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Oborevwori: Navigating the path less traveled 

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By Felix Ofou

“No one has learned the meaning of life until he has surrendered his ego to the service of his fellow men” – Beran Wolfe

A lot of politicians are driven by ego. Some by King size egos and others by not too big egos. They are self centered and propelled mainly by what benefits them directly. Only very few politicians could be described as being selfless with eyes fixed on milestones and enduring legacies.

Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori, Governor of Delta State, clearly belongs to the category of leaders seeking to make their mark on the sands of time. He is not afraid to thread the path less traveled. We can safely posit that he is more concerned about delivering the dividends of democracy, not minding the cost or the price to achieve the purpose.

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Since assumption of office a year ago, Governor Oborevwori has opted for a trajectory that ensures continuity in government by ensuring that projects inherited from past administrations are completed for commissioning, while at the same time, initiating new ones to complete the cycle.

This resolve to pursue continuity in government has evidently set the Delta Governor apart from some of his colleagues, past and present. Consequently, there are abundance of projects to show for Oborevwori’s one year in office. And Deltans are definitely happier for the armada of projects spread across the length and breath of the state.

Take the case of Lagos State, for example, where former Governor Akinwunmi Ambode simply abandoned projects initiated by his predecessor, Raji Fashola (SAN). Or the case of Governor Nyessom Wike, who turned a blind eye to projects of Rotimi Amaechi, his predecessor .

In both instances, the Governors and their predecessors belonged to the same political party and were sired by a common godfather: Ambode and Fashola by now President Bola Tinubu; Wike and Amaechi by former Governor Peter Odili. The same can be said of many other states where successors ignored projects of their predecessors. The outcome is the abandonment of a plethora of laudable projects that would have been of immense benefit to the people.

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By contrast, Governor Oborevwori embraced and took on programmers and projects of his predecessors with unparalleled gusto. He saw government as a continuum and ensured that work did not stop in any of the sites inherited. This is apart from new projects initiated by his administration since assumption of office on May 29, 2023.

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It is remarkable that Oborevwori has continued with projects started by former Governors, Chief James Onamefe Ibori (1999-2007), Dr Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan (2007-2015 and Senator Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa who ruled from 2015 to 2023. We can say there has been no distinction or discrimination as far as projects initiated by these political gladiators are concerned.

At least 401 road projects were inherited by the Governor, who is the immediate past Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly. He has within a year in office awarded contracts for new 311 roads, apart from embarking on several intangibles that have made the government extremely popular and acceptable to the people, especially at the grassroots.

Among the projects inherited is the Benekuu bridge and its adjoining spurs that is more than 98 percent completed. Then, there is the Ughelli – Asaba, a Federal Highway, for which Section C is nearly completed, and Section A in which massive work is ongoing, a development that is clearly unprecedented in our clime.

Today, motorists drive uninterrupted from Asaba to Ogwashi-uku, thereby reducing accidents on this corridor, which is the first phase of the Section A of the Asaba – Ughelli highway. This is thanks to the ingenuity and pragmatic leadership deployed by Oborevwori in handling this project that has lasted for more than 10 years.

It was Ogiame Atuwase III, the Olu of Warri, who recently heralded the great work being done by the Sheriff Oborevwori administration on the Trans Ode – Itsekiri road started 14 years ago. The elated royal father drove to ‘Big Warri’, as Ode Itsekiri is called, for the first time, a feat that was almost unthinkable a few years back.

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The 27 km Trans Ode Itsekiri road is made up of 19 bridges with 15 already completed. Work on the remaining four is ongoing and it is hoped that this would be rounded up in no distant time. But history was made when the Olu of Warri drove to Big Warri, stopping only at Ajaja, where his car was transported via pontoon.

Also worthy of note is the completion of the headquarters of the judiciary in Asaba, the Emevor -Orogun road and Okpanam-Ibusa bypass and Isheagu bridge, with the accompanying road, Orere and Bedesegha bridge, among many others.

