Delta Beyond Oil Will Attract Investment, Create Industries And Increase Access To Wealth –Uduaghan

Being Text of remarks delivered by His Excellency, Governor Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan at the presentation of a book entitled: “ Delta Beyond Oil: A legacy of Sustainable Development” written by Mr. Sam Omatseye, organized by Nigeria Institute of Directors and launched at Eko Hotel, Lagos on 22nd of May 2015.

The author of this book is a close friend. He is also a Deltan and an outstanding person. He is a talented journalist. I respect his writing. It is incisive, witty and thoroughly well researched. Sam Omatseye is a gadfly, he provokes controversy and debate and his Monday back page column is a must read for me. I have met people who feel he is partisan, because the newspaper he works for is seen as a partisan organization. To me, he is not. I believe he is passionate about Nigeria and wants Nigeria to be great. I am also passionate about Nigeria and want Nigeria to be great. So you see it was not difficult for our paths to cross.
I want to also commend the Nigeria Institute of Directors (IOD) for the work you have done in encouraging sound business practices and quality corporate governance within the private sector.
Distinguish audience, I am here because Sam Omatseye undertook to do this work. I am happy he has finished it and is presenting this book to this audience and to the rest of Nigeria. He is supporting our effort in telling the Delta story. 4. I have not read this book but knowing Sam Omatseye’s diligence and competence, I am sure his effort captures some insights into what we are doing, which in a week’s time, will no longer be my responsibility. By writing a book on some of the initiatives we undertook, he is doing a great public service. This is a valuable book that would shape public discourse and policy direction and should preserve for history, the thinking behind the bold vision we have for Delta state.
I commend him most sincerely. No good book is an easy undertaking. I do also know that more books will be written on Delta state about my administration. On my part, I will also soon author a book on my own experiences. Nigeria has given me a lot; I owe it to the country to tell my own story and my experiences. I believe with multiple perspectives, we strengthen the depth of the insight we can share—ignorance is banished and knowledge is enhanced. For this reason, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, our nationalist leader was right in adopting for his newspaper, the West African pilot, the motto: “Show the light and the people will follow the way.”
Now the book’s title is: “Delta beyond oil: A legacy of Sustainable Development.” This is an interesting title which resonates with the lecture I gave 14 days ago at the University of Ibadan on, ‘Good Governance As Catalyst For Development in Nigeria, the Delta Experience.’ Similarity in the subject matter is not a coincidence. It should be expected. As part of countdown to my exit from office, demand for public accountability is normal. So, in today’s event it should not be out of place if I recall aspects of my Ibadan conversation.
Ladies and Gentlemen, our vision of Delta beyond oil is a remarkable one. We did not start the government thinking about Delta beyond oil as our rallying vision, but the content of our programme — our also famous three-point agenda of peace and security, human capital and infrastructure development, inevitably evolved into Delta beyond oil. I believe we have done the best we can under sometimes very challenging circumstances.
For the purpose of this book, I shall attempt to look at the conceptual definition of Sustainable development before delving into details of our programme and why we christened our vision, ‘Delta beyond oil’. Sustainable development is an economic approach that seeks to promote development without depleting natural resources. I think we did quite a bit of groundbreaking work in promoting initiatives that are related to this definition. For instance, we knew that poor management of our ecosystem services, our natural resources and the environment is responsible for climate change. We knew these things, we did not have to guess, we live in Niger Delta and we knew how much oil exploration and exploitation have done to damage our environment. Gas flare for instance. Not to speak of frequent oil spillages.
In combating climate change, we knew how much devastation is been done to the local economy of our people, who live with acid rain, whose agriculture activities, fishing and farming have been hurt with no one paying attention.
We knew that as a growing sub-national government, we needed to seek international collaboration and support because we suspect our voice may not be heard in isolation. In search of collaboration we were invited to be part of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California’s Global Governor’s summit on climate change, a group of Governors committed to combating climate change and promoting grass root, climate resilient initiatives.
We believe this made sense as it raised awareness about climate change and it enhanced our diversification strategy of building a Delta beyond oil, by in addition, to all other things we are doing, promote low carbon, climate resilient activities that increases the use of renewable energy, capitalizes our natural resources, protects public health and ensure environmental sustainability.
In other to further pursue green growth and combat climate change, working with Governor Schwarzenegger we launched an international non-profit organization, R20—Regions of climate Action. Some of the initiatives we have undertaken are: collaboration with UNDP to conduct Territorial Approach To Climate (TACC). TACC is a vulnerability study of climate change imparts. From this report, we have developed an action plan, the Integrated Territorial Climate Plan (ITCP) with recommended adaption and mitigation measures for the state.
