DESTMA: The BATTLE OF THE ELEPHANT AND THE TIGER

By Irikefe Umukoro ———–

 

Delta State Traffic Management Authority, DESTMA, Okowa Police.

An entry into Delta State capital Asaba and the commercial rival Warri is almost incomplete without the presence of these sky blue-uniform men and women. They are there Monday to Friday, ‘managing’ the traffic.

Many are not yet aware of the duties and jurisdiction of these traffic officials because the law setting up the agency is shrouded in secrecy. The number includes some of the officials themselves. This raises the question on whether they were properly trained as regards their duties.

The truth remains that they were trained as much as possible. This does not rule out further training and the usual teething problems a young parastatal would have.

Recently, DESTMA came under fire when one of its officials talked tactlessly to a journalist for doing her job. The journalists in the state took it upon themselves to stand up to the bullying.

As usual as this may sound, it ruptured the lid of a can of worms eating deep in the organisation. Ruptured the lid but have not unearthed the worms because there is bound to be an implosion which may explode if the right steps are not urgently taken.

While the journalists fought to defend their colleague, the voice of Jacob was speaking, scheming. From a cursory look, it was journalists versus DESTMA.

A closer, deeper look would say it was an intra-organizational supremacy battle. A school of thought even opined inter-tribal war. ANIOMA versus URHOBO.

Yes, there is a power tussle between the Director-General of the agency, Stephen Dieseruvwe and the Director of Operations, Samuel Idah.

While Stephen allegedly claims the agency is his brainchild, set up solely for him, Samuel authoritatively states that it was handed over to him and that he ran it for months before Stephen relocated to Nigeria and joined the agency.

Who is the rightful head? What does the law setting up the agency say?

Impeccable sources say DESTMA was conceived by former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan who obviously copied it from Lagos State where LASTMA holds sway. While the bill was before the State House of Assembly waiting to be passed into law, Dieseruvwe who had been a strong critic of that administration, indicated interest to manage the agency.

Uncouth persons would call it his gag against his then attack on the state government. Others would say it was to be downfall since he claimed he was more puritan than the Pope. It was time for him to show his holiness in action. He was drawn home from the United Kingdom where he lived for years to come and helm the affairs of DESTMA.

He has a deep knowledge of traffic management and good track record. He would manage it well and also keep quiet, having benefited from the government he fought so hard against.

It was based on this premise that the same DG allegedly tried using the misunderstanding between the journalists in the state and his rival DO who he sees as a usurper to achieve his dreams; to remove him.

Some of the write ups on that issue are believed to have been sponsored by him.

Checks revealed that Dr Uduaghan actually set up DESTMA with Stephen Dieseruvwe as the designated Head. The latter actually made great input in the proposals that went to the House of Assembly.

They also revealed that at some point, while the present DG was busy blasting Dr Uduaghan through several platforms including a Facebook page he set up – Liberate Delta Forum, they both got in touch and talked secretly. This his followers may not know.

It was during these talks that the agreement on heading DESTMA was conceived. Reports say DESTMA would have taken off with Dieseruvwe as the DG even before Uduaghan left office but for some reasons.

As parochial as it sounds, fuelled by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s perceived clannishness, it would be difficult to disabuse the mind of many who believe he put his kinsman, Idah as his eyes to know what happens in the agency he did not initiate.

Can the law that set up DESTMA be reviewed to properly define the line of reporting in the organogram of the new organisation? This would perhaps save Deltans a lot of trouble because when the Elephant fights with the Tiger, the grass and even smaller beings like ants suffer.

Now that Dieseruvwe could not use journalists to push Idah out, what happens? Would the man who created the agency and put him there help him or watch DESTMA really become Okowa Police.

 

Irikefe Umukoro, 

A political analyst,

Wrote from Ughelli,

 Delta State.

 

 

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