By Basil Okoh
There is so much disingenuous information being disseminated to the public as outright mischief is still convulsing Nigeria following the squabble-ridden 2023 election.
A pattern discernible in this media mischief is the exploitation of the ignorance of the people through misallocating the functions of the different branches of government.
Fred Edoreh, a friend, just latched on to this general ignorance in his defamatory write-up: “AGBOR-ABRAKA-EKU-SAPELE ROAD AND THE SHAMELESSNESS OF AGEGE AND DELTA APC”
I’m NOT a member of APC or PDP. I find friendship in the strong character of Ovie Omo-Agege and believe he will make a better governor of Delta state than other candidates on parade in the last election.
Anybody reading that headline by Fred Edoreh would think that APC is the ruling party in Delta state and Senator Ovie Omo-Agege the governor, but alas, the PDP to which Festus Edoreh belongs, has been in government in Delta State these past twenty-four years.
APC has never been in government or exercised any executive power in Delta state, but somehow in Fred Edoreh’s febrile mind, Omo-Agege as Deputy Senate president is vicariously responsible for the state of disrepair and lack of maintenance of infrastructure, particularly federal roads in Delta state. As Edoreh reasons, the high position of deputy senate president carries with it, executive power to intervene in road maintenance in the holders state of origin, not minding the presence of an elected governor.
The road which he describes in his story is a federal road which traverses two senatorial districts within Delta state and Senator Omo-Agege represented only one of the two, the Delta Central Senatorial District. Delta North had its own senator in the Senate but he does not share in the burden of federal road repairs, according to Mr. Fred Edoreh. Being Deputy Senate President “and number six man” in the federal hierarchy, Omo-Agege has to be vicariously held responsible for the lack of performance of his state government in the maintenance of federal roads.
Ovie Omo-Agege has since left the Senate. As a parliamentarian, his job in the Senate was clearly spelt out in the constitution of the country. He does not award contracts, neither is he expected to supervise or implement contracts. His job is to make laws, approve budgets and other expenditures and maintain oversights on these budgets and expenditures. A senator is essentially a statesman, which is why he carries his title into death.
But Fred Edoreh would want Omo-Agege to be ashamed for not doing the job of the executive branch of the government of Delta state in road construction and maintenance. Edoreh in his own twisted sense of humour wants a man to take a course in Physics and be ashamed for not passing exams in Economics.
A history of legislative performance since 1999 reveals a pattern of overreaching members of the legislature straying into what are clearly executive functions. This is as a result of overpromising by candidates for legislative positions during elections. A legislator does not build roads. A legislator does not award contracts, neither does he pay contractors. Edoreh with his education ought to know this.
Fred Edoreh even in his clear determination to defame Omo-Agege, admitted that the man ensured that the rehabilitation of the road was put in the budget, cost included and that as Deputy Senate President also ensured that the funds were made ready for the job.
Was he expecting Omo-Agege, a parliamentarian to award the contracts and release funds for payment? Should Edoreh not have an understanding of the difference between legislative and executive functions as is embedded in the constitution? Our engagements must not show laziness to seek facts, knowledge or new information. Fred Edoreh clearly showed an egregious refusal to publish the facts and an unforgivable laziness in applying research and superior understanding of the workings of different branches of government.
A legislator, federal or state and no matter how highly placed, even as Deputy Senate President, cannot be blamed or shamed for not doing the work of the governor of Delta state. PDP is the Party in Government and power in Delta state and should be held to account for the state of infrastructure, including all roads in the state.
There has been interventions on federal roads by many state governments across the federation. None of the state governors tasked their senators to build federal roads in their states. If in doubt, go and ask David Umahi, former governor of Ebonyi state and now federal minister of works. You will be so impressed by the road network built by Umahi, governor of the poorest state in Southern Nigeria, which included federal roads. His impressive performance will persuade Fred Edoreh to want to repudiate his citizenship of Delta state.
PDP will regain the confidence of citizens of Delta state the day it puts its shoulders to the plough and stop blaming others, including Ovie Omo-Agege for its failures.