Okowa’s Initiative On Capital Territory Development, A Master Stroke ––Nwamu

BY ESTHER IDIABANA
Since August 27,1991, when, following the creation of Delta State, Asaba became its capital, much efforts have been put into its infrastructural development. Yet, there has been no uniform judgment as to the efficiency of those efforts. It is against this backdrop that the Senator (Dr.) Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa administration seized the initiative to establish a specific authority with the sole aim of accelerating the tempo of the wholesome development the state capital territory. In this interview held in Asaba recently, the Odogwu of Asaba, Obi (Dr.) Patrick Ike Nwamu, fielded questions on this issue and related ones, capping with the submission that the Okowa initiative would definitely accelerate the tempo of the overall development of the state capital territory.
Excerpts of his responses to our questions are paraphrased below.
First, as the Odogwu of Asaba, what would you say of the traditional ruler (Asagba) of Asaba, Obi (Prof) Chike Edozien who just turned 24 years on the stool and 90 years of age?
He is a wonderful reformer, a man of peace and a great man of great learning; he has changed the face of Asaba for good. Particularly, he has reformed the marriage and burial rites of Asaba to the point that his reforms have drastically reduced the cost and inconveniences associated with the burial and marriage events in Asaba. With regard to the traditional burial rites, it has not only reduced the cost and time for holding burials, but also eroded the dehumanising aspects, especially those associated with widowhood.
What of his roles in relation to the actual physical development of Asaba?
That is not to say that the Asagba has not in one way or the other helped the course and cause of the physical development of Asaba; far from it. He has made tremendous efforts in this direction, though the fact must be held that it is the duty of the government to deliver public sector services that develop any community. For us in Asaba, that responsibility falls on the shoulders of Oshimili South and Delta State governments. Even the private sector has been encouraged by the Asagba to help in the overall development of Asaba. I must say, in summary, that, as it is said in English, he is a round peg in a round hole. We are truly proud of him, because, apart from the little that I have enumerated above, the Asagba has done much in many areas, including the Asagba-In-Council, which has been so enhanced that it now has top-grade people as members.
Until the creation of the state and its pronouncement as the capital of the state, ASaba was just a small, almost rural community; in what ways has the state creation affected the fate of Asaba.?
I must say that Asaba, as a community on the historic River Niger, has a long, enviable history that needs no recall here. The other element is that, while Asaba could not be accurately described as a rural village before the creation of Delta State, that singular development has added pep to the development of the town. In all, I will, in all sincerity, say that the creation of Delta State has added an impetus to the necessity for the wholesome development of Asaba, which, for now is like America’s California. The development pace in Asaba is fantastic.
Talking about the development of the capital territory raises the issue of the efforts of the Okowa administration to set up a development authority in relation to the wholesome development of the state capital territory, of which Asaba is a major component. How do you see this move?
Good; in fact, it is a wonderful initiative that has to help accelerate the tempo of development of the state capital territory, including Asaba. The Okowa initiative is one of the best things that can happen to the state because it seeks the wholesome development of the state capital territory, without impairing the development of other parts. Part of the reason for the initiative probably-because I have no way of actually knowing why the governor seized the initiative- stems from the fact that there is the necessity to give fresh impetus to the development of the capital territory to something more befitting of Delta, which, as everyone knows, is strategic in many ways to the Nigerian state. So, I applaud Governor Okowa for the initiative, which I personally think, should have been done long ago.
As a major stakeholder in Asaba traditional leadership and an estate developer, where do you think the administration should lay emphasis in respect of the Okowa initiative?
They should lay emphasis on the physical development of the capital territory. Particularly, the emphasis should be on the development of roads and drainages, housing and urban development.
Why these areas?
Well, without prejudice to the necessity to develop other areas, my suggestion is because, in my view, these are the areas most in need. With all due respect to the efforts of past administrations, these areas need special attention; our roads are not enough in number and quality because most of them do not have good drainages to channel water away and prevent the kind of flooding that has characterised the area for some time now, whenever it rains. There is the necessity for more housing projects—residential housing. Many of the workers and others resident in the state, especially in and around the capital city, need more adequate houses to be more productive. The government should build housing estates in urban centres of the state, particularly in Warri, Sapele, Agbor, Ogwashi-Uku, Ibusa and Okpanam, the last set because of their proximity to Asaba, the state capital, which also deserves to have estates built, mainly to accommodate workers.
Aside of these, what do you think that Asaba would also require to accelerate its development?
A lot; but am mindful of the fact that development takes a whole lot of money which is not readily available to the government in lump sum. Having said that, it is important to stress here that Asaba deserves a full fledge public university. This is because the influx of people into Asaba has made it imperative, because the people want opportunities to quench their thirst for education. Luckily, the private sector has initiated something in this regard, which has given birth to Asaba University, of which I am Pro-Chancellor, and which would begin academic activities from three faculties in September this year.