Okowa’s 6th Year Of Good Governance And Impactful Leadership.
By Fred Latimore Oghenesivbe, Esq
Good governance is a product of superior planning, quality thinking, prudent financial management, transparency and holistic application of biblical injunctions in the day to day business of governance by God fearing leaders.
A good leader must also be a team player, not unnecessarily temperamental, not autocratic in running affairs of government, must be selfless and reasonably humble to be able to get along well with the people he or she is leading.
It follows that a proud, self centered and easily provoked persons cannot and will never be good leaders either in the political arena, public service or in the corporate world. The bible tells us in Proverbs 16:18, that Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
And we have seen some individuals who have been rejected because of their pride, ego and rude dispositions.
To love your governor is to say that he possess some essential qualities of a good leader, as enumerated in paragraphs one and two above, while paragraph three above is the reason why you must not elect a leader with those dispositions, never.
Six years gone, out of the eight years of the maximum two tenure stated in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, for either the President or State Governors and their Vice and/or deputies to govern. This administration commenced on May 29, 2015, and will terminate on May 29, 2023.
Senator Dr Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa took Oath of office on May 29, 2015, as governor of Delta State, amidst frightening global economic recession coupled with certain unfavourable foreign exchange policy of the President Muhammadu Buhari led APC national government which compelled some investors; local and foreign to repatriate their funds to other countries.
In the midst of the economic turbulence, the Okowa administration commenced the SMART Agenda and Prosperity for All Deltans mantra; introduced fiscal discipline; blocked financial leakages, put an end to ghost workers syndrome, introduced due process, accountability and transparency in governance.
The socioeconomic and infrastructure development policies and programmes rooted in the SMART agenda gave birth to various vocational training and skills acquisition programmes; Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurship Programme, YAGEP; and Skills Training And Entrepreneurship Programme, STEP. These programmes took thousands of Delta youth from the streets and off the labour market. It was applauded by Central Bank of Nigeria, Tony Elumelu Foundation and other nongovernmental organisations.
These programmes were expanded in the second tenure to include; Project Test for girls between age 18 and 30. The first batch of almost 500 graduands recently received their certificates, starter packs and some financial assistance to rent shops to enable them start small scale businesses.
The Rural Youth Skills Acquisition, RYSA, was added to the youth empowerment programme via the Ministry of Youth Development. Over 850 youth of the first batch received their starter packs and other financial assistance from the state government.
In all, about 30,000 Delta Youth have benefited directly or indirectly from these programmes; YAGEP, STEP, RYSA and PROJECT GEST. There is no other state since the advent of constitutional democracy that embarked on such gigantic and result oriented empowerment programme for the people in Nigeria.
The United Nations resident Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Kallon, recently cited Gov Okowa based on empirical data analyzed by his office, as one of the most progressive governors in Nigeria. Thanks to our promise keeper leader, the Ekwueme Gburugburu!
REHABILITATION/EQUIPPING/UPGRADE OF ASABA INT’L AIRPORT: The Asaba Airport was already downgraded before Okowa took oath of office and had to grapple with the problems of fixing the airport for the needed upgrade. Wide bodied aircraft were banned from flying into Asaba, only light aircraft, such as 30-seater private jets, as well as Dash-8 300 and 400 series propeller aircraft operated by Aero Contractors, Overland and Arik Air.
Okowa had a rough time with the contractors engaged by the Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan led administration, Ulo Consultants Ltd, and had to repudiate the contract as a result of gross incompetence, and awarded it to Setraco Nigeria.
The new contractor completed the project in record time and the airport was subsequently upgraded to international standard. The Asaba Airport, is currently one of the busiest commercial flights hub in Nigeria, with more than five airlines operating into Asaba, on a daily basis, day and night, respectively.
One of the nation’s proficient Pilots, flying the B737-300-500 series at Air Peace Airlines, Capt Segun Fatonade, once said that Asaba Airport runway now rank one of the best in the world, and described Gov Okowa, as a visionary leader with keen interest for the growth of the aviation industry, especially air transportation in Nigeria.
STEPHEN KESHI INT’L STADIUM: As a state capital, Asaba did not have a Stadium as at May 29, 2015 when Okowa assumed office as governor. He could not stomach this backwardness and decided to take up the state long abandoned stadium project along Nnebisi Road. Okowa administration completed the Olympia size stadium in record time during the first tenure, and named it after Delta born soccer legend, Stephen Keshi of blessed memory.
