vision of taking Delta state to a greater height. I felt that such a man who had such vision should be given the opportunity to actualize his vision.

Unfortunately, he was excluded and we said we should use all legal avenues, which was the only thing left to make sure that the election was upturned so that he could have the opportunity to test his popularity before Deltans because it's not only PDP, we are talking about the entire electorate in Delta state that will decide who will be the governor of the state but that dream was aborted by the declaration of the Court of Appeal that he was not even duly nominated ab intio, let alone contesting an election.

So I saw that verdict by the Court of Appeal as the end of an era, especially for what we were trying to pursue, that is to ensure that he emerged as a governors and the beginning of a new dawn for people like us. Like I said, I started from PDP. I was  one of the conveners in my local government and convened the party in my ward and so I felt I had to go back to the party which I originally belong.

You said Okocha has the vision of building an international airport in Asaba and taking Delta to greater height. But it's same vision both have. Is one stealing the ideas of the other?

It's the elite that use the airport; the common man can stay 20 to 30 years without travelling by air. Apart from the economic activities, the airport has financial implication. For instance, you know that 80 per cent of the importers in Lagos are from the Eastern part of the country, Aba and Onitsha and it's going to be a cargo international airport.

So it will create a lot of employment for our people. It's going to increase commercial activities and maybe because of our constructive criticism that the airport will be in this place, the man has taken a bold step by making sure the project is completed and is also dualising the road from Koko to serve the Koko port to the Benin-Asaba expressway and the Ughelli-Asaba expressway.

If these roads are completed, the businessmen who transport by sea would not mind passing through Warri and Koko ports while those that fly their goods would see Delta as the best alternative.
Source: Vanguard, 30th July 2010.

 

Clark Tasks N'Delta Militants on Peace, Governance

FROM KELVIN EBIRI, PORT HARCOURT

A PROMINENT Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark, has appealed to youths in the Niger Delta to ensure that the country remains governable for President Goodluck Jonathan amid threats by militants to unleash mayhem in the region should he be schemed out of the 2011 presidential race.

Clark, who made the appeal in Port Harcourt at the weekend, said the controversial zoning arrangement of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was primarily intended to conciliate the Yoruba ethnic nationality for the annulled election won by the late Chief Moshood Abiola.

He said: "In 1999, the so-called zoning came as a way to please the Yoruba because of the injustice done to them when the best election was annulled. The zoning was a Yoruba affair".

The former minister, who explained that the PDP zoning arrangement ended with the 1999 election, insisted that what was uppermost at this time was how to make the federation governable.

Amid threats by some militants to disrupt oil production, Clark appealed to the new leadership of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) and youths in the region to ensure that the country was governable for President Jonathan.

Similarly, the Arewa Youth Forum said if President Jonathan must be president of the country by May 29, 2011, he should be a product of acceptance and not agitation.

The group's spokesman, Mohammed Ngiri, said that his organisation would support a situation where Jonathan would emerge as a President without expending so much funds to get his party's support and that of the generality of Nigerians.    

He went on to say that Jonathan's presidency should rather be a bridge connecting the Niger Delta region with other sections of the country.

The Joint Revolutionary Council (JRC) spokesperson, Cynthia Whyte, had told The Guardian that if Jonathan was schemed out of the presidential race, that would be enough motivation to provoke a small group of very angry young men to attack and sabotage a strategic pipeline, an oil installation or a key government building in Abuja.

Whyte said: "We have declared, therefore, that if President Jonathan is stopped from running for Presidency in 2011 in a manner that undermines the people of the Niger Delta, then all efforts that have been made so far in their amnesty process would be useless as more than 90 per cent of all key combatants will return to the creeks directly or indirectly".

Whyte explained that while the JRC did not want to get entangled in the politics of PDP driven by bigotry and parochial mentality, as well as the matter of zoning, what was important to it was that President Jonathan should do the right thing for the Niger Delta immediately and not foot-drag.

"If Jonathan wanted to run in 2011, then he will be careful in giving to the Niger Delta because he does not want to step on the toes of so-called powerful elitist of northern cabals. We feel that way and it is true", said Whyte.

"Political jobbers and professional conmen have flooded Abuja again and will in no small way distract the President from doing the right thing for the people of the Niger Delta. We also feel that in the event that the President seeks to run, he will be careful not to step on the toes of a certain northern elitist cabal and so, will avoid doing what he should do for the Niger Delta", he added.
Source: The Guardian, 26th July 2010.

