By: Richard Umukoro, Asaba
In his attempt to see that his principal, the Delta State governor, Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan finishes strong, the state Commissioner for Works, Rt. Hon. Funkekeme Solomon with his team has since keyed into the vision of governor Uduaghanâ€™s FINISHING STRONG agenda which has virtually become a sing-sung on the lips of if not all but 90 per cent of the cabinet as well as Deltans and believers of Uduaghanâ€™s FINISHING STRONG agenda.
Dr. Uduaghan has not only been able to conceptualize these ideas of Delta beyond oil initiative, the FINISHING STRONG agenda but has also been able to sell it to his entire Commissioners, Deltans and all that have a stake in his government.
So far so good in the Delta State Ministry of Works, the race has been nice, though challenges are there but itâ€™s been quite alright. The Ministry of Works has the mandate to ensure that it delivered dependable roads network that will aid development of the state economically, politically, security etc because it is only when there is good roads network that it will be easy for security to operate unhindered and in doing this, about 199 roads of over a total length of 3, 000 kilometers as well as drainages have been completed while 71 still ongoing and at various stages of completion.
In terms of transportation generally, roads transportation is the basic means of transport both in terms of evacuating agricultural products, movement of goods and services including personnel from one point to the other.
For the award winning, tested and proven Works Commissioner, Rt. Hon. Funkekeme Solomon, during an interview session with the media disclosed that â€œDelta State has many centres of development unlike so many other states; there are so many urban centres which will be developed, although, the resultant effect is that, funding has becomes constrain, the state government need to spread the dividends across all centres to ensure development.
Hence, the Ministry is mandated to ensure that basic infrastructure in terms transportation in making sure that the transport sector is put in place, in this connection it is the ministry that supervises every civil works in the state even the ones done by other ministries, the Ministry of Works supervises it and that is why the ministry has also taken into cognizance the Airport development which the governor is so passionate about.
â€œPresently, roads for commissioning are over thirty. In Asaba alone we have almost 52 roads in the state capital completed and ongoing which includes, the NUT road, Feeder 2B road, St. Bridges road, Legislative close, NTA road, Feeder road 2A, and DLA road which is almost completed with drainages too and we have also completed and ongoing roads projects in Warri, Ughelli, Uwvie, Udu, Sapele. Roads like the Sapele/Abigborodo, with the advent of roads, Abigborodo is now passable, meaning vehicles can now drive into the town. In terms of the finishing strong agenda, His Excellency has shown so much support for the ministry and that has aided it in assisting the ministry to ensure that the Uduaghanâ€™s led government finishes strong. It is of paramount interest to note that the ministry have also started many projects like flyovers; it has one in Asaba, and the other at Efferun-Sapele roundabout, the ministry also has the mind of starting one around Avenue Airport road and so much progress are been made with the hope that December, the one in Asaba and that of Effurun will be completed for use by Deltans.â€
According to the dedicated to duty commissioner, the transformation agenda of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan in Delta State has indicated that the FINISHING STRONG is not just a slogan but a way of life, a mission that is to be accomplished and the governor is strong on it, disclosing all of the cabinet have keyed into it which is why if anyone takes a walk across the state, monumental infrastructures of both completed and on-going projects are been worked on.
â€œFor example, Sapale road, Omadino bridge link road and the ministry taking the road just before the army- check point to link Omadino Bridge. That is intended to open up the rural communities of Omadino and to utilize the bridge effectively. The result now is that Papa Ayo Oristejafor has opened a university in Omadino which he has invited the president to do the ground breaking. What Governor Uduaghan has done is to provide the necessary environment for the private sectors investors to move in and avail themselves of the opportunities that are bound.â€
The Ministry of Works under Rt. Hon. Funkekeme Solomon is also doing rural integration, this the commissioner revealed that the idea is to integrate the rural areas to the urban centres and in that regard, his ministry has since commenced the construction of a bridge across Egbo/ Oyakrimor both in Burutu Local Governments which the state government is using to bridge the gap of integration so as to enable investors be able to invest in anywhere in the state so that transportation shouldnâ€™t be a barrier saying the Uduaghanâ€™s administration has been able to break an ancient jinx confronting Umeh community in Isoko South local government area of the state by constructing several billions of naira road in the community which is going now and almost 80 per cent completed.
â€œWe have finished the bridge already. We are also doing a road in Illah from the civic centre to a big market in the waterside, a market that will be servicing Anambra, Kogi and other states around. Generally speaking, the issue of the state governmentâ€™s finishing strong; the Ministry of Works is so much in it. The ministry is structured along senatorial district lines to make for easy communication, easy reporting lines and quick service delivery. I have decided to structure the ministry on assumption of office, one director represents one senatorial district, and then I created zonal offices which are meant to supervise clusters of local governments. Now supervision and monitoring is key to any advancement of any project.
