Re: WARRI: so much Oil, yet little Ambition
By MICHAEL TIDI
In an article titled WARRI: So Much Oil, Yet Little Ambition, written by one Solomon Elusoji, and recently published in the online version of Thisday Newspaper, the writer, a rookie journalist displayed his incompetence and embarrassing amateurism throughout his woefully unprofessional piece while sweepingly casting aspersions on the lofty image of our beloved Oil City of Warri.
According to the writer, he came to Warri and of all the hotels available in the Oil City, he somehow managed to end up in some seedy “rat infested” hotel in only God knows what area of the town. Warri is a city of hotels, indeed, the top rate hotels we have here are world class operations according to their categories. The writer didn’t see Bon Delta, Best Western, Peemos Place, PK Guest House, Maxim Lotus, Bridge View Hotels to lodge in and for reasons best known to him, he wound up in what is from his own description, most likely to be a cheap brothel, without a name, and he then proceeded to rely on that self-imposed substandard experience as the standard of what Warri has to offer!
Apparently relying on a purported Warri contact of his, he kept happing about in his shambolic write-up, one wonders how come a graduate in this day and age would ignore or at any rate avoid all the world class hotels in Warri and lodge his friend and former university school mate in a rundown, ramshackle hotel – or brothel, for that matter? One would naturally wonder what sort of life they both lived in their university days that made such a hotel their preferred choice of accommodation in a city like Warri with much better to offer. There are seedy, rock bottom rate hotels everywhere in the world. I wonder if the writer had ever travelled abroad but for those who have, they would tell you anytime any day that in cities such as New York, London and Paris, if you look around hard enough, you will surely find a rat infested hotel in these cities. It is what we would refer to as “monkey by grade” here in Warri. Human beings go where they are most comfortable and I guess they are entitled to. Nevertheless, if your taste in hotels is a brothel, you are not entitled to then pretend that your particular choice of accommodation represents what a particular city has to offer.
If for some reason I went to a city I had never visited before and ended up in a hotel I did not find to my taste, I would immediately set about making inquiries and relocate myself to better surroundings. If you choose to stay in a seedy, morally bankrupt environment, then the legitimate inference to be drawn is that you are the sort of person who feels quite at home in such environments. In his infantile attempt to tarnish the reputation of a great historical city, the writer only ended up painting a most suspicious picture of his personal tastes to the reading public.
The writer mentioned the fact that he sat with his contact in the midst of drug addicts while getting a feel of the city. While drug addiction is a growing problem across our country, I doubt that Warri is anywhere at the top of the NDLEA’s list of the most drug infested towns in Nigeria, and, on per capita terms, I would venture to suggest that Lagos is actually a more drug afflicted city than Warri. In any case, while painting a false picture of widespread insecurity in Warri, the writer would have us believe that while in an apparently unsafe city, he somehow managed to lodge in a vermin infested hotel patronized by drug addicts and left Warri without a scratch! This is junk journalism at its very worst!
Whatever is wrong in Warri is what is wrong with our shameful structure and conditions of nationhood as a country. Whatever works in Lagos was initially underwritten by the oil wealth of the Niger Delta. The ports in Lagos were developed with oil money and if the port in Warri in the Niger Delta where the money came from is not working and the ones in Lagos where the money went to are functioning, then it is not because something is particularly wrong with Warri but because something is very, very wrong with Nigeria. Whatever is complimentary about Abuja is what should have been in Warri had not our lopsided and unworkable national structure made it possible for wealth to be stolen from one part of a country to develop another part of that same country. If indeed, the writer manages to live any sort of good life in his base, wherever that is, he does so, largely at the expense of the good people of the Oil City of Warri and the Niger Delta at large whose stolen oil wealth made that possible.
Journalism cannot legitimately be about producing utterly unverified compositions masqueraded as news reports. The writer committed all manner of shameful journalistic sins by failing abysmally in the areas of due diligence, concise research and painstaking verifications. As they say in journalism: “if unsure, leave out.” Reading through his unnecessarily verbose piece, one gets a picture of a baby journalist hungry for cheap fame and completely unprepared for the actual hard work that brings about true professional excellence.
To accuse the Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa of hand picking local government chairmen is just humbug. Anyone who knows Governor Okowa would simply laugh off such utter nonsense but for the fact that barefaced lies are not laughable at all. Governor Okowa, himself, went through a most torturous and painstaking process of internal democracy in which he eventually emerged as candidate for Governor through keenly contested primaries. He himself cannot in any context be said to have been handpicked and it is not such a man that will have any stomach for unpopular, incompetent persons trooping to him to be anointed for electoral purposes. In fact, Governor Okowa is well known for telling anyone who approaches him for endorsement to go to the field, engage the grassroots and test his or her popularity with the people rather than coming to him for endorsement. He is on record, severally for making it crystal clear that having gone through credible electoral processes, himself, he will always insist on same for all others.
