ACDA: A Template For Ibusa Devt

By Philip Ifechukwude
Barely two weeks of his swearing-in, Gov. IfeanyiOkowa swung into action. He began to unleash the contents of his repertoire of knowledge in governance by pushing a bill for the establishment of the Delta State Capital Territory Development Agency (CTDA). This action indubitably surmised that the astute legislator has been burdened by what he might have seen as crass neglect and gross underdevelopment of the capital city of a leading oil-producing state in Africa. It may be too early to start pouring encomiums on the governor or cast aspersion on the past administration of Gov. Emmanuel Uduaghan. But candidly, the state of infrastructural development in oil-rich Delta State leaves a hanging question mark on whether states like AkwaIbom who receives lesser allocation than Delta State actually exists in Nigeria? Or whether the governor of that state has the same soul like our past governor? Could it be that Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan defiantly decided to go soulless while he cared less if the state capital was developed or not.
I may not want to go into the intrigues and bureaucracy that play around the award of government contracts, but I grow bitterness in my spine each time I passed and see the pitiable state of supposed sports arena called Asaba Township Stadium that continues to churn out laurel-winning athletes in sports all over Nigeria and beyond. Delta state! Giant-killers in sports! It is quite laughable, but our award-freak former governor did not see anything wrong in it and never cared a hoot.
The first breath of our governor, Sen. Dr. Arthur IfeanyiOkowa has proven an indicator that he has not been sleeping well anytime he sees the state of development in his state capital. Hence, his first bludgeon is proving so lethal as to ameliorate and turn things around the way it ought to be by formulating policies and guidelines for the development of the state capital territory which is one major agenda the agency stands to achieve. Secondly, the agency will conceive, plan and implement in accordance with the set rules and regulations, projects and programmes for the sustainable development of the state capital; and thirdly, they will prepare a masterplan and schemes designed to promote the physical development of the state capital territory as well as tackle ecological and environmental problems.
These may prove an arduous task to achieve owing to the level of destruction of what is supposed to be a modern prototype of a capital city status. Now, Asaba has been choked and reduced to a city without plan and proper layout. The cases of other towns like Ibusa and Okpanam who are also part of the capital territory agenda are not even in the fray. Quite disheartening, these towns accommodate the teeming population that forms the crop of the work force in the state capital. Yet, they grapple with the harsh situations in a most unfriendly manner to contribute their quota to the growth of the state.
The environments of Okpanam and Ibusa whose status as part of the capital territory only existed as a figment of human imagination, have nothing palatable attached to their worth. They are degraded and bad. The only access road inter-linking Asaba and Okpanam is totally neglected and only received attention towards the tail end of Uduaghan’s administration. Ibusa’s case is worse. Needless to say that they never existed in terms of developmental map of Delta State safe for the comatose Delta State Agricultural Programme Agency (DAPA) and the recent siting of an incinerating plant near a river that serve as aquatic life of some area of the town. Till now, all the promises of producing by the contractors, an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) has proved futile.
This is a clarion call on Gov. Okowa to put certain considerations in the developmental agenda of this agency especially in Ibusa. Telling him what to do will be tantamount to discrediting the source of his ideas ab initio or pre-empting the job of the agency. But not at all, as it is imperative to lend our voices and readiness to support this agency in actualization of development goals for the people. Ibusa has been pro-Okowa in every facet.
There must be inter-connectivity between the towns in the Delta State capital territory like Ibusa-Okpanam axis, Ibusa-Achalla-Asaba axis, Okpanam-Ugbolu and Okpanam-Anwai axis. This aspect of development has been completely neglected by the government and those representing us. As the population of Ibusa increases, expansion is taking place and many extension have sprang up from many angles round the town, giving room to new layouts. Yet, there are no proper planning and development pattern.
It is, however, not surprising that there is serious decline in the reading culture nationwide owing to poor attention the sector has received lately. Ibusa is not exclusively out of it as schools in the environment are inadequate to match the demands of the inhabitants. Little wonder the population of students in the few government secondary schools is a pointer to the fact that they are not enough. They are underfunded and replete with inadequate and unqualified teachers. Lack of basic facilities like standard libraries, science and computer laboratories, furniture and buildings for learning comfort characterized the educational system. The morals of students have continued to wane in the midst of preponderant challenges facing the system.
Rural health policy remains a key area of attention. Even though the town is assuming an urban status, health institutions need to be given the required attention it requires. Since the establishment of the Ibusa general hospital in 1974, only few changes have taken place. These include the building of an eye clinic as well as the rebuilding of the burnt mortuary. Other parts of the institution have remained the same. Government’s participation apart from the posting of personnel and provision of drugs for the hospital has been docile. The little visible changes have been provided by individuals and social organizations from Ibusa. There should be total overhauling of the facilities by the government in order to ensure smooth operation.
Expectedly, with the congestion of Asaba and lopsided topography of Okpanam, Ibusa with a rich landscape could have elicited the siting of numerous housing estates by the government. Over ten years now, the proposed plan to site housing estates along Ogwashi-uku road immediately after Oboshi River have not only received non-implementation, but have only existed on paper. Only recently, some number of low cost housing units as airport residential is going on behind the Asaba International Airport at Umuodafe land.
As part of recreation activities, owing to the abundant natural resources that abound in Ibusa, the need to harness them and create tourist attraction out of them is a factor that is as needful and important. Places like Okpuzu Water Falls, Kefas Amusement Park, OboshiUkpachi are some recreational centres that needs developmental attention. Ibusa town hall is an old monument that is gradually facing dilapidation and needs to be modernized into a civic centre for the town. A museum can be established to display artifacts and statues depicting Ibusa cultural and historical relevance.
I have no doubt that the governor has started well and deserves to be given all the support he needs to perform effectively. Only with the composition of seasoned technocrats can he achieve the well-thought out plan of the agency.