As Delta State continues to battle the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic which has driven the state to a lockdown, an unjust and wasteful allocation by the state government has been uncovered, THE WITNESS reports.
Despite the high rates of poverty, unemployment and poor infrastructural development in the ‘big heart state’, investigation by THE WITNESS revealed that the state governor, Sen. Ifeanyi Okowa, has allegedly turned the state’s governance to a family business.
In the 2020 Delta State budget seen by THE WITNESS, Gov. Okowa allocated a whopping N400 million to his daughter’s office. The governor had in October 2019, appointed his daughter, Marilyn, as his senior special assistant on Girl-child Education, an office with less relevance to the current challenges facing the state.
A critical look at the budget shows that the governor’s daughter is the only SSA who has a budget allocated to her office.
The Delta State House of Assembly had in December 2019, passed the state Appropriation Bill of N395 billion for 2020. The bill which was shrouded in secrecy from the public has many less important and unnecessary provisions embedded into it.
“What does the office of ‘Girl-child Education’ want to do with a staggering N400 million when Deltans are suffering for lack of basic amenities?
“As I speak with you, no good pipe-borne water, no good motorable roads, public schools are in shambles; coronavirus disease has started killing people in the state and you allocate such an amount for your daughter alone despite her comfort.
“This is evil and it must stop,” a source close to the government told our reporter.
Aside the daughter, Okowa also has his younger brother, Tonobok Okowa, as chairman, Delta State Sports Commission who allegedly slapped the former secretary to the State Government (SSG) and now chief strategist, Festus Ovie Agas. Also, THE WITNESS allegedly gathered that the current chairman of the State Bursary and Scholarship Board is father-in-law of one of Okowa’s daughters.
Recall, Gov. Okowa had told journalists that he doesn’t have any apologies to tender to Deltans for appointing members of his family in his government.
…SORRY STATE OF DELTA INFRASTRUCTURE
Checks by THE WITNESS revealed that Delta State receives the highest monthly federal government’s allocation in Nigeria, besides other sources of revenues. In 2019, the state emerged the biggest recipient with a total sum of N214.4 billion.
But despite the huge allocation and other revenues, there has been no meaningful development in the state since Gov. Okowa assumed office in May, 2015.
The state’s infrastructures have continued to decay even as unemployment, crime and poverty rates continue to rise. Even roads claimed to have been constructed by the government does not stand the test of time.
Recall the Delta State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), in a recent statement by its publicity secretary, Sylvester Imonina, had berated and nick-named Okowa, as ‘Road Master of Shabby and Low Quality Projects’ for constructing roads and bridges that give way after three months.
The APC had said: “We weep for Delta State! Do we have human beings with humane blood running in their veins in the government of Delta State? In the good old days, the interest of the people was the supreme law in the seat and corridors of power, hence, projects executed by the then state military administrators and elected governors passed the test of time. Unfortunately, the reverse is the case under the PDP-led government of Delta State.
“We condemn in totality the celebration of these half-baked roads and bridges, which are already collapsing in less than three months of their construction. Is someone referred to as road master in this state? Road master of shabby, low quality roads? This is laughable but very worrisome. How could a government be so wicked to the very people he promised prosperity and good governance?
“The few roads being reluctantly constructed by the present Delta State government are nothing to write home about! For instance, portions of Asaba/Ozoro Road, and Ozoro/Oleh/Owhe roundabout/Ughelli Road, Effurun/Eku Road amongst others, are death traps, full of potholes, resulting from badly done jobs by the contractors and economic vampires in the PDP-led government of Delta State. Some of these roads which are falling apart were constructed very recently, and some sections are still under construction, meanwhile they are falling already.
“Show to Deltans any road within state, constructed more than six months ago that does not have potholes and/or are not shoddily done.
“Majority of the bridges constructed cannot carry the weight of a heavy duty vehicle because of the low quality materials used in constructing them. What a shame!”
Efforts by our reporter to reach the state commissioner for Information, Charles Aniagwu and the chief press secretary to Governor Okowa, Olisa Ifeajika for their reactions proved futile as calls and text messages placed across to their mobile lines were not responded to as at press time.