May 29 Handover: Footprints, Loose Ends Of Departing South-South Governors
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May 29 Handover: Footprints, Loose Ends Of Departing South-South Governors

By Vanguard Newspaper

Governors Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Emmanuel Udom (Akwa Ibom), and Ben Ayade (Cross River), as constitutionally prescribed, will hand over power to the governors-elect of their respective states on May 29 after eight years in office.

Preparations are already in top gear in the states with the inauguration of transition committees by the retiring and incoming governors, while some governors have already evacuated their official quarters in the Government House for renovation, and takeover by the governor-elect.  

The outbound governors are definitely leaving different memories behind in the minds of the people, especially in the areas they excelled, and aspects they underperformed. Saturday Vanguard in this report looks at the legacies and unfinished projects of the governors. 

Okowa’s Legacies In Delta

From whichever perspective you look at the eight-year administration of Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, the medical doctor is holding his head high as he leaves office, having done the much he could to change the oil-rich state.

A wonderful bequest of the outgoing administration is the multi-billion naira  Asaba Storm Drainage Project, which has substantially addressed the flooding problem in Asaba, the state capital, Okpanam, and its environs. Even in his last days in office, the governor is tarring more roads in Asaba and other parts of the state. Asaba felt the impact of being the capital of the state under Okowa more than any other government in the state.

 A similar storm drainage project is rounding off in Warri under the supervision of Warri/Uvwie and Environs Development Agency, WUEDA, to enable the governor-elect to turn the oil city into a construction site with roads on resumption, while the Agbor scheme took off, recently.    

Besides constructing internal roads with concrete pavement in Burutu town; 20.29-kilometre Obotobo 1– Obotobo 11– Sokebolou–Yokri road in Ogulagha Kingdom;   Okerenkoko,  and other riverine communities, another star project of Okowa is the modern Delta state secretariat on Mariam Babangida Road, Asaba, a masterpiece housing all government Ministries and parastals, named after the Asagba of Asaba, Prof Chike Edozien.

Unfinished Business

However, Governor Okowa is leaving with the Ughelli-Asaba Road dualization project, which he inherited from his predecessor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, uncompleted.

The road, which spans over 150 kilometers was subdivided into three sectors, sectors A, B, and C for operational purposes. Sector B, which is Aradhe in Isoko North local government area to Ossisa in Ndokwa West local government area was completed, and commissioned by former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan. 

Okowa, who seems to have done sizeable work in sector C, which is from Ossisa to Asaba, had varied the project to facilitate the completion of the project, yet he could not finish it. Last month, the government gave the Ministry of Works an ultimatum to complete Section C2 of the road from the Koka flyover/interchange to the Ogwashi-Uku junction.

 His government did not achieve much in sector A, which is Ughelli to Aradhe despite the revocation and re-award of the contract. The erstwhile Uduaghan government revoked the contract earlier awarded to Wokson Construction Company and re-awarded to the CCC Construction before Okowa took over the project. 

Dissatisfied by the CCC pace, Okowa, dubbed “roadmaster”  revoked the contract and re-awarded it to Leviant Construction. The entire road project has cost the state government over or close to N100 billion but remains uncompleted, causing motorists and travelers unimaginable inconveniences. 

Another project Okowa is also leaving behind is the Ayakoromo Bridge designed to connect Burutu, Bomadi, and Ughelli local government areas, initiated by his predecessor. The governor re-awarded the contract to Setraco Nigeria, promising that his administration would complete the bridge project, but failed to keep to his words.

 In all, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the vice presidential candidate in the last presidential elections added value to the state and ran a government that showed he is in charge.

Debt Profile

Okowa said the state’s domestic debt presently hovers around N154.6 billion, while his administration inherited a substantial part of it from previous governments.

However, records from the National Bureau of Statistics showed the state is a domestic debt of    N272.612 billion with its foreign debt standing at about $61.4 million. The state’s debt dropped by over 20 percent from N378 billion in June 2022 to 272, 612, 510, 528.95 in September 2022.

Wike’s Landmarks In Rivers

With  12 flyovers constructed from 2019, Dr. Nabo Graham Douglas Campus of the Nigerian Law School, which President Muhammadu Buhari described as a “grand wonder”, Dr. Peter Odili Cancer and Cardiovascular Diseases Diagnostic, and Treatment Centre, even the critics of the governor of Rivers state, Nyesom Wike, have run out of justification to dispute his performance.

The milestone Wike projects cut across all spheres of Rivers people’s lives, touching on health, education, roads, security, sports, massive housing for civil servants, including duplexes for life for judges serving in Rivers, even those of the federal high court, N3 billion monthly commitment to retirement and pensions and more.

