Immediate past Commissioner for Information in Delta State, Mr Charles Aniagwu says smear campaigns against the immediate past Governor of the state, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa were being sponsored by individuals who have busied themselves with the struggle for the control of the resources of the state and have failed to perpetuate themselves in power.
At a news conference on Friday in Asaba, Aniagwu said that the campaigns of calumny against the former governor commenced in the build up to the 2023 Governorship election in the state.
He said that those castigating Okowa were those who lost out in the gubernatorial contest and were using every means to malign and impugne his reputation because he deployed the resources of the state to develop every sector of the state.
According to him, the genesis of what has now become a smear campaign against the person of the immediate past governor by individuals who have busied themselves with the struggle for the control of the resources of Delta.
“You will recall very well that ahead of the 2023 general elections, there were individuals that have their own candidates in the PDP. They tried as much as possible to see how they can sell their candidates which we consider as their democratic rights.
“We also reason that the management of the resources of the state and the sustenance of the accountability which Okowa introduced as part of his governance principle is something that is paramount so that at the end of the day, the great people of Delta State will have value for the resources that God has blessed us with beneath the soil of our dear state.
“In the course of the build up to the 2023 elections, Deltans converge particularly members of the PDP at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, they elected a candidate of their choice and at the end of the day overwhelmingly, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori won to become the candidate of the PDP and we all saw what followed.
“Individuals who are involved in this struggle who want to have a grasp of the resources of the state proceeded to the law court, went to the media invoking lots of campaign of calumny against the then Governor, Sen. Dr Ifeanyi Okowa and cast aspersions against the candidate of the Party (PDP) which is the present governor but Deltans knew where they are coming from just like they said “The Egyptians you see today, you will see them no more.”
He said the PDP transvered the length and breath of the 25 LGA of the State and Deltans put a seal on that nomination by the members of the PDP and overwhelmingly again 24 out of 25 LGA voted in acceptance of the Governor Sheriff Oborevwori even as he received appreciable votes from the other marginally won by the APC candidate.
“This individuals while they were members of the PDP proceeded to pitch tent with the APC, the opposition party in the state, that didn’t work out they went to the extent if you recall in the course of the election even try to ambush the results and some of the electoral officers in some of their local governments and that did not also give them the victory they are looking for because the victory is not in their direction.
“Now the election is won and lost, government is being formed, they have continued with the bitterness of losing that election rather than waiting for the next election which comes up in 2027 they have gone to court though it is within their democratic rights but rather than staying in the court, they went to the media to begin to tell lies which is totally at variance with the reality,” he added.
The former Commissioner said the Okowa administration expended over N2.6 trillion on capital projects across the 25 local government areas and the payment of salaries and running of government within eight years.
“Out of this amount, N1.4 trillion was spent on recurrent expenditure for salaries, overhead expenses and day-to-day running of government while N989 billion was spent on capital projects including over N50 billion so far spent on the Ughelli-Asaba dualisation project.
“During our administration, we embarked on adjustment of salaries to what we call the living wage and that of course meant that we had consequential adjustments which affected those on pensions taking our wage bill to as much as N10bn every month.
“If you calculate the wage bill alone for a period of 96 months that we held sway, we spent close to N900bn on the issue of salaries alone not to talk about overhead expenses as well as other cost of running government,” he said.
He further remarked that the Okowa administration restructured DESOPADEC to become more responsive to the people of oil bearing communities because of the introduction of good corporate governance in the interventionist agency.
“These individuals who during their time in the past were not able to bring commensurate development to their brothers and sisters in the oil bearing communities are now the ones alleging that we have shortchanged the oil bearing communities.
“The Okowa administration constructed a multi-billion naira floating market at Ogheye-Dimigun in Warri North as well as construction of the multi-billion Trans Warri Road and bridges; paved all the internal roads in Burutu town.
“Others include reconstruction of Utonlila and Oboghoro communities; internal roads in Burutu; Construction of Beneku bridge; Orere bridge; Agbarho-Orherhe bridge; bridge across River Ethiope at Obiaruku; construction of 20.29 km Obotobo 1 – Obotobo 11 – Sokebolou–Yokri Road in Ogulagha Kingdom in Burutu LGA as well as the main axial road at Okerenkoko among others.
“So, let them come and tell us which money they are looking for and we will show them the projects which had contributed in the improvement of the lives of our people.
“Okowa came and gave a good account of himself and by the grace of God, we have had a seamless transition with the emergence of Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori, a man who will continue with the same steps and of course do more to advance Delta.
They claimed Governor Okowa owns Jacedarl Hotel just as they alleged he owned a bank. Nothing can be further from the truth than that bogus claim.
Okowa came into office with a high dose of integrity and bowed out honourably with thousands of remarkable milestones in his trail,” Aniagwu stated.