I have also approved the setting up of Delta state Green Economy Commission (DSGEC). The DSGEC will be a cross-cutting body that works together with existing ministries to achieve a diversified green economy. The DSGEC will play a leading role in research, policy-setting, project implementation, investor relations and green economy training programmes. The bill setting up this Commission has been sent to the House and it is in the final stages of law making. When passed it will be first in Africa.
The foregoing are some of the steps we have taken and my comments on this are actually quite brief. I am sure details of our initiatives are captured in Sam Omatseye’s book. Beyond this, I believe the book is also intended to highlight broader programmes of my administration that are sustainable, after all the concept of Delta beyond oil is to have programmes that endure well into the future.
But before I get into details, I like to reflect briefly on the state of Nigeria today. Clearly, my party the PDP after May 29th shall become Nigeria’s main opposition party after 16 years as dominant party. Shocking as the defeat was, we have heard the message from the people. The people are the sovereign. And we have no choice than to respect their wishes. This is the beauty of democracy.
You know distinguish audience, the good thing about leaving office, is that you are not necessarily encumbered by the burdens of office. I can therefore, like Sam Omatseye, become a gadfly. Poking about, raising issues and drawing attention to issues, especially issues that people in power might not want to listen to. You know like speaking truth to power. Today, I am going to be doing just that. I shall be speaking truth to APC. They are now, or shall we say, soon be the power in Nigeria.
APC is going to take over a rebased economy and a country with different electoral map. Nigeria economy after the rebasing is the largest in Africa with a GDP of 522.64 billion USD. With a growth rate of 6.08%, Nigeria’s GDP value represents 0.84% of global economy. This is quite small. I think therefore the change APC wants to make should be their ability to double the size of Nigeria’s economy. Under current growth rate of 6.08% it will, by some estimates, take 11 years to accomplish. I don’t know how many Nigerians that will be patient for that to happen in 11 years. To create prosperity, APC must work hard to double the national growth rate and hence double the size of Nigeria’s economy at a shorter time. Otherwise, Nigerians are going to show APC the door in 2019. Here is why I said that.
Nigeria Bureau of statistics (NBS) estimates 24.6% unemployment level, which is 13.4 million of the 54.6 million active labour force that needs to find jobs. With 2.8% or 3.7 million job seekers entering the market yearly, there is the need to roughly create 12 million new jobs in the short term to absorb some of the unemployed and reduce the inflows. This bleak situation is not helped by a population growth of 3.2% with national population estimated to be 183 million, for instance in 20 years Nigeria’s population will be 213 million!
My point is that a combination of low wage economy, low growth rate, high unemployment, high population growth rate, is a recipe for disaster. This is the problem the APC will have to contend with. The situation is not helped by the falling prices of crude oil. Between June 2014 and March 2015, prices of crude oil declined by about 40%!
As it is, Nigeria as a country has to come to accept that oil prices are going to remain low for a long time to come. There is global oversupply. The US is energy independent. Thanks to hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and horizontal drilling technological advancement, the United States has ramped up shale production and is even storing excess oil for future use. US domestic oil inventories have reached their highest levels in 80 years. Also China economy a major driver of global economy is slowing and its demand for oil is softening. The decision of OPEC led by Saudi Arabia to dominate market share over production cut to boost higher oil price, is also a factor in this situation. They can take this decision because with robust fiscal buffers from cash in foreign assets, Saudi Arabia and Middle-East countries are primed to survive revenue decline from low oil price.
With cash from sovereign wealth funds, strong credit standing and low debt levels, Saudi Arabia and other Middle East oil producing countries can easily finance deficit in spite of fall in oil prices. We don’t have such buffers. I am highlighting these points to show that those countries, our friends in OPEC, who are coping well with decline in oil revenue, had plans and those plans if we recall are not entirely strange to us here.
I am sure many of us in the audience will recall several attempts that were made by the PDP government at the centre to ensure that we build up our fiscal buffers, reduce our foreign debt, invest in foreign assets through sovereign wealth fund and have something for the rainy day but somehow lack of national consensus made that impossible.
Is it a PDP failure alone? No it is not. It is a collective failure. Many APC chieftains who are basking in the glow of winning power at the centre were main actors in the politics that stalled further progress in the direction highlighted.
This is important, whatever APC does it must forge national consensus on economic direction, if Nigeria is to move forward.
Today about 30 states including the federal government is either not able to fund recurrent cost including payment of salaries or have to borrow money to pay for it. I stand with those asking for stimulus package for the states and local governments. This has to be discussed and attended to quickly.