However, the quantum, high quality of delivery, and need-based value of the projects to the lives of Rivers people alone cannot define his rich governorship legacy. The exclusive appeal of his legacy is that he took over a state treasury neck deep in debt in 2015 from his predecessor, Rotimi Amaechi, who publicly mocked Wike that he would not be able to pay salaries, talk much of initiating a tangible project.

For his critics, it has become indefensible to deny his project delivery excellence or to accuse him of concentrating on major projects in Port Harcourt.

Outstanding Matter

One sour taste though in his excellent stewardship is that he found it much easier to mobilize funds to deliver the multi-billion New Mile 1 Market in Port-Harcourt than summoning the political will to allocate the shops, a lingering challenge that has left the ultra-modern market deteriorating unused since 2019 commissioning.

Debt Profile

NBS records showed that as of June 2022, Rivers has a total domestic debt stock of N225.51 billion, and increased to N225, 505, 011, 356.00 in September 2022. It also recorded an external debt of $140.18 million in June 2022, rising from $86.37 million in June 2021. In December 2021, it was $147.78 million

Udom’s All-Round Performance In Akwa Ibom

Governor Emmanuel Udom’s administration in Akwa Ibom state recorded huge achievements. Among the key projects started, and completed by Governor Udom Emmanuel that have won him accolades from within and outside the state are the state-owned Airline, ‘Ibom Air’, and the 21-story Dakkada Tower.

Others are the Jubilee Syringe Manufacturing (JSM) Company, Metering Solution Company,  Kings Flour Mill, Coconut Refinery Coconuts Plantation, and the New Airport Terminal at Victor Attah International Airport, expected to be commissioned soon.

Notwithstanding his achievements, governor Udom has received severe criticisms from the citizens, mostly the opposition since its inception. They thought he would not be able to actualize some of the major projects like the ‘Ibom Air” and the New Airport Terminal.

 Regrettably, besides the Ibom Air project, residents appear unaware that the current administration achieved a lot in the various sectors of the economy because the governor preferred to be very modest and silent about his achievements. 

 The common people on the streets of Uyo still doubt that the industries the current administration boasts to have attracted to the state were actually functional. Findings show that experiences where key projects executed by previous administrations’ doubts remained non-functional created doubt in the people.

Debt Profile

The state is indebted to the tune of N219 billion. Since he assumed Office in 2015 until date, Udom never made public the debt he inherited, and there is no indication that he would announce the amount he would be leaving behind after office.

Ayade’s Completed, Uncompleted Dreams In Cross River

Governor Ben Ayade from day one in office gave the people of the state a lot to ponder on, and that was his intention to execute mega projects.

The first project he announced was the superhighway followed by the Bakassi Deep Sea Port. President Buhari visited the state, which was one of his travels outside Aso Rock to inaugurate the twin projects on October 20, 2015. However, those two projects are still under construction

The Rice City, River Seedling Factory, and Cocoa Processing Factory were the next in line. Buhari, again, in 2018 inaugurated the Rice Seedling Factory located in Calabar. That scheme that gulped billions of naira produced rice seedlings for states in the South-South, and South-East regions, but for some years now, nothing is happening.

There is the Calabar Garment Factory located directly opposite the Rice Seedlings Plant. The Garment Factory has been churning out all sorts of clothing materials and wearing apparel for agencies of government and private organizations. It has been operational for the past six years. However, the profit or losses in the factory have not been made known to the people since it commenced operation. It employs a legion of widows and young women.

The gigantic Rice Milling Factory located in Ogoja has produced high-grade rice, majorly distributed during political campaigns and other state functions. The staggering cost is in the range of billions and awaiting completion. 

Ayade completed the Cocoa Processing Factory located at Ikom. The factory is to process raw cocoa and adds value to the produce before export.

It was primed to produce nutritional chocolate bars in large quantities for export and local consumption. The project cost is unknown.

These projects alongside others sited across the 18 local government areas of the state cost the state billions of naira, but the financial implication of each is undeclared.

Many are uncomfortable with the development, but according to the governor, what matters is to industrialize the state to decouple it from over-dependence on federal allocation.

What Critics Say 

Hardly a day passes without the projects receiving knocks from members of the public. To some, the governor bit more than he could chew, which is the reason none of the projects is functioning presently.

They reason that if the projects were completed, they should be operational. They say government should not have a hand in business, but only create the enabling environment for business to thrive. 

Ayade is leaving behind quite a number of ambitious projects in infrastructure establishment, and the next government would reap the fruits of these projects if it commits itself to the completion and flagging -off the projects to become operational. 

Debt Profile

The debt profile of Cross River State is more than N175 million as of September 2022.

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