 

Uduaghan, Akhigbe Differ on Electoral Fraud in Delta, Edo

FROM HENDRIX OLIOMOGBE, ASABA

FORMER Chief of  General Staff, Admiral Mike Akhigbe and Delta State Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan during the weekend at Kwale, Ndokwa West Council of Delta State traded words over massive electoral fraud which is the bane of the nation's nascent democracy.

While Akhigbe, who spoke at a civic reception organised for Uduaghan by the Ndokwa people specifically called on the people of Edo and Delta states to turn a new leaf next year as the two states have become notorious for election rigging in the country, Uduaghan disagreed with him, insisting that Akhigbe's submission was a fallacy as it is on record that no election tribunal has ever upturned any governorship election result in Delta State.

Uduaghan stressed that the electoral cases upturned in the state were on grounds of pre-election irregularities.

But Akhigbe lamented that it was scandalous to know that Edo and Delta states have lately become the producers of the greatest election riggers in the country.

He added: "It is a thing to be ashamed of. So, I appeal to Uduaghan if he truly wants to represent the people from this area not engage in election rigging. He has to work very hard, and those who are his supporters must also avoid rigging of elections. Some of us who have had the privilege of serving in higher positions in this country will always feel terribly embarrassed."

The former Chief of General Staff said that as although he would not vie for ant elective office next year, he would like to see a situation where Delta and Edo states as well as the South-South would take the lead in holding free and fair elections in 2011.

Akhigbe, who chaired the event, counseled against voting on ethnic lines, stressing that the electorate should ensure they voted in those who would represent them well.

His words: "What we need today is not 'this is a member of my ethnic community' but 'this person is a Nigerian who can deliver the goods.' I will, as one of you, as a member of the old Bendel State, it might be difficult for us to separate Edo from Delta State, to elect leaders who are representatives of the people and who work for the people."
Source: The Guardian, 7th July 2010.

 

DELTA: Out In The Cold, Opposition Promises To Fight Back

From Hendrix Oliomogbe, Asaba

THIS is probably not the best of days for the opposition in Delta State, going by the depletion in the rank and file of its membership. Almost all the political heavyweights are under the refuge of the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP).

Only recently, one of the last main men standing, Mr. Peter Okocha, the governorship candidate of the Action Congress (AC) dumped the party, but state chairman of the Democratic People's Party (DPP), Mr. Tony Ezeagwu is not perturbed. Even though he walks through the valley of the shadow of the PDP, he said, he should fear no evil because he and his fellow journeymen will eventually triumph.

The DPP, he insisted has always been the real opposition. The others who pitched tent with the opposition and later went back to the ruling party, Ezeagwu said, were never real but only fair weather political chameleons that showed their true colour at the slightest shove.

In the 29-member House of Assembly, 26 were originally PDP members, but Mrs. Amaechi Mrakpor who was elected on the ticket of Accord Party has since sought refuge under the big umbrella of the PDP, which was her original party, while the Minority Leader, Mrs. Pat Ajudua seem to be more PDP than Speaker Martin Okonta.

The role of the opposition in a democracy is to checkmate excesses of the ruling party and offer an alternative, but Mrs. Ajudua is so close to the ruling party that she virtually toes the PDP line in every parliamentary debate. There is but a very thin line dividing the opposition and the PDP in the House of Assembly.

Okocha and so many other carpet- baggers were originally in the PDP and only crossed over to the opposition AC when they fell out with the "owners of the PDP". Now that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar is back to the PDP, it came as very little shock to the DPP chairman when Okocha dumped the AC.

He said that they only came to seek fortune in the land of the opposition and that he never took them serious right from the very beginning. "Okocha and all the rest of them were never serious opposition politicians. At heart, they were PDP, but merely pretended to be opposition. We had always suspected them all along," he said.

As for Accord Party, which returned Senator Patrick Osakwe to an unprecedented third term, he said it is an open secret that the party is an extension of the PDP. Osakwe had since returned home to the ruling party where he is said to be eying a fourth term.

The Accord Party in Delta State was a safe house for aggrieved PDP supporters of former Governor James Ibori, who could not have their way at the national level of the party, as the garrison ex-Chairman of the PDP, Ahmadu Ali smoked out the "dissidents" who dared raise a voice against his jewel, Mrs. Maryam Enyi Kpakando Ahaba Ali.

