ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, DISTINGUISHED SENATOR OVIE OMO-AGEGE, CFR; DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE AND DELTA STATE APC GOVERNORSHIP CANDIDATE, AT THE WORLD PRESS CONFERENCE TO UNVEIL THE CANDIDATE AND MANIFESTO. ASABA, THURSDAY 17th NOVEMBER, 2022
Gentlemen of the Press,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen!
Let me begin by, once again, commending the members of our great Party, the All Progressives Congress – APC, for finding me worthy to fly the party’s flag for the 2023 governorship election in Delta State.
2. Today, I am formally presenting myself to you as the Governorship candidate of the APC and also the bearer of the hopes and aspirations of all Deltans. We will also be sharing with you our policy document that will form our plan to band together to build a vibrant, equitable and prosperous Delta State, based on core moral values of service, hard work and shared sacrifice, where everyone has the opportunity to achieve his or her full potential.
3. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I entered this race, because I am deeply dissatisfied with the state of affairs in Delta State. This event, therefore, marks the beginning of a historic journey, which I have committed into the hands of the Almighty God for direction, strength, guidance and wisdom. It is a journey for the good of the generality of the people of Delta State.
4. My aspiration is beyond the ordinary quest for power, rather, it is a movement to liberate, rebuild and reinvigorate our dear State, which ought to be the leading light of the Niger Delta region, and indeed, Nigeria. I am certainly concerned that our dear State has been left behind on key development indices despite the huge sums of money that flow into the State from the Federation Account and 13 percent derivation along with internally generated revenue by way of the various taxes and rates that our hard-working people pay. By the records of the Debt Management Office, Delta State also has the second-highest debt portfolio in the country. This is certainly unacceptable. Ours is, therefore, a movement to restore and revive a State that had been misgoverned and rapaciously pillaged by those whom we had entrusted with leadership.
5. Ladies and gentlemen, I am Barrister Ovie Omo-Agege, the Obarisi of Urhobo land. I am an alumnus of the Faculty of Law, University of Benin, and Solicitor and Advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria having been called to the Nigerian Bar in 1986. I am also a Solicitor and Advocate of the United States Supreme Court having been admitted to the Bar of the State of California in 1992, where I remain a member in good standing. In 1993, I established the Law Firm of Agege & Esin in California, in partnership with my dear wife, Barr. Rosemary Iman Esin, a US-trained attorney. I obtained a Master of Laws degree with distinction from Tulane University Law School, New Orleans, USA, in 2002.
6. I joined partisan politics in 2002 and unsuccessfully aspired to represent my people in the House of Representatives. In 2003, I was appointed Executive Assistant to the Governor of Delta State and in 2005, Commissioner for Special Duties. In 2007, I became the Secretary to the Delta State Government. Having served as Commissioner, Secretary to government, senator, and currently, as Deputy Senate President, I am privileged to have an extensive understanding of the issues of governance. It is these experiences I bring to bear on my plans for Delta State.
7. I have worked with one of the best team of experts to come up with realistic policies and plans, which when implemented will get Delta State going in the right direction again. I believe in setting goals and coming up with realistic plans and policies to achieve those goals. Our manifesto is therefore a product of profound thought based on my practical experience both in the Executive and Legislative arms of government.
8. Ladies and gentlemen, we have come up with a 60-Page Manifesto anchored on the EDGE to Build a New Delta (BAND). EDGE covers critical areas of governance that would drive our agenda when elected governor in 2023.
9. The manifesto is our Vision and Mission; It captures our EDGE Agenda which breaks down as: E for Employment and Empowerment; D for Development (Economic, Infrastructural and Industrial); G for Good Governance, and E for Enduring Peace and Security.
10. The EDGE agenda sums up our people’s hopes and aspirations for economic stability, sustainable employment, security, access to modern public infrastructure, solid institutions, and a clean environment. It is strategically organized to make ours a model state and a leading centre of excellence. With EDGE, we bring credibility, efficiency and trust back to governance. It is the ultimate paradigm shift to reform our public service, cut the cost of governance, eliminate waste, and deny corruption and other crimes comfort and safety in our governance architecture. EDGE agenda is our firm promise and its success is non-negotiable.
11. Ladies and gentlemen, our vision for a New Delta is driven by the desire to arrest receding hope among Deltans and build a State where the people’s future is brighter than their past. We are aware that our people are seriously worried about the unemployment indices, which are heading skywards as evidenced by the high percentage of our youths roaming the streets for jobs that do not exist, but certainly can be created if we have a government that fosters the right synergy with the private sector to boost employment.
