True Confession of a Niger Deltan

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By Michael Egbejumi-David

Warri no dey carry last? Well, that may be true some nine years ago.
But since 2003, things have been falling apart in that part of the country. We scrape the bottom of the barrel and, sadly, there we find Warri and the rest of Delta State. Only the Nigerian judiciary, clumsily marshalled by whoever is in charge these days is lower than Delta State and Deltans at the moment.
In my view, the general North and the Southwest have it together when it comes to politics, with the Yorubas being the most politically astute and most politically sophisticated in the country. In the South-south and Southeast, politics is almost entirely about the stomach, and this is fastidiously sustained by a trailer-load of sycophants and embarrassing yes-men. However, the Southeast seems to be slowly redeeming itself with Imo State leading the way.
The South-south is the pits, politically. But Delta state is in the sewer all by itself. It has been tied up like a stunned cow with one Emmanuel Uduaghan benightedly pinning her neck to the ground in a sadistic slaughter. I tell you, it is for shame. The yearly revenue allocation to Delta state, since 2007 stands at about N140 billion. The State’s budget for 2012 is N437.2 billion. This is more than that of the nation of Senegal and every other country in West Africa except Ghana.
But go to Delta and behold how a place ought not to be. When Mrs Uduaghan, for whatever reason, refuses to supply diesel for the street lights, the entire place is bathed in darkness. The roads are not worth talking about, so let’s quickly move on. Armed robbery has gone through the roof. All the kidnappers driven out of Imo – and to a lesser extent, Abia – have relocated to Delta. Their trade is booming. If you are unfortunate enough to happen on a robbery and peep at the guns the goons are bearing, you will find that more than half of them are standard Nigerian Police issue rifles. Perhaps the most corrupt Police Commissioner in Nigeria used to be located in Asaba. When every stakeholder including the NNPC got tired and bitterly complained, Jonathan and his people promoted the fellow, Tsafe, to an AIG. He was rewarded for ‘delivering’ the State politically, you see.
The worst schools in the country are all in Delta State. You already know that despite all the billions of Naira allocated, it was only Delta State that was unable to have a stadium ready for the FIFA Junior World Cup competition that hit our shores in 2009. In the entire State, there is not one up-to-standard, functional State hospital, but the governor recently became the proud owner of one of the best and largest private hospitals in the country, St Luke in Asaba.
Things have become so bad that when ‘Diasporans’ visit Delta, it is usually a sling shot exercise – a day trip through the grace of Aero or ARIK airlines from Lagos or Port Harcourt and back before nightfall.
Look at what the Yorubas did to the Obasanjos. They pushed, and pushed, and pushed, till they pushed OBJ back to his farm; and his son…emm, sorry, his daughter, Iyabo was pushed into unemployment. The Yorubas were at the forefront of those who fought OBJ to submission during his plan to unconstitutionally extend his term in office. With all the money and State power in Obasanjo’s possession, the Yorubas never gave the man a second look or gave him the time of day. But were Iyabo to be from Delta, she’ll be serving her 3rd term as governor now.
During the last elections, Imo State youths and Clergy went out over several days and nights, and very robustly defended their vote. In Delta, the opposite was and is still the case. The youths and the Clergy are some of the most ardent and visible cheerleaders of Uduaghan’s stinkers. Hell, there are youths and some not-so-young from the State that are currently wetting themselves because the British managed to cage Ibori.
The most miserable bigmen in Nigeria today reside in Delta State. Their morale is lower than a snake’s belly. Despite all the money at their disposal, they are not free and they are not comfortable. They seldom sleep in their own homes. They don’t drink outside anymore except in secured hotel rooms, and they absolutely trust no one. They change their security details regularly and they change their drivers even more frequently. Is that how to live?
Their leader, Uduaghan, doesn’t even care anymore. He is sour and is in lock-down mode. From 2007, things barely worked in Delta State. However, since 2011 everything has nose-dived but this chap remains truculent and unimpressed. He has spent his whole time in office fighting hard to stay in there and has no energy or imagination left for anything else. Certainly, there is no money left for anything else. Winning election petitions and appeals don’t come cheap in Nigeria. It was reported that his last ‘victory’ at the Supreme Court cost upward of N10billion of Delta’s money. Whatever is left in the coffers is promptly pilfered and fritted away. Is there any other State in Nigeria where the governor bought an entire street as his private residence?
When fellow citizens go to him with social-infrastructural requests like fixing their roads, schools, etc, he is quick to remind them balefully that they did not vote for him and consequently he is not going to do anything for them. In his mind, he thinks he is taking revenge. Taking revenge on his own people. Problem is, since most of the State never voted for him, absolutely nothing gets done. The man remains disconsolate and cannot get over the fact that in three tries – and despite all the money that was splashed around, the people of the State did not want him. As men, we have learned to shrug our shoulders and put a gloss over it, but we all know that rejection is a bitch. Here’s a governor that was thoroughly rejected at the polls every time. That must hurt.
And that is the true story of present day Delta. But it is the seeming acquiescence and helplessness of Deltans as things unhinge and degenerate that is most surprising. All that raking is beginning to sound hollow. All that comedy and mouth are becoming tiresome. The people seem to have resigned themselves to life in the basement and are probably hoping that the British judiciary would come to their aid again post 2015.
The final painful indictment was uncharitably delivered by a female friend of a colleague recently. She interrupted the flow of beer, peppersoup and political gist when she told one Delta man to please shut up and drink his Gulder. We were shocked. The silence was total and you could hear a cockroach sneeze. All eyes were on her. But she calmly remarked that the State is the worst in the federation and that the people only have mouth. After a few moments of belligerent hesitation, the fellow did as advised.
And now, the State is at the mercy of a spent, surly and revenge-seeking governor for the next 3 years. If all that is not carrying last, I don’t know what else is.

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