Amaechi vs. Orubebe: Niger Delta Ministry or Niger Delta Misery? By Odimegwu Onwumere

In Okogbe village of Ahoada West Local Government Area of Rivers State, something catastrophic happened on Thursday 12th July, 2012. A petrol tanker carrying fuel damaged and fell and fire later gutted and killed and injured over two hundred people who came to scoop the fuel it was carrying. This happened on the East-West Road. Nigerians were thrown into mourning. President Goodluck Jonathan wept and sent in his condolences and rejuvenated his promise of his administration to tackling the never-ending road re-construction that has lasted for years on the East-West Road.

That was not the first the pit-of-hell called East-West Road had sent people to their untimely death. Based on this, it’s not out of place if Governor Chibuike Amaechi had called on the Federal Government to do something about the danger of East-West Road. And for Peter Godsday Orubebe of the Federal Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to cast venom on Amaechi for this admonishment is not only myopic but also drivel.

For the records, expectations were high when the Niger Delta Ministry was announced by late President Umaru Yar’Adua on 10 September 2008. The talk in the streets was that the ministry would see to the development of Niger Delta area, which was ravaged by angry youths who were fighting the government against the under-development of the region. Yar’Adua’s vision for establishing the ministry was for the ministry to harmonize and spearhead efforts to tackle the challenges of infrastructural development, environment protection and youth empowerment in the Niger Delta. When Yar’Adua suffered chronic ill health and Acting President Goodluck Jonathan announced his new cabinet, Peter Godsday Orubebe was appointed Minister of Niger Delta on 6 April 2010.

Although, Orubebe is not the first Minister of the Niger Delta Ministry, but nothing has even improved under his leadership of the ministry four years after its creation. Projects to improve roads, build skills acquisition centers and improve water and electricity supplies were far behind how they had been celebrated in the media, upon the outrageous amounts of money, which had been budgeted and spent for projects correlated to waterfront development including dredging and port development. Not even the ministry’s promise to complete the existing projects (like the East-West Road) rather than starting new ones had held water. So, it was not out of place if anyone had said that there was a large gap between Federal Government promises and amounts released to the Niger Delta Ministry.

Is it not time the Federal Government should saved Nigerians the confusion of this Niger Delta Ministry? What Nigerians hear were the funds received by this ministry but not released funds to the works they were meant for. It is therefore not gainsaying the fact that the ministry is wasteful. Who is fooling who? The Federal Government or was it the Niger Deltans do not want people from other regions to head the ministry, and the sons of the Niger Delta who have been heading the ministry, have not improved the lots of the region. Not even now that Nigeria has got a president from the Niger Delta region had anything changed and improved in the region.

What the Niger Deltans hear are Nigerians from other tribes being awarded with oil blocks from the Niger Delta and the region is left to its battered fate. So, it is shameful when Orubebe began to attack Amaechi’s gospel truth in pretence of defending Jonathan. What Orubebe has succeeded in exposing himself to is that he is a stooge to Jonathan and wants to attract favour from Jonathan by verbally attacking Amaechi. Can Orubebe tell the world that there are no so many abandoned projects by his ministry in the Niger Delta?

Orubebe’s lackadaisical approach to handling his office has shown the extent of irresponsibility of some Nigerians. Has he ever taken time to do a research that will affect the Niger Delta for good or commending and brainstorming on the way forward? But Amaechi has done, and instead of Orubebe thanking Amaechi, he was rather speaking with foams on lips. To be frank, in estimation, Amaechi has done more in the Rivers State than Orubebe has done in any village in the Niger Delta. The greatest hypocrite is that Orubebe is taking Jonathan as a cover. Did you say corruption at all level in Nigeria? When would the Niger Deltans make the Niger Delta Ministry to be accountable? Amaechi has started, and Orubebe is crying foul.

