Written By: Anthony Miens Demebide
As time fast progresses into the political year of 2023, some stakeholders in the political space that are occupying the front cascade of governance are placing the biggest drums in the rains to fetch fountain of water that would last them for a lifetime in strong insubordination to the promises made to the common class when they were in all loyalty bidded for the collective power to rule or represent, pursuance of personal interest now takes the central stage just like the Ayakoromo Olorogun masquerade that comes but only the repeated time to dance home, bidding goodbye for the expectancy of another festive year.
Each passing day tells me the mirage of reasons to disbelieve the sugar-coated tongues of those who promised to stand by us, and provide us the socio-economic opportunities and security of lives and property we all deserve in the society, but the chaff of governance is what we enjoy in tears and perpetual disdain.
The bedding above pre-empts my pains to see how long the Ayakoromo bridge project has suffered a great deal of lack of patronage from those who pledged leadership loyalty to give us road to our homes but only in disguise to enrich their oceanic pockets in the corridors of infrastructural spread.
From the records, the Ayakoromo bridge was approved by the Dr. Emmanuel Ewetan Uduaghan-led-2nd-term administration as governor of Delta State in 2013, commenced little work in 2015 prior to the end of his second term, but inherited by the present administration with very clear words of assurance of completion by Sen. Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa to Delta Ijaw, especially to the Burutu electorate during his gubernatorial campaigns in 2015 and 2019 respectively.
Okowa has since then turned his back on us after enthroning him as governor of Delta State with the bulkiest of votes casted in his first and second calls like the John Pepper Clark’s “Abuku.”
Governor Okowa’s recent approval of upscale of the Ayakoromo bridge contract cost in the first State Executive Council Meeting in 2022 only made the headlines of newspapers but not in practical and pragmatic terms as it’s discovered that no fund has been released to Zerock, the construction company whose headoffice bases in Port Harcourt.
I discovered in my recent visit to the bridge that the company in bits is folding and exiting the site.
The interfaces between the management of Zerock and Governor Okowa for financial certifications hit the rock as the former was prevailed on to mobilize to site without funds, and the company in its magnimity was only to able cast a base round just a set of pillars without concreting it. This forced tears from my eyes that dripped into my heart blanketed by the thick covering of my chest.
According to Engr. Udoka Emmanuel Mnse as posted that the bridging finance of 150bn has not reached the state, and Okowa in his speech said that the Koka bridge was one of the projects that the bridging finance was meant to cover, adding that “when the money is available, we will be able to use it to upscale these projects.
“The bridging finance is actually a finance that we already have a source of repayment and rather than allow the depreciation of the Naira or the extension of time at work create a cost escalation for us, our intention was to take a bridging finance and then pay back from the monies that the Federal Government owes us.
“But as at today, we have not even accessed the bridging finance because the repayment plan from the Federal Government, which is supposed to have started by January has not commenced; they have not made any remittances to the state.
“Some states have taken a part of their own bridging finance because we are not the only state involved. But for us, we intend to wait until the refund process starts before accessing the bridging finance.
“So, we have not yet accessed that bridging finance at the moment but we have got the approval of the House of Assembly.
“I hear that some of our brothers who don’t even understand governance, have tried to critique the situation but unfortunately, when some people don’t understand what is in government and how you can save funds for the people, they could talk politics and criticise.
“But I am very confident that whatever we are about to do, we are doing it in the best interest of the state; we are trying to save money for the state, we are trying to save situations where you have cost overrun and cost escalations.
“We do hope that as soon as the first set of refunds come from the Federal Government, we would be able to access the bridging finance to be able to scale up the speed of the major projects that we have as listed before the House of Assembly and utilise the money for some other sources.
“But as at today, we are still coping and we hope that very soon the Federal Government will start the process of refund and we will be in a position to ensure that we speed up all the projects we have.”
Okowa explained that a slowdown and depreciation of the naira could be a major disaster because the bridging finance was meant to be a cost saving measure for the state.
On the Koka flyover project, he expressed optimism that the project would be completed in December, 2022.
“I can actually see that work is on schedule and they have gone very far from the briefing that I received from the Commissioner for Works.
“You know that when we came in last, they told me that they would try and finish it in February, next year, but I put a lot of pressure and insisted that we wanted it completed this year.
“The information I received is that they are still working very hard to ensure that they finish the project by the middle of December.
“From what we can see, the super structure of the bridge is already on and a lot of work is being done and by October, it is expected that this would have finished completely.
“And, the work to provide the full interchange with the road network under would also be started in due course. They have promised that they are right on time and that they would be finishing before that end of the year.
“I am quite excited at this because it’s quite important to us. More so, when we are anticipating that the sector C2 of the Ughelli-Asaba road would be completed about the same time.”
Photos of Koka Flyover, Asaba
From the above statement, Governor Okowa’s only priority is the Koka flyover in Asaba, the state capital which he awarded last year with the ultimatum of completion in mid December 2022, while the Ayakoromo bridge project is begging to be pitied for completion for almost a decade now.
The #150 billion with another #25Billion loan recently approved by the state house of assembly for capital projects, sure these monies would definitely come to the state coffers but the mind-bugging question is that would the Ayakoromo bridge receive smile from these monies as it seems that there’s no budgetary provision for it.
Let me without mincing words at this juncture remind His Excellency that the annual flood is gripping firmly in its tides to once again cover these pillars that will pose as hazards to commuters and fishermen and women in the river.
I want to believe that all lives of Deltans are precious to Governor Okowa as a number one security and safety officer of the state.
Once again, I on behalf of the #CompleteAyakoromoBridge team call on the Executive Governor of Delta State to step up on his plan to complete the bridge. With the completion of this bridge, Okowa would have engraved his name in the hearts of all Deltans and particularly Ijaw Nation.
However, it’s clear to me that my kinsmen and women who dine with the state government on same table cannot prevail on Governor Okowa to complete the Ayakoromo bridge project for fear of being sacked from their present appointments or relationship they share with the government. Their silence aches my head.
There’s no future for the common people if those whom we look up to cannot speak for us and for them, then the veil expands over our eyes and sense of reasoning. I may exclude naming this time as I had mentioned names in my previous posts about this project.
If governance and policies, campaign promises only function on papers then I make bold to state that such could be termed Antithesis.
I’m using this medium again to call on the Executive Governor of Delta State, Sen. Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa to release funds as promised to the construction company to mobilize fully to complete this project for Deltans.