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By Chukwudi Abiandu
The Ologbosere of Warri, Chief Ayiri Emami has been challenged to tell Deltans and the people of Itsekiri land what he did with the N800 million advance payment he collected from the previous administration of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, purportedly to tackle coastal erosion ravaging the entire shorelines of Aruoton, an Itsekiri community in Warri South Local Government Area.
The challenge was thrown to him in a statement entitled “Chief Ayiri Emami’s tales by moonlight” and signed by the the Communication Manager of Governor Okowa of Delta State, Mr. Jackson Ekwugum.
Ekwugum’s treatise is said to be a reaction to the comments of Chief Emami made in an interview published in the Vanguard newspaper.
The statemen teads: “We have carefully read Chief Ayiri Emami’s interview published in The Vanguard of Saturday, January 13, 2018. Brash and unguarded as usual Chief Emami strove, albeit unsuccessfully, to discredit the administration of our hard working Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa. To say the least, the drivel disguised as an interview was riddled with falsehood, innuendoes, unsubstantiated allegations and a hopeless attempt to muddy the waters by a political huckster desperate for relevance and motivated by unbridled quest for political patronage from his APC benefactors.
Instead of doing his utmost best to insulate the revered Itsekiri traditional institution from politics, we are greatly disturbed that the Ologbotsere (Prime Minister) of Warri Kingdom is doing exactly the opposite and, in the process, threatening to undermine the trademark civility and profundity of the Kingdom. It behoves all well-meaning Itsekiri sons and daughters to call Chief Emami to order before he does the unthinkable of bringing the hallowed Itsekiri traditional institution into disrepute.
It was Chief Emami’s claim in the Vanguard interview that it is his responsibility as the Ologbotsere to fight the cause of the Itsekiri people and attract development to the kingdom. Good, but we would like Chief Emami to explain to the Itsekiri people what happened to the N800m advance payment he received from the previous administration for a contract to tackle the coastal erosion ravaging the entire shorelines of Aruoton, an Itsekiri community in Warri-South West Local Government Area.
On February 11, 2013, the Delta State Government (STB/10/T/60) awarded the contract for the construction of Shoreline Protection Measures (Phase 1) at Aruoton community to Emami’s company, EasyQuest Nigeria Limited at a total sum of N1,694,211,750.00 (one billion, six hundred and ninety-four million, two hundred and eleven thousand, seven hundred and fifty naira). The company was mobilised with the sum of N800m (eight hundred million naira) as per the terms of the contract. But despite repeated appeals, Chief Emami’s company has not done a single work at the site, five years after the contract was awarded.
For someone who professes to have the best interests of the Itsekiri people at heart, it is most unconscionable, wicked and the height of insensitivity to the plight of his people for Chief Emami to abandon a project for which he collected a whooping sum of N800m as advance payment. So where is his professed love for the Itsekiris?
It is important that Deltans know that on April 04, 2016, the administration of Governor Okowa, through the office of the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, demanded for a full refund of the N800m from EasyQuest Nigeria Limited. Following their non- compliance with the demand, legal action has already commenced against the company as Governor Okowa is determined to rid the State of unscrupulous and failed contractors.
Chief Emami was speaking from both sides of the mouth regarding the prevailing atmosphere of peace in Warri North. He acknowledged that there was peace in the area during the recent local government election as a result of the meeting Governor Okowa had with the communities, yet he refrained from giving the Governor full credit for this. It is an indisputable fact that the people have enjoyed more peace in our recent history under Governor Okowa, thanks to the peace building machinery he put in place since coming into office.
Not surprisingly, Chief Emami sought, again unsuccessfully, to make political capital out of the Trans Warri-Ode Itsekiri Bridge and Access Roads project. The fact is that there is an outstanding liability of N8.066b due to the contractor inherited by the Okowa administration for 68% of work executed under the previous administration. The contractor, Setraco, is insisting that this debt be settled before they continue work. Given the challenging economic environment since 2015, it has not been easy for the Government to cough out N8.8b at a go, but arrangements have reached advanced stage to offset some of this liability and get the contractor back on site.
Chief Emami’s claim that the administration of Governor Okowa has not executed any project in Itsekiri areas of Delta State is as laughable as it is fraudulent. It is either the Ologbotsere does not reside in Warri (which will be a huge disservice to his people) or he is a victim of horrific hallucinations. Otherwise, how can he not be aware of the 15 internal roads in Ode Itsekiri that were executed before the coronation of HRM Ogiame Ikenwoli as Olu of Warri Kingdom? Besides these, the Okowa administration has completed the construction of the Access road to Awaritse Industrial Park, Obitugbo (Phase 1) in Warri North Local Government Area as well as rehabilitated the NPA Bye Pass Road (from New Port Gate to Old Port Gate), Warri South Local Government Area.
There are currently other on-going road projects in the Itsekiri axis of Delta South Senatorial District, including but not limited to the reconstruction of Ubeji Access road (from NPA road interchange to Trans-Warri Junction), construction of rigid concrete pavement road at Obitobon-Elolo-Ajaokurogbo- Orubu road in Ogidigben, Warri South West LGA, and the construction/reconstruction/ completion of Lucky Kpenosen, Korobe and Iwere College roads in Koko, Warri North Local Government Area.
It is highly delusional for Chief Emami to say that “all schools in our areas are being abandoned by the current Delta State Government.” For the avoidance of doubt, the Okowa administration has completed infrastructural work at Egbema Primary School, Ogbimbri in Warri North Local Government Area, while extensive infrastructural upgrade is currently on-going at Agbeje Primary School, Ugbuwangue, Warri South Local Government Area, Egharegbemi Primary School, Ubeji, Ojomba Primary School, Koko, Dore-Numa College and Ubeji Grammar School both in Warri.
The Okowa administration has also completed the following inherited projects:
– Construction, furnishing and equipping of Atuwatse II Model Primary School, Warri
– Construction, furnishing and equipping of Alema Model College, Abigborodo
In addition, the State Government supplied 2,315 students and 386 teachers’ furniture to selected schools in Warri North Local Government Area. Another 1,300 students’ furniture and 152 teachers’ furniture were supplied to selected schools in Warri South-West Local Government Area.
It is crystal clear from the foregoing that Chief Emami’s moonlight tales are only fit for a village fireside chit chat. It is all sound and fury, signifying nothing. But then we do not expect anything better from a man who wears his badge of notoriety with disgusting pride.”