Pat Utomi, a professor of economics, has accused the former governor of Delta State, Emmanuel Uduaghan, of leaving behind a legacy of mismanagement and wastage in the state after his eight years administration.
“Undoubtedly, he knows that only few Deltans speak well of him and it is his pain to struggle with that reality,” Mr. Utomi said of Mr. Uduaghan, in a piece he wrote as a response to an earlier attack on his person by the former governor.
Mr. Uduaghan at a recent meeting of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Asaba, Delta State, mocked Mr. Utomi as having distinguished himself as someone with bogus ideas but with no frame of mind for execution.
“You people should ask Prof, where is the Silicon Valley?” Mr Uduaghan said to the PDP members at the meeting.
“He (Mr Utomi) took us to his home town, Ibusa, for the foundation laying ceremony of Silicon Valley, till date, there is nothing to show that the project has commenced.
“He has contested for the presidency. He now wants to be the governor. But I think he should start from his ward, he should contest for councillor,” the former governor said.
Mr. Utomi, who is from Delta State, said he was pleased that Mr. Uduaghan responded to his earlier comment on the poor state of finances in the state.
The exchange between him and the former governor, he said, could hopefully help raise the quality of public discussions and step up Nigeria’s democracy.
Mr. Utomi then went on to accuse Mr. Uduaghan of incurring “heavy debt burden” on the state.
“My comment on optimal debt-to-revenue ratios is verifiable and those who have the ability to do the math are all over the place.
“It was a comment made to draw attention to and prevent the worsening of a problem that is still on-going; because in spite of the bailout funds from the Federal Government, and the huge windfall from the Paris loan refunds which now stands at over N24 billion, the Delta State House of Assembly has approved over N18 billion as loans for the Okowa administration this year alone.
“In fact, a N13 billion plus loan request was recently made to the Delta State House of Assembly.
“Deltans need to be aware and decry this type of heavy debt burden, especially as there are no commensurate development projects or programmes on ground to justify it and to aid repayment in future.
“Governor Okowa was right to raise an alarm about the over N600 billion debt that he claimed to have inherited. He has however proceeded to increase this debt burden by over N60 billion of his own. This is only further mortgaging Delta state and the future of our children,” Mr Utomi said.
Mr. Utomi said his personal effort to bring technological development to the state was frustrated in the past by the state government which he said Mr. Uduaghan was part of.
On Mr. Uduaghan’s request that Mr Utomi show the Silicon Valley he (Mr. Utomi) brought to the state, the professor responded thus: “Uduaghan must note that some of the world’s most valuable companies today, including Google and Facebook started in Stanford dorms that went across to become a value-creating ecosystem with Venture Capitalists in place.
“We planned the same program for Illah, and if the government of Delta State has not sabotaged this laudable project, it would have today become a reputable ICT hub driven by a learning centre of post-graduate level, just like Stanford, creating thousands of jobs for Deltans.
“It is the kind of hub in Silicon Valley that makes the State of California the biggest economy in the United States of America; bigger than most countries in Europe and the world.
“Despite the sabotage, we still set up ‘Socket Works’, a pioneer e-Government service provider which created Nigeria’s new Passport, and partners with the Immigration Services till date.
“Also, I invited Uduaghan to do the ground-breaking of a Youth Centre to be built in Ibusa by an NGO that I founded called Centre for Values in Leadership (CVL), dedicated to the upliftment of the youth of Delta State for free.
“The location was in a developing area and Uduaghan as governor, pledged to tar the road in the next quarter. He publicly asked then Commissioner for Works, Mr Paul Osaji, to commence work immediately on this road that would have linked Ibusa and Okpanam. But the road remains a mirage till date.
“CVL has started constructing another model at a different location. This NGO is also currently executing Youth Entrepreneurship Programmes in all the three senatorial districts of Delta state valued at more than N800 million, and training 400 youths in four different centres: Ibusa, Agbor, Effurun and Ozoro.
“All the trainees completed the 2nd phase of the program last week with written exams. The 3rd phase of the one-year program will commence next month and it will focus more on the acquisition of sustainable skills and capacity. This specialist program would ordinarily cost millions per person at Lagos Business School but it is offered free, with free meals and daily transport allowances to support the participants.
“Even more troubling from the claims on attracting investment is the one related to an Agriculture Industrial Town. I brought a team of foreign investors to Asaba and Dr Uduaghan welcomed them, assuring speedy allocation of land.
“After two years of trips to Asaba that didn’t produce any result, we turned to Edo State and within months a C-of-O was ready. Several hundred millions of Naira investments have gone into this project already with additional billions pledged. As we speak, more than one hundred hectares of jungle has been cleared and is continuing. An Independent Power Plant (IPP) to power this ‘Produce City’ in Edo State has commenced activities and hundreds of millions of Naira in investments have also been committed. In 5 years there will be more than 20,000 quality jobs created in that location.”
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