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DELTA STATE SILVER JUBILEE CELEBRATION: GOVERNANCE IS POOR, By Maduabuchukwu Prestine Akaeze

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DELTA STATE SILVER JUBILEE CELEBRATION: GOVERNANCE IS POOR, By Maduabuchukwu Prestine Akaeze

NEWISSUES, Abuja

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Sovereignty is not a right; it is a responsibility. In political terms it is the responsibility of the state to deliver education, health care, infrastructure, public services, good governance, and protection from violence and crime among others. 

Delta state that has a population estimated to be 4,098,391 (2006 population census) was carved out of the former Bendel State on August 27, 1991. The state was created following agitations for the creation of a separate distinct state by the people of the old Delta Province: the Urhobos, Itsekiri, Isoko, Ijaw (Ezon) and Ukwuani (later joined Anioma).

There was yet another state creation movement designated as "Niger State"comprising the old mid-western Igbo-speaking Asaba divisions and Ukwuani-speakingAboh division of the old Midwest region. This was transformed into "Anioma" following the creation of Niger State from the old North-western State by the Murtala Muhammed's administration in 1976.

The then Military President, Gen Ibrahim Babangida (Rtd) created the state using the name "Delta" advanced by Niger Delta region and "Asaba" a prominent town within the "Anioma" axis as capital. Asaba was designated as capital of the proposed Anioma State.

The proposed capital was a virgin land or "Anioma city" in the heart of the two constituent divisions that had evolved to become the Anioma area. Delta state was once integrated in the Mid Western state from 1963 to 1976 and later Bendel state, from 1976 to 1991. The name "Bendel" (Ben-Del) coined from the old Benin and Delta Provinces of Western Region-Delta to reflect the integration of Benin and Delta provinces.

Delta State, which also is referred to as “The Big Heart” enjoys an oil status which gives the state a significant place in Nigerian economy.

DELTA STATE AND HER PAST LEADERS (Military Era)

The first military administrator of the state Group Captain (later Air Commodore) Luke Chijiuba Ochulor (August 1991 – January 1992) had the pioneering task of laying the foundation for the administrative structure of the state. The new government operated from the rented building in Asaba in the face of a major accommodation problem. Ochulor and members of his cabinet did some outstanding job by way of instituting new administration within the tenure that lasted for just five months.

Efforts were made to give Asaba some status as the state capital, with the construction of some government infrastructure such as the mini-secretariat (now old secretariat) to house some of the ministries and departments.

January 2, 1992, Luke Ochulor handed over to the first executive civilian governor of the state, Olorogun Felix Ibru, during General Ibrahim Babangida’s controversial transition to civil rule.

Governor Felix Ibru Elected under the platform of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP), his team of commissioners and other state officials continued with the pioneering work initiated by Ochulor. Ibru’s tenure lasted for less than two years; some moves were made towards the development of various sectors of state, particularly education and health.

When the military struck again on November 17, 1993 and dismantled all the democratic structures already put in place by General Ibrahim Babangida (Rtd). General Sani Abacha became the new military Head of State. After the military government came into power again, Governor Ibru handed over power to the Commissioner of Police, Abdulkadir Shehu, who was acting administrator from November 17 to December 10, 1993. A succession of military administrators ruled the state from then on until May 29, 1999. These were Col. (later Brig. Gen) Bassey Asuquo (December 10, 1993 to September 26, 1994); Group Capt. (Later Air Commodore) Ibrahim Kefas (September 26, 1994 to August 22, 1996); Lt Col. John David Dungs (August 22, 1996 to August 12, 1998) and Navy Capt. Walter Feghabo (August 12, 1998 to May 29, 1999).

The military rulers of the state did not make much appreciable achievement in generaldevelopment. Apart from paying the salaries of state workforce, at times behind schedule, negligible efforts were made at infrastructure development, health care, education and enhancement of ethnic harmony and co-existence. The general disaffection with military rule became all-time high during the regime of Col. John Dungs which resulted in a strike by the state workers grounding most government activities.

DELTA STATE AND HER PAST LEADERS (Civilian Era)

After ending multiple decades of military rule that began in 1966 and had been interrupted only by a brief period of democracy from 1979 to 1983, in May 1999, democracy came in rule and has since been so for many years but 25 years for the people of Deltans.

The second elected Civilian ruler of Delta State after Olorogun Felix Ibru handed power to military regime was Chief James Onanefe Ibori on May 29, 1999 under the platform of People Democratic Party (PDP). After 4 (four) years in office, he was re-elected in 2003 for another 4 (four) years. Ibori’s administration has been applauded by many as the best administration by some people from his ‘camp’. Ibori’s administration started the re –construction of Asaba township stadium which has been left in comatose and the project started by his then administration that has either abandoned or pay little orno attention. After Ibori’s 8 years in office, On Tuesday, April 17, 2012, Ibori was sentenced to 13 years by Southwark Crown Court after pleading guilty for a 10 count charges.

The rest is history. Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan was the 3rd Governor of Delta State from 2007 to 2015. He assumed office via an inconclusive election on May 29, 2007 and is a member of the People's Democratic Party (PDP). His first tenure just like an average Nigerian politician forgot all promises made to those who voted him en mass. After successful first tenure in office, he was re-elected just like his cousin James Onanefe Ibori on 26 April 2011.

Senator Arthur Okowa Ifeanyi is the incumbent Governor of Delta State. He was inaugurated as Governor on 29 May 2015 after winning the state elections conducted in April 2015. Before his Governorship, he was elected Senator for Delta North, Delta State, in the April 2011 national elections. He ran on the People's Democratic Party (PDP) platform.

Just like our military leaders who did nothing appreciable, the civilian (democratic) leaders did worst. Non-payment of workers salary especially the Local Government workers, lack of good road channels in the state capital and her environs has become a thing that cannot go unnoticed. It is no longer news that Delta State, an oil and agricultural producing state. What is now news is how the oil and agricultural producing state became so backward in every aspect of her human endeavors.

Governance in Delta state since civilian regime is a brand that spends so much to accomplish so little (where and when it achieves anything at all). It invests in the comfort of officials rather than in human and material resources. In fact, the welfare of the common man occupies the bottom rung on the ladder of the priorities of the anchors of state.

Delta state is plagued by hydra-headed and pathological corruption that ensures that the impact of any seeming good policy is either extremely negligible or almost exactly nil. However, I can conclude that while the balance sheet of Governance in Delta State may be less than satisfactory; all hope is not lost as the desire for the practice of true Governance amongst Deltans remains unassailably high.

Twenty five years of existence is not a thing of joke and the government should start taking moving the “Big Heart” of a state forward seriously because a twenty-five year old child is no longer a boy and the state should as such start acting like a man.

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