…Query Delta Lawmakers on Poor Oversight Functions.
By Miracle Enuji
Chairman, Association of Professional Bodies in Nigeria (APBN), Delta State Chapter, John Aikpokpo-Martins ESQ has tongue-lashed the State Government for failing to implement the Urban and Regional Development Law of the State which has led to the high rate of dirt across all nooks and crannies of the State.
Aikpokpo-Martins who made this submission when he led the State executive of the Association on a familiarization visit to the Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly in Asaba, stated that the deplorable condition of the environment in the State, is preventing potential investors from considering Delta State a business destination.
In his words, “We want investors to come to Delta State but no investor will come to a dirty environment. Delta State with due respect is one of the Dirtiest States in Nigeria. It is our state, we love it but the fact is that we also travel outside the state. We have been to Uyo, Calabar and even when I went to Kastina and Sokoto, I was marvelled by what I saw. A very well planned town and I was very ashamed. We have all the money in Delta State but what is going on. We found out that the major reason why we are not going forward is because we have not been implementing the urban and regional development law which the House of Assembly passed and was assented to. It is a law therefore but that law has not been implemented in the way it was passed by the House.”
The legal Practitioner added that, “At a point, we went to court to compel the Delta State Government to obey the law as it were but we withdrew the case for settlement but till now nothing has happened. We do not want to go back to the court, we want to urge the House of Assembly to use their oversight powers to check what is going on, why was the law not implemented and if necessary, if it has to be amended, let us chart a way forward so that we can have a better environment, more beautiful and well planned cities in Delta State.”
Speaking on the noticeable stagnation of the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC), Aikpokpo-Martins expressed dismay at their non performance in recent times. “The state of DESOPADEC is quite a thorny issue. We have listened to the debates from the news and we do not seem to understand what is really going on because we understand that the law that set up DESOPADEC gave the first charge on the money coming from the 13% derivation to go to DESOPADEC for their operations. Those days we used to complain that they were not doing enough but now what we are seeing is that nothing its been done at all. We are not seeing any project ascribed to DESOPADEC and we do not know what is really going on. By the constitutional provision, the House has power for an oversight function on how money is appropriated to it. So we are urging the Delta State House of Assembly to look closely to what is going on, so that Deltans can understand what is really going on. We want DESOPADEC to work and work for all Deltans.”
While decrying the passive approach of Lawmakers in carrying out oversight functions the implementation of contracts particularly roads, the APBN Chairman said, “it is another issue that is very disturbing. If you observe, it is not true that Delta State Government have not been able to undertake very serious infrastructural projects but the problem that we are having is,, the projects that were done 2 years ago are now so bad that we are doing them again and if the House of Assembly has the power to appropriate money and have the oversight function, I think that oversight should go just beyond looking at the fact that we voted money, the money was used. How was that money used? Was it used for the purpose of which it was meant for? If yes, did it meet the standard?”
He further stressed that roads constructed are now going bad in less than 1 or 2 years and again in the next 3 years we coming back again to appropriate for them. “We urge the House of Assembly to look closely and make sure that not only the contracts are awarded but are awarded to the specified standard and that it is implemented with the specification given. So that some of these roads that have gone bad in less than 2 years, they can serve us for 25 years and I am very sure when the contracts were awarded, it was designed for not less than 50 to 60 years. If you look at the roads Late Samuel Ogbemudia built, the Warri-Sapele road down to old Warri, it is still there. How come roads constructed 3 years ago, there are all gone bad. So for us to make progress, what we have done before, we do not need to do it all over again, just like we are turning round.”
Barr. Aikpokpo-Martins earlier in his speech, informed Speaker Oborevwori that members of the Association of Professional Bodies in Nigeria are key stakeholders in the story of Delta State and had come to announce their intentions to contribute their quota to the development of Delta State. “We do not want the state government to look at us as persons who are always in opposition because sometimes it is not everything that the government is going to do that we will just believe that they have done well. We want to partner the government by advising the government from time to time.”