2019: Stop Heating Up the System, Okowa Tells APC

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Dr Ifeanyi-Okowa

By Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba

Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, has cautioned members of the opposition parties especially the All Progressives Congress (APC) against making wild and unsubstantiated allegations about his administration’s programmes and activities, saying he would never resort to propaganda on the government’s achievements which were glaring for even the critics to see.

According to him, malicious fabrication in the media just to discredit a widely accepted and well-performing government because of interest in 2019 could only heat up the system unnecessarily and undermine peace and security.

“We have observed in recent times the continued misinformation dished out by some leaders of the opposition All Progressive Congress (APC), in the state, in which they have painted pictures that are at variance with the realities on ground about our programmes and projects, both completed and ongoing,” he said.

While maintaining that his administration had remained people-centred in line with its prosperity-for-Deltans mantra, he assured that he would not be distracted from that set vision notwithstanding the spate of partisan criticism and malicious propaganda being peddled by opposition politicians.

Speaking with newsmen at the Government House yesterday through his Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Mr. Charles Ehiedu Aniagwu, the governor debunked insinuations in some quarters that the last tranche of the Paris Club refund might have been misapplied by the state government.

According to the governor, empowerment of the people through various entrepreneurial schemes remained one of the “star projects” of his administration since its inception about two years ago.

“Our greatest confidence in the support of our people is on our effort at creating entrepreneurs rather than job seekers”, Okowa asserted. “In the last two years, over 6,000 entrepreneurs have been created through our job creation programmes and allied policies; and, the consequence of these is that over 30,000 persons now have their stories changed for the better.”

He stressed that these state-empowered young entrepreneurs today “dot the 25 local government areas”, noting that the veracity of their activities could be easily ascertained by people whose views were not tainted by partisanship.

On the series of criticism that have trailed the last tranche of the Paris Club refund of N10 billion received by Delta State, Okowa said that the fund was judiciously applied with the state and local government areas with the state government assisting the local government councils with N318 million to enable them offset the June 2017 salaries to workers, in addition to the statutory share of N2.1 billion to the local governments.

The governor then gave a break-down of disbursement of the said fund was and advised opposition political parties in the state to avoid playing to the gallery by peddling rumours about the administration just to gain public sympathy.

“Those who have elected to politicise everything under the sun tend to have found a very fertile ground in our deployment of the second tranche of the Paris Fund Club refund even after we have offered an explanation to that effect; they have repeatedly questioned how we spent the N10bn.

“We have repeatedly said that in the spirit of true democracy, which we believe and practice, they deserve to know. For the avoidance of doubt and at the risk or repeating our initial explanation, these are the breakdown:

N2.1 billion was allocated to Local Government Councils For Salary Arrears and N7.9 billion was due to Delta State Government, which spent N1.3 billion being 7.5 per cent of the money, on Contributory Pension Arrears; N1.7 billion – deductions due to co-operatives societies, N315 million – State Contributions to Pension for May 2016; N174 million – Restoration of BVN Issues Related Salaries; N475 million (used for) augmentation of July 2017 salaries; N300 million – part payment of outstanding arrears of past services of State Contributory Pension Scheme; N318 million – support to local government councils to pay June 2017 salaries; while N3.5 billion went into capital/recurrent expenditure approvals and it totals, N7.9 billion.”

He cautioned the opposition political parties to avoid engaging in deceptive acts that could heat up the polity ahead of the 2019 general elections but, rather, should engage in actions that will strongly unite the people of the state and enhance the prevailing peaceful atmosphere in the state.

Okowa further said, “For the avoidance of doubt, we expect criticism of our programmes by anybody because it is an essential ingredient of any democratic society, but we believe that such criticisms should find a reasonable space on the track of objectivity and patriotism.

He reiterated and listed some of the achievements of his administration in the last two years to include the “construction of over 98 roads across the three senatorial districts, stretching to as much as 612km – and still counting – as well as line drains of over 300km. These are beside ongoing efforts at redesigning the drainage system and fast-tracking the construction of deeper and expanded drainage system to check perennial flooding in Asaba and its environs.”

Meanwhile, the governor assured that “as a responsible and law-abiding State, the attorney-general of the state was attending to any legal issues relating to the application of said Paris Club funds, stressing that what he could say with certainty was that the state’s share of the refund was “judiciously applied”.