Delta re-run: Has Uduaghan done enough to return?

AFTER the nullification of his election by Court of Appeal, Benin, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan is warming up for the re-run election. But has he done enough in the last three and half years to justify coming back, asks SUNDAY OGUNTOLA

DOES Emmanuel Uduaghan deserve to win the much-awaited Delta re-run elections ordered by the Court of Appeal ? Simple as it sounds, this question has thrown political gladiators in the state into much argument. While Uduaghan’s aides and supporters answer in the affirmative, his political opponents reply with a resounding no. Uduaghan, whose election in 2007 was annulled by the Court of Appeal sitting in Benin City, on November 9, did nothing to deserve returning to the governorship seat next year, his opponents allege.

They are quick to say that he did nothing to merit returning, considering the enormous resources made available to the state in the last three and half years. Former Secretary to the State Government and a governorship hopeful, Mr. Ovie Omo-Agege in a recent interview said, ‘’ People are asking questions today given the over N650billion the state received. Have we received the development that is commensurate with this? And the answer to the majority of Deltans is no.”

A Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain in the state, Chief Edwin Clark also believes Uduaghan has not done well to return. He fumed: ‘’Must Uduaghan rule Delta State? What did he do for Delta people? Is there any project Uduaghan started and completed? There is none. The Airport in Asaba is scandalous. The Airport in Uyo cost less than N7 billion. Gombe cost less than that. The Delta one has cost N22 billion and they are talking about topography. What topography? Does Asaba have swampy land or hilly or what is it?’’

But Mr Gary Akpobire, Director General State Integrated Development Programme, condemned the no-performance verdict against Uduaghan as cheap political vendetta.

The former governor, according to Akpobire, has done much more than any other governor in the state. At a parley last weekend in Lagos with newsmen, Akpobire reeled what he described as the ‘’superlative score-card’’ of Uduaghan in the three and half years of being in the saddle. He said the PDP candidate on assumption of office immediately embarked on a comprehensive, integrated action-plan for the entire state.
‘’The action-plan’’, he pointed out, ‘’is not what he can do throughout his term.

It is what other governors will have to follow up. I believe if there was one such document before he assumed office, he would have done much more. Adequate planning means 60 per cent delivery rate’’. On roads, Akpobire said Uduaghan completed the Okpare-Olomu bridge and access road; the reconstruction of Agharho-Okan Junction and the Koko-Uba-Egbelemeji road. Other on-going projects include construction of Asaba International Airport; construction of Trans-Warri/Ode-Itsekiri bridges and access road; dualisation of Ughelli-Asaba road; dualisation of Ugbenu-Koko road; dualisation of P.T.I-Jakpa- Ekpan road, among several others in the state.

On health, he said Uduaghan fully funded comprehensive free health care services to pregnant women from conception to delivery throughout the state. The scheme, according to him, has witnessed 51,942 deliveries, 389, 628 routine ante-natal visits and 11% caesarean section.

Uduaghan, he added, ‘’has a free medical and surgical scheme for children under five years aimed at reducing child mortality’’. Primary health care centres in the state increased from 345 in 2007 to 405 in 2010 while secondary health institutions are now 62 as against 56 before, he added. Delta State University Teaching Hospital has also been commissioned and functioning optimally, he further stated.

In the energy sector, he said Uduaghan was the first governor to approach the federal government for authority to embark on Independent Power Projects for stable electricity across the state. This commitment had seen the former governor supplying various sizes of transformer to different towns of Delta. There had also been installation of streetlights at various streets in different towns and communities as well as installation of outdoor jumbo Light Emission Diode(LED) display boards in some towns of the state.

It is perhaps in the water sector that Uduaghan’s impacts had been most felt, Akpobire stated. The former governor completed all the projects in the sector, including the sinking of boreholes equipped with 24 modules solar panel at Obod in Warri South West. There is also the construction of 200mm dia borehole equipped with 32 solar modules with 20,000 gallon tank capacity with office/pump house at Eboh Orogun in Ughelli North.

There is also the construction of headquarters complex of Urban water Board at Okpanam Road, Asaba as well as the construction of 150mm dia borehole with 15 submersible pump powered by 60 KVA perkins generator with 20,000 gallon-overhead tank and 10,000 gallon-aeration tanks at Ebrumede in Uvwie.

On transportation, Akpobire pointed out that Uduaghan purchased 16 speed boats for Delta State Assisted Riverine Mass Transit Scheme to enhance movement in riverine areas and provided 9 38 seater Nissan Buses for Tertiary Institutions in the state. Over 500 people, he added, were employed through the provision of 450 Toyota Hiace Buses for the Delta Urban Bus Scheme to ply 140 routes across the state.

Lending her voice, Mrs. Orezi Esievo, Immediate Commissioner for Special Duties (DESOPADEC) said the development agency had brought succour to the 16 oil-producing local government areas of the state. The initiative, she stated, underscores Uduaghan’s commitment to giving oil-producing communities a sense of belonging and ‘’enabling them to benefit from the resources they produce’’. The agency, she said, had involved communities in projects embarked upon. ‘’We don’t dictate for them. We only allow them to tell us what they consider paramount to them and provide the funding with supervision. That way, we have recorded almost 100% success in project delivery’’.

But if elections are conducted today, will Uduaghan win? Esievo believes that is for sure. ‘’They have seen what this man has done for them and have felt governance like never before. So, victory is assured,’’ she boasted. She however felt the opposition forces in PDP will realign however to on-going reconciliatory meetings. ‘’I can assure we are meeting and reviewing our positions. When the chips are down, everyone will surely rally behind Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan,’’ she said.

Great Ogboru of the Democratic People’s Party (DPP), she said, is no match for Uduaghan’s groundswell support. ‘’Truth is PDP is the only party on ground in Delta. We campaigned and still do all through the state. We are in every ward, every local government and everywhere in the state. There is no doubt the structure is so grounded that it cannot be over run,’’ Esievo added.

But, many people in the state are still to recover from the frenzy of Ogboru’s maiden campaign rally in Warri, two weeks ago. They are of the opinion that the massive turn out at the rally is an indication that the rerun will be a major battle and Ogboru will also be a strong factor in determining the fate of Uduaghan.

These are the voices of Uduaghan’s supporters. Those who support Omo-Agege and Ogboru insist that the Uduaghan years were eaten by locusts and the rerun should provide a new beginning..

SUNDAY OGUNTOLA

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