Okowa has turned appointment to Government Office into child’s play-Ariyo

*Says Itsekiris in PDP constitute the biggest disgrace

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Topic: Interview

Okowa has turned appointment to Government Office into child’s play-Ariyo
Barr. Robinson Ariyo

Barrister Robinson Ariyo is a known critic of the Governor Uduaghan administration. He contested the last House of Assembly election for Warri South 1 constituency under the platform of the APC but the SDP candidate in the constituency was declared winner.

He is currently at the Election Petition Tribunal. He spoke with Emma Arubi in this interview on issues concerning Governor Okowa, President Buhari and their administrative styles amongst others.


With persistent shout by the Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa government that Delta state is broke, would you support a call for the probe of the Uduaghan‘s administration?

It is important to note that being broke is not something that happens overnight. Take your mind back 10 years from today in the history of Delta that has resulted in this “brokage”, you must also remember that when you point a finger at somebody, your other fingers points back at you.

Dr. Okowa has being key dramatis personae in the affairs of the state that has resulted into the financial quagmire the state is in today. He has played key role as either actor or conspirator and is much knowledgeable than any of us as to how the state got to this sore point. If nothing at all, he has been very quiet. He never spoke then, so why shouting now? And because the good person in any society keeps quite, evils thrive.  Assuming but not conceding that Dr.Ifeayin Okowa is a good man, what happened to his mouth, his thoughts and even his pen and papers in these past 15 years of locust? Now he has become the Governor and what are we witnessing today?

As a known critic of the past administration in Delta, I also believe that justice is dual way traffic. It has to be justice for Dr. Uduaghan who just completed his tenure and justice also to Dr. Okowa who has just begun his tenure.

Again, we know that in less than two months in office, Dr. Okowa is in the process of borrowing over N 90 billion. If in every two months he borrows N90billion, if you multiply that figure by his four years tenure, the sum would be very staggering and mind boggling. In fact, Delta would be in a more critical state that would make Dr. Uduaghan’s alleged debt profile a child’s play.

I hope he will be more prudent than his predecessor in office but that characteristics I currently have not seen in him.   

My concern is not about Uduaghan being probed or not, whoever misappropriate the state funds should be brought to book and not using the call of bringing somebody to book as a shield to perpetrate more evil. It is good to probe people, but what role did you play in the entire process or system as the case may be?

How do you see allegations that the Governor Okowa is planning to close Down Government House Annexe, Warri?

Thinking of ever closing down the Government House Annexe, Warri would be the greatest injustice ever meted out to people of Delta Central and South senatorial districts. There are territorial difficulties that these Deltans are currently passing through because Asaba, the state Capital is located at the extreme end of Delta state.

With the Government House Annexe in Warri, which is also the commercial nerve centre of the state, it makes things a little easier for the people as skeletal government related issues can be sorted out or attended to besides avoiding the risk of travelling to Asaba that shares boundary with Onistha in Anambra state.  Asaba as state capital is not strategically and centrally located for easy accessibility by all.

To think of closing down the Government House Annexe means Dr. Okowa does not appreciate our plight. Taking such very far reaching decision needs a lot of consultations. Any decision taken that hurts the very people who voted you into power shows you lack governance experience in large dose. A Governor must try to cushion the suffering of his people instead of adding to their plight in a show of gross insensitivity.

The benefits of the Annexe here is enormous as it not only creates jobs for our people, but small time traders and sundry artisans that are occasionally engaged. Its presence here creates market and other opportunities for us. Closing it down results to the very opposite of all of this goodies and its attendants social economic implications.

If you really want to create jobs for Deltans, then you should not be thinking of closing down the place. A simple survey would reveal to you that it is of immense benefit to allow the Annexe remain where it is.

What is your opinion about the dissolution of the DESOPADEC Board and the Agency itself?

The dissolution of the DESOPADEC Board is long overdue. In fact that agency has been a veritable source of siphoning state funds to very large extent. I say this because I know the amount of money that goes into that oil intervention agency. That agency is established to bring infrastructural, social and economic succor to the oil and gas bearing communities of the state.

But have they truly achieved these goals for the mandate communities? The answer is a capital NO.

Who can truly tell us the exact amount that is officially supposed to accrue to the agency and what they are actually given? And what amount actually went to these communities in terms of impact by way of projects, services and empowerment?