Ezeagwu recalled that during the bitter fight between Enyi Kpakando Ahaba and Ibori, supporters of the ex-governor who were bombarded with federal fire needed protection. So when Osakwe lost the party's ticket to Mrs. Ali, he had to temporarily take refuge in Accord Party and come back home when the coast was clear. "You can see that these people were never in the opposition. They only flew the opposition flag when it was convenient for them," he said.

And for that reason, he explained that the real opposition leaders never trusted them. Their loyalty to the opposition cause was always in doubt. With the recent turn of events, there is no doubt that Ezeagwu's laugh has come last.

He said he chose to position himself firmly in the opposition because of his principles and strong conviction that the PDP has nothing to offer the people of Delta State and Nigeria. The almost 11 years of PDP government in the state has been a waste. There is practically nothing on the ground to show for the several billions of Naira, which the state got since 1999.

As for the fugitive former governor who was recently declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Delta DPP chairman said when the genuine opposition leaders raised an alarm about the squander mania in the state some years back, they were labeled as cynics who never saw anything good in Ibori.

He is a very happy man now that the Commission has finally seen what he and his fellow travelers saw long ago and has pledged to apprehend and prosecute the beleaguered former governor.

He said the party's long march to true democracy was the reason why its governorship candidate in the April 2007 election, Great Ogboru has been in court since. In what seems like a roller coaster ride, the case has been tossed back once again to the Appeal Court in neighbouring Benin, Edo State from the Election Petition Tribunal where a retrial was ordered.

As the leading light of the opposition in the state, Ezeagwu vowed that the party would soldier on, no matter how daunting the task may be. The party will never give in and join the bandwagon no matter how long and lonely the road to the liberation of the state may be.

In a free and fair election where there is one man, one vote, he said, there no is doubt that his party will vanquish the PDP as it has not shown any tangible achievement for its over one decade in office. "There is just no way the PDP can win a free and fair election in the state. Even then it must be noted that it has never won genuinely," he said.

But Mr. Peter Oracle Nwaoboshi, the PDP Chairman said there is no opposition in the state, which he emphasized, is a one party state. There is no terror in the ranting of the opposition for the PDP has become so strong in its five star performance.

Nwaoboshi predicted an earthquake victory for the party based on the solid foundation laid by Ibori and consolidated upon by Uduaghan. The party, he said, is not afraid of a free and fair election where vote counts. He said that almost everybody that matters politically in the state is in the PDP, wondering how the party could lose the state. In a test of popularity, he said, there is no iota of doubt that the party will win. "From the Asaba Airport to the stadium and street lights in the capital and Warri, there is no doubt that Uduaghan is an achiever who deserves a second term," he said.

The PDP, he reiterated is a moving train which cannot be stopped, advising that the earlier the opposition members shine their eyes and get on board, the better. Waiting in vain to board another train under the elements and without an umbrella for cover is a recipe for disaster. This is no time for any serious politician to position himself in opposition because life out there is cold and cruel.

Sounding upbeat, opposition leaders promise to contest the governorship polls next year and are confident that if there is a level playing pitch for all the parties by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the opposition will prove itself.

The DPP Chairman dared to hope that, this time around, things will be different especially as the controversial chairman of the electoral body, Prof. Maurice Iwu has been removed from office.

He warned that anybody who thinks that the DPP will only end up as just another party in the 2011 polls is only deluding himself.
Source: The Guardian, 2nd May 2010.

 

Uduaghan, Fashola Condemn Murder of Journalist
From John Ogiji, Minna

CONDEMNATIONS have continue to trail the killing last Saturday of The Nation's Judicial Correspondent, Mr. Edo Ugbuagwu.

Yesterday, Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, expressed shock at the brutal killing of Ugbuagwu, describing it as "mindless."

"What has this life turned to? Why couldn't society do anything to stop the killing? How could the killers have escaped?" he queried.

Uduaghan said the death of the journalist calls for greater vigilance from security agencies, government and the entire society.

"All hands must be on deck. Security agents, governments at all levels and everyone must be extra vigilant. We must learn to be our brother's keepers. That's the only way we can ensure such a sad development does not occur again," he added.

But the governor stated that justice can only be served and the family of deceased partially assuaged, if Ugbuagwu's killers are caught and brought to book.

