AT his maiden session with the press in Lagos shortly after he clinched the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ticket to contest the 2015 governorship election in Delta State, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa was emphatic on his plans if elected the fourth civilian governor of the oil rich state. In fact, he gave a hint on what awaited the people of the state in terms of development.
At that event where Dr. Festus Okubor, former Chief of Staff to Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, read the governor’s citation while Chike Ogeah former Commissioner for Information, Delta State, acted as the moderator, Okowa told members of the fourth estate of the realm that his ambition was to ensure Prosperity for all Deltans. For emphasis, he categorically told everybody present that he would be a pan Delta State governor with programmes and policies well encapsulated in his S.M.A.R.T Agenda to make life more meaningful and abundant for the people. This and his pedigree therefore foreclosed any insinuation about the governor serving any ethnic or tribal interest.
Almost two years in office, the question is: has Senator (Dr.) Ifeanyi Okowa lived up to that promise? The answer is a resounding YES. He has also shown, contrary to fears harboured in some quarters, that he is not an Anioma governor; neither has he favoured Urhobo more than Ijaw, Isoko or Itsekiri ethnic nationalities in the distribution of amenities. Quite expectedly, equity has remained his watchword and guiding philosophy in the distribution of infrastructure in the three senatorial districts made up of five ethnic nationalities.
He has, so far, been fair to all, especially in the areas of road construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation. Okowa has, so far, been just and fair to all. And many people have described road construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation exercise currently going on in the state as unprecedented as regards distribution and this is verifiable. For instance, available records show that his administration has completed over 398 kilometres of roads with more than half in Delta Central and South Senatorial districts. The districts which his political opponents had openly campaigned that his administration would marginalise if voted.
Incidentally, his Anioma ethnic nationality (Delta North) has not been unduly favoured over and above others. Asaba, the state capital, has not seen any major transformation except for the Cable Point Road dualisation and some inner roads (streets) that he has given a face lift. No landmark project has been embarked upon even with the creation of Asaba Capital Development Authority (ACDA) which is charged with the responsibility of making Asaba a befitting capital in terms of provision of infrastructure.
Speaking with journalists recently when he inspected the on-going Okpanam/Asaba Road project, Okowa said, “we have about 398 km roads all through the state and so many projects are ready for commissioning now, from the month of April through May we will be commissioning a lot of road and school projects”.
On Wednesday March 8, 2017, he walked his talk as he flagged off an inspection tour of ongoing projects, mostly roads, in all the three senatorial districts of the state and the people came out in their thousands to welcome him to their neighbourhood, an indication that they appreciate the good work he is doing.
In the central senatorial district alone, his Midas touch has been felt by Onomigbo Street, Orerokpe, which was done at the cost of N242 million, Ejinyere/Orodje streets Orerokpe, Okpe (N106 million) all in Okpe local government area.
In Warri South Local Government Area the sum of N169, 289,007.30 was spent in fixing Ejiyere Street, Dederu Street and Akemu Street by Church of God Mission.
Reconstruction of Oteri Township Road Ughelli North Local Government Area, Oteri gulped N249, 332,580.00, construction of access road to Awaritse Industrial Park, Obitugbo (Phase 1) in Warri North Local Government Area Obitugbo, Koko was achieved with the sum of N199, 724,434.88).
Residents of these areas and road users can testify to the transformation God has used Okowa to achieve for them. However, the dualisation of Sapele Road from Amukpe Roundabout by Sapele/Warri Expressway to AT & P Roundabout Sapele in Sapele Local Government area Sapele was done at N2,055,957,986.25, Ughelli-Afiesere-Ofuoma Road in Ughelli North Local Government Area, Ughelli was constructed at N1,743,871,106.25 just as the expansion and upgrading of Tankers’ Park, Ekpan in Uvwie Local Government Area, Ekpan cost the state N1,682,466,578.94. Ugbomro Road (Section I: Between DSC Expressway and the Federal University of Petroleum Resources Junction) in Uvwie Local Government Area Ugbomro was fixed with N994, 424,130.00.
Aside the completed roads some of which was inaugurated during his first anniversary in office, Okowa told Deltans that work would be completed on the ongoing projects and would be officially open for use in May as part of his second year anniversary celebration. Among the roads are rehabilitation/asphalt overlay of Ekakpamre/Ekrokpe/Usiefurun roads in Ughelli South and Udu Local Government Area with the contract sum of N683, 891,934.86, rehabilitation of Adeola Road/New Ogorode roads junction in Sapele Local Government Area awarded at the cost of N176,665,702.50, rehabilitation and overlay of Ogaga Road and construction of spur to Rev. Atufe Oybo Close, Amukpe for N89,932,619.75, expansion and rehabilitation of sections of Oghara Junction to Otefe Road in Ethiope West Local Government Area for N230,000,000.00, resurfacing of Ughelli-Agbarha Road in Ughelli North Local Government Area (Phase 2). This project is been done at the cost of N199,000,000.00, construction of Abraka township roads (Phase I) and Oghara township roads (Phase VI) at the cost of N386,693,771.63 and N204,098,785.98 respectively. The widening of Warri/Sapele Road (Phase I) from Effurun Roundabout to Enerhen Junction (Warri Bus Rapid TRansit (BRT) Project which when completed would have cost the state N7, 769,471,544.15.
All these and many other projects have forced even his ardent critics to acknowledge that he has turned the state into a huge construction site never seen in the history of the 25 years old state. Some have also argued that Okowa, in spite of the biting recession, has surpassed what his predecessors achieved when their administration was less than two years.
Perhaps, the most interesting aspect of his commitment towards making sure that roads in the state are motorable is the fact that over 70 percent of the roads are done by homegrown contractors thus giving Nigerian engineers opportunity to showcase the stuff they are made off. And the beauty of it is that most of the roads handled by indigenous contractors with 100 percent proudly Nigerian workforce are as comparable as most, if not all the ones awarded to foreign firms with foreign engineers.