Asaba Airport Exposes Uduaghan’s Award as a Sham

Asaba Airport Exposes Uduaghan’s Award as a Sham

Asaba Airport Exposes Uduaghan’s Award as a Sham
Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan and Asaba International Airport. (inset) Silverbird’s Ben Murray-Bruce

The Asaba International Airport has exposed the Silverbird’s Man of the Year Award to Delta State Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan as a sham. Two days after receiving the award in a lavish ceremony at the prestigious Eko Hotels Lagos on Sunday 3 May 2015, the Asaba International Airport was marked unsafe by the Federal Government for not meeting the global safety standards and consequently downgraded.

On Tuesday, 5 May 2015, the Aviation Minister Osita Chidoka said in a statement, signed on his behalf by Assistant Director, Press & Public Affairs James Odaudu: “The downgrading has been carried out in the public interest because the Federal Government places very high premium on the safety and security of aviation passengers and would never compromise set standards for whatever reason.”

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Interestingly, the Asaba International Airport was the main yardstick with which the management of Silverbird measured Uduaghan’s performance as governor and concluded that it was “sterling.” Although the organisers of the awards hinted at his health programme, the high point of Uduaghan’s citation, as read out by Silverbird Group, was his “massive investment in infrastructure,” and the Asaba International airport, which cost in excess of N40billlion and took 6 years to complete, is the signpost of such “massive investment in infrastructure.”

When the Silverbird Man of the Year 2014 award, which the organisers claimed was decided through popular vote open to all Nigerians, was announced in a live broadcast on Silverbird’s Television, a lot of Deltans were livid and outraged. Their anger was that Uduaghan has not done any major thing in his 8 years as governor of the State to justify any award.

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Mr Tony Nwaefuna‘s reaction to the news of the award was a scathing attack on Uduaghan: “He is a monumental failure as far as service to mankind is concerned, for good 8 years and with the kind of money accruing from the 13% derivation yet, we may not know now how much debt he may have run us into because he’s handing over to his ally,” he said on Facebook.

In general, unimpressed Deltans described the award in pejorative terms: a “sham”, “fake”, “paid advert”, “useless”, “rubbish”, “yeye” and “stage-managed.” It was even insinuated that Uduaghan had used the State resources to “buy” the award to give himself a false sense of achievement, credibility and respectability.

Many Uduaghan’s loyalists may dismiss the allegation that Uduaghan paid cash for the Silverbird Man of the Year Award as an expression of malice, but the allegation is not off the mark. It is an open-secret that most Nigerian governors search nationally and around the globe for all kinds of awards, and wherever they find one, they offer humongous sum to the organisers to receive one with a prestigious title.

Xclusive Magazine gathered on good authority that Governor Uduaghan has invested far more than any other governor in Nigeria in this mundane pursuit. A source in Uduaghan’s government, who pleaded anonymity, confided in Xclusive Magazine that Governor Uduaghan is indeed “buying” these awards. The reliable insider said that the Commissioner for Information Mr Chike Ogeah is his “purchaser-in-chief.”

“His excellency mandates him to scout for quality awards wherever he can find them, whether locally or internationally, for any good price. But Uduaghan usually pays between N50million to N100million per an award. It’s that expensive because he goes for prestigious awards from well-respected organisers,” our credible source said.

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It is quite telling then that a governor, who has overwhelmingly underperformed, has collected four different awards in the last year from media organisations that many Nigerians consider as respectable. In addition to the latest Man of the Year 2014 award from Silverbird Group, owners of Silverbird Television network and Rhythm FM, Uduaghan’s three other awards include: BusinessDay Governor of the Year award; the Pilot newspaper Governor of the Year award; the BEN Television award in micro-credit and job creation; and the Africa Independent Television Governor of the Year award.

Apparently, Uduaghan is using these bogus achievement Awards to paper the cracks, albeit unsuccessfully, on the wall of his government of waste and utter profligacy. Xclusive Magazine recently uncovered the discreet half-price-sales of over 1,200 brand new Toyota Corolla and Camry cars to his cronies and top aides. These cars, some of which are still parked in the sprawling compound of the Commissioner of transport Mr Benson Igbakpa in Sapele, were purchased by Dr Uduaghan with the Delta State money as perks for those who would support his senate bid. When he failed to even make it to the primaries, the cars became surplus to requirement and are now being flung at a give-away price.

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