Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba
Recently deposed Speaker, Delta State House of Assembly, Hon Monday Igbuya, yesterday attempted to disrupt the inauguration of projects in Sapele by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa.
Apparently still smarting from his ignominious impeachment a week ago as the speaker of the state legislator, Igbuya, created a scene in his native place and constituency by leading a protest march on the streets of Sapele to express dismay over his removal and suspension.
The former speaker carried out the action while the governor was in the town to commission some completed projects and inspect ongoing ones on Tuesday, in continuation of activities to mark his second anniversary.
Dressed in a white T-shirt and jeans trousers, Igbuya marched in a procession with a handful of youths who chanted, â€œIgbuya, Igbuya!â€ and carrying placards calling for his reinstatement as Speaker.
Some of the youths had earlier forcefully pulled away from the ceremonial tapes for the formal inauguration of the Sapele-Amukpe Road in Sapele, which has been reconstructed into a dual-carriage way by the Okowa. They also pulled off the veil covering the plaque on the commissioning stone.
A mild drama ensued as some youths supporting the new Speaker of the state house of assembly, Hon Sheriff Oborivwori, countered by chanting, â€œSheriff!â€ with some driving round the town in an open van singing solaidarity songs for the new speaker.
However, speaking during the state town hall meeting in Sapele yesterday, Dr Okowa said that he considered it a mistake that some Sapele youths had joined the former speaker, Igbuya, in the protest and, therefore, did not hold it against them.
Saying he could never forget the overwhelming support he has enjoyed for the people of Sapele, the governor assured that he would continue to execute projects in Saepele and the entire Okpe Kingdom.
Â Okowa, who was accompanied to all the events by his deputy, Mr. Kingsley Otuaro, and other top government functionaries, commended Deltans for their peaceful ways of resolving issues, observing that the protest by the people of Sapele against epileptic power supply was peaceful.
While listing projects executed by his administration in the area which included construction of roads, schools, markets, and others, the governor expressed joy that since his coming on board two years ago, the Songhai Delta has becoming functional as training ground for the training of youths in different fields of life, especially agriculture.
The governor said: â€œI can rightfully claim that i am from Okpe and Sapele local government, I want to thank you for coming out in your large numbers to attend this town hall meeting which will provide the opportunity to tell you what we are doing and the prospect we have for the future and also, listen to you to enable us add your needs in our budget; we are encouraging participatory democracy which I think we should have.
â€œI was happy with what I saw at the Songhai Training centre; in the past two years, that centre has been very active and yesterday, I saw a new system of farming, not new to the world but, new to us, the drip irrigation which is the first in our state; it will help to grow tomatoes, cucumbers and other vegetables and with the drip irrigation system, tomatoes will be grown at least three cycles in one year.
â€œSo many of our youths have been engaged already in our empowerment programmes and we are happy that our youths are also acquiring new skills through the revamped technical colleges in the state.â€
Meanwhile, THISDAY learnt that former governor of the state, Chief James Ibori, has waded into the ugly face-off involving the former speaker and his successor as the two lawmakers were in the Oghara residence of Ibori yesterday as the erstwhile governor was said to have assuredÂ Okowa he would ensure that the two Â legislators were reconciled in the interest of the PDP and the state.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Delta State chapter has accused Okowa of betrayal, saying his administration reneged on a gentleman agreement entered with the state government about three months ago.
The initial gentleman agreement, according to the council workers, entails sharing of the monthly federal allocations accruing to local government councils in the state in such a way that the local government councils will get 50 per cent, while the remaining 50 per cent will be used to pay primary school staff, even as it was reliably gathered that the Okowa administration stopped release of the 600 million naira his predecessors used to augment local government allocations monthly.
Delta State President of NULGE, Ziko Okwudi, who addressed thousands of Local Government Workers at the Uvwie Local Government Council Secretariat after leading the protesting Local Government staff round strategic major roads in Effurun, near Warri, in what is the beginning of protests across the three senatorial districts of Delta State, insisted that local government allocation is not for primary school teachers.