AN OPEN LETTER TO GOV OKOWA ON HIS ONE YEAR IN OFFICE

By Revd Francis Ejiroghene Waive

Your Excellency,Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa

Permit me to begin by congratulating you on this auspicious occasion of your successful one year in office as Executive Governor of Delta State. About ten years ago, I made an off-hand remark about politicians in Delta State and named you as one of the same.  Dr. John Osuyali who was present took me to task and told everyone there that you were different. He told us that one day you will become Governor of this State and that you will do things differently. Three years ago it was Mr Sunday Kotor who again raised to high heavens how well cultured you are when I wrote about the then coming elections. All this is in addition to Rev Thomas Uwkute’s regular sermons on how the State will move forward when you become Governor.

Your first visible achievement to my mind is the absence of any credible cry of marginalization by any section of the State. In a multi-ethnic State like Delta, your ability to carry everyone along is commendable. Your predecessor was perceived as selfish, unforgiving and ‘almost’ wicked. You seem to have brought a breath of fresh air to governance in the State. Many thanks for this development.

I am not a politician but being a grassroots development worker and clergyman, I can say that the politicians are not complaining, unlike the last time when even Commissioners complained. One said that items as small as stationaries in his office were supplied by the then Governor’s favorite in-law. With all the façade about financial prudence, the State was being bled to death resulting in about seven hundred billion naira debt at the end of that government. This debt profile that you made public endeared you to most Deltans. Many of us expect that you will continue in this path of openness in running the affairs of our State.

However, one issue that most Deltans are worried about is the ‘huge’ wage bill of over seven billion naira per month. Almost everyone believes that at least a third of this figure goes to whoever is Governor and the masses are eagerly waiting for you to stand out different. This is money that can go for development purposes. If previous Governors have consistently stolen this sum monthly, we expect you to stop this ‘fantastic’ corruption. Do not let the several staff verification exercises that you have carried out go the same way with those carried out by your predecessors. After all, God has blessed you with a good name and ‘enough’ wealth. Those who stole our State blind are not better than you neither will they be able to enjoy all their loot.

Your Excellency, if you join any Bus or Keke in the State, there are two complains that the people make about your government. The first is that your political appointees are too many. Permit me Sir, to suggest that you put a hold on further appointments and look at the possibility of reducing the present pack. The second has to do with the pot-hole ridden roads across the State. At every traffic grind-lock in the country (caused by bad roads), the people literally curse their leaders. I know that your government has made some efforts in this regard, but Your Excellency, what has been done is too small compared to the need. And Deltans will not accept the story of scarcity of funds as the political expenditures of your government does not reflect this so-called economic depression. The State Direct Labor Agency should be empowered and monitored to deliver. Rainy season or no rainy season!

Sir, if you maintain the present momentum, your government will go down in history as one of the most peaceful in the State. However Deltans never sing the praise of Governor Felix Ibru who left huge sums in the State coffers for the military that came after him to steal. We desire that your government be known for infrastructural development as well as for equity. Not like the last government that used mega projects to rape the State of billions of naira but you should undertake critical meaningful projects that will touch many lives and be enduring.

Permit me Sir, to give a few examples of such possible projects which are available across the State. For instance in the aspect of roads, you may create new roads that will solve crucial problems of movement of goods and persons. From Warri Sapele expressway, a new road was being developed to link Omadino community in the twilight of the last administration. That is a good project to complete as it will solve the daily suffering at the bottleneck around the Warri Refinery. Also, to resolve the age-long Enerhen junction gridlock, a bridge connecting Enerehen with Opete community is the solution. There are many such examples across the State. People remember Ogbemudia for the Udubridge (among others), Ibori for the Bomadi&Okpare bridges (among others) and you will be remembered for the Enerhen/Opete bridge and similar such projects. Your Excellency, not many people will remember micro-credits in eight years’ time.

My prayer is that the Osulayis, Kotors and Ukwutes and many such persons of which I am now one, will not be disappointed at the end of your tenure. May you be remembered not for the amount of primitive accumulation you acquired but for the good you did while in office as Executive Governor of Delta State. Once again accept my congratulations and that of many well-meaning Deltans on your one year anniversary.

Rev Francis Ejiroghene Waive

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