Economic expert, Prof. Pat Utomi has criticised Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, the immediate past governor of Delta State.
Utomi, who had served as a Secretary of the State Government, said Uduaghan and some ‘elements’ in previous governments sabotaged his efforts to contribute to the development of the state.
The economist and Uduaghan have been known rivals who at any chance to speak publicly on issues concerning the State would slam each other.
The former governor had, in an earlier reaction to a berating statement made by Utomi, advised him (Utomi) to contest the post of councillor in his ward, instead of aiming to be the next governor.
Reacting to this, Utomi, in a statement made available to Punch on Sunday, July 23, accused Uduaghan of misappropriating billions of Naira of Delta State’s funds.
He dared the ex-governor to render an account of his stewardship including the abandoned Independent Power Project in Oghara that gulped over N20 billion.
Utomi said there is nothing to show for the power project.
He said, “While I agree with the former governor that our conversations of today should focus more on the future than the past, we must recognise that the damage done to Delta State by the mismanagement of its finances and resources still plague the state as we speak. Uduaghan’s legacy is a sad reflection of this awful chapter of our history.
“My comment on optimal debt-to-revenue ratios is verifiable and those who have the ability to do the mathematics are all over the place. It was a comment made to draw attention to and prevent the worsening of a problem that is still ongoing; 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 N24bn, the Delta State House of Assembly has approved over N18bn as loan for the Okowa administration this year alone. In fact, a N13bn 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 the ground to justify it and to aid repayment in future. Governor Okowa was right to raise an alarm about the over N600bn debt that he claimed to have inherited. He has however proceeded to increase this debt burden by over N60bn of his own. This is only further mortgaging Delta State and the future of our children.”
Utomi also refuted some allegations made against him by Uduaghan that he did not contribute to committees he was appointed to chair during his (Uduaghan) administration.
The former governor had also alleged that Utomi did not use his international and national connections to attract development to the state.
Utomi said, “A good councillor would have done much better for the people than Uduaghan did as governor.
There is extreme misuse of the opportunities available to Delta State. It will take a serious and truly capable government to vigorously tap its potential and create jobs for our teeming youths. This is one of the many reasons why I believe Delta State needs new political leadership in 2019. Deltans are not meant to suffer from the jeopardy of a clueless administration, especially at this critical phase of our existence.
“I would have imagined that Uduaghan will be very sober and saddened by his legacy of mismanagement and gross wastage that he left behind in Delta State. Trying to spin his poor record in the hope that Deltans would have forgotten so soon is a failed attempt to rewrite history. Undoubtedly, he knows that only few Deltans speak well of him and it is his pain to struggle with that reality.
“As he grapples with history, what is more important to Deltans today is how we can rectify the wrong policies, decisions and actions of the past, so that we can create a government that would not only meet the needs of our people today but guarantee a better life for successive generations.
“This is the task that I have offered to commit myself to between now and 2023. We are looking forward to 2019 with hope and renewed zeal for the beginning of a ‘New Delta’ teeming with opportunities and alive with possibilities.”
Utomi, like many other politicians and stakeholders alike, are embarking on subliminal and unofficial campaigns ahead of the 2019 political dispensation in the country.