â€œThe Commissioner must have time, Permanent Secretary must have time and everybody must be on board, what we have done therefore is that with all these restructuring, there is competition among the directors and today I can tell you clearly that each directors in each senatorial district is working hard to undo the other one positively and Asaba is an example. There is one road that is very key to the state government, Avenue Deco dualization, is almost completed, it has also finished resurfacing Ajamimoha, it is doing Airport road now and it cut across Warri South and Uwvie local governments. The ministry has taken those steps so as to aid and assist governor Uduaghanâ€™s vision of leaving behind a legacy of dependable and sustainable roads networks that will assist Delta State to a point where if there are no more oil resources, Delta can still attract investors and they can have our confidence.
â€œNow, these fly overs the state is doing now apart from the fact that they will decongest traffics that normally leads to a lot of man hour that can make people not to be interested in investing in a place because the issue of free flow of traffic is very importance to an investor. Apart from that, it is also to raise the urbanization standard of the town so that when you are flying down you see that these towns are not slums, they are standard towns. The ministry has keyed into it and it is working very hard to make sure the present administration finishes strong very well. Direct Labour Agency (DLA) road is on-going and the ministry including the government are not very happy with the pace of the contractor and the Commissioner is considering an action in that direction but if you notice in DLA alone, there are five roads that links it to the express and on the other side of the express it has also five roads that are been constructed. DLA is a strategic road to me personally because I believe it will go a long way as it is one of the longest roadsâ€.
Explaining what has bedeviled DLA road since all this while, Commissioner Funkekeme Solomon stated that it was the issue of drainage, â€œNow we are suffering that now, we have been able to take that behind Lionâ€™s building. We are constructing the channel down to River Niger, we are going to cut Nnebisi road by United Bank For Africa (UBA). We have already started, we have also dealt with the issue of Jesus Saves, by Uduaghanâ€™s way now you will see three feederâ€™s roads by the right that we have done linking another one that is by Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) that one will connect Jesus Saves road. Impressively the state government have raised Asaba standard and any contractor that is not working at the same pace with me, am likely to do one or two thingsâ€.
Rt. Hon. Funkekeme Solomon who took his time to talk more on the two flyovers, said â€œThe two flyovers are about N8 billion and over billions of naira has been spent on roads alone across the state and there are also other commitment that are over billion of naira. Now road construction is a sensitive part in any part of the world, now what we have done, parts of these money we have spent on federal roads which we are asking the federal government to pay us back. The state government has hired a consultant to help us see how we can secure the money. That one runs into billions of naira, in terms of how much we have spent is difficult to be specific because the pay is on-going, some the certificate are not generated. It is when you have finished paying all that you can say how much but like I said, it runs into billions of naira.
â€œThe none commissioning of road by the governor is nothing but a matter of style, â€œI think it is a matter of style, Dr. Uduaghan believes in achieving silently, he is an achiever. He had said so even in press conferences that he doesnâ€™t commission things, that that is his own style. But luckily he said he wants to commission now. But there was a fresh shocker, the Nigeria Guide of Editor was here, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) was here. Issues went round that this is a monumental achievement. That is why the numerous awards were coming to him as a result of facts and figures that confirmed developmental stride of His Excellency the governorâ€.
Again Funkekeme has sounded it loud and clear when he said, â€œWell, we are going to expect more because we want to finish strong; the governor has directed every Ministry, Department and Agencies (MDAs) to ensure that it doesnâ€™t slow down. He want to leave behind a government that will be light for his successor, he doesnâ€™t want to leave behind a government that is over weight of liabilities. We are going to expect more attention on roads, schools, hospitals till on the last day, that is what he has told us to do, until May 29, 2015â€.
Some factors that have kept Rt. Hon. Funkekeme going, is the grace of God and consistency in loyalty and service; to him, service is a way of life. He donâ€™t serve because He want to gain anything, but he believes that when he serves, God himself will reward him and he has promised never to betray anybody including the person who is his principal. â€œI will stay firm, strong, dependable, anybody who is playing double face, donâ€™t expect to live the life long but if you are consistent whether things are good or bad, be consistence and if you have decided that this is your boss, let such a person be your boss.
â€œHebrew 13:7 make the point that obey those who have charge over you, if you are not loyal to them, of course donâ€™t blame anybody if you fall by the way side. â€œMy secret is service, I serve because I want to serve and I donâ€™t serve because I have the intention to reap any benefit but if the benefit comes my way of course I will take it but it is serve and consistence in loyalty. And that is what I tell everybody, my supporters every day I preach to them that be consistence in your loyalty and in your service donâ€™t waver like the green goddess of two faces where you have double mouth, speak the truth at all times. But passion for service is very important, integrity and service goes together, you canâ€™t stay long in the lime line if you donâ€™t have those attributes. People will try to pull you down one way or the other but what is true is true and what is not true is not true. They are free to have their opinion but be consistent and not be distracted.
â€œFirst and foremost, governor Uduaghan is a good manager of every attributes success, resources. Two things are very key to the ascendancy of any leader. Governor Uduaghan is loyal also to his own followers. Some people think that loyalty comes only from the top, no it also goes down. This government has been seven years now, there are no social events beyond official events of curtail and banquets others, governor Uduaghan is behaving like Awolowo, Awolowo made a point, that why his colleagues were busy frolicking with things that are not important, he is always at his desk working hard for the problems of the country. Only the deep can call to the deep and I think Dr. Uduaghan can be described as Awolowo in the country. A manager of resources, economy and he has knowledge of almost everything, interested in almost everything you are doing, urges you on and gives us free hands to operate.
