Delta State: One hundred days of ‘Sherrified’ Governance

Ogunsakin Mustapha
8 Min Read
Prof Hope Eghagha

By Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha

It is now one hundred days since Elder Sheriff Francis Oborevwori took over the reins of power as democratically elected governor in Delta State in a well, if you like, fiercely contested gubernatorial election. Instructively and expectedly, there has been no pussyfooting in policy initiatives and implementation. To be sure, a man who served the state as House Speaker for six years and worked closely with the immediate past governor while in office, recondite administrative experience in state matters has definitely served this humble, calm, friendly, openminded, down-to-earth, and pragmatic man excellently. He therefore deserves our congratulations and encouragement on this milestone. The eight-year sojourn in Government House Asaba has just started.

Oborevwori has also patiently and palpably established one fact: he is fully in charge of the government of Delta State. To be sure, any chief executive who craves success knows they must carry all stakeholders along in decision making. Broad consultations are crucial. Stakeholders and party leaders need to be brought into the picture. The two former governors of the state who threw their hats into the ring to ensure that he emerged must be routinely consulted. It is commonsense to do so, especially with Dr. Okowa who backed Oborevwori with all the energy and forces he could muster. But the buck stops somewhere: the desk of Governor Sheriff Oborevwori!

 Measurement of success is often hinged on deliverables on appointments, short-term interventions in projects, ability to relate with persons from all strata of society, medium and long terms policy pronouncements, making the people feel the impact of government, and financial prudence. On appointments, the governor has sought out politicians who have contributed to PDP electoral victory in the state. He has also catered to the interest of powerful stakeholders who stood resolutely by him in the tough days of campaigning and when some erstwhile party stalwarts exited the PDP when it seemed that they were most needed. He has also brought in young and new faces into the administration as commissioners. The youths are the fulcrum of any country, especially in the labour force. Bringing them early into administration is a way of sowing seeds for the future. He has added persons from other age brackets to guarantee a well-nuanced mix.  

The process of appointments has been deliberate, measured, and calculated to achieve maximum effect and satisfaction. For example, State Commissioners were appointed only after the federal executive council had been constituted though his list of appointees was ready before then. It is certain that not all politicians will be happy. The positions available are not enough to please everyone in the political class. Not even the federal government has been able to achieve this. But this is where elected and appointed officials should help the administration by carrying all stakeholders in the polity along.  

At the end of one hundred days, Governor Oborevwori commissioned projects in the state. Most of the projects were started by his predecessor in office. Oborevwori explains that government is a continuum, and it therefore makes sense to finish up projects which the administration which he was part had started. For example, multi-billion-naira projects were inaugurated at the Dennis Osadebey University Anwai-Asaba, 29 network of roads with 31.45 line drains around Madonna College road in Asaba and Okpanam areas of Oshimili South and Oshimili North Local Government Council areas of the state. The governor has promised to commission the Ughelli-Asaba dualized road project as soon as possible.

The civil service is crucial to the success of any administration, being the engine room of government bureaucracy. This class of people need to be kept happy through sound policies and a healthy welfare package. As a listening leader, the governor dived straight into one of the challenges of civil servants by approving palliatives for them. Apart from ten thousand naira added to their monthly salaries to subsidize their transportation, the governor also approved days off and days on duty for civil servants. That way, workers do not come to the office daily. The cost of commuting from one point to the other is enormous to the ordinary worker whose take-home pay is usually not enough to take them home!   

Governor Oborevwori’s latest act of inviting widely known construction giant Julius Berger to tackle infrastructure deficit in Warri has thrilled Deltans who had always expressed dissatisfaction with the state of roads in that ancient city of oil! This is a bold move. Enerhen Junction and indeed PTI junction are begging for attention. A statement of possible new approach to road construction. In one of our post-election chats, Governor-elect had assured all that he would intervene massively in Warri and in any other parts of the state that require government intervention. Indeed, at his inauguration ceremony at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, the rapturous reaction that followed his declaration that he would work massively on Warri is an indication of how the people feel. Although the Abraka-Agbor and Sapele-Benin roads are federal, these roads impact the lives of Deltans. It would be great if the Oborevwori administration could enter a deal with the Minister of Works to enable the state government to stop the nightmare that the roads have become.    

Certainly, there is a lot of work to be done in the state. The menace of Fulani herdsmen is still felt in some parts of the state. The state government is working in consonance with federal security agencies to curb their menace. The scoundrel herdsmen around Jesse and Uwheru must be dealt with decisively. Managing divergent viewpoints and a multiethnic state is not a tea party. In this Oborevwori has done well.

In commending Oborevwori for ‘sheriffying’ Delta State by promising to do and doing more than what was done in the past, it is apposite to say that it is morning yet on creation day. It is hoped that there will be foreign direct investments, that the youths would be given adequate attention, especially the ones who seem to have made internet fraud and money ritual their career. Education has been given a boost by the establishment of more universities so that any Deltan who is qualified will not be denied space to pursue their dreams. By commissioning the facilities in the university in Anwai, the governor has sent a strong message to the youth in the state and beyond: SCHOOL NO BE SCAM!   

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