Hon. Festus Agas
By Chukwudi Abiandu
Secretary to State Government of Delta, Hon. Festus Ovie Agas has denied that the process for determining the distribution of largess to the 5,400 widows who are paid N5,000 each covering 270 wards in the state is done on political distribution, saying that you don’t play politics with widows.
The SSG spoke while taking his turn at the resumed Ministerial Press Briefing on the activities of achievements of Delta State Government on Monday, 9/4/2018 at the newly refurbished Conference Hall of the Ministry of Information, on Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan Way, Asaba.
However, the SSG did not explain as the Chief Adviser to Government why he failed to advise the government on the discriminatory implication of engaging only 20 widows per ward for the state government’s widows support scheme.
He failed to convince his audience that it was possible to select beneficiaries of the largese with using political consideration, especially when the state is one controlled by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as those to engage in the selection work are PDP loyalists.
Besides, Agas also did not explain why he failed to call the state government’s attention to the fact that singling out only 270 widows across the state will portray the State Government as discriminating against other widows who by that act are denied the privilege of benefiting from the largese simply because they lack the connection to be so identified.
The Secretary to the State Government also did not explain why he failed to advise the government by pointing out to it that singling out a minute 270 widows from the population of widows in a discriminatory manner will portray Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as insensitive to the oath he swore to the effect that he would not, as governor, discriminate against any Deltan in the discharge of his duties.
Agas described the state government’s Widows Support Scheme as the process of continuous engagement with the grassroots, and deepening of government’s commitment to the well being of the vulnerable in the polity.
Pointing out that widows have been identified as falling within the bracket of vulnerable persons needing intervention, he said it was thus, necessary to create a social security safety net for them.
He declared: “By this programme, the state government has created a pool of 20 widows per ward, evenly spread out throughout the 270 wards in the state, bringing the total beneficiaries to 5,400. Each of the beneficiaries receives a payout of N5,000 monthly to ameliorate their dire conditions.”
Answering a reporter’s question, Agas denied allegations that a complaint said to be made to the EFCC has linked him with alleged underhand tendencies in the award of contract for the on going State Secretariat being under taken by a Chinese firm. “We followed due process in the award of the contract; no Okowa as owner, no Festus Agas as owner. Festus Agas has not been arrested for alleged fraudulent involvement, and will not be arrested. I have not even seen any petition, and have no knowledge of any such petition,” Ovie Agas said.
He announced that the Asaba Airport will be closed to traffic for about five weeks with effect from Monday, 9th April, 2018 to enable the completion of the resurfacing of the runway.
He pointed out that when completed, the upgrade work , which included resurfacing of its runway and provision of some vital technical facilities such as the Voice Communication System (VCS), the Automatic Weather Observation System (AWOS) and Low Level Windshear Alert System (LLWAS).