‘Stop Blaming Okowa for Deplorable Federal Roads in Delta’ – THISDAY Newspapers

Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba

Delta State Commissioner for Information, Charles Aniagwu, has cautioned critics against blaming the state governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, for deplorable state of several federal roads across the state, saying would not accept blame for the poor state of federal roads in state.

Reacting to certain videos of badly rundown federal  roads in the state, which have gone viral and currently trending on social media, he challenged those behind the videos to also post videos of several  efforts of the Okowa administration to effect massive repairs of some federal roads that had become practically inaccessible to vehicular traffic.

Aniagwu stated this yesterday in Asaba while briefing  newsmen on the situation and the need to disabuse the minds of well-meaning Nigerians regarding the viral video particularly of failed portions state of Uromi-Agbor federal road.

The commissioner pointed out that the poor condition of the said roads was a reflection of the level of decay in federal infrastructure nationwide, adding that it also underscored the widespread agitation for devolution of power in Nigeria.

Nonetheless, the state government had often waded in with its resources to restore sanity on these roads in the interest of the people of Delta and others traveling on the roads including the Agbor-Uromi Road.

Today, such intervention or remedial work is ongoing on other federal roads, he stressed, saying the “mischief makers” should not close their eyes to these efforts of the state government as they post the videos for the world to see.

The commissioner, who is also the Presidential Spokesman for Atiku/Okowa 2023 Presidential Campaign, said that the Okowa administration was proud of its achievements on road infrastructure, saying they were second to none in the country since restoration of democracy in the country in 1999.

Aniagwu called on the federal government to give urgent attention to poor state of federal roads in the state to give the people a sense of belonging, urging members of the public to always distinguish between federal roads and those belonging to states.

The economic consequences of poor state of the roads are mind-blowing, he said, adding that poor condition of roads also exacerbated insecurity challenges like armed robbery and kidnapping in the country.

He stressed that devolving power to component units would provide them more funds to undertake the task of infrastructural development of the states, including roads, that seemed to have overwhelmed the Federal Government.

The commissioner said: “We have continued to intervene on federal roads in the state since 2015, and some of you have had cause to accompany us on inspection of these federal roads.  You also know that we have intervened three times on the Eku-Agbor-Uromi road which is also a federal road.

“Not long ago, we wanted to start another intervention on the road but the Federal Government said the road has been awarded to a contractor and that made it very difficult for us to do what we needed to do.

“We were intervening on that road and other federal roads in the state until we were told by the Federal government that the job of the road had already been awarded to a contractor.

“The road has gone very bad to the extent that commuters are going through a lot of troubles on it and we have pleaded with the Federal Government to take another look at that road because it is in a very bad shape.

“You will recall that when we revamped the Agbor Technical College, we intervened on that road and we never asked for any refunds in these interventions.

“What has become a challenge is that the Federal Government has taken far more than they can deal with in a number of these projects and that’s why people have been calling for the devolution of powers to the component units.

“This is important because when you devolve power and allow the component units to tackle these issues it means that you will also have an adjustment in the revenue sharing formular such that states will have more resources to deal with some of these issues that affects our people.

“We are very  pained as a government that these federal roads are in a very terrible situation and commuters from across the country are actually going through hellish situation to travel through these routes,” Aniagwu stated.

“All the federal roads we have intervened have gulped several billions of naira and we are not even going to ask the federal government to refund us because what we did was to remedy the situation along those roads.

“We wish the federal government had given us approval for us to possibly intervene fully and that would have given us hope that we would be able to get back the funds, but even when we knew we won’t get back the funds, we have tried continously to intervene on these roads.

“We are therefore, asking the federal government to mobilise the contractors to come and work on these roads because Nigerians are going through hell along these roads,” he added.

On the reported recent protest against EFCC by alleged “Yahoo boys” in the state, Aniagwu urged the people to remain calm, adding that government had ordered investigation into the incident.

“The state government will carry out a thorough investigation to ascertain whether the EFCC operated within the confines of the law and whether in doing so they realised that the need to respect the fundamental rights of those arrested.

“We will also examine whether those alleged to have gone on rampage to protest also respected the rights of the EFCC to carry out its duties as enabled by law”, Aniagwu said.

While thanking journalists in the state for their support and urged them to do more critical analysis on issues as watchdogs of the society by making governments accountable to the people.


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