Notable projects initiated by Oborevwori include the N78 billion bridges and accompanying road expansion awarded to construction giant, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, meant to transform the twin cities of Warri and Uvwie. It is on record that no Governor has engaged Julius Berger for any job. Oborevwori took everyone by surprise and got a bulls eye on that score. The same can be said of Umutu-Abraka-Eku old road which is almost completed. The Governor simply got tired of the Federal Government’s inertia on the Agbor-Abraka-Eku road and decided on providing an alternate routes for motorists to use.

Virtually every part of the state has been transferred into a huge construction site. Urban renewal and expansion are going on at a dizzying pace. Both the uplands and the creeks are affected in line with Oborevwori’s M.O.R.E agenda.

This treatise would however be incomplete if we fail to acknowledge the giant strides made to bring succour to pensioners in the local government system and civil servants previously owed pensions and gratuities as well as arrears of promotion allowances. The Governor promptly guaranteed a loan of N40 billion to clear the backlog for the pensioners and approved N5 billion for the affected civil servants. No worker promoted under Oborevwori’s watch is owed an allowance.

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Similarly over 50,000 persons in the civil and public service benefitted from palliatives of N10,000 paid consecutively for three months. Over 2000 teaching and non teaching staff were absorbed into the local government system, while technical education and the health sector have been revamped to meet with expectations of the founding fathers of the state.

With the unveiling of Delta Cares Programme and the M.O.R.E Grant scheme in which thousands of traders, artisans and indigent persons were empowered, Governor Oborevwori further demonstrated empathy and concern for the welfare of the people.

Despite being the longest serving Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, and definitely, the only one to have transited from the legislature to the executive arm of government, Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori has maintained an uncommon humility, focus and determination to deliver the dividends of democracy to all, without fear or discrimination.

No doubt, this new Sheriff in town is not driven by ego, arrogance or sense of entitlement. Instead, he has consistently attributed his emergence as governor and successes in government to Providence and the Grace of God. Nothing more can be added to a man’s rise from relative obscurity to the number one citizen of oil rich Delta State.

No wonder Governor Oborevwori opted for continuity in governance, knowing that the unmerited favour of God brought him this far and would sustain him beyond the foreseeable future. He is not in contest with his predecessors; totally focused in fulfilling promises made to the people, which is to better their lot and enthrone enduring legacies for generations unborn.

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“Ofou is Executive Assistant on New Media to Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori, Governor of Delta State.

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BREAKING: One week after US Congress threat, Court frees, Binance boss

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Exactly one week after the US Congress, moved against Nigeria, Tigran Gambaryan, Head of Financial Crime Compliance of Binance, was let off the hook on Friday, as the Federal Government, dropped charges against him, with a Federal High Court in Abuja, discharging him on the four-count charge of financial crimes.

Sixteen members of the US Congress, had last week, written a letter of protest to President Joe Biden, demanding his intervention into the case of Gambaryan, who holds US citizenship, who they said was in danger of losing his life under terrible conditions in detention in Nigeria, while insisting on his immediate release.

The letter had alleged that Gambaryan, “has been wrongfully detained since late February after granting the Nigerian government’s request for discussions regarding the crypto giant’s business in the country. The government of Nigeria took Mr. Gambaryan hostage and thus needs his government’s help to be freed.”

Raising alarm over the state of his health, the group of lawmakers, which said: “Mr. Gambaryan’s health and well-being are in danger, and we fear for his life. Immediate action is essential to ensure his safety and preserve his life. We must act swiftly before it is too late,” had emphasised “on behalf of Mr. Gambaryan, his family, and concerned Americans, we, the undersigned, urgently request and strongly encourage the transfer of his case to the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs.”

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Confirming that the government had dropped the charges against the Binance boss, on Friday, Dare Adekanmbi, spokesman to the FIRS, said: “Please note that the charges are being dropped against the second and the third defendants in the matter,” adding that the accused had been confirmed not to be a decision-maker at the cryptocurrency firm.

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He said in a statement: “We are relieved that the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has served and filed amended charges today, resulting in tax charges against Tigran Gambaryan being dropped. Further illustrating that Tigran is not a decision-maker at Binance and does not need to be held in order for Binance to resolve issues with the Nigerian government. We await the court’s ruling on this, discharging Tigran from this matter completely.”