Thankfully for us here in Warri, the Okowa administration is putting in place projects and programs of direct benefit to our people and capable of impacting positively on our drive to revamp all facets of life in our city. These include:
1. Construction and conversion of 6 classroom block to an examination hall at Ubeji Grammer School, Ubeji;
2. Ongoing Construction of 6 Classroom Block at Egharegbemi Primary School, Ubeji;
3. Provision of Solar water treatment plant; Egbaregbemi Primary School, Ubeji;
4. Fencing of Egharegbemi Primary School, Ubeji;
5.Construction /Rehabilitation of Internal Communal Roads I Ode-Itsekiri Community;
6. Construction of Trans Warri/Ode-Itsekiri Bridge;
7. Minor rehabilitation of some roads in Ekurede Urhobo, Warri;
8. Construction of Maternity Ward at Ekurede Urhobo, Warri;
9. Maintenance of Street Lights;
10.Construction /Rehabilitation of the NPA by-pass;
11. Renovation of Agbeje Primary School, Ugbuwangue;
12) Rehabilitation of Esisi Road, GRA, Warri;
13) Maintenance of Street Lights;
14) Construction of classroom blocks, Fencing, Landscaping of school compound, construction of solar Powered water supply scheme with treatment plant at Torufa Primary School;
15) Construction of Classroom blocks at Alero Primary School;
16) Construction of Internal roads linking the entire Okere Urhobo community, Warri;
17) Ongoing Maintenance of Street Lights; and,
18) Construction / Renovation of blocks of classroom at Ighogbadu Primary School.
While apparently particularly determined to cast aspersions on my person, clearly the writer doesn’t know anything about me and more problematically did not even bother to find out anything about me as would be expected of any professional journalist. I am practically a journalist, myself and know for a fact that the methodology he adopted for researching his story is disgracefully unprofessional.
While displaying a most irresponsible penchant for ignoring reality the writer did not bother to find out the pedigree of the current crop of local government helmsmen in Delta, nor did he take any steps to familiarize himself with what is currently happening in Warri or elsewhere in Delta before making his shamefully inaccurate sweeping remarks. Had he done so, he would have seen the fact that the Council under my leadership has engaged the youths executive committees of the various communities in Warri South in a Peace/Empowerment meeting which has helped in curbing youth restiveness while creating employment and empowerment opportunities as well as promoting peace in the metropolis and environs.
While less than a month old, our administration has equally engaged traders in the various markets in Warri South on ways to enhance environmental conditions in all markets within the council. We have responded positively to the economic reality of the council by reconstituting the Revenue Committee with robust terms of reference geared towards the deployment of technology to enable government optimize its internally generated revenue (IGR) for delivery of our mandate. Furthermore, our administration has also meaningfully engaged the NURTW on illegal parking, as well as on safe and orderly driving by their members so as to reduce traffic congestion. We have partnered with multi-nationals in the L.G.A. on refuse disposal as well as with NUPENG and tank farm operators in Ifie to reduce traffic congestion along the Ifie-ubeji road. We have also liaised with security agencies such as the police, DSS, NCSDC, army, navy and air force to ensure adequate security for the people of Warri South L.G.A., while engaging boat drivers and jetty operators on waterways safety.
The writer kept trying to paint a picture of Warri as a fraud infested city where the thriving occupation amongst youths is advance free fraud, alternatively called yahoo-yahoo. Clearly, he knows absolutely nothing about our lovely city. There are far more persons, per capita involved in yahoo-yahoo in Lagos and many other cities than in Warri. Over here, we have a different approach to survival and whilst yahoo boys are celebrated elsewhere, here in Warri, the few we have are roundly despised and kept at arm’s length by the wider society. Unfortunately for the writer, while baselessly trying to portray our city as a yahoo-yahoo haven, his vehicle for doing so was through what is, to all intents and purposes, a yahoo-yahoo article on his own part! How ironic.
As for the information officer the writer quoted from Warri South Council, one wonders why when the ignorant fellow was running his mouth and busy doing the direct opposite of his job as an information officer by vainly trying to demarket the very city it is his job to market, his equally incompetent colleague of a writer did not deem it fit to ask him some pertinent questions. For one, how come a supposedly professional journalist running a commercial concern in the form of an online newspaper is also at the same time sitting idle somewhere as an information officer, collecting the salary of a civil servant? Nothing could be more unprofessional not to talk of illegal as such irresponsible conduct on the part of a purported professional newshound. According to the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the civil service rules of all the states, a civil servant cannot participate in any commercial activity with the sole exception of agriculture. Here we have a so-called information officer who is a civil servant, neglecting his official duties and spending all his time running a private newspaper while still being paid from state coffers. Had the writer been at all competent and professional, this is perhaps the most newsworthy item amongst his entire experiences whilst on his ill motivated visit to our blessed city.
We have come a long way in Warri and it is not some half-baked rookie of a most unprofessional journalist that will throw us off track by disparaging our city. Having come out of the protracted crisis that almost destroyed our beloved town, we have now consolidated the peace, become our brother’s keepers and are now proceeding to restore our city to its past glory. Our vision is not to stop at that but indeed to take Warri to the next level as we all close ranks across tribe and tongue in our beloved Wafi to make the Oil City great again.
Tidi, Chairman, Warri South Local Government Council, wrote in from Warri.