IN JOY, DELTA STATE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL ORIENTATION AGENCY BOWS OUT IN GRACE

Abel Johngold Orheruata

Based on the Federal Civil Service rules, which stipulates 60 years of age and 35 years of service for the mandatory retirement of public servants, the State Director of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Delta State Directorate, Sir Isaac Ezechi, retired from service on Tuesday, 25 July, 2017. He is expected to hand over the leadership of the Agency to the next most senior officer in the Directorate while the Agency awaits the appointment of a new state director.

Ezechi who rose to the position of Director from that of Deputy Director, Operation, in September, 2013, worked assiduously during his tenure, to reposition the Agency along with its various units and organs into a proactive, knowledge based and activity driven Agency, able to rise up to evolving challenges in our national space.

In a well attended retirement party in his honour, organised by the staff of the directorate, Ezechi expressed his gratitude to the Federal Government for the opportunity given to him to serve the nation as NOA Director and for the support given to the Agency during his tenure. Responding to the honour given to him by the staff, he stated that he was humbled in the sense that this is the first of its kind in the State Directorate of the Agency that a retiring State Director would be celebrated with a retirement party by this multitude.

Recalling his first appointment as Director in acting capacity in 2008, the 1983 University of Ibadan trained economist and astute administrator, noted that he was not the most hardworking or intelligent officer of the State Directorate, but he was a dedicated one and that could be the reason God brought him back as Director through promotion to the apex grade level in the civil service after Political Appointee took over from him in 2009.

Sir Ezechi appealed for forgiveness from anyone whom he might have offended in the course of carrying out his official civil service duties.

Thanking the staff of the Agency for their cooperation while he was in office, Ezechi said he will remain an advocate and ambassador of the Agency wherever he find himself.

He also called on the management and staffs of the Agency to support and cooperate with whoever that will take over from him to enable him move the Agency to another level.

In their farewell remarks, during the free-will speech segment of the evening, Comrades Henry Iloba, Uche Anyabuine, Tracy Ikolomi, Pat Umunna and others, commended Ezechi for his disciplinary nature and administrative style all through his tenure and wished him the best of luck in his future endeavours.

On their part, both management and staff expressed their joy and prayer for the outgoing Director and the incoming while pledging their support for whoever takes over from him for a successful tenure.

Joining the staff in celebrating Ezechi were his wife, friends and kinsmen who came from far and near.

The highlights of the retirement party were presentation of gifts to the outgoing Director, cutting of retirement cake, interactive session and music.

 

LOSER WHO BEGGED ME TO ADD VALUE TO HIS LOW SELF ESTEEM, PROF UTOMI DRAGS UDUAGHAN TO MUD

I am pleased to hear the former Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan respond to my comments on the poor state of finances in Delta State. To my mind, it is the direction of engagement that I hope will raise the quality of public discussions and move our democracy towards better serving the people. I therefore feel obligated to respond to the issues raised and to set the records straight for the benefit of the general public.

While I agree with the former Governor that our conversations of today should focus more on the future than the past, we must recognize that the damage done to Delta State by the mismanagement of its finances and resources still plagues the state as we speak. Uduaghan’s legacy is a sad reflection of this awful chapter of our history.

My comments on optimal debt-to-revenue ratios is verifiable and those who have the ability to do the math are all over the place. It was a comment made to draw attention to and prevent the worsening of a problem that is still on-going; because in spite of the bailout funds from the Federal Government, and the huge windfall from the Paris loan refunds which now stands at over N24billion, the Delta State House of Assembly (DTHA) has approved over N18 billion as loans for the Okowa administration this year alone. In fact, a N13 billion plus loan request was recently made to the Delta State House of Assembly.

Deltans need to be aware and decry this type of heavy debt burden, especially as there are no commensurate development projects or programmes on ground to justify it and to aid repayment in future. Gov. Okowa was right to raise an alarm about the over N600 billion debt that he claimed to have inherited. He has however proceeded to increase this debt burden by over N60 billion of his own. This is only further mortgaging Delta state and the future of our children.

Having made that point, I wish to address a number of inaccuracies that dominate what was attributed to ex-Governor Uduaghan. He would deny them if he has any credibility, for he had on many occasions said to me and to several others, including Arc. Kester Ifeadi of the Organization for the Advancement of Anioma Culture (OFAAC), that some elements in the previous government in which he served as SSG sabotaged our “Technology Village” project which was initiated by the private-sector in Delta North to jump-start a “Silicon Valley” type development in Delta State. He had also mentioned to some that he felt indebted to the Anioma people and he had hoped to make up for that sabotage from 2000/2001. Uduaghan must note that some of the world’s most valuable companies today, including Google and Facebook started in Stanford dorms that went across to become a value-creating ecosystem with Venture Capitalists in place. We planned the same program for Illah, and if the government of Delta State has not sabotaged this laudable project, it would have today become a reputable ICT hub driven by a learning centre of post-graduate level, just like Stanford, creating thousands of jobs for Deltans. It is the kind of hub in Silicon valley that makes the State of California the biggest economy in the United States of America; bigger than most countries in Europe and the world. Despite the sabotage, we still set up ‘Socket Works’, a pioneer e-Government service provider which created Nigeria’s new Passport, and partners with the Immigration Services till date.