Elsewhere in court, the Federal High Court sealed the freedom of the accused, whose ordeal began on February 28, with Justice Emeka Nwite, discharging him of all the charges, bothering on tax evasion charge preferred against the company by Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

Nwite, in a ruling, discharged and struck out the names of Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla, who had since fled Nigeria, after escaping from detention, in March, after Moses Ideho, lawyer to the FIRS, filed a fresh amended charge wherein Binance is listed as sole defendant.

Gambaryan, who was in court during Friday’s proceedings, had stepped into the dock, when Tonye Krukrubo, SAN, who appeared for Binance (1st defendant), then informed the court that the cryptocurrency firm had just appointed a representative in Nigeria in the name of Ayodele Omotilewa.

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Ideho, who confirmed that his office received a notice of appointment of a representative by Binance, also told the court that the notice was dated June 13, 2024, appointing Ayodele Omotilewa as its agent in the country, adding that against the development, an amended four-count charge listing Binance Holdings Limited as sole defendant was filed on June 13 and therefore Omotilewa should be docked to take a plea on behalf of the company.

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But Krukrubo in vehement disagreement argued that the company’s representative was yet to be served with the fresh amended charge, said Omotilewa was only appearing in court for the first time, adding: “I think my learner friend should confirm whether he has served him or not first. We are not there yet. The prosecution has not served us with the amended charges. He ought not to enter the dock. He was appointed for specific purposes, to receive processes. He is one of us; a legal practitioner. The proper thing for the prosecution to do is to address the court on the charge he intended to substitute.

Also arguing in the same direction, C.J. Caleb, who appeared for Gambaryan, argued that law on criminal trial of a corporation did not contemplate that a corporation or its representative should be in the dock, while the Administration of Criminal Justice (ACJA) Act, particularly Part 47, was very clear on how a trial should proceed in respect of a corporation.

“The Act also specifies all that is required for a representative in criminal trial in Sections 478 , 481, 482 and 483. So I align with my learner colleague that the representative is enough to be in court but does have to be in the dock,” he said.

Ideho, however disagreed, citing Section 481 of ACJA to back his argument, while adding: “If my lord is to look carefully at the provisions of this section and subsection, a representative cannot just sit in the gallery and watch like a spectator how the trial is conducted. He should be in the dock because this is a criminal charge not civil matter.”

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But, Krukrubo while jumping into the matter, argued that there was no where in the section cited by Ideho where it was said that a company’s representative must be in the dock, adding: Section 481 is written in black and white and it does not say that a representative of a corporation must be in dock. What he is saying is not contemplated by ACJA.”

When Nwite directed Ideho to move the latest application, the FIRS, lawyer, said: “We will like to amend and substitute the charge with the earlier one of May 17, 2024, which was our last amended charge my lord,” which neither Krukrubo, nor Caleb, opposed.

Subsequently, Caleb applied that the court should strike out the two earlier charges that listed his client, Gambaryan, as 2nd defendant, dated March 22 and the amended charge dated May 17, adding that Gambaryan should be discharged from the dock and from the proceedings in its entirety.

Nwite, before adjourning the matter to July 12 for pleas, granted the Federal Government’s request for the substitution of the June 13 amended charge for the May 17 one, set aside the earlier order, directing Gambaryan to be served on behalf of the company, and thereafter discharged him from the dock, while ordering parties to file written addresses as to whether Binance representative should be docked or not.

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NLNG signs agreement for new cooking gas vessel

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Shipping and Marine Services Limited (NSML), a subsidiary of the Nigeria Liquified Natural Gas (NLNG) and Temile Development Company Limited on Tuesday, signed a Vessel Management Agreement (VMA) to provide comprehensive vessel technical management services for the new 23,000 cubic metre LPG vessel, LPG Alfred Temile 10.

At a ceremony in Abuja, NSML’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Abdulkadir Ahmed, and Temile’s Chief Executive Officer, Alfred Temile, signed the VMA at the event, witnessed by Adegboyega Oyetola, Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, represented by Ekanem Ogegere Celia, Deputy Director, Cabotage and Shipping; Felix Omatsola Ogbe, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Content Development & Monitoring Board; Andy Odeh, General Manager, External Relations and Sustainable Development; Salihu Jamari, Chief Investment Officer, NNPC Gas & Power Investment Services, among others.

