Ovie Omo-Agege: Like the Chichidodo (Opinion)

Ovie Omo-Agege

By Fred Edoreh

In Ayi Kwei Armah’s “The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born”, we come across a bird called Chichidodo. The interesting thing about it is that it hates excrement so much but it’s best food is the maggot which grows best in excreta.

Even when Chichidodo pollutes the air, it runs as if something else is pursuing it, forgetting that it cannot run away from itself.

The contradiction of the Chichidodo best describes the latest outburst of former Deputy Senate President and failed candidate of the APC in the Delta State Governorship election, Obarisi Ovie Omo-Agege.

Last week, his office issued a statement through one M.A. Egharhevwa, Esq, as published in Omo-Agege’s verified Facebook account, abusing the media aides of Governor Sheriff Oborevwori. Their offence: That some Deltans dared ask about the N80 billion which he reportedly claimed to have secured approval of, for the reconstruction of the Benin-Warri and Sapele-Abraka-Agbor highways.

Omo-Agege argued that it was wrong to query him about the money and the roads, especially the Sapele-Abraka-Agbor section, since the Minister of Works, Dave Umahi, had explained, during an inspection visit, that the problem was that since 2014, when the FG awarded the contract, only N13 billion had been paid to the contractor, that the initial design by the FG was faulty, which accounted for the failure of the earlier construction, that the road needs to be redesigned with better features and that the cost of reconstruction is now very heavy for the FG to easily mobilise.

Agege therefore submitted that he has no questions to answer on the road, and those calling him out are unintelligent. However, that is only spinning the narrative to confuse the subject for which he is being called out.

First, he is of no concern to Governor Oborevwori’s media aides who are well aware that Deltans know him for who he is. Secondly, no one is after him. He is only being chased by his own shadow, his words coming back to find him, for as we know, the evil that men do lives after them.

How can Agege be agitated or angry that Deltans are calling him back to explain more about the N80 billion?
How could he have forgotten so soon how he claimed during the electioneering campaigns to have secured that approval of N80 billion for the reconstruction of the roads?

As widely reported by major national newspapers and online publications between 28 to 30 November, 2022, Agege made the claim at a campaign meeting with the Christian Council of Nigeria in Sapele.

The reports read: “This was disclosed by the Deputy President of the Senate and APC governorship candidate in Delta, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, during a meeting with members of the Christian Council of Nigeria which held in Sapele.”

The report quoted him as having explained that “…With the reconstitution of the NDDC board, Buhari ordered that N500 billion of the commission that was frozen be released for development projects and the sum of N80 billion was approved when he pleaded with the President to consider the Sapele-Benin road and the Amukpe-Agbor road.”

In fact, part of the report further quoted him as saying he hid the approval from the former Governor, Sen Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, ostensibly so that he would not take credit for the expected reconstruction of the road with the said approved fund.

Following Omo-Agege’s declarations, Deltans looked forward to action on the reconstruction of the roads, but it was not to be.

Rather the roads deteriorated the more and road users suffered greater hardship especially during that Yuletide season.

So far, the particularly difficult Ologbo section of the Benin-Warri road has been touched by the FG, while Governor Sheriff Oborevwori has almost completed the reconstruction of the Old Umutu-Abraka-Eku road to provide alternative route for Deltans and travellers on that axis, pending when the FG will conclude its planned redesign and mobilisation of funds for the reconstruction.

Given this situation, it is reasonable and justified for Deltans to re-interrogate Agege. It is valid now, as yesterday, and will still be valid tomorrow, to ask him what has happened to the N80 billion approval he claimed, why the fund was not and has not been applied to the road and where now is the money?

He has a responsibility of honour to answer these questions. No matter how he spins the narrative, he cannot discharge the onus by hiding behind the Minister of Works. That is like hiding one’s face behind one finger.

He cannot also keep pretending to be angry when his earlier claim about having secured N80 billion approval is played back to him. That will be acting like the Chichidodo.

The need for him to answer is even more now, especially with the revelation by the Minister about the difficulty in mobilizing the required fund to embark on proper reconstruction of the road, whereas Omo-Agege had reportedly told us about a certain N80 billion approval he secured from the then President.

On the other hand, if he only told empty lies then, merely to deceive the people to vote for him, he can as well still simply redeem himself by owning up to his lies, by coming plain to confess that he lied.

Deltans would not be surprised that he lied, just as they are not surprised that, as Deputy Senate President, he could not muster the political influence to get the major highway to his constituency done but only returned home to campaign with lies.

The only remaining thing is just also to unlearn certain habits of conduct and style because, for instance, as he should know by now, lies don’t last, no matter how deceptively postured.

●Fred Edoreh is Senior Special Assistant on Media to the Governor of Delta State.