By Jérôme-Mario Chijioke Utomi
Each passing day is a reminder of the fact that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State understands that globally, the credibility of a leader can only be established by action and not by words, referring here to the type of actions that distinguishes a leader who considers his people as affirming above all and not one who looks at them as a burden; leadership based on love and respect, not hate or fear.
This sentiment came to mind following a recent media report that the Delta State Government has approved an upward revision of the N6 billion Ayakoromo Bridge project contract cost. to 10.5 billion naira, sparked two sets of reactions among the Deltans, especially those in the river communities of Burutu, Patani and Bomadi local government areas of the states.
Speaking after the first meeting of the Executive Committee of 2022, Information Commissioner Mr. Charles Aniagwu said the review was among the decisions taken at the first meeting of the State Executive Council in 2022 , chaired Thursday by Governor Okowa.
Aniagwu explained that the contract for the construction of the bridge which was awarded in 2013 had to be reviewed due to the current economic realities in the country. He said the project was a priority for the current state administration, adding that it is expected to be completed and inaugurated within the next 15 months.
“The Ayakoromo Bridge also emerged today and the exco has approved an upward revision to this contract which was awarded in 2013 at an initial cost of approximately N6 billion,” he concluded. .
Indeed, this decision by the state government to complete the bridge seems good both in practical and pragmatic terms, but not without opposition/criticism.
For some, the development reinforces the belief that the governor of the state is ready to “finish strong” via the provision of infrastructure to the people of the state.
For others, it recalled the global recognition that infrastructure such as roads, railways and electricity enable development and also provide the services that underpin people’s ability to be economically productive, for example through transport.
The rest, while referring to a similar budget allocation to the same project under the administration led by Emmanuel Udughan, argued that this was another phantom budget approval that would not guarantee the success of the competition of the project, but would further stack the deck against the poor and disadvantaged Nigerians and future generations.
Undoubtedly, globally, the transport sector has a huge role to play in connecting people to where the work is, says Ms. Marchal.
Investments in infrastructure help stem economic losses resulting from problems such as power outages or traffic jams. The World Bank estimates that in sub-Saharan Africa, closing the infrastructure quantity and quality gap with the world’s best performers could increase GDP per capita growth by 2.6% per year.
Away from the overarching considerations above, there are even more heartfelt reasons why the Governor’s current decision is on the one hand commendable, and on the other hand, it is urgent that he complete this project before leaving office in 2023.
First, the bridge project has been dragging on for a very long time after being awarded by the now defunct Emmanuel Udughan administration. The project has indeed imposed on itself an extremely important responsibility and destiny; to complete this process of socio-economic rejuvenation of the local populations which the State has taken too long to tackle.
Similarly, like the Bomadi Bridge, which was executed by the administration of Chief James Onanefe Ibori, linking three local government areas (Burutu, Ughele and Patani), likewise, the Ayakoromo Bridge, according to the comments, when completed, promises to promote the socio-economic life and well-being of Deltans living in more than four local governments in the state.
As an illustration, the community of Bobougbene and its surroundings are famous for the production of palm oil in commercial quantities and the supply of the metropolis of Warri and the markets of Okwuagbe in South Ugheli. Once completed, the bridge will provide easy access to these markets. More so, it will open up the majority of communities that do not yet have access to the “highlands”.
In terms of reputation, there is more reason to applaud Governor Okowa’s efforts in this direction. A leader’s image is said to be an amalgamation of various factors, and followers should periodically evaluate these perceived factors to determine whether they are in a positive or negative light.
In particular, the image is able to say much more about a leader than any of his long speeches and verbal statements and once established, the image not only becomes the image of the leader but remains very durable.
As a result, according to Governor Okowa’s latest decision and desire to complete the bridge, it is now evident that he has developed a spectacular identity worthy of emulation and created a connection or “hyper” relationship between the state government and the people. local communities that the bridge, once completed, will improve their socio-economic well-being.
No doubt this decision to complete the bridge, once completed, will enhance Governor Okowa’s reputation in the eyes of right-thinking Deltans and the world at large.
However, even as we celebrate this achievement, there is, in the view of this peace, more work to be done and more reform to be made. To truly and completely make the experience a dynamic and cohesive way to achieve a higher level of excellence, there are rooted actions that still call for attention.
The bottom line is that for development to be sustainable, it must be integrated and sustainable. With this in mind, this draws the attention of the Governor to the fact that the neighboring communities greatly lack other infrastructures such as; good internal road network and electricity.
From what residents of Ayakromo and adjourned communities say, they have not had access to electricity since 2010. This, according to a resident of the community, happened immediately after the military inversion and the bombardment of their communities.
For the whole exercise to be rewarding, the state must take steps to complete the bridge and address other infrastructural deficiencies highlighted in the community. The Governor must do this not for political reasons but for the survival of our democracy.
Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi is Program Coordinator (Media and Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He can be contacted via [email protected]/08032725374