The GbaramatuVoice Newspaper joins the entire Deltans to give glory to God for the gift of life as the state celebrates 30 years of creation.
Though the state has in the past 30 years under different leaderships made some appreciable progress in political, socioeconomic and infrastructural sectors, however, looking at the current state of affairs in the state called Delta, bearing in mind the volume of resources in derivation from the Federation Accounts and Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in the past two decades when democracy re-emerged in the country, it may not be considered an overstatement to conclude that save for life and good health of mind and body provided by divine providence, the people of the state cannot roll out the drums to celebrate three decades of its existence.
Aside from the fact that the state and its people are far behind where they ought to be socioeconomically, making the situation a crisis is the awareness that there exists no concrete indication that we are headed in the right direction.
Just before you argue with this canvassed position/commentary, it is important that we jointly spread the facts in full glare for all to see.
First, it is a statement of fact that the state has been governed in the past two decades without an enduring/sustainable blueprint/roadmap. This monumental leadership failure explains why each administration comes to the table/office with disjointed projects, programmes and policies devoid of continuity.
To help clarify this claim, let’s ask ourselves this question; what happened to the well envisioned, ‘Delta Beyond Oil’, created by Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan-led administration which at a point was considered as a template not just for the rest of the country but beyond?
Equally, such mindless absence of developmental templates in the state set the stage for duplication/proliferation of offices and creation of agencies and commissions without clear definition of role/goals to be achieved, or the means chosen to address the problems and to achieve the goals. The list of such creations is endless; Asaba Capital City Development Agency (or is it Commission), Warri-Uvwie Development Agency/Authority, all running side by side with the following ministries; namely; Works, Physical Planning and Development as well as Ministry of Environment. Tragically unique is that, they all perform the same/similar functions.
What about the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC) – a Commission set up to develop the oil bearing/producing communities in the state but currently exists in frames?
As we celebrate, we need to bring some of these issues to perspective in ways that will assist the state and the present administration move forward, as we cannot solve our problems with the same mentality we used when we created it.
As we celebrate, there is urgent need for us as a people to also draw useful lessons from our sister states.
Take as an illustration, it was reported recently that the Rivers state Government constructed a road/bridge linking the ancient city of Opobo kingdom – a kingdom on the island and have been existence for over 150 years without a road network connecting it to Port Harcourt, the state capital and other major cities in the state.
Looking at the above fact, it will be gratifying if our handlers in the state copy such a feat and construct road networks that will link Warri to Escravos terminals in Warri South West Local Council Area of Delta and another from Escravos to Forcados terminal in Burutu Local Government Area. As well as complete Ayakoromo bridge to link communities in Ughelli South and Burutu Council Areas.
The Newspaper holds the opinion that, it is not enough to bear the title ‘Road Master’ by constructing intra community roads that do not provide access to any major or economic town/city in the state. There is a pressing imperative for the state government to go beyond the rhetoric and construct sustainable/enduring roads in the state that will indeed and in truth open up the rural and coastal areas while enhancing the economic wellbeing of the people.
Once more, the newspaper recalls with nostalgia that in pursuance of the policy for the provision of cheap and affordable transportation for Deltans, in 2008, the state launched the state urban taxi scheme with 170 taxis and 100 Toyota Hiace buses. And in continuation of the programme, the state government between 2009 and 2013 fiscal years purchased additional 674 buses, allocating some to the school shuttle bus scheme, some to Delta Line Transport Services, Agofure Motor Limited, National Union of Road Transport Workers, labour and others.
Generally, the fleet of buses did well in ameliorating the sufferings of Deltans who enjoyed the services of the mass transit buses in their various areas.
It is therefore important to draw the attention of the present administration to the troubling reality as to; what happened to such initiative? Why was it suddenly abandoned?
As the answer(s) to the above is being expected, we move from the transportation challenge in the state to that of youth unemployment.
Regardless of what others may say, it’s evident that youth unemployment is rapidly on the increase and may not end suddenly unless something drastic and dramatic is done by the government.
Because of this insensitivity on the part of the government, the majority of our youths/graduates in their quest to survive have taken to operating Tricycle (Keke Napep) in the state. This state of affairs not only discourages youths from going to school but has made residents and visitors alike to address Warri, a one time organized oil city as Keke city.
It is our view that no responsible and responsive government can allow this kind of situation to continue without finding a lasting solution.
Youth unemployment in the state is currently at the all time high.
Also, as noted elsewhere, aside from the fact that youth unemployment has put us in a position of appearing before the world as a people that lack a plan for their future leaders, the situation impels the watching world to conclude that government is unmindful that youth unemployment comes with challenges that cut across regions, religions, and tribes. Of which such had in the past led to the proliferation of ethnic militias as well as youth restiveness.
Notably, this threat has become even more pronounced not just in the oil-rich Niger Delta with a chunk of the proponents spearheaded by professionally-trained ex-militants currently without any jobs.
Very instructive also, our leaders may be ‘winning political positions’ but their inability to turn these victories into better life for the youths through job creation and other social programmes is beginning to generate questions about their integrity.
As the state celebrates, it is our opinion that the state government comes up with development template in the state that will entail the development of a strong infrastructural base, viz: modern roads, efficient water transportation, efficient healthcare system, and a world class educational system.
Other areas of emphasis in our views, that will help develop the state include, but not limited to investment in Agriculture, ICT, developing other natural resources, including solid minerals, developing the huge manpower base, and creating a clement environment for investment and private enterprise to thrive.
We must do this in the state not for political reasons but for the survival of our democracy.