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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Delta State, Gov Emma Uduaghan, Building Beyond Oil



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Delta State was created on the 27th of August, 1991 from the defunct Bendel State. At the inception of Delta State it was made up of 12 Local Government Areas (LGA) but presently comprises of 25. The State is divided into three Senatorial Districts, which are Delta North, Delta South and Delta Central. Delta State has 29 constituencies and 29 members in the State Houses of Assembly.


The cultural configuration of the state makes it look like a mini-Nigeria. It is multi-ethnic with the Urhobos occupying predominantly Delta central senatorial zone and small part of Delta South; Ijaws, Itsekiris and Isokos making up substantial part of Delta south and Anioma people Delta North.  Governing Delta state has many challenges and opportunities analysts who follow developments in the state say. Rich in oil and gas, accounting for 40% of Nigeria’s crude and gas deposits makes an important state in terms of economic contribution to the country.

Since coming into office over four years, Delta State is currently governed by the administration of Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan. Assisted by the State Executive Council, Dr Uduaghan has since assumption of office, competently and ingeniously tackled the challenges of governance to the delight of Deltans, Nigerians and perceptive members of the business community globally. The governor anchored the vision and policy thrust of his administration on a three-point agenda of peace and Security, Human Capital Development and Infrastructure development. The series of successes and achievements recorded by the administration of Dr. Uduaghan are strewn along these lines of governance.

On the administration’s peace and security programme, Delta State since the inception of the Uduaghan administration has witnessed (and continues to enjoy) relative peace and security of lives, properties and investments in the oil-rich state. The perception of violence, hostage-taking and disruption of production activities hitherto associated with the State has given way to prevailing peace and security following the deft interventions of the Governor. It is noteworthy that his first task in less than 48 hours after assumption of office was the constitution of security and waterways committee that is mandated to monitor and report movement and activities in the hitherto restive riverine areas and thereby prevent any breach of the peace and security. Delta has remained distinct, peaceful and secured within the larger Niger delta region of Nigeria.

More than the peace in the riverine areas of the state, the administration by adopting a pan-Delta state outlook has greatly reduced suspicion and ethnic rivalry that had long been source of tension and crisis. The Uduaghan administration by being inclusive, equitable and fair ended feeling of marginalization and exclusion that pervaded the state. By allowing every section to get its due and by running a government that seem to be doing so, Deltans across the divide embrace and support the administration. And to drive home his message Governor Uduaghan publicly declared that “ the policy of my administration is that every part of the state shall gets its due. The big ethnic groups will get its due, the small its due; we will not give what belongs to the big to another and the other way round”. In keeping to his words Governor Uduaghan has been able to endear himself to all and the success of this programme was central in making Delta the most peaceful state in the zone.


In terms of the Human Capital Development agenda of administration, the peace and security success the Uduaghan administration is vigorously complemented by human development initiatives. The capacity of the state’s human resource is being strengthened across board including educational empowerment, beneficial health programmes for the generality of the masses, skill acquisition and improvement for the workforce as well as introduction of several welfare packages for workers, among others. For instance the free maternal healthcare programme of the administration covers over 150,000 women who enjoy free health care from conception of their babies. This programme is so successful, many government owned hospitals are bursting with pressure from women who ordinarily patronize private clinics and sometimes quarks now find that they can get good care in hospital for free. The programme introduced in November 2007 maternal mortality dropped from 456/100,000 live births to 301/100,000 in so short a time.


In addition to pursuing free maternal health care, the government has re-invigorated the Rural Health Scheme, which has touched a lot of rural poor and the needy. The scheme introduced in 2005 but under present administration has been pursued with more determination and not unsurprisingly, its impact has been astounding. The scheme which covers 194 communities has since 2007 treated 51,000 persons with 3,022 surgeries performed. By taking medical treatment to the poor, has brought enormous relief to the people in the communities.


Beyond the medical system which has helped the people a lot, education in Delta state is virtually free. The policy of the administration is to ensure that every Deltan not matter their economic power is able to go to school and the proper education. It is in this regard that over 700,000 young people in schools across the state from primary to tertiary institutions like the State-owned University with three campuses at Abraka, Oleh and Asaba; three Polytechnics at Oghara, Ogwashi-Uku and Ozoro; and three Colleges of Education at Agbor, Warri and Mosogar, and one Federal College of Education (Technical) at Asaba, pay little or no fee at all. This is ouo make tside the bursary allowances that are paid to all Deltans irrespective of the institutions they attend in the country.


