Two top officials of new administration in Delta State, who are close associates of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, have accused former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of running the State with a troubling depth of financial profligacy. One of the sources described the state of affairs in Delta as “Cyclone Uduaghan,” alleging that the former Governor not only ran the State aground financially, but also actually went ahead to program a catastrophe for the just inaugurated administration of Governor Okowa.
One source said Governor Okowa had chosen not to whine like many of his colleagues, but added that the incumbent Governor “knows [full] well that he is in trouble. In fact, several elder statesmen across the State are putting pressure on him to let the world know what he met on ground.”
Governor Okowa’s newly appointed spokesmen are declining to comment publicly on the issue, which is threatening to boil over in Delta State. But they privately admit that the State’s financial shape is dire.
Mr. Uduaghan, a medical doctor, reportedly left behind a total debt of more than N773 billion, according to current estimates by officials of the state. They disclosed that ex-Governor Uduaghan accumulated liabilities to the tune of N238.6 billion in the form of bonds, bank debts and related obligations, and an additional N534.6 billion in pure contractual liabilities.
A source said the former Governor’s sole aim, as his tenure wound down, was to financially cripple the State beyond recovery before his exit. He said the evidence gathered so far was overwhelming. Under Uduaghan, Delta State received a monthly allocation of about N10 billion from the Federation Account. The former Governor entered into so-called irrevocable standing payment order (ISPO) bonds of N5.1 and N1.2 billion respectively, deductible at source from the State’s monthly allocation from the Federation Account. After these deductions, the State’s net receipt fell to N3.7 billion a month.
The State's internally generated revenues (IGR) of N3.5 billion a month bumped the figure up to N7.3 billion a month. On the surface, revenues of N7.3 billion look like a tidy sum for Delta State, and Mr. Uduaghan used that figure to claim that he did not leave an empty treasury.
However, our sources described the former Governor’s claim as a big lie. They revealed that personnel costs, in terms of salaries, pensions and other benefits to workers, amount to N7.6 billion each month. In addition, statutory transfers to statutory agencies, including the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESPOPADEC), amount to N4.3 billion a month. Overhead costs in the State public service are N4.4 billion a month, bringing the State’s total statutory expenditure to N16.3 billion a month.
“Governor Okowa would need to borrow N9.1 billion every month just to run government business in Delta,” said one source. He added, “If His Excellency, Dr. Okowa, chooses not to borrow, then his administration is dead on arrival.”
The source accused Mr. Uduaghan of aiming to ambush his predecessor with a financial picture that is programmed to lead to Mr. Okowa’s failure. “Where will the new administration source the funds to bring development projects and initiatives to the people of the state as the dividends of governance?” one source asked.
Our sources accused Mr. Uduaghan of structuring the repayment schedule of the loans to start in June 2015 to coincide with the arrival of a new administration in the State.
To clearly illustrate the weight of the financial burden that Uduaghan left behind, one source said, “If you shared the debt exposure of N773.2 billion [among] the entire local government areas in Nigeria, each council would amass a debt burden of N1 billion.”
Two of our sources claimed that Mr. Uduaghan frittered away scarce State resources to serve his obscene taste for expensive personal acquisitions as well as his unrestrained social lifestyle. They said that, with the State treasury at his disposal, the former Governor spend recklessly in pursuit of his adulterous escapades, often with married women from across the state and beyond. One source said Mr. Uduaghan seemed to have a weird attraction to women married to public figures in his State, adding that he was particularly obsessed with any women who were linked to his cousin and former Governor, James Onanefe Ibori. Mr. Ibori is serving a 13-year jail term in the UK after pleading no-contest to charges of laundering tens of millions of pound sterling through British courts and institutions.
Some officials in Delta State allege that, after the April 11 governorship election, Mr. Uduaghan spent eye-popping sums to purchase 15 swanky homes in the United Arab Emirates. They add that Mr. Uduaghan paid for all 15 properties on the same day, as if he were an oil sheik.
By contrast, former Governor Uduaghan’s critics say he left no meaningful projects or infrastructure in Delta State during his eight-year control of the State treasury, save for a dubious Asaba Airport project that has gulped more than N40 billion but has yet to be approved by Nigerian aviation authorities because of the facility’s haphazard conception, construction and delivery.
“Today, the five major cities of the state, namely Warri, Asaba, Agbor, Sapele and Ughelli, remain a shadow of themselves,” one critic said.
Another source said that, while a few other oil-producing states were busy advancing the fortunes of their States with such infrastructure as metro rails, stadia and highways, Mr. Uduaghan’s administration “simply dipped its hands in the state treasury and simply asked Deltans to ‘go to hell.’”