Speaking at the milestone event, NSML’s MD, Ahmed, emphasised that NSML will leverage its expertise and resources to ensure the safe, reliable, and efficient operation of the Alfred Temile 10. He stated that the relationship with Temile Development Company started with the delivery of the first LPG vessel – LPG Alfred Temile – to NLNG in 2020.

“The relationship grew and continued with the construction, supervision and delivery of the 2nd LPG Vessel – Alfred Temile 10 – to Nigeria in March 2024. This momentous occasion represents our shared commitment to excellence, safety, and innovation in the maritime industry. It also represents the tenacious can-do-spirit of Mr Alfred Temile who has grown his LPG vessel fleet within a span of four (4) years. The Alfed Temile 10 is a testament to our dedication to operating a modern, efficient, and environmentally responsible fleet. With its cutting-edge design and technology, this vessel will set a new standard for LPG transportation in Nigeria and the West Africa,” he said.

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Also speaking at the event, Mr. Temile, stressed that the new vessel will play a critical role in gas transportation in Nigeria, enhancing the company’s capacity to deliver high-quality services while adhering to the highest standards of safety and environmental stewardship.

“We are confident that this partnership will set a new benchmark in the industry, and we are excited about the opportunities that lie ahead. As we embark on this new chapter, we also anticipate further strategic investment decisions including a third gas carrier later this year, demonstrating our commitment to deliver sustainable growth and value to our shareholders and Nigeria,” he added.

The keynote speaker, Engr. Felix Ogbe, commended NSML and Temile Development Company for partnering together. He stressed that there was ample human capacity, resources and tenacity in-country to achieve great feats, calling for increased colloboration and cooperation in the maritime industry.

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Presidency to get two new aircraft for Tinubu, Shettima

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President Bola Tinubu and Vice President, Kashim Shettima, would be cruising in brand new aircraft soon, going by the indications coming from the National Assembly, which has announced its approval to allow the acquisition of two of the flying birds for the Presidency.

The House of Representatives, which gave indications on Wednesday, explained that the need to acquire the aircrafts was to ensure maximum security for the President and his deputy, as part of its findings after an audit of the presidential fleet currently serving the two principal officers of the nation.

The House relying on the recommendations of its committee on National Security and Intelligence, said: “The committee is of the strong and informed opinion that considering the fragile structure of the Nigerian federation and recognising the dire consequences of any foreseen or unforeseen mishap that may arise as a result of technical/operational inadequacy of the presidential air fleet, it is in the best interest of the country to procure two additional aircraft as recommended.

“This will also prove to be most cost-efficient in the long run apart from the added advantage of providing a suitable, comfortable and safe carrier befitting of the status and responsibilities of the office of the president and vice-president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

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The investigation, which was sequel to the inability of the VP to travel with his aircraft in May this year owing to technical faults, was instigated by a motion by Satomi Ahmed, member from Jere Federal Constituency of Borno State, who had raised an alarm over the matter, on the floor of the House, leading to a comprehensive investigation being ordered by the members.

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Despite the heated debates over the matter, with some lawmakers, who were uncomfortable with the suggestion, citing the current poor economic situation in the country, urging the Tinubu and Shettima to use commercial aircrafts of travel by road, Ahmed explained that the proposal remained the best solution at the moment.

The committee had met the commanders of the Presidential fleet, when Shettima, was forced to use a chartered plane from the Netherlands to Saudi Arabia during his recent trip abroad, after initially cancelling a trip to the US to represent Tinubu at the 2024 US-Africa business summit.

Ahmed, who told reporters on Wednesday that the committee would set up a technical committee to interface with the officials at the presidential air fleet and come up with a resolution.

Reports say the six aircraft currently in the Presidential fleet, include one Boeing 737 (19 years old, currently unserviceable and undergoing maintenance); one Gulfstream G550 (13 years old, in good condition), one Gulfstream GV (23 years old, unserviceable); two Falcon 7Xs (one serviceable, one unserviceable); and one Challenger CL605 (12 years old, serviceable).

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The helicopter fleet includes two Agusta 139s (17 and 18 years old, both unserviceable); four Agusta 189s (no information on their condition).

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