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Governor Sheriff Oborevwori and Deputy Governor Monday Onyeme Laughing
Delta Governor, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori

The Arena

(The Arena) In Defence of Oborevwori’s First Year in Office

By Tony Eke

At a time Deltans are still immersed in the euphoria of Delta State Governor, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori’s successful first year in office and expecting a harvest of more achievements in the second year, it’s worrisome to observe the growing obsession of few persons with criticism of the State Governor just for its own sake. The latest initiate in the cult of dissenters is one Ogaga Ovasa, a self-acclaimed journalist that resides in Ughelli, who for want of a better engagement, dissipated precious time writing a vacuous piece titled “Thinking Aloud: Is Governor Sheriff Oborevwori a Placeholder For Okowa?”

The dominant subject matter of the above write-up is neither truthful nor verifiable despite the erroneous title which could beguile the non-discerning members of the public. It’s a rehash of the same predominant but unfounded insinuations, half-truths, and innuendos deliberately spewed by critics intent on distracting the Oborevwori administration from its avowal of giving Delta State and its people an exemplary leadership worthy of emulation.

Virtually all the issues in the write-up had been in the public domain hence Ogaga Ovasa woefully failed to give each of them a new life they do not possess. For instance, while his assertion that “Governor Oborevwori’s first year in office left much to be desired” is an opinion he’s entitled to, it’s at variance with the remarkable views of a broad spectrum of Deltans that celebrated with the Governor on the occasion of his one year anniversary. Never in the history of our 34-year old State have we ever witnessed the convergence of a sea of heads that thronged that event venue in Asaba.

Among the ridiculous issues is the hackneyed reference to the Governor as inseparably beholden to his predecessor. That imaginary scenario which goaded him to piece the article is to say the least insulting to the person and office of the State Governor. The reference to “a placeholder” is a fictional narrative generated in opposition camps to drive a wedge between Oborevwori and the good-natured former governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa. Granted, the latter supported Oborevwori to win the position, but it’s the height of irrationality for anyone to suggest that an elected Governor wielding the enormous powers of his office could act as a stooge to any other person. That’s taking infantile imagination to a ludicrous height!

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Similarly, his attempt at discrediting the philosophical basis and beneficial import of the M.O.R.E. Agenda fell flat on its face as he unknowingly applauded the award of flyover bridges at Effurun and completed roads as good projects driven by the Governor’s quest to enhance the growth of the State. His imputation to the Effurun project as “over-inflated” is seemingly actionable though he can be forgiven owing to his status as an upstart scribbler bereft of the least ethical limitation of public affairs commentary. What evidence can he advance to prove such a weighty allegation of corrupt practice if he’s sued in the court?

Apparently, much of the accusations captured in the piece are tissues of lies. In his ploy to discredit the Governor’s commitment to good governance and inclusivity, the scribbler ended up making himself an object of mockery. While he may have a different view, our Governor who took office since May 29, 2023 had been performing his job creditably to the satisfaction of the largest number of Deltans. As a large hearted leader, Oborevwori has neither in the recent past nor lately shown any bias or initiated a policy that seems discriminatory or sectional. His pledge “to be governor for all Deltans” remains true today as it’s last year. A cursory look at his projects and other social interventions showed that the three Senatorial Districts are adequately and fairly accommodated.

As of today, virtually all the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are working within the purview of their duties and responsibilities contrary to Ogaga’s misinformation. Agreed that some MDAs could witness greater volume of activities in a particular period of the year, but there’s no iota of truth that all but the twin Ministries of Work, which was split into two at the inception of the Oborevwori administration for efficiency are literally dormant.

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So, what will Ogaga Ovasa say about the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Girl-Child Development headed by Ms. Orode Uduaghan, which, a month ago, supervised the M.O.R.E. Grant Scheme of N500 million to 5,426 persons of Delta State origin? What about the Ministry of Health where the Commissioner, Dr. Onojaeme and his staff are working round the clock to keep cholera and other emergency health issues from ravaging our people? Again, what about the Ministry of Information where the appointment of Dr. Ifeanyi Osuoza, four months ago, has brought about a renascence of proactive information delivery and its concomitant benefit to the stakeholders? We can go on and on!

The functionality of the MDAs evident in the seamless cooperation and unity of purpose among Executive Council members has profoundly impacted the governance pattern of the Oborevwori administration. It’s indeed the major reason for the achievements so far recorded. Although the list of projects is relatively long, it is important to highlight the star flyover projects in the twin-cities of Warri and Effurun and the numerous roads and bridges in both urban and rural areas already delivered in the last one year.

In terms of social infrastructure, a lot has been done to boost the living standards of the people. Apart from payment of promotion arrears of 5016 civil servants totalling N5.5 billion, the same category of public sector workers received post-subsidy removal palliative allowances of N10,000 each for three months totalling N6 billion. The Governor’s approval for the employment of 3,000 workers for Primary Schools in the 25 Local Government Areas injected new hands into the system thereby helping to depopulate the labour market for that season.

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In extending his empowerment initiative to the larger society, one of the outstanding components included the Delta Covid-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (D-CARES) which has benefitted a total of 64, 478 persons since Oborevwori assumed office. There’s also the M.O.R. E. Grant Scheme aimed at assisting and lifting up petty traders, artisans, and female entrepreneurs. As at May this year, the sum of N500 million was doled out to 5, 426 persons, each receiving between N100,000 and N150,000.

As far as Deltans are concerned, Governor Oborevwori had performed well within the period under review judging from the circumstantial encumbrances to his emergence in power as well as the serial adversarial arrows thrown on his path even after his inauguration in office. Yet, the appreciative stand of our people is not an end in itself but primarily geared towards inspiring the Governor to conceive new policies and do more projects to enrich our lives in years to come.

No conscientious public officer is averse to criticism anchored on objective analysis, unlike the type birthed by a combination of hate and envy. As much as Delta State belongs to all of us, it’s within our rights to voice out concerns over public policy issues, but in doing so we should not willfully choose the perfidious path because of partisan differences. A good piece of advice will always be welcome while those encased in pretence would be easily identified by its deceptive coloration.

On a final note, Ogaga Ovasa and his ilk should jettison their unenviable adversarial craft and commend the Oborevwori administration for its verifiable achievements, at least for now. It ennobles humanity more when we validate a worthy deed rather than seek to obliterate what’s manifestly true. As observed by Justice James Omo-Agege of blessed memory, while delivering a historic verdict on the Anini saga in 1987, “no amount of advocacy could defeat the logic of a solid truth”.

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