By adopting this policy, the burden has been greatly lifted from the shoulders of parents and guardians who find that they have little pressure to face in training their wards. While the pressure is less on the people, the government has not been relenting in taking up the challenge to put more infrastructures on the ground and expand opportunities for the people to have access to education. It is to this end that the administration has approved the establishment of four more polytechnics in Aboh, Abigborodo, Sapele and Brutu, all riverine areas, which offers great opportunities to those who were unable to access middle education and important skill to compete in world that is knowledge. The philosophy of the administration is that nobody should be denied a chance to acquire education not matter what.


To further address the challenges facing the poor in its human capital development the administration introduced mass transit air-conditioned buses, at 40% subsized fare even during period of fuel scarcity. The immediate benefit of this is that transport fare in the state quickly came down and as such Delta state is perhaps one of the few states with the cheapest transport fare in the country. More than that people who before now never really enjoyed air-condition buses to long distance journey now do so in relative comfort.  Within the state market women, students and farmers enjoy a new lease of life and comfort never before available to them. 


In tackling the challenges facing the people, especially the poor, the administration has strategically used the the micro-credit schemes to empower the people, and create a culture of enterprise amongst the people. Since its introduction two and half years ago, the Micro-credit apart of making it possible for 85,000 micro entrepreneurs to emerge and this cuts across women, men and young adults, who were group in clusters, has since Governor Uduaghan win the CBN award two years in a row for its successes in implementing this programme. Encouraged by the acceptance and the high returns by the people the administration in the 2011 budget put in 1.5 billion Naira to be disbursed through micro-finance banks in the state. What this means is that more people are going to benefit from this scheme this year than before, and poverty reduction will continue its downward slide in the state.   


The other social policy and empowerment programme introduced by the administration that had been yielding dividends is the youth empowerment programme through agriculture (YETA). A programme launched in 2009 has seen 1500 youths trained and given marching support in terms of financial, capacity building and land to them. In doing so many young people are beginning to see agriculture as a vocation they can take to instead of waiting for white collar jobs that may never come.  

On infrastructure development, the Uduaghan Administration has been visionary. It is almost completed the new international airport at Asaba, which should be one of the best in the country on completion at the end of the year. The government is also building a second and longer runway at Osubi airport, warri, to accommodate big aircraft, which means that Delta state will apart from Lagos and Abuja have two airports, but in this case the two airports owned by state government. The government in partnership with the private sector is building Warri Industrial Park, covering an area of 300 hectares of land area with site work and ground breaking expected early next year. The Government in partnership with the NNPC has attracted a private sector investment of about 16 billion dollars to Koko Free Trade zone. The investors will build a fertilizer plant, a petrochemical plant and a Central Process facility (CPF). The project is at early works and it is expected that site activity will begin early next year.

The Uduaghan administration has attracted over 40 billion Naira private sector investment to build Delta Tourism Park at Udu and Ogwashiukwu. There is also the multi-billion Naira OFN/Delta poultry farm which should promises to be the second biggest poultry farm in the country after Obasanjo farm.  

 The government is also setting up with the private sector an ICT park in Asaba, site work is expected to begin later this year. So far the state government is dualising the 167 kilometre Ughelli-Asaba dual carriage way, a federal government owned road, but which the government in line with its strategic thrust decided to take up. Since coming into office three years ago, the state government has constructed 483.6 kilometre of truck roads, 669.02 kilometre of drainage works.      

Furthermore, on the infrastructure development the state government since coming into office three years ago has put in 15 billion Naira into the NIPP of the federal government and is going to invest 21 billion Naira in the state independent power project. Royce Rolls, the manufacturer of the turbine will soon conclude the factory testing of the machine preparatory towards shipping it to Nigeria. 

Civil works has commenced in anticipation of the arrival of the turbine. By addressing the immediate issue of today and laying foundation for tomorrow the state government is line with its strategic vision of Delta without oil is moving inexorably moving in the direction that will make the economy of the state vibrant and the people active stakeholders of its future. Looking beyond oil and gas Governor Uduaghan has been active in international scene where he has become a roving ambassador of the state in promoting climate change and low carbon economy. Governor Uduaghan because of his strong advocacy was invited by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California to join the Global Governors Forum to propagate the issue of climate change at sub-national level/ state level. Governor Uduaghan from his activities in this forum was made founding member of R20 a group of sub-national governments interested in promoting green economy and renewable energy. From doing this, Governor Uduaghan was elected Vice Chairman for Africa and Middle East, has drawn the attention of the international community and oil companies to the need to end gas flare and protect the environment. Chevron for instance has committed itself to ending gas flare by December 2011. Multilateral institutions like the UNDP are partnering with the state government on environmental mitigation and remediation.

Ultimately the vision of the administration to build a sustainable economy, peaceful, harmonious for its people and neigbours, relevant nationally and internationally is on the course.

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