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Is Orubebe Not Ashamed of East-West Road?

26 Jan 2013

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Polscope with Eddy Odivwri eddy.odivwri@thisdaylive.com, 08053069356

Two years ago, I had written an article on the state of the East-West Road, detailing how deplorable and dangerous the road had become. I had said it was a road most neglected, perhaps second only to the long-suffering Benin-Ore road, which has largely improved now.  It is one road stretch that connects about 22 states of the country. I challenged President Good luck Jonathan at the time  to remember that the Jews came and left the road undone. The Gentiles came and also left it undone. Now a native has come, will the road also be left undone? That allegory, as it has shown, did not sink, as the road has simply gone from terrible to horrible, especially after the floods of last year.


I have followed the altercation between the Minister of the Niger Delta, Mr Godsday Orubebe and the Governor of Rivers State, Mr Rotimi Amaechi.  And I am surprised that the minister rather than keep quiet and be challenged, has chosen to throw brickbats. The Ministry of the Niger Delta was created September 10, 2008. Thus, for four years, the ministry has been in existence.  Does it bear a repeat to remind Orubebe that the ministry was created for the development of the region? So in four years, what development  in the region can the minister credit his ministry with?


If the ministry does not even do anything else, does the completion of the East West road not mean enough for Orubebe? How can a ministry be specifically created for a region, and the region does not feel its impact, and yet the minister in charge of such ministry expects the people of the region to be happy with him? Put properly, the Niger Delta ministry has degenerated to Niger Delta misery. It is as if the region was even better of in the days without the Niger Delta ministry.


In view of the long neglect the region had suffered, punctuated only by the offer of Amnesty programme, for essentially Ijaw militants, what else has the region gained either from the Niger Delta ministry or even the entire Jonathan administration? The amnesty programme is not even under the Niger Delta ministry.


I am aware that news stories, news analyses, features stories, editorials, opinion articles,  cartoons,  etc have all been done in the media to dramatise and draw attention to the deplorable state of the East- West road. None has cut any ice with either Orubebe or his boss.  What else  is expected to galvanise Orubebe  into action? Perhaps fatalities.


And if it is blood, haven’t enough been spilled on that road to cause a responsible government to address the issue?  On July 12 last year, at the Okogbe community, along  the East- West road, a petrol tanker, while avoiding one of the ubiquitous bad spots on the road, lost control and fell.  The community youths and even elders saw the wasting petrol as freebies. They began to scoop petrol. The clanging of metal buckets and the mounting pressure triggered a fire. When the conflagration ended, 95 persons  had been burnt to ashes. This is aside the many cars, houses and motorcycles that got razed in the inferno. It was an avoidable tragedy that the global media celebrated with glee.


This year again, on January 10, the year opened with yet another tragedy on that road, when another petrol-laden tanker , once again, fell while dodging a bad spot . The spilled petrol flowed to the fire side of a roadside “buka”, and an explosion occurred killing two persons and injuring eight others. Add to these, the daily accidents that happen on the road, many of which go unreported.


Even when a traveler survives the road, he/she must  keep an appointment with a physiotherapist, given the grueling state of the road. Yesterday, I was on that same road. And as you read this, I am yet to recover from the pangs and pains on my waste and joints. Even if the region is not an oil-bearing zone, would the people not deserve a good road from their government? Yet it is doubly ironical and annoying that a region which produces the bulk of the nation’s resources is left to wallow in such criminal neglect. It is even more a crying shame to know that both the President  of the country and the minister in charge of the zone are from the same region.


Bishop Hyacinth Egbebo, the Catholic Bishop of Bomadi Diocese put it most simply and quaintly at the late Azazi’s funeral , few weeks ago, when he urged  Mr President, in his sermon, to “save our lives. Construct our roads. People are dying on the East-West road every day. The trailers and tankers are falling…” How many more lives have to be lost to boot the mechanism of the Niger Delta ministry?


If they cannot fix even the road, why should we expect other leaders from other regions to do it? The aphorism that charity should begin from home, certainly means little to Orubebe and his master.


It is difficult to understand the inertia in the ministry. For four years, it has received budgetary allocations.  Last year, it got N57 billion for capital expenditure. We hardly see the impact of the annual budgets in the region.


The East West road, indeed, has been in the works right from the days of Shagari government. Successive governments have paid lip service to fixing it. But why should a government operated by the “son of the soil” cause the road to suffer the same fate?