12. I will address our scary unemployment rate by giving priority to public investment in agriculture and tech-driven entrepreneurship. My plan as stated in our manifesto will change the commercial ecosystem of the State and create an investment-friendly charter that makes access to funds and infrastructure a natural way of life. Human capital development, agriculture, tourism, infrastructure, housing and other labour-intensive interventions will be at the core of our agenda.
13. We shall establish a Delta State Employment, Entrepreneurship and Empowerment Programme (DEEP), and facilitate the establishment of cluster industries in each of the twenty-five Local Government Areas of our State. We will deliberately create an enabling environment for industries and manufacturing; establish tech hubs, set up small business loan guarantee schemes, promote skills acquisition and set up a Career Development Centre for Deltans.
14. As part of our plans to promote ease of doing business, we will undertake institutional and process reviews, remove red tape and bureaucratic bottlenecks, improve infrastructure, and re-engineer our peace and security strategies while establishing a one-stop repository of business knowledge and information. We will guarantee the rights of women and invest their unique energy to drive social and economic development in the state. We will initiate a youth development program that moves them away from the hopelessness of today, connect them to creative endeavours and generate energy for honourable work.
15. We will make aggressive investments in modern infrastructure capable of opening up the total economic energies of our people, we will lift the State out of a mono-economic dependency by launching diversification into tech and business incubation. We are deeply committed to the cause of changing the current development path of our State. However, we cannot do it without the support and cooperation of our people. Democracy and development thrive on a watchful and active citizenry who should hold us accountable every step of the way.
16. Ladies and Gentlemen, let me emphasize that we are not in this journey for ourselves but to assist in charting a new direction for our dear State and its people. This is a call to service and we solemnly pledge to run an open and inclusive government that consults and puts the people first all the time.
18. Never in history have we faced such difficult times in our state. Beyond politics and political party affiliation, we all know that with the enormous resources and competence of Deltans all over the world, our state is not where it ought to be. Under the PDP, and especially in the last seven years, the problems of Delta State have been squarely rooted in bad leadership, misplaced priorities, pervasive incompetence, and even corruption. The offer of PDP in the 2023 gubernatorial elections in the person of Rt. Hon. Sheriff Francis Oborevwori is a bad one for Delta State, because it exemplifies incompetence, bad judgement and everything that went wrong in the past seven years.
19. Delta State deserves better. We must reject leaders who will not be independent of Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa and the cabal that brought us to this sorry pass. For Deltans to get out of these problems and return to a path of economic prosperity, there must be change that offers progress beyond mere promises. With my record of public service, my candidacy represents and offers that change.
20. If you make an objective assessment of every village, town, city, and local government area in Delta State, including the riverine areas, you will come to the sad conclusion that the state is lagging behind in every index of socio-economic development and economic prosperity. Okowa’s government alone has swallowed up well over N2.8 trillion in seven years. We are all Deltans here. Do you see anything on ground that is commensurate with that receipt?
21. There is poverty and profound infrastructural dilapidation from Asaba to Warri and environs, Ughelli to Udu, Sapele to Effurun, Koko to Oghara, Agbor to Ukwani, Ndokwa to Abraka, and other areas of the State. The PDP government has abandoned the riverine areas of the State to their own devices. When compared to other states in the Niger Delta with similar FAAC and IGR revenues, Delta is beset by poor or non existent infrastructure. Even the few projects that exist are poorly executed. The net effect is that the state looks like a giant junkyard. Most of the roads and structures purportedly executed by the Okowa government in the last seven years have failed and, in many instances, outrightly collapsed.
22. Many such failed projects that litter the State are being recycled and re-awarded to cronies without a visionary and credible plan for sustainable infrastructural development. Recent examples include the back to back collapse and fire in sections of the Stephen Keshi stadium, Asaba, that for the grace of God, could have killed several Deltans; the dilapidated and failing Effurun roundabout flyover, the derelict Warri township stadium and scores of road projects across the State, just to mention but a few.
23. Gentlemen of the Press, while other States in the Niger Delta and elsewhere are celebrating shiny milestones in infrastructural development, human capacity development, healthcare, education, sustainable economic development, good governance, and improved institutions, the people of Delta State are shell-shocked; benumbed by the sheer audacity of Okowa and his co-travellers as they daily bring the state to its knees. Even sadder is fact that the governor has been going around borrowing with reckless abandon, making the State one of the most indebted in Nigeria even with its monumental FAAC allocation and 13% derivation revenue as an oil producing State.