Some of what I have said will test APC. APC must prove it’s a party to be trusted. Nigerians are anxious to see how the party conducts itself. How they act in power. Is APC in power better or different from APC in opposition? The answer is blowing in the wind. Though, it might be too early to judge but I have my deep doubt. So far, I do not think they are taking the right steps. They have jettisoned zoning. They are sounding unsure of themselves about how to manage the economy. General Buhari wants tips from President Jonathan, some outlandish promises have been made, one of which is naira/dollar parity. APC is obviously worried about weight of public expectations it raised from the propaganda it fed Nigerians, the party is obviously trying to distance itself from the promises they made, which under current situation is impossible to fulfill.
I say to them Nigerians are watching. PDP is watching. It is true we lost the election in a manner that many of us did not expect. But I can assure everyone that we are gradually overcoming the shock. We are going to put our house in order. We are going to lead the struggle to recover power and put Nigeria on the path of sustainable development. We have the experience, we have superior organizational machinery and we know how to win elections.
PDP in my view remains the best party in Nigeria. PDP programme is better, its manifesto is superior. We made a lot of mistakes and we will correct them. Very soon, Nigerians will yearn for a return to power by the PDP. We are determined not to disappoint. As opposition, we will be the conscience of the nation. APC shall by confronted by a robust contest of ideas.
For the records, PDP inherited a lot of problem from long years of military rule, but in power the PDP governments initiated reforms in telecommunication, agriculture, power sector, expansion and reform of infrastructure such as roads, airports, seaports, and manufacturing. There has been a lot of progress under the PDP in the time the PDP has been in power.
Our mission of building a Delta beyond oil has proven not misplaced if the recent crash in oil prices is anything to go by. The fall in oil prices has led to decline in public revenue, budget cuts, depreciation of the naira and raising inflation. I am happy that we had already started the journey of shifting Delta from over-reliance on oil income. The administration following us has something to build upon.
We knew that oil export is an unpredictable commodity. One moment the prices are high, another period it declines. This yoyo movement of oil creates uncertainty in the economy, which was why we began diversifying our income stream by building fiscal buffers by investing some of our oil revenue in high yielding financial instruments and enterprises, but more importantly we began developing other sectors of the economy for the sustainable growth and development of Delta state.
Delta Beyond oil is an economic model, which overtime will attract investment, create industries, increase access to wealth and empower our people to become job creators as well open opportunities to other promising sectors of our economy.
One key step we took on assuming office was to secure and stabilize Delta state. If you recall, in 2007 militant uprising in the Niger Delta region was a big problem. It was overwhelming the government. National and international attention was fixated on resolving it. Crisis in the Niger Delta affected significantly international prices of crude oil. But solutions were short in coming.
Kidnappings of expatriates, frequent attacks on oil infrastructure, general insecurity was at such a level that Nigeria crude oil production declined dangerously. Something had to be done. Delta state was a leading state in fashioning different strategies to contain this. We setup the water ways security committee and through that and other initiatives we were able to bring stability to the state. Our method was, I should say, the successful forerunner to the amnesty programme announced by President Yar’Adua and implemented by President Jonathan.
And we did not stop there. We moved from there to build ethnic harmony and unity in Delta state. We gave every part of Delta state a sense of inclusiveness in project allocations, developments and appointments. One of the first big projects we began was the Asaba international airport. By adopting a fair and balanced approach to development, we brought down animosity and division and replaced it with unity and cooperation. We knew that without peaceful and united Delta state, it was impossible to initiate, let alone implement long term projects.
Our infrastructure programme was structured to diversify and encourage non-oil economy in Delta state. With abundant gas in Delta state, we set out to invest in the power sector by initiating the construction of 148 megawatts Oghareki independent power plant. The turbines have been procured; access road constructed and civil works completed. However, in view of the reforms in the electricity sector, which completely privatized this sector, we are changing our business model. The Oghareki IPP will be privatized. That process is ongoing. We also executed over 415 power supply projects. The state government has investment in some of the recently privatized power companies such as TranscorpUghelli power plant, Vigeo power plant and Eurafic power plant.
The physical infrastructure development spread across the stateis quite staggering. The topography of the state meant we must take development to hitherto remote places, especially riverine communities which because of its terrain is difficult to develop and costly in material terms.
