As Okowa Contends with Detractors


Despite attempts to distract him, Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa remains focused on governance‎, writes Chiemelie Ezeobi

As the race for the 2019 elections draws near, political parties and politicians have again begun a potpourri of mudslinging and unsubstantiated allegations.
Those who are seeking to take over elective posts from those in office have already started campaigning by discrediting those in offices.

While criticism is good for democracy, basing such criticisms on outright lies does not bode well for democracy.
In the case of Delta State, a governorship aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr. Cairo Ojuogboh, had for the umpteenth time, accused the Delta administration under the leadership of Ifeanyi Okowa of mismanaging the resources of the state.

Another weighty allegation is the recent media report that a firm- North China Construction Nigeria Limited has nothing to do with the Chinese Government, given the projects awarded them by the Delta State Government.

Ojuogboh had in an interview alleged that Chinese government has nothing to do with the ownership of the firm, North China Construction Company. This allegation was perhaps, an attempt to politically join issues with the company which is currently engaged in the construction of the New Central Secretariat of Delta State Government in Asaba.

But contrary to these claims, it was gathered that the company is a subsidiary of a Chinese Government approved North China Construction Group Co. Ltd; an ‘AAA’ creditable enterprise with high qualification in building.

Documents cited at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) show that the Office of the Consulate of the People’s Republic of China in Lagos had on March 12, 2013 written to the Director General of Corporate Affairs Commission stating clearly that “North China Construction Group Co. Ltd is an ‘AAA’ creditable enterprise with high qualification in building.”

The letter stated further that North China Construction Group Co. Ltd is a legal Chinese corporation under taking businesses related to construction, emphasizing that “the Economic and Commercial Office of the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China confirms our agreement on its establishment of a company in Nigeria named North China Construction Nigeria Limited and North China Construction Group Co. Ltd has got the approval of the People’s Republic of China for its investment in Nigeria including the name of the company to be set up.”

Furthermore, the North China Construction Group Co. Ltd has its home office at Guangsha Road, Diaxing District, Beijing China. As it is, the company is a Chinese National Design, Engineering, Construction, Decoration and General Contracting special grade enterprise with qualifications and experience.

Its profile boasts of specialisation in such areas like road construction and design, design and construction of bridges, airports, sea ports, rail, power and other high end steel works including city design, sewage works, drainage and alternative energy.

With its objective as ‘spreading the culture of science, engineering and innovation while adhering to the global best practices in Environmental, Social and Governance Standards (ESG)’, it also promotes the economic and socio-cultural ties between Nigeria and China in the spirit of Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).

It was gathered that based on the high profile status of the North China Construction Group Co. Ltd and its subsidiary; North China Construction Nigeria Limited, the Okowa’s administration engaged it as a major contractor in the construction of the New Central Secretariat in Asaba, the state capital.

Thus, when the said interview by Ojuogboh was published, where he boldly remarked that the North China Construction Nigeria Limited has no business with government of China, the main reaction was disbelief.

Many have accused him of making baseless, unresearched, false and defamatory statement against the governor, who is making serious developmental strides in Delta State, wondering why the governorship aspirant would ask readers of his interview to go to the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to find out the owners of the company when he himself had not taken steps to cross-check what his facts.

This is because the details at the CAC showed that North China Construction Nigeria Limited has a six-member Board of Directors made up of five Chinese and only one Nigerian. The Chinese nationals who are members of the board of directors are identified in the incorporation documents of the company at the Corporate Affairs Commission.

A good number of interests in Asaba (who pleaded anonymity) said it was disappointing for somebody who has indicated interest in becoming the next governor of the state to make such spurious and unsubstantiated allegations, all in an attempt to rubbish Okowa who may want to seek a re-election in 2019.

They contended that Nigerians should begin to demand a level of decorum and seriousness from people who aspire to exalted positions in the public sector, stressing that “it is too risky to leave our public offices to careless people who do not care about the reputation of others.”

They described Okowa as a prudent and highly civilised governor who cannot involve the state government in any contractual obligation with a company whose foundation or identity is obscure.
Ojuogboh’s allegation was therefore regarded as “tissues of lies and unbecoming of a man seeking an exalted office of a state chief executive.”

Describing the whole Delta State in present time as one big construction yard due to many on-going projects initiated by the Okowa administration, the sources in Asaba said the New Central Secretariat was a well thought out project because it would eliminate the current huge cost being incurred by government on office accommodation for Ministries, Departments and Agencies that are scattered all over Asaba.

They added that having almost all the government departments in one place will encourage innovation and knowledge sharing as well as reduce the time of commuting from one ministry to another and the concomitant waste of valuable man hours.

Enthused by what is on ground already, the analysts contended that any friend of the state would advise the governor to do a current head count of the civil servants and other officials for which the secretariat will serve as offices and determine whether there is need to add more floors because the foundation of the building is an engineering master piece never seen in Delta State before now.

Also, the New Central Secretariat construction was being partly financed by North China Construction Group Co. Ltd and its subsidiary, North China Construction Nigeria Limited. The secretariat was planned to be a masterpiece and one of the best in Nigeria on completion.

The governorship aspirant’s allegation was therefore considered, libelous and defamatory as against appreciating the good foundation Okowa has laid by partnering with a high end engineering group like the North China Construction on multiple projects over a long term in order to spread the company’s culture of science and technology among Delta State youths.

“‘With such development in place , youths who are currently working with Chinese expatriates can in the next few years, either as individuals or in small groups own small construction firms that can really fix things unlike the current situation where there is dearth of good brick-layers, plumbers, mechanics, electricians and so on” they emphasized.

Based on this new development, Okowa has been advised not to join issues with those whose stock in trade is mudslinging but to remain focused in his administration’s developmental initiative in line with his smart agenda.

While criticism is good for democracy, basing such criticisms on outright lies does not bode well for democracy