24. Today, there are strong reasons to believe that monies meant for the development of Delta State are now being channeled to fund the ill fated ambition of Governor Okowa to become Vice-President of Nigeria in 2023 by every means. Just go around the State. The poverty and frustration inflicted by this government on Deltans over the years are palpable and scary. Insecurity, low quality projects, lack of vision to revive the economy of the State, misplaced priorities in governance, corruption, nepotism, government waste, incompetence, and lack of accountability are pervasive and profound.
25. The PDP government has no clear ideas to create programs and promote policies that support innovation and entrepreneurship. Our working class, our women, and youths are cast adrift without as much as even a paddle. And in the 21st century, life remains nasty, brutish and short for many Deltans.
26. We surely can do better than our label as the “Keke” capital of Nigeria because of what this government has done, and even more, failed to do. The new slogan today is “see Delta and cry”-from Delta North to South and Central, tears come to your eyes. We have now come to that time in the history of Delta State, when all Deltans must rise in one accord and boldly declare that enough is enough by voting for the APC.
27. The handpicked PDP candidate Rt. Hon. Sheriff Francis Oborevwori is a mere clone of Okowa, because like his master, his middle name is incompetence. By his background, or the lack thereof; and public record, or the lack thereof, the PDP candidate would be a human disaster in Government House. His nomination, championed by an inept and corrupt PDP administration, is an insult to the sensibilities of Deltans. Delta State should not leave its destiny in the hands of a man who has no mind of his own and will continue to be Okowa’s stooge even as governor.
28. Our main opponent would represent a third term for a failed governor who ran out of ideas to develop the State. We call on all Deltans and men of goodwill to reject this imposition by Governor Okowa. Delta State belongs to all Deltans, and we must all join hands to take it back.
29. To kick start the real development of the State, our administration will focus on massive industrialization through agricultural and integrated rural development, facilitating the establishment of food processing industries, industrial estates, transportation, including land, air, sea, and marine; promote free and compulsory basic education, free primary health care, development and expansion of educational opportunities for Deltans from primary to tertiary level, urban renewal and regeneration that will focus primarily on cities like Asaba, Warri, Ughelli, Sapele, Agbor, Kwale and the riverine areas of the State, including Burutu, Oleh, Ozoro and others. Our government will promote innovation by investing in information and communication technology as a way of modernizing and simplifying government operations.
30. We shall develop and strengthen existing government institutions to promote effective, open, and transparent governance where every Deltan can participate and hold their leaders accountable, reform local government administration to bring government and political participation closer to the people, reduce the cost of governance and redeploy resources to development programs, reform and modernize the legislature, judiciary, and other government institutions and bring them in line with international best practices.
31. Under our government, the era of judges and other relevant government officials having to take records manually will be a thing of the past. Our administration will invest in the appropriate ICT infrastructure to safeguard and modernize government operations and expand access to internet services. Government officials at all levels will be mandated to utilize electronic means of communication in carrying out government business.
32. Ladies and gentlemen, the cumulative effect of these social economic reforms, will reduce the real cost of governance and make it easier for Deltans to access programs and contribute to policy formulation directly or through their elected representatives. We pledge that our government will be transparent, accountable, and ethical. It will not be business as usual.
33. This failed PDP government has no solid plan to address the insecurity situation in the State. If elected, our government will tackle the challenges of insecurity from day one. Our administration will create a security trust fund, facilitate, and equip community policing for every ward, village, and town in Delta State. We will create a system to build security awareness and confidence in our communities for intelligence gathering and sharing at various levels. There will be a revitalized and strengthened State Security Council that will assist in the coordination of law and order. To ensure security in our communities, our government will partner with traditional institutions and community-based youth organizations to ensure and promote communal conflict resolution. We believe that the development we desire for Delta State can only take place when there is peace and enduring security.
34. Delta State and our government will benefit more if we also elect an APC federal government. An APC led federal government will partner better with an APC government in Delta State. Our plans to revive the ports in Warri, Koko and Burutu to boost the economic transformation of Delta State will be better enhanced by an APC led federal government. We will be able to attract other federal projects and influence policies favorable to Delta State in an APC led federal government with Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as Commander-in-Chief. Therefore, we call on all Deltans to vote massively for Bola Ahmed Tinubu as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as well as all other APC candidates across board.
35. Fellow Deltans, ladies and gentlemen, our goal is to build a vibrant, well governed, equitable, and prosperous Delta State that puts our people first. Deltans deserve better. Enough is enough!
36. Thank you for your time and kind attention. May God bless us all! May God bless Delta State!! May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!!!
HE Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (CFR)
The Obarisi of Urhoboland
Deputy President of the Senate and Delta State APC Governorship
17th November, 2022