But overall to ensure balance development, we paid a lot of attention to two growth poles of Delta state. Asaba and Warri areas. For instance, the Asaba airport is operational, while the Osubi airport construction is ongoing. We have constructed over 1,206 kilometre length of road, 663 kilometre length of concrete-lined drains, 17 bridges of various span has been completed. 25 bridges are in various stages of completion. Some of the notable roads that we are constructing are 149 kilometre Asaba-Ughellidualisation, Trans Warri-Ode Itsekiri bridges and access road is a 24 kilometre length road with 22 bridges, the dualisation of the 33.6 kilometre Ugbenu-Koko road and the Effurun-Osubi-Eku road amongst others. We have completed and commissioned the Nnebisi/Okpanam/Anwai road flyover and Effurun Roundabout flyover. Our administration planned junction improvement work in 12 locations but due to revenue constraint has succeeded in delivering Enerhen junction.
To successfully build a Delta beyond oil economy, we are investing in knowledge capital. Our investment in education is huge. Through various scholarship schemes, we are reducing burden on parents while stimulating competition in our wards. We have scholarship scheme for Delta students in Law, Aviation, overseas postgraduate, first class degree, children of deceased civil servants, physically challenged and local government scholarship schemes. In total over 1,651 Deltans have benefited from government full scholarship.
That’s not all. As you know we are paying bursary allowance of N 20,000 to Delta state students in the tertiary institution across the country. Government investment also extends to infrastructure, notably the faculty of engineering campus Oleh of Delta state university; male accommodation at Anwai campus; the senate/administrative building Delsu Abaraka; the library complex at Anwai campus amongst many others.
Our state university is a multi-campus institution spread across the three senatorial zones, Oleh, Abaraka and Asaba. In addition, we have three operational polytechnics at Ozoro, Otefe and Ogwashi-uku. Due to genuine need, four more new polytechnics have been established by government in Abigborodo, Aboh, Sapele and Bomadi. We also have three college of education at Agbor, Warri and the Mosogar.
At the basic and secondary school level we are making sure that education is virtually free with quality and quantitative improvement all around. Right now over 142 primary school and 34 secondary school are being remodeled with the state-of- the-art facilities. In addition 13 selected secondary schools have been upgrade to international standard with St Patrick College and Nana College completed and commissioned.
As a state that believes in education, it is not surprising that the demand for education keeps growing which led us to build additional 147 primary schools to add to the existing 1,146 public primary schools in the state bringing the total public primary schools to 1,293 schools.
At the same time 54 new secondary schools were built and added to the existing 412 public secondary schools making it 466. Yet, demand for more schools continues unabated. In addition, since 2008 government has been responsible for the payment of all levies and fees for pupils and students in the state including external examinations conducted by WAEC and National Business and Technical Examinations Education Board (NABTEB).
We have also encouraged the retraining of 32, 565 primary school teachers to improve their teaching ability and through Education Marshal we have contained the incidence of out-of-school children in the state. So far 500 boys and 480 girls making a total of 980 out-of-school children have been rescued from the street and returned to schools. You can see education is an industry in Delta state. Our people have a strong desire to be educated.
In crafting our vision, we were mindful that some of them will take a long time to mature and so it made sense to create a couple of quick-win initiatives. To tackle poverty and unemployment, we introduced the poverty alleviation programme with creation of a ministry to drive this process. It made sense to do this, so our people can be productive and have a cushion pending when some of the big initiatives mature and can contribute to the economic development of the state.
For the micro-credit programme, over 100,000 Deltans have been empowered by this progamme. Some of the micro enterprises have migrated to small and medium scale businesses with some of the products now sold overseas and in prominent shopping malls. Our partnership with UNIDO to develop a leather and footwear works facility, the construction of this facility is making good progress. This facility is estimated to create over 2000 jobs and should improve quality of shoe production for both local use and for export.
Earlier, I mentioned the difficulty of Delta terrain; incidentally nature decided that those are the areas to deposit the oil mineral resources found in the state. It means if you want to have a peaceful state and increase a sense of inclusiveness, you have to ensure development reaches those parts. You have to ensure that the people of oil bearing communities are not left out of development. If you want to mitigate the agony of devastation of these communities from oil exploration, then something has to be done.
Mindful of all these, we setup an intervention agency, Delta state oil Producing Development Commission (DESOPADEC)which collects 50% of the 13% derivation to address some of the concerns like poverty, tackling infrastructure challenges such as roads, schools, hospitals, electricity, water, environmental remediation, employment generation etc.
DESOPADEC has discharged its mandate, however after eight years of operating DESOPADEC, we have observed some serious shortcomings and pitfalls in the work DESOPADEC is doing and have decided that there is need for reform. Presently, there is a bill before the House of Assembly to restructure DESOPADEC; we hope to accomplish this mission before handing over. I call on the House of Assembly to move fast to pass this bill. Our people are anxious to see a reformed DESOPADEC that will deliver more dividends quickly.