â€œBoth as a person, he is a counselor and as an administrator, he is knowledgeable about what he is doing, he is concentrating on what he is doing, he is not easily distracted. There is no gold without passing it through the furnace; Governor Uduaghan has had its fare share of such fire storm. But each time that happens, it gives us confidence that he is a man in whom God is highly pleased.â€
Rt. Hon. Funkekeme Solomon when asked what would he like to be remembered for, he simply said â€œI will be remembered as a man who was consistence in following Governor Uduaghan to the end, who never waver, allow any distraction to affect his concentration, followership, commitment and dependability. I pray for the grace of God to actualize this. That is what I want to be remembered for. I want to be remembered for contributing my quota to the infrastructural development of the state, particularly in the area of road construction and road maintenance.â€
On his relationship with Governor Uduaghan, Rt. Hon. Funkekeme Solomon has this to say, â€œI canâ€™t deny the fact that I am one of the addict supporters of Dr. Uduaghan. I was been around pre-election days and went through with him all way out in the trenches and out of trenches and am one that have danced naked with him, and whoever is Uduaghanâ€™s friend is my friend. And I want to say this clearly, I donâ€™t see any politician in this state that I can carry his brief case and follow because I donâ€™t know who is greater than Uduaghan. Even if Uduaghan tells me today that I am no more relevant to him I will still follow him. Because I am very convinced that Uduaghan is a good leader and have led me well and there is no politician that I can really carry his bag and say I am following you. First, they wonâ€™t believe and trust me, they know how closely I have worked with Dr. Uduaghan. Like I said, service is a way of life for me I donâ€™t believe there are some like that but if there are they are human beings, they have a right of feeling like that but I would never be distracted by any such feelings.â€
On regrets in life, Rt. Hon. Funkekeme Solomon said â€œI donâ€™t have any regret in life because; everything that I have done rightly or wrongly, it is the act of God. Without God I can do nothing. Yes! I have failed in some areas, there is no human being that has no failures but as for regret none, the Bible tells me not to regret. So, I move on unless you have some pit falls you canâ€™t make amends and I have learnt from those failures but am very satisfied and I thanked God. At 52, I have held almost every position and I have stayed on consistently with my boss, my elder brother, Dr. Uduaghan and my entry into government has been quite far, 1992 as Chief Press Secretary to the pioneer speaker of the state Assembly and I was one of those who set up the Pointer Newspapers for the state as Deputy Project Coordinator. I have also served the judiciary at that time Omo-Agege was the Chief Judge, I was the media adviser before I moved into the house of Assembly as Minority Leader and served almost two terms and become Deputy Speaker and later Uduaghan Campaign council and to the PDP campaign council and agents of all the elections in that capacity. It is more or likely that such services can attract envy but it is not me that sent myself, he who sent me knows my capability and am ready to work the same thing if I am opportune to serve. So, I donâ€™t have any regret at all, of course there are mind feelings that one have to surmount but God is always in the front to make the way straight, for me I donâ€™t have any doubt in my mind. Whoever God has destined to get to the top, no man can stop it.â€
â€œAnd for Dr. Uduaghan,I am very confidence that his next assignment as in the national, I Funkekeme Solomon will be there again to challenge anyone that want to challenge him. I will work with him to achieve that. All the plans in 2015 are tied to Uduaghanâ€™s plans. We are like a Bishop and Pastors, there is no way I can have my own plans. My plans are first to ensure that Dr. Uduaghan finishes strong, second to see over a transition that is seem less that will guaranty cohesion in the state and continuous peace and security in the state. That is my ambition for now, whatever God trust on me, God himself will make it come to pass. What am doing is to work very hard with him to ensure that he transit properly and finishes strong in such a way that his name will be written in history and gold.â€
Rt. Hon. Funkekeme Solomon therefore advised every youth should understand that they have a future of their own as there are no combine futures. â€œEvery youth have a future and no youth should be available to be used by any politician to truncate his own future. Any harm done to another human being on account of somebodyâ€™s ambition, truncates the future of that person.
â€œSecondly, let everybody knows that only God can give power, that his strength shall no man prevail, Romans 9:6 says not by how much you own, how much you will but by how much God himself will for you. So, nobody should play God and nobody should be over ambitious and Dr. Uduaghan has done so well to bring this state to this limelight. Is it infrastructure, free health service, micro credit, education, roads network, flyovers, bridges, scholarships but above all peace and security.
â€œThere is now ethnic forgiveness, tolerance, harmony and these are very monumental achievements and we expect that it is only a peaceful state that can continue to enjoy these services. My advice is that whether at the local government level, state no man can give himself power except God. Let us moderate our political activities, our minds and remain positive let the love of Delta State government override your own love for yourself and therefore when that happens, we will be working for the greater good of the people, Deltans if that is what all of us think about then there will be less parallel.â€