Without gainsaying, what the people of the Niger Delta are managing in the Niger Delta Ministry is official dishonesty, unfortunately. Can this effort be commended? And the president is not looking for the rescue of the people since there is a Ministry of Niger Delta affairs? Hooey!

If Orubebe is fighting Amaechi for saying the gospel truth, he should not fail to understand that he is waging a war against an average Niger Deltan. Can Godsday Orubebe give answer to the following questions? In 2009, it was reported that several Billions was allocated to Skill Acquisition Centres by the Ministry as chain-figures. N2.7 Billion was in 2009 Budget as a line item. There was also another allocation of N200 Million for a Skill Acquisition Centre in Akoko-Edo in Edo StateN127 Million Mosogar Skill Acquisition Centre, N200 Million for Oguta, Imo State, and N300 Million for Ikwerre in Rivers State, N800 Million for Technology Centre in Eleme Local Government Area, excluding design and prototype which was allocated N50 Million that year. So, how were these monies judiciously used?

If Orubebe would say that he was not in the ministry as at the time in question, can he tell Niger Deltans what happened in 2010, when accounts were that a lumped sum of N8.7 Billion for the same Skill Acquisition Centres was proposed. In the news reports, by 2011, another N2.5 Billion

was allocated for the same set of Skill Acquisition Projects, with N5 Billion also projected for the same projects in 2012. Cumulatively, about N11 Billion was to be expended on this set of projects if the allocation for 2012 was allowed. So, how come?

It is obvious that the Niger Delta Ministry award contracts to incompetent companies to do its works, which would not be completed after awarding them. What happened to the 21.9 Kilometres Ekparakwa-Ukanafun-Ikot Ubo-Aba Road which accounts said that was allocated N500 Million in 2009, N975 Million in 2010, N10 Million in 2011 with another N900 Million projected for this same road in the 2012 Budget? What about the Omelema- Agada Road in Rivers State which accounts said that was allocated N100 Million in 2009, N975 Million in 2010, and N200 Million in 2011, with another N900 Million for same road in the 2012 proposal?

Can Orubebe tell Niger Deltans what happened to the Land Reclamation/Shore Protection in Kurutie Community in Gbaramantu Clan Warri South West, Delta State, Efiat Community in Mbo Local Government of Akwa Ibom State and Ikuru Town in Rivers State which accounts said that was allocated N1 Billion in 2009? This same project and budget line were also said got N2.4 Billion in 2010, N10 Million in 2011; with another projection of N411 Million for these same line projects in 2012. We can go on and on!

Can Orubebe show Niger Deltans one single project it has done in the Niger Delta? Amaechi had asked the same question. It is dangerous for Orubebe to disguise as a minster whereas his people are suffering. Before Orubebe calls Amaechi names, can he tell the world between NDDC and the Niger Delta Ministry, which of these agencies actually spent the reportedly money on the Ekeremor Shoreline Protection in Bayelsa State? Observers said that NDDC has budgeted N3 Billion as the rolling cost for this project, out of this, N450 Million was approved in 2010 and N150 Million in 2011; at the same time, the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs was reportedly budgeted N390 Million for same project in 2010, N10 Million in 2011 and was projecting another N25 Million for the project in their 2012 Budget proposal. Was the Twon- Brass Land Reclaimation and Shore Protection not allocated N97 Million in 2010 by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, N10 Million in 2011 with a projection of N28 Million in 2012?

In a nutshell, Orubebe should consider resigning his position in the Niger Delta Ministry as Amaechi has directed to him. He cannot continue to distract the good people of the Niger Delta with his bunkum fight of Amaechi. People had thought that Orubebe was a Pastor, but can the most awful and lucid forms of corruption not found in the Niger Delta Ministry? Leadership is not about giving excuse all the time, but showing execution of works.

Odimegwu Onwumere, Poet/Author, Media/Writing Consultant and Motivator, is the Coordinator , Concerned Non-Indigenes In Rivers State (CONIRIV); and Founder, Poet Against Child Abuse (PACA), Rivers State, Nigeria