OKOWA: A GOVERNOR WALKING HIS TALK
Saturday, September 5, 2015, marked 100 days of Sen. Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa in office as Executive Governor of Delta State. From all indications, Okowa hit the ground running. And this is hardly surprising. Okowa came into office with a clear vision and an action plan encapsulated in his well thought-out S.M.A.R.T agenda that is designed to usher in “Prosperity for all Deltans”.
From day one, he left nobody in doubt about his preparedness and determination to walk his talk. Standing on the podium on his inauguration day, Okowa, trusting that God will enable him, solemnly re-assured Deltans of his determination to tackle the glaringly daunting challenges facing the state. He challenged them to be ready for tough decisions and hard choices.
In his words: “The challenges are not only real, they are diverse and complex. And there are no quick or easy solutions. But they can be tackled. What we will not do is to succumb to despair or allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by the current difficulties. Indeed, times like these are often a good test of character and determination to succeed, for in the words of the Scriptures, if you faint in the day of adversity then your strength is small.
“In the days, months, and years ahead, we should be ready to make hard choices and take tough decisions that are imperative for the prosperity and welfare of our people…..We must keep faith in ourselves, trusting God for a greater tomorrow”.
For all diligent and discerning observers, Governor Okowa in his first 100 days has demonstrated quality leadership that is defined by vision, focus, determination and political will to take big, tough, decisions. He has served notice to all that his S.M.A.R.T agenda is not just a political catch-phrase or mere campaign rhetoric.
S.M.A.R.T, for the benefit of those not yet familiar with the acronym, stands for:
* Strategic Wealth Creation Initiatives and Provision of Jobs for all Deltans.
* Meaningful Peace Building Platforms aimed at Political/Social Stability.
* Agricultural Reforms and Industrialisation.
* Relevant Health and Education Policies.
* Transformed Environment through Massive Urban Renewal.
As we speak, Governor Okowa has touched on all the five different components of the S.M.A.R.T agenda. His job creation programme took off with a bang. Whereas 6,000 places were advertised for the take off of the programme, not less than 70,000 applied. The enthusiasm that greeted the take off of the programme was simply infectious. It was a measure of the popularity of the programme and the high level of expectation on the part of the good people of Delta State from the Okowa administration.
While flagging off the training programme for 1,645 youths at the Songhai-Delta, Amukpe in Sapele Local Government Area on August 26, an elated Governor Okowa declared, “Today's event is undeniable proof that our administration's S.M.A.R.T agenda is well and truly on course; it goes without saying that job and wealth creation are the bedrock of the S.M.A.R.T agenda with YAGEP and STEP as the flagship programmes…”
The ultimate target, according to Governor Okowa, is to create a minimum of 50,000 direct jobs in four years. So far, the job and wealth creation programme of the Okowa administration has been a roaring success attracting commendations and plaudits even beyond the state.
Given his avowed pan-Deltan belief and in a bid to strengthen the unity of, and enhance the peaceful atmosphere currently pervading the state, Governor Okowa has established and inaugurated a 31 man Advisory and Peace Building Council for the state. This is a direct fulfillment of his promise to create Meaningful Peace Building Platforms aimed at Political/Social Stability. No doubt, this decisive step will go along way in fostering and encouraging peaceful coexistence in our dear state. The Council headed by elder statesman and former minister, Prof Sam Oyovbaire is peopled by highly respected community leaders, opinion moulders and eminent Deltans.
Just last week, Delta marked the 24th anniversary of its creation. While we thank God for keeping the state thus far, the state of our capital, Asaba, remains a thing of concern to well meaning Deltans. In keeping with his promise, Governor Okowa has set in motion a process that will in the next few years, through the Asaba Capital Development Agency, transform the state capital into a city that all can be proud of.
The same urgency with which he forwarded the Asaba Capital Development Agency to the State House of Assembly also applies to the Delta State Contributory Health Commission. It only goes to emphasis the concern and the preparedness of the governor, being a medical doctor of repute, to make healthcare both affordable and accessible to Deltans.
In the same period under review, a key government agency, the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC) has been reinvented, restructured and repositioned to be able to deliver on its statutory roles and functions. Governor Okowa deserves a truck load of commendations for his insight and determination to effect changes to the deficiencies inherent in the previous enabling Law of DESOPADEC. Albert Einstein it was who counseled that, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. Today, we look forward with hope to a DESOPADEC that will positively impact on the lives of the people of the oil bearing communities and raise the bar of development in the state.
While inaugurating the new 14 man Governing Board, Governor Okowa has this to say: “The new DESOPADEC structure provides for sound corporate governance in line with international best practices which is expected to put the Commission on a stronger footing to better meet the developmental needs of ethnic nationalities in the oil producing areas.
“I encourage you to use the bottom-up approach; the communities should determine the projects they want in their areas so that peace will reign and development will be enhanced.”
In other sectors such as education, infrastructure and industrial sectors, the Okowa administration has moved into them within its 100 days in office. For example, this administration made it clear that technical and vocational education will be emphasised. Already, there are ongoing works in designated Technical Colleges across the state. The Asaba International Airport is receiving attention and the repair work designed to upgrade it is moving apace and should be completed in no distance time. Moribund industries are to be revived to complement the employment creation drive of the administration.
An objective assessment of his activities since he came into office will inexorably lead to the conclusion that Okowa is a thinking, working and listening governor, who spares no effort to make good his words. He has practically thrown himself at his job with an unparalleled zest and passion. And, that being the case, the future of Delta State is certainly bright, yes, really bright and packed with hope just as the present is cheerfully encouraging.
Therefore, Delta State and Deltans, without any shred of doubt, are in safe hands with Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa as Governor. And like a popular act, Korede Bello, would put it, _Na God Win!_
Written by Augustine Avwode, Special Assistant, Media, To Governor Okowa.