The feud between immediate past governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, and renowned political economist, Prof. Pat Utomi, on Sunday worsened as the Lagos based economist, came hard on the former governor, saying Uduaghan left a sad legacy as governor of the state.
Utomi particularly accused the former governor and some ‘elements’ in previous governments where he also served as the Secretary of the State Government of sabotaging several efforts by him in the past to contribute to the development of the state.
Uduaghan, while reacting to an earlier statement made told the economist to contest the post of councillor in his ward, instead of aiming to be the next governor.
But making further clarification to comments in a press statement sent to our correspondent on Sunday, Utomi challenged the former governor to render account of his stewardship including the abandoned Independent Power Project in Oghara that gulped over N20bn under his administration with nothing to show for it seven years after.
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.”
He also debunked some allegations made by the former governor accusing him of abandoning and not contributing to committees he was appointed to chair during his administration and not using 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.”