"I agree that the killers must be fished out to face the music. That way, justice would have been served and the family of the slain journalist would feel that he did not die in vain," he added.

Also, the Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola (SAN), also on Tuesday expressed shock over the killing.

Fashola, in a condolence letter to the Managing Director and Editor-in- Chief of the Vintage Press Limited, publishers of The Nation Newspaper, Mr. Victor Ifijeh, said he personally shares in the grief of the members of The Nation's family.

The governor stated that he is particularly horrified by the circumstances of the dastardly act which though is occurring in spite of the avowed commitment to outrun any competition which the criminally-minded who are by far in the minority offers, the passage would only strengthen the resolve of the security agencies to bring his killers to justice and protect the life and property of every law-abiding citizen in the state.

Said he: "Losing a dedicated reporter and family man like Mr. Ugbuagwu, whose beat ironically centres around dissemination of information on justice delivery, could be devastating. Be assured that I am one with you in prayers at this moment of pains."

"On behalf of the Government and people of Lagos State, please accept my heartfelt condolences. God in his infinite mercy will endow you, the management and family of the departed, with the strength to bear this irreparable loss," the letter stated.

Meanwhile, the Niger State Commissioner for Information, Alhaji Baba Barau, has called on Nigeria journalists not to relent in the pursuant of the truth as demanded by the profession.

Speaking in Minna yesterday while commissioning the secretariat complex of the Correspondents Chapel of the NUJ, Niger State Council, the commissioner regretted the senseless killing of journalists across the country by those he described as paid assassins.

He said journalists in the country are the watchdogs of the society, adding that "no amount of intimidation or threat to their life should deter them from discharging their professional responsibility."

He added that "the society is watching and relying on you for day-to-day happenings in the society. You should always ensure neutrality in your reporting even at gun-point."

The commissioner reminded them that with the 2011 general election around the corner, they should expect more attacks because, according to him, Nigeria politicians have abandoned decency in pursuance of public office for what he called do-or-die politics.

He, therefore, urged the media to be partner in progress with the government in order to remove rancour and misunderstanding which often arise in their coverage of government activities.
Source: The Guardian, 29th April 2010.

 

Electricity: Uduaghan Urges FG to Decentralise Distribution

From Eddy Odivwri in Geneva

Delta State Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan has called on the Federal Government to decentralise power distribution so as to accelerate the development of the country.
He made the call while making a presentation in Geneva, Switzerland, at a two-day state organised summit, Delta Diaspora Direct (D3), for Nigerians and non-Nigerians on how Nigerians, especially Deltans in the Diaspora can make meaningful contribution to the development of the state.
Uduaghan noted that the failure to decentralise the energy sector has hampered the development of many states in Nigeria.

He said it is bad enough that the Federal Government has not been able to fix the energy challenges facing the country, but it is even worse that when alternative options are sought, the centralisation of the sector constitutes a lot of constraints in making any headway.

Uduaghan informed the audience at the summit that although Delta State has contributed about N3.9 billion to the Independent Power Projects (IPP) initiative of the Federal Government, the fruit of the investment is yet to be reaped.

He regretted that even though Delta State is already working on a private energy plan that can generate between 100 to 250 mega watts, "we will still not have access to it when it is ready because the sector is not yet deregulated", adding further that we may generate any amount of megawatt, but it has to be sent to the national grid, and it is only from there that whatever you generate can be transmitted and distributed".

He argued that the relative efficiency Nigeria has recorded in the telecommunication sector is because the sector has been completely deregulated.
The governor expressed concern that the failure of the Federal Government to fix the energy problem has slowed down the development pace of the country in general and Delta State in particular.
According to him, one-third o f the people of Delta State are not on the national grid, stressing that for the fact that the Federal Government is in charge of generating, transmitting and distributing power, "we can use our own power plant initiative to deal with that group of Deltans". He announced that despite the regulation by the Federal Government, the state is building a modular power plant.

In his presentation, Professor Philip Emegwali, the U.S-based Nigerian computer guru, lamented that the situation in Nigeria had caused the country to lose so many of its human capital.
He said: "Nigeria can become an economic power if it improves the situation in the country so it can record 'a brain gain from the brain drain'."

