Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, former governor of Delta says the consistent growth of infrastructure in any society remains a catalyst for nation’s development.
Uduaghan stated this on Wednesday at the 2023 Maris Annual Public Service Lecture series with the theme, “Provision of Infrastructure as Catalyst for Growth of Democratic Governments” in Asaba.
The former governor, represented by his daughter, Orode Uduaghan, said that infrastructure was about growth, development, sustainability, advancement and satisfaction of the people.
“The consistent growth of any nation’s infrastructure is a catalyst and most important factor for nation building.
“The holistic view of infrastructure that is both economical and social is important in developing the basis of any society.
“To a large extent, the adequate provision of infrastructure in Nigeria today are skewed, the majority of the people are overlooked and this has been the challenge for years.
“Without the right infrastructure, the average Nigerian is merely surviving rather than thriving,” Uduaghan said.
He said that the inadequate and epileptic power supply in the country had hindered the economic survival of the people, adding that access to social amenities would aid faster development in the country.
He, however, blamed lack of continuity from successive governments, adding that in democracy, the provision of infrastructure was promises made the people by the political class during elections.
“The role of government is to improve the lives of its citizens by providing essential amenities and services that are necessary for survival and for growth.
“The provision of good infrastructure could be said to be good governance.
“Providing infrastructure in terms of eduction, health, labour, agriculture, technology, will boost the standard of living of citizens in any given society.
He noted that government who fulfil its promises earn the people’s trust.
“To make Nigeria and Delta a happy place, we must instill trust in our people and one way to do this is to keep our promises of providing sustainable infrastructure for the people.
The Guest Lecturer, Chief Fidelis Tiliji, Delta Commissioner for Finance, opined that the greatest infrastructure was for the mind of Nigerians to conceptualise a thing and make it come to past.
“In my lecture, I did say that there are several infrastructure that the Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa adminstration actually imparted in the state. I mention, the airport, roads, education, hospitals, Ogenye floating market, and others.
“I will tell you that the best infrastructure that Okowa has built was establishing the three universities, because he was striking the mind and those mind that he struck would produce people with positive mind.
“What is infrastructure? I think we should begin to leave this physical touches that we do, because in the real sense, infrastructure is not the road, the hospital that you build, it is the mind of the people.
“If you do not conceptualise the mind of the people, whatever you do comes to nothing. In fact it was the mind that built Dubai.
“Here at home, look at the electoral amendment that was conceived by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, we talk about electronic voting but because the mind was not there, we also threw that away.
“While we are busy thinking about roads and others, the legislatures were busy thinking about shortchanging the people.
“It is the mind that talks about literacy or illiteracy and enables you understand what the law says.
“It is respected democracy that is the best government not just democracy. Dubai is not practicing democracy but it is the mind that conceptualise the infrastructure you see there.
“It is not the form of government that you practice that matters but the foundation of trust and believing that a lot can be done by those at that point that try to put things together.
“If we have our minds put together, we will stay in the comfort of our homes and press the voting button and it is read in Abuja and it is counted.
“Until we are able to conceptualise that mind and put it in a positive form, it can never work,” he said.
Tilije noted that it was that negative mind that segregated the nation into tribal, and religious segments that played out during the last general elections particularly the presidential election and not the provision of infrastructure.
The Moderator, Dr Kemi Emina, and the discussants; Dr Paul Owen, Dr Olumami Oyibo, Mrs Augustina Erah and Dr Festus Okubor held the opinion that provision of infrastructure was responsible for the victory of the governorship election in Delta.
They scored the Okowa administration high, while proposing devolution of power and adequate resources allocation to states and local governments to fast rack infrastructural development in the country.
The Chairman, Maris Trust Council, Chief Kenneth Olise and the Secretary, Mr Fidelis Egugbo thanked the guests for their continued support while pledging more.
Egugbo a Journalist, father and founder of Maris School, at the heat of the COVID-19, directed parents not to pay the pupils and students tuition for a term to ameliorate the hardship occasioned by the pandemic.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the lecture series was organised in memorial of Stella-Maris Chukwufuninenya Egugbo, a promising young girl who died in Oct. 30, 2010 whose death birthed the institution, Maris Schools, Okpanam in Delta.