Orubebe’s strongest credential in being in the cabinet is that he is an Ijaw man, just like the President. He was earlier a Special Adviser to former Governor James Ibori of Delta State.  He represents the slot of the South-south region, the more reason he should show greater devotion to its growth and development. That, has scarcely been the case. We hear he is more adept in his plans to contest for the governorship of Delta State. A  venture that is bound to end up in smoke. The serving governor in Delta State is from the same senatorial district with Orubebe.  By 2015, that district would have been in power for eight full years. It will be political folly to thus assume that the same district will produce the next governor in the state.


If Orubebe were a good manager and team player, we expect him to galvanise, court and mobilize enormous support from the region’s governors with the aim of collaborating to develop the region.  Not run on parallel lanes with them. The BRACED Commission as well as the Niger Delta master plan have a development template which the Niger Delta ministry should have endorsed and even adopted to accelerate the growth of the region. But Orubebe has ignored those platforms. He prefers to expand his territorial control by seeking to control the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the agency he first strove with over who will design the Coastal road project. Till date, neither the East West road is passable nor any hope in sight that the so-called Coastal road will be realized before Jesus returns.


Somebody should please tell the Honourable minister that all we want is action, not politics. If he does not have it, he should please excuse himself. Nigeria must move forward. Niger Delta must shine.

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Canticles...

Police, Farouk, and the System


I hear that a fiery lawyer has picked up the gauntlet on the hitherto jinxed prosecution  attempt of that lawmaker.
Which lawmaker? You know many of them are into untoward things.
I am talking of Honourable Farouk Lawan. Did you not hear that em-em-em ,  that lawyer, em  thingamabob
Thinga-what?
I am trying to remember the name of the lawyer—em Festus keyamo. Did you not hear that he has, on his own, begun the process of prosecuting Farouk?


Oh, that busy-body enfant terrible lawyer? Why does he want to be more Catholic than the Pope?


What kind of analogue question is that? Is he not a Nigerian? Is it not our common wealth that is at stake?


Which commonwealth? Did Femi Otedola tell you that the $620,000 he gave to Farouk belongs to Nigeria?
You talk as if you do not know that it is a crime to receive bribe


Farouk says he did not receive bribe. That he only received money
Please…please…please. Stop that crap. A man admits receiving inducement to remove the name of a company from the list of indicted companies, and you say it is not bribe? Without the money offered, would he have delisted the name of the company?
It is not as straight as six o’çlock. If it were, the police would have arraigned him since the scandal broke last May.


You mean you do not know that the Police have since  been compromised on this matter, hence it appears that their hands are tied and they have become clueless?


How can you jump to such conclusion? Don’t you know the police have to be completely thorough in their investigations? Don’t you know poor investigations lead to bungled prosecutions?


You are talking like one of them. What are they investigating? Didn’t Farouk Lawan admit that he received the bribe? Didn’t …
(cuts in) Money, not bribe


Whatever… Somebody gave and another received. They both admitted. So why the investigation till eternity?
And that is the point! Somebody gave, somebody received. They are equal offenders. But why has the beam of offence directed only on the receiver and not the giver? If there was no giver, there won’t be any receiver.


You don’t understand. The giver was aided by the state to set the trap. It was all meant to confirm that the guy is a crook, that he is not what he poses to be. Didn’t you hear the aired telephone conversations? The video footages are so very telling. Indeed the prosecution has little job to do to prove the case, it is a perfect case of ipso loquitor. And that is why we shudder at the Police unwillingness to prosecute a man who openly admitted taking a bribe. Of course that is why a private individual has taken it upon himself to do the work of the police, before we really become a laughing stock in the comity of nations.


Hmmmmmm, na today? Please don’t just go there. It is not this case that will change the global perception of Nigeria. The point is that the Police have not finished their investigations. They have to take their time. There are still a few knots they have to untangle .
Don’t worry, we know what has happened. A keyamo has come into the game now, the pattern of play will change. And we shall know whether or not Farouk Lawan is bigger than the law of the land. Trust Keyamo, he will make the maximum noise from this case,…. Oh God, we miss Gani.


You will soon realise that somethings are not as they seem. All animals are equal, but some are more equal. 

Tags: Nigeria, Featured, Politics, ORUBEBE

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