From Air Commodore Luke Chijiuba Ochulor Â (rtd) who
was the pioneer Administrator on creation in 1991 to the first
elected Governor, Olorogun Felix Ibru, Â after the demise
of the civilian administration, Abdulkadir Shehu, Bassey Asuquo,
Ibrahim Kefas, John Dungs and Â to Walter Feghabo who
supervised the conduct of the election in 1999, and eventually
handed over to me as Governor.
I want to say without fear of contradiction that Delta in its
25 years of existence has been a success story. It is indisputable
that the state has overcome some very challenging times.
The Warri crisis was my administrationâ€™s
first challenge. At the inauguration of the PDP administration on
May 1999, Warri and its environs were boiling. There was a
full-blown attack on Escravos on May 30,
which spilled over to the surrounding villages and eventually
reached the Warri metropolis.
The level of destruction was such that it shocked the entire
country and dampened the joy of the transition to democracy.
Its genesis can be traced to 1997 when the Federal Government
of the late Gen Sani Abacha created a number of Local Government
Areas including Warri South-West LGA, with headquarters in
Ogbe-Ijoh, â€“ an Ijaw town between Aladja and
With the relocation of the headquarters of this LGA, from
Ogbe-Ijohto Ogidigben, an Itsekiri town, on the Atlantic coast,
Â riots followed and hundreds of people died.Â
Six Shell Nigeria (SPDC) installations were taken over by
protesting Ijaw youths, leading to a drop in oil production.
As head of the PDP administration at the time, I knew I had to
act swiftly to stem the destruction of life and property. I then
summoned a meeting of the major ethnic groups in Warri at the
Government House, Asaba.
I recall vividly that the meeting stalemated, as the leaders
disagreed on almost every issue. I then directed that the leaders
of the delegations be taken to a room in one of the VIP Guest
Houses and left there until they reached an agreement.
One of the leaders said to me, â€œGovernor, we
will not speak to each other even if we stay there for
daysâ€. In response, I then said that was exactly my
On reflection today, our modest efforts have been blessed with
some level of peace and understanding. As if the ethnic discord was
not enough, Asabaâ€™s position as the state
capital threw up a different challenge of its own.
During my campaign to be Governor of the state, it was clear
to me that some leaders from the Delta South and Central Senatorial
Districts were deeply unhappy with Asaba as the capital.
Conversely, leaders from Delta North Senatorial District were very
emphatic on the status of Asaba as state capital, and they
impressed on me to respect it if I became Governor. I assured them
that I would always sleep in Asaba as long as duty did not take me
out of the capital. This was my way of committing to the status of
Asaba as capital.
Now, I look back with pride.Â Asaba is a capital
city that everyone can be proud of. The PDP administration also set
out to avoid the mistake of other states where only the capital was
So we made sure that Delta did not become a one city state.
Apart from Asaba and Warri, we identified another tier of
development to include Agbor, Ughelli, Sapele, Oleh, Oghara,
Abraka, Ogwashi-Uku, Burutu and Ozoro.
My prayer is for this dream to endure. Deltans will benefit
from a multiplicity of urban centres with well-developed
infrastructures. On the political level, I agonized over how to
banish the feeling of second class citizenship of some sections of
Many, who felt left out in the political arrangement,
especially, the Ijaws of Warri, were brought into government at the
local and state levels.
We held tenaciously to the PDP mantra of equity and justice.
And this gave birth to the principle of power rotation.
The result is that for the first time in
Nigeriaâ€™s history, a minority ethnic group, the
Itsekiri, produced the governor of the state.
Most of all, I am pleased to note that today, all three
Senatorial Zones have produced the governor of the state.
In 2007 the baton of leadership went to Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan,
an Itsekiri from Delta South Senatorial District Â and
Â from him Â to Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, an Owa man
from Delta North.
I thank God for their lives and their commitment to Delta
State. And to all those who will come after them, I wish fair
weather, smooth sailing, but most of all, I wish them inspired
leadership as they pilot this most strategic state in Nigeria to
The fourth issue that engaged our attention was true
federalism and Resource Control. I embraced it for obvious reasons.
We won some battles; more will surely come for the journey has just
begun. Some of us are paying the price today for our perceived
Some other comrades in the course of the struggle have made
the supreme sacrifice. May we never forget them. On a personal
note, my greatest regret is that Iâ€™m not there
with you to savour this special moment.
However, I must put on record on this historic day, my
gratitude to the people of Delta State for the opportunity given me
to serve as Governor from 1999 t0 2007.
And it is to the people that I have reserved my last and
greatest tribute.Â I also say to them that the journey
has not been without its challenges, but we have made much
Congratulations on this your well-deserved celebration. I wish
you and our dear state peace, unity, and prosperity in the years