Emegwali challenged Nigerians to develop visions that can launch the nation into the next level, "because it is when you show the light that the people can find their way."
"Africa and indeed Nigeria can alleviate poverty by expanding the frontiers of science, climbing the tree of knowledge", he said, stressing that, "we must challenge the status quo".
Source: This Day, 27th April 2010.

 

Ritualists kill 2 inUghelli

PALPABLE tension yesterday enveloped Ughelli, Delta State, as two persons were allegedly killed by suspected ritualists.
The victims of the two separate incidents of the onslaughts which occurred at the Ughelli main market and Amekpa street in the Ughelli metropolis, had their hearts and other parts of their bodies removed by the suspected ritualists.

Saturday Vanguard learnt that one of the victims, a security man at Ughelli market, was allegedly strangled to death while attempting to resist his assailants who bungled one of the market stalls.

The hoodlums were to have carted away recharge cards and an undisclosed sum of money after they allegedly unleashed the dastardly act on the security man of about 65 years of age.

The other victim was allegedly attacked by the suspected ritualists in his house last Thursday night.
The hoodlums allegedly found their way into the apartment of the deceased after cutting down the burglary proof and killed him, removing his heart.

When contacted, the Divisional Police Officer, Ughelli 'A' Police Division, Mr Chris Sorgbara confirmed the killing of the security man.

He said the police was investigating the circumstances surrounding the killing, adding that the police was determined to unmask the perpetrators of the inhuman act.
Source: Vanguard, 24th April 2010.

 

Delta Dragged to Court Over Land Dispute

Written by Ben Dunno, Warri

Delta State governmenthas again been dragged to court over illegal demolition of structures and confiscation of a parcel of land belonging to the Ogbe-Owelle community in Okpanam, Oshimili North Local Government Area of the state.

The plaintiffs, through their counsels are demanding a stay of action on further demolition as well as N200 million as compensation.

The court action instituted against the Delta State government by Messrs Lewis Ifeadi, Mordi Chukwu, Stephen Okoye and Andrew Chuwuzo on behalf of the community is premised on alleged illegal demolition by the Delta State Ministry of Lands, Survey and Urban development.

In a suit filed in the Asaba High Court, Counsel to the Ogbe-Owelle community institution by Onyechi Ikepazu (SAN) and Dennis Nwanokwai claimed the various plots land belonging to their clients from the part of a larger expanseof land precisely 49.32 hectares, de-acquired by the Delta State government in 2005 and reverted to its orginal owners. The Ogbe Community vide a Delta State of Nigeria Gazatte No. 8 Vol 16 dated February 23, 2006 page 26.

The counsels averted that the land in question was legally de-acquired from Delta State government in 2005 and receipted for by the state lands, survey and urban development.

Affected members of the Ogbe-Owelle quarters, Okpanam in Osimili North Local Govenrment Area of Delta State had claimed that they started having trouble in the said parcel of land when the state government choose a site across the land for the construction of the Delta State Airport.

They claimed top Govenrment Officials and political Office holders then saw prime advantage of their land started pulling strings to covert the said land for their own use by forcefully taking it over from the legal owners...
Source: Leadership, 18th April 2010.

 

Delta Shares in Oceanic Bank not Used in Paying Ascot Loan

The management of Ascot Offshore Nigeria Limited has denied the allegation that the shares of Delta State government in Oceanic Bank were sold to pay the loan the company obtained from Intercontinental Bank to buy an oil servicing company, Willbros Group Inc, in 2006.

In a statement issued by Ascot Management on Friday, the company debunked the claims, saying the allegation was baseless.

While acknowledging that Delta State Government "used a portion of its shares in Oceanic Bank Int. Plc for the transaction," the company, however, insisted. "The Portion of Oceanic Bank shares used to part-secure the loan was never sold to pay off the loan obtained by Ascot."

Delta State government, Intercontinental Bank Plc and Ascot have confirmed that the shares are still in place. This fact can easily be verified through the CSCS (Central Securities Clearing System)".

The company emphasized that it emerged winners in a "very keenly contested bid. The purchase price was approximately $150m. As in any leveraged buy-out, Ascot had to source for funds to buy the company.

It approached Intercontinental Bank for a facility."The Ascot management further explained that the involvement of Delta State government in the purchase of Wilbros, an American based company, when it divested its holdings in Nigeria four years ago due to the crisis in the Niger Delta, was an open deal, which has benefitted the state.
Source: Vanguard, 18th April 2010.