Thus, Stephen Keshi International Stadium, is rated by FIFA as one of the best in Africa, which enabled the state to host the 2018 African Senior Athletic Championship, followed by other international soccer engagements. The 6th year praise and thanksgiving day of Okowa administration, was also held at the stadium, on May 29, 2021.
The huge I vestment in sports infrastructure and sports development yielded enormous gains as Delta came tops four consecutive times as the nation’s champion in Sports, and still counting.
STATE SECRETARIAT: The multi billion naira ultra modern state Secretariat is another landmark achievement and one of the star projects of Okowa administration within six years. It is a beauty project to behold, meant to house all ministries, departments and agencies of government, situated along the ever busy Marian Babaginda Way, in the state capital of Asaba.
The facilities at the Secretariat are such that civil servants will have no excuses to step out of their offices for a long time. Day care for kids, banking hall, car park, shopping mall, internet connectivity and ease of work through sharing of official information via modern communication technology. The Secretariat will be commissioned very soon.
ROADS: Within six years, this administration executed and commissioned over 300 road projects acrose the three senatorial districts, adjudged to be the first of its kind since the creation of Delta State. Roads now connects several rural communities together, bridges were built where necessary to make transportation of goods and services much more easier and less expensive compared to six years ago. No fewer than 300 additional roads are under renovation and/or rehabilitation across the state.
Gov Okowa was nicked named; “The Roadmaster” by the Vice President of Nigeria, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, as a result of his massive road infrastructure projects across the state. These also included over 28 road networks in Okpanam town and environ, deliberately constructed to help deal with the erosion and heavy flooding problems in Asaba, the state capital.
UNDERGROUND WATER TUNNELS: Flooding in Asaba, was a major problem. Houses and other household property were destroyed whenever it rained. It was a big mess, which the Okowa administration timetously cleaned up. The underground water tunnels saved the situation but it cost the state government a fortune. Today, flooding is now a thing of the past in Asaba, the fast developing capital of Delta State.
The Asaba Capital Territory Development Agency and the state Ministry of Urban Renewal, have been assigned the responsibility of ensuring rapid development of the state capital, until acceptable standard is attained. Asaba is wearing a new look, and the urban renewal process is ongoing. It is hoped that the next governor of the state, come 2023, will ensure the continuity of the state capital development.
In the same vein, the Uvwie-Effurun-Warri Development Agency, is handling huge infrastructure development especially underground water tunnels to end the problems of flooding in the commercial city. Massive work is ongoing and some of the projects will be commissioned sooner than later.
EDUCATION: Okowa administration inherited six moribund Technical Colleges, and took proactive steps to have them rehabilitated, equipped and now in full session.
The technical schools are of Paramount importance due largely to the skills acquisition in the curriculum. It is to support manpower and human capacity development. It reduces search for white collar jobs because graduands are ready to hit the ground running as bread winners with the professional skills acquired.
To drive Technical education to fruition, the state government under Senator Dr Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, had to establish the Ministry of Vocational and Technical Education, and Exco approved the establishment of one Technical College each in all the twenty five local government areas in the state.
The new Technical Colleges construction project is ongoing and will be completed and commissioned before the terminal date of this administration on May 29, 2023. This is good governance in motion.
Several schools; primary, secondary and higher institutions of learning were either constructed, rehabilitated, equipped or upgraded across the three senatorial districts by this administration. Schools in the riverine areas got a boast, bridges linking various communities constructed by this administration, making it possible for school children to go to school within and outside their immediate towns and villages.
THREE NEW UNIVERSITIES: To ensure that more qualified Deltans are admitted into Universities within the state, this administration upgraded three institutions to full fledge Universities.
College of Education, Agbor was upgraded and named; Delta University. Anwai campus of Delta State University, was upgraded and named; Dennis Osadebey University while Ozoro Polytechnic was upgraded and named; Delta State University of Science and Technology. The three Universities have been approved by the National Universities Commission, NUC.
Subsequently, three Vice Chancellors were appointed by the state government to head the Universities. New administrative buildings have been approved for each of them, and construction works in top gear.
Gov Okowa assured Deltans that his administration will provide adequate funding for the take off of these new Universities. This is certainly a plus for the education sector in Delta State, kudos to governor Okowa.
TEACHERS DEVELOPMENT INSTITUTE AT OWA OYIBU:
This administration built and inaugurated a world class Teachers Professional Development Centre,TPDC, in Owa-Oyibu, Ika North East Local Government Area of the state. The gigantic modern buildings seats on a large expanse of land, with good network of roads within and around the institute.
