The Delta State Government has disowned one of the Governor’s aide who made ‘official statement’ reportedly insulting the people of Isoko nation, saying that only the Commissioner for Information and the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor has authority to issue statement on behalf of the government.
BigPen Online recalls that reports had quoted the Special Assistant to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa on DESOPADEC Matters, Mr. Prosper Edo who described Isoko people who protested last week over the condition of Isoko-kwale-Asaba road as “uninformed miscreants”.
Reports had credited the story to the governor, whom it said called Isoko people as bunch of “miscreants” for embarking on the protest in which they reeled out several vex issues.
The governor aide while reacting to the protest said it was “criminal” and “condemnable” to block highway in order to draw government attention saying also that the group of protesters who were mainly youths and women had misconceptions about the DESOPADEC social, security and surveillance fund of which they allegedly accused Executive Director of Finance and Administration, Chief Askia Ogieh of shortchanging the Isoko people.
The statement by the governor’s aide had attracted serious outrage in the social media, particularly from a popular Facebook chat forum, “Umeh Need Road”, where the issues was debated all day long.
However, addressing representative and the Executives of Isoko National Youth Assembly (INYA) led by its President, Comrade Ovie Umuakpo on Thursday at Government House Asaba, Secretary to State Government (SSG), Mr. Ovie Festus Agas worried over the backlashes which the statement had caused, disassociated the governor from the claims of the aide.
“There are only two organs licensed to speak on behalf of government – the Commissioner for Information and the Chief Press Secretary and occasionally the SSG.
“Any other person is unknown by the government. Look, let me tell you, although I signed their appointment letters, I may not recognize most of the SA’s and SSA’s when I see them let alone the governor.
“How can someone who we don’t know speak on our behalf? Well, I can see you (Umuakpo) have attached a printed copy of the statement from the website and so it can’t be denied.
“I take responsibility because he is my employee and as a lawyer, I will invite him to give him fair hearing before I decide on what to do.
“The Governor respects the Isoko people too much to insult them. Rt. Hon Leo Ogor is an Isoko man. Look, he is the Awolowo of our time. He is the voice of the opposition across the country…”
Speaking on the main crux of the protest, the SSG said that the state government was doing everything possible to get the project completed as the road was critical to the socio-economic development of the state.
“I totally agree with you that the road is all too important to ignore. It is not just Isoko road because as you have pointed out, it connects Delta Central, South and North and even the Eastern states.
“Unfortunately for us, we came in when the nation was in depression causing a huge drop in revenue. However, it is one of the legacy projects of this administration and efforts are ongoing to complete it.
“I will make your position known to His Excellency…I give you my word; the Contractor will be invited for a meeting and we will work out modalities on how he can return to site soon. Hopefully, in the next two to three weeks, you will see work resume on that road”, he said.
Meanwhile, the Director, Media & Strategy, Isoko National Youth Assembly, Comrade Eniwake Orogun has said that the SSG, speaking during the meeting has also assured Isoko and Urhobo youths agitating over exclusion from presidential Amnesty Programme that the state government was already in talk with the amnesty office to integrate youths who were peaceful throughout the period of the armed struggle into the ongoing nonviolent phase of the program so that they can benefit from scholarships and other skills development initiative the office is rolling out.
On the DESOPADEC social, security and surveillance fund, the SSG said that the state government was already on top of the matter and have called for the file to review the issues therein, he added in a statement