Okowa’s N5.1b proposal on Int’l Conference Centre project, a colossal waste of public funds – Activist

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From Ben Dunno, Warri

A Niger-Delta Activist, Comrade Derrick Oritsematosan Agberen, has faulted the proposal by Delta state government to commit a whopping N5.1B on the building of an International Conference Centre in Asaba, describing it as reckless spending and colossal waste of public funds.

Reacting to the proposal in an open letter addressed to the Governor Okowa, a copy of which was made available to newsmen in Warri, yesterday, the Activist noted that such a project was absolutely unnecessary as Asaba already had an existing Conference Hall built by the past administration.

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While pointing out that the proposal only goes to show how desperate the present administration led by Governor Okowa want to use such frivolous projects as conduit pipes to retire the N150B loan recently approved for him by the state Assembly, Comrade Agberen, said there are areas such funds can be channelled to better the lots of people in the state.

He stated that in last seven years of Governor Okowa’s administration there are many communities where the indigenes do not have access to good medical cares, education, roads and electricity as well as an affordable means of transportation even within the state, adding that such funds would go a long way in ameliorating the plights of the people in those areas.

The letter read in part; “I wish to convey my disappointment over your decision to splurge N5.1bn on the construction of an international conference centre in Asaba”

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“Your Excellency, Sir, I feel so shocked to know that such humongous amount of money was approved for the construction of an International Conference Centre, considering that there is an existing one built by your immediate predecessor, Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan in Asaba, even in the face of pressing challenges presently confronting the State that needed swift attention”

Sir, may I remind you that in your last seven years in office there are many communities, especially Udu, Okpe, Patani, Burutu, Bomadi, etc., where the indigenes do not have access to good medical cares, education, roads and electricity as well as an affordable means of transportation, (especially the coastal areas) even within the state”.

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“I am taken aback by this ridiculous proposal, putting into consideration that your administration had failed woefully in keeping with your campaign slogan of; “Prosperity For All Deltans” in 2015, as nothing is on ground to show for it, apart from pockets of road networks in some communities which would not stands the test of time as they are of low qualities”.

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“Your Excellency, let me remind you that we are mindful of how much you have deceived Deltans with your SMART Ageda programmes which included: Skills Training and Entrepreneurship Programme (STEP), Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurs Programme (YAGEP), Women Empowerment and Skills Acquisition Programme (WESAP) and Girls Entrepreneurship and Skills Training (GEST) Programme, that are mostly hyped in the media to cover up your lapses and diversion of public funds.

“It is on record that the issue of the high unemployment rate among able bodied youths across the various ethnic groups is still very much alarming and Deltans would have lauded you if you had budgeted this amount of money to make the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Warri; the Asaba Textile Mill or the Africa Timber and Ply Wood (AT&P), Sapele, to start working again”.

“This, definitely, would have gone a long way in creating job opportunities that can absurd hundreds of unemployed graduates and take a very good number of youths off the streets, inorder to reduce the crime rates and the brain drains in the society”.

“The incessant criminal activities, which characterize the State, can be attributed to the idleness of the youths due to non availability of decent and functional industries in the state that would engage them and maximize their energies to productive use”.

“Again Sir, You are aware of the heartrending protest at the Delta State Government House, Asaba, recently over the unpaid gratuities of pensioners. The tears of the protesters caused hearts to bleed. We have these to ponder over, and yet there is N5.1bn to throw away. This is disheartening.

Your Excellency, Sir, the approval of that contract has just created an avenue for the furtherance of misappropriation of public funds among government officials.

“We are aware that you have less than twelve months in office and observers have acknowledged that this project, even if it commences, cannot be completed before the expiration of your tenure. So the question is; Why start a project that does not affect the lives of the people and would not be completed during your tenure? he queried.

“Considering the disturbing issues raised above, I hereby request the termination of the contract awarding this project and suggest that the money be channelled to surmounting the pressing needs that would improve the standards of living of the people in most communities across the state,” he concluded.

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