Dr. Senator Ifeanyi Okowa’s administration of the Delta State Government still remains fresh in the minds of Deltans.
As expected, Okowa’s eight-year reign recorded visible high and low points.
Last time, we highlighted landmark achievements of the Okowa administration in measuring the positive impacts of the former lawmaker on the state’s economy, infrastructure, and human capital development.
This time, we look at the visible issues the former governor failed to address to the latter during his reign. These can be termed the failures of Okowa’s administration.
Okowa’s reign witnessed heightened insecurity challenges in Delta State.
Kidnapping along the highways of the state particularly the Ughelli-Warri section of the East-West Road became a regular routine for assailants at some point.
The Eku-Abraka road was another hotspot for criminal activities, recording multiple abductions of travelers and killings with victims including students, lecturers, and non-academic staff of the Delta State University, Abraka.
The same fate befell the Warri-Sapele-Benin road as travelers often journeyed at the mercy of daredevil men of the underworld.
The incessant spate of robbery and kidnapping incidents also occurred at intra-city levels and contributed greatly to the disappearance of nightlife activities across major cities in the state, an obvious setback on the economic portfolio of the state.
For instance, until Okowa’s handing over to Sheriff Oborevwori on May 29, residents in the twin cities of Warri and Effurun often moved about with the fear of becoming daylight kidnap and robbery victims.
The formation of the Delta Hawk security unit did little to curtail the persistence of this menace.
The Okowa-led government also found security challenges posed by Fulani herdsmen insurmountable as agricultural produce suffered a steady decline across the state, leading to harsh increases in the price of foodstuffs.
The frequent conflicts between farmers and herders caused a decline in agricultural production, creating food shortages, unemployment, and general insecurity in the state.
Not forgetting to mention that many citizens of the state lost their lives to the many attacks of herdsmen on the East-West road, Patani, Abraka, and Sapele road, amongst others.
Surprisingly, hardly was the governor seen or heard speaking against these atrocities in strong terms or even implementing immediate measures to avert these challenges.
The Oborevwori-led administration in Delta State is surely left with a herculean task regarding solving intra-city and highway security challenges.
2. Ogbe-Ijoh and Aladja Crisis
This also is an extended failure of the immediate-past administration’s inability to tackle insecurity.
While the Ogbe-Ijoh and Aladja communal crisis dates back to the 90s, it was reinvigorated during Okowa’s first term in office.
Countless lives were lost on both sides under Okowa’s watch as Chief Security Officer of Delta State.
No doubt, the government initiated several peace accords and commenced efforts to demarcate the boundary between both communities, the inability of the former governor to instill a final solution to the crisis makes it a failure on his records.
Many quarters believe Okowa treated the lingering crisis with kid gloves because it had no direct effect on the state’s daily oil production. For if it were so, adequate attention would have been effected in resolving the crisis.
It is worthy of note that the crisis caused a heavy under-development to both communities, particularly Ogbe-Ijoh under the Okowa administration as no cogent project was sited in the community in eight years. Also, the community is denied usage of the only access road to and fro it.
As of when Okowa was leaving office, effort to demarcate the boundary between the neighboring communities we put on hold over an alleged disagreement on the start and end points of the portions marked for differentiation.
3. Ayakoromor Bridge
The undermining of this project was labeled a definition of ‘Okowa’s hatred for Ijaws’ in Delta State.
Awarded by the administration of Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, the Ayakoromor bridge is seen as a breakthrough in economic and infrastructural development in the Burutu local government area.
While the former governor paid little attention to the all-important bridge in 8 years, several similar projects were started and completed within a shorter timeline by his administration.
More hurting for the people is the fact that the Ayakoromor Bridge was a campaign point for Okowa for the elections in 2015, 2019, and 2023.
In the face of several promises and pledges to complete the project before leaving office, not even an upward review of the bridge’s budget from N6 billion to N10.5 billion could see Okowa complete what would have been a landmark achievement for his administration.
This undoubtedly, is a failure on Okowa’s records.
4. Pensioners/Retirees’ Debt
This is perhaps the shortfall that attracted the greatest attention to Delta State Government under Ifeanyi Okowa.
Okowa’s ill-romance with retirees and pensioners was greeted with multiple wild protests in Asaba, the state capital.
Sources privy to one of such occasions narrated how the governor escaped an ambush by the aggrieved pensioners during a demonstration.
Records show that the Delta State Government owes retirees over 90 months of arrears amounting to more than N50 billion.
In November 2022, the former governor managed to release a paltry N2.5 billion for state pensioners and another N2.5 billion to local government retirees, accounting for payments for the months of January to August 2015.
The government further attracted the wrath of Deltans when the Commissioner for Information, Charles Aniagwu labeled the protesting pensioners as a ‘hired crowd’.
This flaw will obviously become a huge burden on Sheriff Oborevwori’s Reign.
5. Ughelli-Asaba Road
Bar the East-West and Sapele-Benin Roads, the Ughelli-Asaba road comes in as a major transportation route in Delta State.
It is the major access road to the state capital for Deltans in Delta Central, Delta South, and even some parts of Delta North Senatorial Districts.
Regarded as a key project for all Deltans, the just-completed administration makes it three in a row without the road getting completed.
Okowa was dubbed ‘Road Master’ and ‘Ekwueme’ by supporters and party members. The question remains why was the effect of these monikers not implied on an all-important road?
The Ekwueme pledged his commitment to completing the road before leaving office on multiple occasions, but that was not the case.
Okowa did his best no doubt, but it will remain a fact that the Road Master failed to complete a peculiar road project in 8 years of his reign.
Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa dispensed the best of his abilities in the development of Delta State, the above shortcomings should be prioritized by the new administration as it hits the ground running.