The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Ovie Omo-Agege has said that the Export Processing Zone (EPZ) at Ogidigben, and the Maritime University at Okerenkoko, both in Warri South West Local Government Area (LGA) are critical to the development of the Niger Delta.
As the APC ward-to-ward campaign berthed in the LGA on Tuesday, Omo-Agege, who is also the Deputy Senate President, said that the EPZ, which was initiated by the President Goodluck Jonathan administration, has been abandoned because the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administration in the state, led by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has not made it its priority.
“You remember that when the project started under the administration of former President Jonathan, former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan showed interest. Uduaghan was very much interested in the EPZ when he was governor. But since he left office, and Okowa took over, the project has been abandoned. When I become governor, I will consult Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu as President. We’ll liaise with oil companies. This EPZ must become a reality”.
Omo-Agege lambasted Okowa/PDP for insensitivity to the plight of the people of Warri South West, pointing out that their “hatred” for the LGA has blinded them to the immense opportunities that the EPZ brings to both the state and the region.
He pledged to liaise with the in-coming Tinubu presidency to bring development to the area. According to him, the LGA had contributed massively to the development of Nigeria, and it is only fair to reciprocate by ringing in concrete and tangible benefits.
He promised to work with the relevant authorities to ensure that the oil companies operating in the state return their headquarters to the oil producing areas.
“Before I came here, I listened to my brother, Alex Eyengho, demanding that we force the oil companies to return to the area. When Tinubu becomes President, we will ensure that all the oil companies that left come back”, the governorship candidate said.
He said that he has the assurance of Tinubu that the Delta ports, which were once the live wire of the local economy would function again, adding: “This will create the enabling environment for businesses to thrive. Tinubu has assured me that once he becomes President, NPA (Nigerian Ports Authority) will work again. Our ports in Koko, Warri and Burutu will work again. There will be plenty of jobs for our children”.
He praised APC chieftain, Chief Ayiri Emami, for investing in the area in spite of daunting odds, pointing out that with its scenic beauty, the waterways and natural beaches of the area are natural tourist attractions.
Earlier at the town hall meeting with the community elders, opinion leaders, women leaders, youth leaders and student leaders, the APC flag bearer said that “my coming here today has the full approval of His Royal Majesty, Ogiame Atuwatse III, when I consulted with him and made known my intention to contest the governorship seat. I am therefore standing before you to present myself and my team of other contestants so you can vote for us next year to make the desired impact and move this state forward.
“On my way to the venue of this meeting today, I took time to look at the community closely and observed that apart from Chevron that operates in this area and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), especially when my younger brother here, Tuoyo Omatsuli, was a Director there and brought so much development to this place, nothing has been seen of the impact of the state government”.
“The PDP had been in government for a long while and it is very sad that a government that made so much in revenue from a particular area cannot provide anything for the people as dividends for the gas and oil explored on their land all these years. These are some of the injustices we intend to correct as a party and that’s why we are here today.
“I want to assure you all today that with the APC five-over-five team of President, Governor, Senator, House of Representatives and State Assembly members that will be sworn by as from next year by God’s grace, all these issues will be addressed”
“And with the resuscitation of the abandoned EPZ project, we are convinced that the issue of unemployment among the teeming able bodied youths both from the state and outside would be reduced. It would also boost the revenue base of the state”.
At the venue of the rally at the Ugborodo playground, the APC Delta South Senatorial Chairman, Mr Austin Oribioye emphasised the need for the people to vote the party’s candidates across board.
In his own speech, the APC candidate for House of Representatives for the Warri Federal constituency, Mr Emmanuel Ekpoto Ekpoto assured of the party’s determination to make the oil rich city of Warri great again.
The APC Delta South Senatorial candidate, Mr Joel Onowakpo noted that the change Deltans crave cannot come at a better than this, and urged the people not to allow the opposition PDP to continue their deception because they have nothing to offer.
“We have had enough of PDP deception in Delta State. They have ruled us for almost 24 years and we have seen little or nothing of their impact in terms of development. It’s time we give this new set of APC candidates a chance to prove their worth come next year”, he declared.
Former Executive Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, who is also the chief host of the Ugborodo campaign rally, Engr. Tuoyo Omatsuli said that since change remains the only constant in life, the people should be ready to embrace change from PDP to APC and urged them to remain focused.
In his remarks, Ayiri said that he is quite familiar with the PDP rigging machine in the state, and is determined to ensure that it does not happen again. “I know all about the rigging process in PDP in the state. We know how we allocated figures in the time past but here I am today a Chieftain of the APC. Please, I am appealing to you all that you should not allow the manipulation of PDP continue in the state. Some of their candidates are used to coming at night. When they come this time around, don’t let them deceive you”, he admonished.
Omo Agege clarified the issues around the relocation of the headquarters of oil companies to their operational bases as demanded by the Ugborodo community elders, noting that it was jointly passed by the Senate and House of Representatives, and that he had raised the issue on the floor of the Senate.
While promising to revisit it, he expressed optimism that, with Tinubu as President and himself as governor, the National Assembly resolution would be fully implemented.
Earlier, the APC governorship candidate and his team had a brief stop over at the palace of the paramount ruler of Gbaramatu Kingdom, HRM Oboro Gbaraun II Aketekpe (Agadagba) to intimate him of the plan to hold a rally in his domain.
The royal father prayed for his success and that of his team in the forthcoming election. He said that, as the custodian of people’s’ tradition and rulers of kingdoms, the traditional rulers can influence the outcomes of elections in their domains by either requesting or directing their subjects on who to vote but that they have chosen to remain neutral in the interest of the democratic process.
At the Okerenkoko rally, APC chieftain, Chief Michael Johnny demanded that with its endowments, the community deserves special attention of the APC government. He recalled how not long ago, security forces raided Okerenkoko and destroyed buildings and other structures. He therefore demanded that the incoming state government build a 1000 unit housing project as a compensation to the community.
Johnny also demanded a befitting permanent site for the Maritime University, Okerenkoko, and that its enabling law be enacted. He complained that the community’s floating dockyard was spirited away by the Federal Ministry of Transportation, under the then leadership of Rotimi Amaechi, and demanded its return.
In his response, Omo-Agege said that the university is not only strategic to the development of the state, but also strategic to the Niger Delta. He clarified that its enabling law, especially the issues of funding, have been virtually concluded, and that hopefully, it would receive Presidential assent soon.