48. Distinguished audience, this is a nutshell of our Delta story. The efforts we have made are foundational in building our state, such that in near term Delta state will have strong growth. I like to also add that a vision like Delta Beyond oil is like building a cathedral. The generation that begins it is not usually the ones that complete and certainly not the ones that even worship inside. A good example if you like, is Notre dame de Paris, one of the world finest architectural masterpieces, took, wait for it, 200 years to complete and has survived intact for a 1000 years.

49. You know the Chinese are famous for patient and far-sighted thinking and the comments by Chinese Premier, Chou Enlai, in I968 clearly underscores this. He said when asked for his opinion about the French revolution of 1789, replied: “it was too early”. For Chou Enlai, it was too early to assess the implication of a momentous historic event that occurred 179 years before the time he was speaking.

50. Delta Beyond Oil is a revolution in its own right. We have put the structures in place. I am happy my successor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, understands the ramification of this vision of building a non-oil economy for Delta state. He was secretary to the state government in my administration. He is a capable man, he understands Delta state and he has a strong desire to make Delta state better than he met it.

51. I like to finish by thanking everyone, Deltans, non-Deltans, all those that serve with me in government, even those that opposed me, everyone deserves to be thanked, for it is in the midst of all these that I became who I am. I believe it is also from all these that we can say Delta state is better.

52. I ask every Deltan to give their complete support to Dr. Okowa, so that Delta state can move forward, so that Delta state will be greater for us and for generations yet to come.

53. In closing, I like to adopt the message of Apostle Paul, in his letter to Timothy, in 2Timothy 4:7, I quote: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.”

I thank everyone for their attention.

Office of the Governor
Government House