The tastefully furnished and equipped lecture auditoriums have the capacity to accommodate not less than 700 student teachers, fused with administrative blocks, music and arts studios, laboratories, computer room, physical and virtual libraries, elevator and residential lodge of 110 rooms, to enable students enjoy the excellent and comfortable learning environment throughout the duration of their course of study, theory and practical training at TPDC.
The dazzling buildings and state of the art facilities at the teachers Institute attracted commendation from the special guest and executive governor of Abia State, Dr Okezie Victor Ipeazu, who is also an academician of no mean repute. For him, Governor Okowa’s style of leadership and achievements is way beyond pedestrian governance.
FRSC MARSHAL TRAINING SCHOOL:
Okowa administration also assisted the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, to build, furnish and equip an ultra modern FRSC Marshall Inspectorate Training School, situated at Owa-Alero in Ika North East Local Government Area of Delta State, Nigeria.
Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, while commissioning the Institute on Thursday, 6th May, 2021, described Delta state as one of the Federal Government cherished partner in “Project Nigeria,” noting that safety on our roads will continue to be a major priority for both States and federal governments, and that the presidency deeply appreciate governor Okowa and this administration for funding the FRSC Marshal Inspectorate Training School project to fruition, in the state.
The school is specifically for the training of noncommissioned officers, and has administrative block, auditorium, lecture rooms, male and female hostels, residential apartments, cafeteria, clinic, driving range and a football field. This all important project started in 2019, upon request by FRSC, and the promise keeper governor of Delta State, Senator Dr Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, ensured that the contractors delivered on time, and according to the quality and standard specified in the contractual agreement.
KWALE INDUSTRIAL PARK: The multi billion dollars Kwale Industrial Park project, is another success story of this administration, in terms of gains of direct foreign investment, DFI, initiative. It will provide thousands of jobs for both skilled and unskilled Deltans, when completed and fully operational.
It is hoped that other projects will spring up before the end of this administration. Gov Okowa is passionate about wealth and job creation, and will do anything and everything within his capacity to attract more and more prosperity for all Deltans.
PEACE BUILDING AND SECURITY: Within six years of Okowa administration, the state has been adjudged one of the most peaceful state in Nigeria. In the same vein, the United Nations rated governor Okowa, as one of the most progressive governors in the country, in terms of peace building and security management, rural communities development and youth empowerment, vocational and skills training.
This administration adopted result oriented strategies to address insecurity, inter ethnic restiveness, agitations for economic empowerments and development by the federal government, and boundary disputes in the state. It adopted stakeholders approach involving; traditional rulers, security agencies, vigilante groups, political leaders, Youth and women representatives.
Okowa administration has invested heavily in the provision of operational vehicles and installation of modern communication gadgets for security agencies. These noble efforts helped a great deal in apprehending criminals and deviants in record time.
Operation Delta Hawk, is the recent effort of the Okowa administration to keep Delta safe and secured. Operational vehicles and equipment were procured for the take off and efficient operations. Gov Okowa, is passionate about the safety and well being of Deltans. Peace building and security will continue to be treated as top priorities in the state.
Therefore, good governance plus effective and timely responses to peace building and security issues gave Delta State under Senator Dr Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, an edge over other States in Nigeria. Government will not relent in keeping Delta safe for investment inflows. If not for the wide spread insecurity in Nigeria, Delta stands outs as a strategic investors destination, and it is hoped that once the nation attain good measure of peace and reasonable security, Delta will blossom in terms of economic activities and DFI.
The government also did well within six years to provide adequate primary health care services, social health insurance scheme, and have been able to effectively and efficiently managed the Covid-19 pandemic in the state.
Monthly stipends for widows throughout the twenty five local government areas in the state, is another noble project embarked upon by the Okowa administration. It serves as social welfare package for women who lost their husbands, the bread winners. The programme will be sustained till the terminal date of this administration; and it is hoped that the next governor of the state come 2023, will not stop the widows monthly stipends.
Most importantly, this administration has emphasized the need to give God His right of place in governance, more than previous administrations. Gov Okowa made it abundantly clear from the outset that Praise, Worship and thanksgiving will replace state sponsored dinners and other social activities of government. And he kept his promise to celebrate God, and still counting.
It is therefore safe to assert that Okowa’s six years in the saddle as governor of Delta State, has been remarkable, successful and a monumental blessing to Deltans.