By Nelson Egware
Delta State, with the sobriquet The Big Heart of the nation became 30 years on August 27, 2021 after its creation by the military President, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, on August 27, 1991.
The government and people of the state lined up programmes to celebrate the anniversary and appreciate the grace of God on the affairs of the state. It is also an opportunity to celebrate the accommodating nature of its people and the potential within the state.
Thirty years is a landmark no doubt. This explains why the anniversary has become so imperative and exciting. Besides, Delta State has played greater role in the development of Nigeria. For the people of the Niger Delta, it has served as an economic strength in entertainment and holiday destination, apart from being home to some of the greatest Nigerians, dead or alive.
Delta has grown in population and infrastructural development. Areas that used to be regarded as rural communities have been urbanised with growing infrastructure, which has transformed them into cities. Through the years, Delta has become a great state with cosmopolitan cities like Asaba and Warri, which are household names across the country.
In addition to serving as the gateway for the people of the South Eastern part of Nigeria, because of its airport and link road through the Niger bridge, the state has become a safe haven for all.
For instance, during Chief James Ibori’s administration from 1999 to 2007, a lot of major infrastructures were constructed, including the famous Bomadi Bridge, Aboh Bridge and Omadino Bridge.
Aside bridges, other roads like the dualisation of Jakpa Road in Warri, Nnebisi Road in Asaba, Oghara Township Road and Oleh-Irri-Oyede- Bethel-Ada-Ivrogbor Road in Isoko South and Isoko North Local Government Areas among others, were constructed by the administration.
Between 2007 and 2015 Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan held sway and he also contributed his quota to the development of the state and also gave attention to road infrastructure. He constructed the Olomu Bridge in Ughelli South, Abigborodo Bridge in Warri North, two flyovers in Effurun and Asaba among others. The Uduaghan administration also embarked on the Ughelli-Asaba dualisation project.
It completed the dualisation Refinery Road in Effurun, Deco Road in Warri among others. In 2015, the incumbent Governor, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, became the third civilian governor of the state from 1999.
The Okowa administration has constructed no fewer than 1,500 kilometres of road and over 1,000 kilometers of line drainages, including the famous Storm Water drainage projects to tackle flooding in Asaba, Okpanam and the Warri-Effurun axis.
Nick-named “The Road Master” in recognition of his outstanding accomplishments in road construction across the State, Okowa further embarked on the construction of many city roads, including Kefas Road in Oleh, Old Ozoro-Oleh Road in Isoko North and South local government areas.
From Asaba to Ughelli, Akugbene to Agbor, Okpanam to Orerokpe, Warri to Irri, Issele Uku to Iselegu, Idumuje-Unor to Idjerhe, Ogume to Ogulagha, Oleh to Odimodi, Koko to Kokodiagbene, the Okowa administration has made great impact in urbanisation, rural integration and the provision of quality roads and bridges for the people.
From Asaba, the capital city to other places in the area, Okowa has built circles of roads and mega drainage systems to address the critical infrastructural deficiency in the zone. With Cable Point dual carriageway, Okpanam Road, Mariam Babangida Way and the intractable DLA Road delivered, residents of Asaba now have routes to beat the perennial gridlock of the key access way – Nnebisi Road.
In addition, a multi-billion naira Storm Water drainage project has saved most residents of the capital city from dangerous flooding, which had been an annual feature before the Okowa administration tackled it headlong and gave the people a sigh of relief.
To mark the third anniversary of his administration in office, Governor Okowa inaugurated the rehabilitated Issele-Uku/ Issele-Mkpitime/Onicha-Olona road, Phase I of Issele-Uku/Onicha-Uku/Ugbodu/Ukwu- Nzu/Obomkpa/Idumu-Ogo Road, rehabilitated Issele-Uku/Onicha-Ugbo Road, and Phase I of Onicha-Ugbo/Ubulu-Uku Road, Idumuje-Unor Road, all in Aniocha North Local Government Area.
The Ughelli–Asaba dualisation project has recorded tremendous progress, especially from the Sector C1 and Sector C2 axis from Asaba to Olloa-Ossisa.
The Kwale-Ogume- Obiaruku Roads developed by the Okowa administration also brought respite to the people of the area, just like the construction of Ekete main Road, off DSC Expressway, rehabilitation of Ekreravwe/Orhoakpor/ Isiokolo Road, Abraka Township roads Phase 1, including the 8.5km Ughelli-Afiesere- Ofuoma Road in the heart of Delta central have all brought joy and development to the various impacted communities.
The people of Irri, Oleh, Ozoro, Iyede, Emede, Owhelogbo, Ellu, Ofagbe, Ikpide- Irri all in Isoko North and Isoko South and Ughelli, Amekpa, Afiesere, Ofuoma, Oteri, Abraka, Orerokpe, and several other communities in Delta Central and Delta South all have good stories to tell of Okowa’s foot-prints in road construction. The Okowa administration exhibited greater courage in the construction of roads in the riverside of the state.
According to the governor, the coastal Delta contributes largely to the production of oil which is the economic mainstay of the nation and therefore deserves all the infrastructure being enjoyed in the uplands. With this philosophy in mind, Governor Okowa ensured that all roads in Burutu Town were entirely paved to give the people a new lease of life.
The Main Axial Road and Okerenkoko Township roads, Asphalt Overlay of the 19.7km Obotobo 1–Obotobo11– Sokebolou–Yokori road; 10.8km Okpare-Umolo-Ovwodokpor-Kiagbodo road among numerous others; A 25.8 kilometers Trans Warri-Ode-Itsekiri with 19 bridges and access road project, which is under construction.
Aside road construction, the governor has also completed several bridges including Ovwor-Olomu-Effurun-Otor Bridge linking the age long communities in Ughelli South and also the Agbarho Orhere Bridge and access road to Otokutu in Ughelli North and Ughelli South and also the Oha Bridge along the old Oha-Orerokpe Road in Okpe Local Government Area.
To give a new lease of life to the people of the oil rich Benekuku, Okpai and other communities along the creeks of Ndokwa East a breath of life, the Okowa administration is constructing a massive bridge across the Ase creek to connect the riverine communities with the upland of Kwale in Ndokwa West Local Government Area.
Inspecting the project recently, Governor Okowa noted that the oil companies operating in the area should have constructed the bridge long ago but he took the gauntlet to ameliorate the sufferings of the people.
As Delta rolls out the drums to celebrate three decades of its existence, it is worthy of note to say that indeed it has been 30 good years of great impact in road infrastructure from Ibori to Uduaghan and to the incumbent Governor Okowa.
Although Deltans are not where they ought to be, there is palpable and visible sign they are no more where we used to be and this celebration affords the government and the people the opportunity to take stock and chart a new beginning as another 30 years beckons in the future