Also, I invited Uduaghan to do the ground-breaking of a Youth Centre to be built in Ibusa by an NGO that I founded called Centre for Values in Leadership (CVL), dedicated to the upliftment of the youths of Delta state for free. The location was in a developing area and Uduaghan as governor, pledged to tar the road in the next quarter. He publicly asked then Commissioner for Works, Mr. Paul Osaji, to commence work immediately on this road that would have linked Ibusa and Okpanam. But the road remains a mirage till date. CVL has started constructing another model at a different location. This NGO is also currently executing Youth Entrepreneurship Programmes in all the three senatorial districts of Delta state valued at more than ₦800m, and training 400 youths in four different centres: Ibusa, Agbor, Effurun and Ozoro. All the trainees completed the 2nd phase of the program last week with written exams. The 3rd phase of the one-year program will commence next month and it will focus more on the acquisition of sustainable skills and capacity. This specialist program would ordinarily cost millions per person at Lagos Business School but it is offered free, with free meals and daily transport allowances to support the participants.

Even more troubling from the claims on attracting investment is the one related to an Agriculture Industrial Town. I brought a team of foreign investors to Asaba and Dr Uduaghan welcomed them, assuring speedy allocation of land. After two years of trips to Asaba that didn’t produce any result, we turned to Edo State and within months a C-of-O was ready. Several hundred millions of Naira investments have gone into this project already with additional billions pledged. As we speak, more than one hundred hectares of jungle has been cleared and is continuing. An Independent Power Plant (IPP) to power this ‘Produce City’ in Edo State has commenced activities and hundreds of millions of Naira in investments have also been committed. In 5 years there will be more than 20,000 quality jobs created in that location.

Deltans will prefer that Uduaghan gives account for the IPP project he abandoned in Oghara that gulped over N20 billion under his administration with nothing to show seven years after. We welcome any debate on how to efficiently utilize scarce state resources for the maximum benefit of the people and prevent such colossal waste as was witnessed under Uduaghan – and is still the experience today under the current administration.

Finally, I was astonished to learn of “partnering” with the former Governor in search of foreign investments and coming up short. As I recall, I was delivering a lecture some years ago at Cramfield Business School in the UK when my Personal Assistant in Lagos received a call from Asaba that the Governor would appreciate my joining him on a US tour. It was indicated that I was out of the country; however, he insisted that it would add value if I could join the team in the US, and I made the trip across the Atlantic. Evidence of several successful foreign investments that I have attracted and which are on ground indicate just how bogus these claims are. It is also noteworthy to mention that I attracted a ‘Smart City’ project to Lagos State. If any foreign investors came near during this tour, it was by my trying to get partners in New York to show what they could do. I was not surprised when these investors did not get any response from him. A Councillor would have even done much better for our people than Uduaghan did then as Governor.

There is extreme misuse of the opportunities available to Delta State. It will take a serious and truly capable government to vigorously tap its potentials and create jobs for our teeming youths. This is one of the many reasons why I believe Delta State needs new political leadership in 2019. Deltans are not meant to suffer from the jeopardy of a clueless administration, especially at this critical phase of its existence.

I would have imagined that Uduaghan will be very sober and saddened by his legacy of mismanagement and gross wastage that he left behind in Delta State. Trying to spin his poor record in the hope that Deltans would have forgotten so soon is a failed attempt to rewrite history. Undoubtedly, he knows that only few Deltans speak well of him and it is his pain to struggle with that reality. As he grapples with history, what is more important to Deltans today is how we can rectify the wrong policies, decisions and actions of the past, so that we can create a government that would not only meet the needs of our people today but guarantee a better life for successive generations.

This is the task that I have offered to commit myself to between now and 2023. We are already looking forward to 2019 with hope and renewed zeal for the beginning of a ‘New Delta’ teeming with opportunities and alive with possibilities.

 

OHIO OJEAGBASE, UCHE ILOANI AND RITA IBENI BLACKMAIL PUBLICATION: BISHOP CHRIS KWAKPOVWE WASHES HANDS OFF STORY

The attention of the Publisher of Our Daily Manna and General Overseer of Manna Prayer Mountain, Bishop Chris Kwakpovwe has been drawn to various publications online on how Ohio Ojeagbase who is the publisher of Probitas Report, Barr. Uche Iloani and his former staff, Rita Ibeni were called blackmailers and extortionist following the arrest of Ohio and Uche over some burning issues which is before the court.

We however wish to state clearly that before the publications were made, Bishop Chris permission was never sought and therefore he could not have called Ohio or Uche blackmailers. As a revered Man of God known worldwide, it is his duty to lead such persons to Christ if they have wronged him and not to have them defamed on the pages of newspapers or online media.

We do not believe or have cause to believe that any of the above mentioned persons are blackmailers except declared so by the court(s) which has not been done. The publication we agree was done out of context and misunderstanding of the issue, which was not fully comprehended before going to press.

Bishop Chris will rather face the calling of winning souls for God than publications which his approval was not sought.