However, I want to say DESOPADEC is rotten and so much surgery needs to be carry out to bring sanity into the agency if it is to meet its statutory obligations to the oil and gas bearing communities of Delta state. So the board is only a first step towards achieving that goal.

Dr. Okowa is alleged to be anti-Itsekiri. What is your take on that?

He has not only marginalized the Itsekiri people in terms of appointment to key political offices, he has shown himself as not being experienced in the inner workings of governance in the state. He has done the most carefree appointment ever in the history of Delta State. For the first time in our history, we have SSA Media, Chief of Protocol, SSA Protocol, SA Protocol. He has turned appointment into government office into a child’s play. Okowa will go down in history as being worse than Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan.

Without particularizing it to only the Itsekiri, the quality of persons appointed into position of authority leaves much to be desired across the board. Deltans have excelled in all ramifications. And if you want to make qualitative appointment, the key positions are: Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Director of Protocol (DOP) and Chief of Staff and none of these persons are of Itsekiri extraction. The truth is that if Delta State is Dr. Okowa’s private company, are these the quality of persons he will engage to run it successfully for him?

In the Judiciary, there is no Itsekiri person occupying any strategic position as well as in the Legislature. So, in the three arms of government in the State, no Itsekiri person can be found to be occupying any sensitive position and yet they have the highest oil and gas resource that feeds the state economy.

In other words, from the very beginning, there appears to be a grand conspiracy by Dr. Okowa against the Itsekiri nation.  And the Itsekiri persons so far appointed are mediocre. How can Okowa appoint an Itsekiri that have been tested and failed as a Commissioner before into his cabinet to represent Itsekiri again.

It is a design to kill the Itsekiri nation. Even then, of all the important positions for Commissionership, you gave the Itsekiri nation Transport and Women Affairs, two very weak positions. By their fruits you shall know them. Okowa has shown us who he is and the Itsekiris in the ruling PDP are to blame because they failed to carry themselves high enough by fighting for their private pockets instead of the interest of the tribe. They constitute the biggest disgrace to the Itsekiri people. And they are not even talking, because they are still pursuing their selfish agenda, appeasing Okowa.

Is President Buhari too slow in tackling the nation’s problems?

Let's remember that for the first time in our nation’s history, an opposition party, APC defeated a ruling party, PDP. It is a new dynamics in our body politics. So for a very serious minded ruler like Gen. Buhari he needs to be very careful in all he does.

Again, let me tell you, key PDP leaders and other party chieftains, realizing that their party has lost at the National level are creeping into the ruling APC of President Buhari. And Buhari is a human being, he must be cautious in everything he does in managing these plethora of persons and interest so as not to make mistake. No past president in the history of Nigeria has witnessed such a strong opposition like Buhari is currently facing. So he needs time. Know also that the APC is a conglomerate of politicians from different parties whose interest he must also accommodate. It is an explosive situation and challenge Buhari is facing. Lets give him time to do the right things for Nigerians.Do you support the sack of Service Chiefs?

Service Chiefs are your core pillars. It has never happened that an in-coming administration waited this long before sacking their Service Chiefs. They constitute your confidants. The Confidants of the previous administration cannot be the confidants of the new administration. No governor will allow a former Chief of Staff of the past administration a day extra in office. So the sack of the Service Chief by President Buhari is long overdue.

Should former President Jonathan be probed in view of the many allegations of financial impropriety leveled against him?

Probing should not be the top most priority of the Government now. I say so because there is so much work to be done. Probing cannot undo what has been done already. The government should concentrate on ameliorating the sufferings of the people. Fix our bad roads, provide stable electricity supply, fix the security challenges facing the country, address issues of unemployment, hunger, fuel scarcity and so on, while tackling corruption.

Nigeria is an accident country with so many bleeding patients. To save the situation you must provide a genuine first aid and this first aid is not probing the immediate past government. It should not be a priority of the government, though it is necessary, but it will not solve the problem of power, insecurity, jobs, hunger and so on. It is like spilled milk, it cannot be retrieved again wholly, so why waste your precious time. However, any persons found to have misappropriated government funds should be probed by the relevant authorities and brought to book.

What is your belief now that you are currently before the Election Petition Tribunal?

As a lawyer, I have submitted my rights to a court of competent jurisdiction, the Election Petition Tribunal and I believe God that as long as He lives, the truth will prevail. But let me say this, for the first time in the country, we are able to determine the number of persons accredited to vote, the number that voted and do the subtraction to get the difference, then the court will decide.


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