THE LOOTING OF DELTA STATE: A TIME TO ACT
The indictment of Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, former governor of Delta State by United Kingdom prosecutors in the on-going trial of James Ibori, his predecessor, and his wife Nkoyo is a clear confirmation of a looting dynasty that held the state hostage for over 11 years. Ibori, the man at the centre of the storm plundered the resources of the Delta State through many proxies, including Uduaghan, his cousin. For instance, Uduaghan who was until 2007, Secretary to Delta State Government (SSG) was accused by British investigators as one of the facilitators of the numerous illicit deals of Ibori.
Before his sack this week by the Court of Appeal which was greeted with euphoria across the length and breadth of the state and even beyond, Uduaghan had continued the criminal looting and pauperization of Delta State. Under his watch, Deltans groaned under deprivation of basic social amenities befitting of a frontline oil producing state. But by far the most worrisome trend under Uduaghan was the brazenness and recklessness with which contracts were awarded with the intention to defraud the state. What readily comes to mind is the criminal manipulation and inconsistencies with the award and execution of the N40 billion Asaba Airport project which remains a sore point in Delta State. However, the November 16, 2010 promised date for the first flight to Asaba Airport is still been awaited.
Other ridiculous figures include the laughable N3.7 billion which the government claimed to have expended on Warri Industrial Park. There is also the Independent Power Project that gulped over N25 billion with no visible site; the N24 billion Ughelli/Asaba dual carriage way which appears to have been abandoned; there is also the outrageous N14 billion street light project; the purported expansion of Osubi Runway which received over N4.5 billion; N3.6 billion caricature beautification/electronic decorations around the state; N3.7 billion Civic/Event Centre and the N7.7 billion which the government spent in constructing and equipping the Specialist Hospital in Oghara, Ibori’s home town. The list of these frivolous projects is endless but the most annoying of all these is the Warri/Effurun Water Project where Uduaghan claimed to have spent over N4.3 billion, yet the people for which the project was meant to benefit have not seen a drop of water four years after it was completed.
Unknown to many Nigerians, this was the heartless and insensitive governor who succeeded Ibori, who left an indelible scar on Deltans. To cover its dirty deals, Uduaghan’s government and DESOPADEC at a time spent over N500 million on advertorial alone. The sacked governor also used other media to peddle falsehood all in a bid to misinform and mislead the generality of the people for personal aggrandizement. But never again! Deltans must shed the toga of docility as a new dawn beckons. Never again would any governor or ‘elected’ representatives take the people for granted.
This is why it is imperative for all the relevant anti-graft agencies and well meaning Nigerians to demand for a thorough investigation of this dark era in the politics of Delta State. The evidence are overwhelming and there could not have been a better time than now to act so as to save Nigeria avoidable embarrassment and wastes associated in trial and extradition of fugitives. This is also a time for deep reflection as stories abound of massive fraud by Delta lawmakers at the Federal, state and local governments.
But there are questions that agitate the minds of Deltans in particular and Nigerians in general. How did we come to this sorry state as a people? How did we allow James Ibori whose ugly past was well known ahead of the 1999 election to emerge as a governor of the state? How was this fugitive allowed to reign unchecked for a whole eight years? And in flagrant disregard of democratic principles and the people of Delta State, he imposed Uduaghan, his cousin in his desperation to continually plunder the state and enslave the people.
When news of Uduaghan’s sack filtered in, we were amazed by the insinuation that the embattled former governor would reclaim the state in view of his massive wealth and the perceived stronghold of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in Delta State. But the table has turned and Deltans now know better. Uduaghan’s inglorious exit is indeed freedom and another opportunity to begin again on a more purposeful path. In the coming weeks, the former governor will be more concerned about saving his head from the mounting allegations against him at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC rather than his purported re-election bid. Unfortunately for him, he is now as vulnerable as any other citizen of the state as he no longer enjoys the immunity status. For too long, Uduaghan hid under the immunity clause, just like his predecessor to loot the commonwealth of the people. It is mind boggling to think of the fact that in less than four years, Uduaghan received over N571.4 billion from statutory allocation. And there is practically nothing to show for the huge amount except for the frivolous projects and his cosmetic street lighting, powered by generators when a gas turbine would have been most appropriate in view of the state’s huge gas deposit.
Like everything with a beginning, there is always an end. To us members of Delta Integrity Group and the long suffering people of Delta State, it is a new dawn. And we must all be vigilant this time around.
"The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it"- ALBERT EINSTEIN