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By Dr. Ifeanyi M. Osuoza
An interesting slogan associated with the people of Ndokwa nation in Nigeria, is the short catchy phrase that says: “Ife manma ka kugide, ife manma ka kugide.” It can be translated to mean “it’s pleasant to acknowledge something good.”
It is against this background and borrowing from the Ndokwa nation’s distinctive phrase that identifies and acknowledges worth in something that one wishes to acknowledge the substance that the Senator, Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa’s trajectory as Governor of Delta State has brought to the State. His eight years sojourn as Delta State Governor is the narrative of a mission of high-quality essence imbued with the skills suitable for the delivery of the electioneering campaign promises he made to the people. Of course, the man fondly called ‘Ekwueme gburugburu’ by admirers has fully delivered on his promises and in some instances with icing on the cake.
Okowa’s belief in Delta as a State of limitless possibilities is without equal. He once said: “No one doubts my deep knowledge and commitment to my people of Delta State, to all the communities, the aspirations of the people, and the tremendous challenges facing us. My faith in Delta State is limitless, unwavering, and bountiful.” This mindset made him primed for service, leading him to enunciate his vision as Governor, to consolidate and advance the peace, progress, and prosperity of Delta State. This vision he encapsulated in his Five-point SMART Agenda of Strategic wealth creation projects and provision of jobs for all Deltans; Meaningful peace building platforms aimed at political/social stability; Agricultural Reforms and Accelerated Industrialization; Relevant Health and Education Policies and A transformed environment through urban renewal.
That Governor Okowa has carefully and painstakingly committed himself and his administration to fulfilling the SMART Agenda is to say the obvious reality. For instance, the cornerstone of the SMART Agenda is the Job Creation Scheme, which was conceptualised as a more enduring way of achieving this goal was designed to specifically tackle youth unemployment by producing a critical mass of skilled and knowledgeable small business owners that will drive the economic diversification and business competitiveness of the State. The success of the scheme is wonderful as thousands of unemployed graduates under the Skill Training and Acquisition Programme, STEP has been trained successfully, while youths in their multitudes have passed through the Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurs Programme, YAGEP. Significantly, the STEP and YAGEP schemes also have persons with disabilities benefiting. The point must be made that the idea of the scheme is to redirect the focus of youths away from non-existent paid employment and channeling their creative energies towards job and wealth creation. Testimonies of beneficiaries tell the success story of the scheme.
It is also a superb and excellent story in all the other aspects of Okowa’s policy and programmes, especially in the area of meaningful peace-building platforms towards political and social stability. That Delta State is politically and socially stable is no gainsaying. The prevailing atmosphere of serenity, calmness, and peace across the State all speak about the skill, adroitness, political sagacity, and a high sense of equity, fairness, and justice that destiny has imbued Okowa with.
One is not surprised that Governor Okowa committed himself with diligence to realizing such a disposition because, in the build-up to his contesting the Governorship primary as an aspirant, he made it clear, when he said: “I believe in the unity of Delta State. Unity is fundamental and it shall be driven under my leadership with equity and justice, with peace and security, and through thoughtful policies that will deepen inter-communal relationships and the unique features and characters of the State.”
Certainly, Deltans will forever take cognizance of his dedication to the cause of enthroning the factor of equity, fairness, and justice in the political affairs of Delta State. That devotion made it possible for the Okpe, Sapele, and Uvwie in the Delta Central axis to produce the Governor-elect of Delta State in Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori, who hails from Okpe. It thus put to an end the marginalization of that area in the political scheme of things, now giving the people a sense of belonging. This tendency speaks highly of the Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa phenomenon and its glowing essence.
Of course, this is one among other features that Deltans cherish in their outgoing Governor. Among such other features is the streak of infrastructure development he has brought to bear in the eight years of his administration. For Okowa, a good economy is built on the ability of the government to improve the welfare of the people by providing basic infrastructure, public amenities, and social services. The landmark ultra-modern Obi (Prof) Chike Edozien Secretariat is a testimony of a feat that is second to none. The sheer serene ambiance provided civil servants to work in will not only enhance their worth as a people providing critical service, but will motivate them to go the extra mile in giving their best in the service to the government and the people.
Besides, the Okowa footprints which will surely remain indelible in the sands of time in Delta State dot every nook and cranny of the State in the provision and upgrade of relevant health and educational facilities and policies. There are over 2,000 kilometres of road constructed across the State, and several are not commissioned. With the Koka interchange, another landmark project, in Asaba, the impact of the flyover bridge is being felt. This is besides many other bridges built across the State. There’s also the storm drainage that has eased Asaba residents, especially those living along and around the Okpanam Road axis of the menace of flood. The same type of storm drainage is being carried out in the Warri-Uvwie axis of the State
Four new Universities have become operational in Delta State admitting students that may ordinarily not have access to tertiary education. In addition, the Okowa administration has revived technical education with the provision of facilities to enhance such education. So far, no fewer than five technical colleges have been put in place at Agbor, Sapele, Ofagbe, Ogor, and Utagba-Ogbe. And Governor Okowa believes so much that we need to grow our children to learn to use their hands productively when they are out instead of waiting or looking out for white-collar jobs that don’t exist.
It is not possible to detail all the achievements of the Ifeanyi Okowa administration in his eight years in Delta State, including sports where the State established its dominance and transformed the environment through urban renewal and commitment to peace and security, the point also is that the Governor has been able to bring the whole of Delta State together with each local area having a sense of belonging. It is this ability and commitment to establishing a united and formidable Delta State that underscores the fact that the administration is on the pedestal and high way to finishing strong and bequeathing a Stronger Delta.
Like the Ndokwa Nation’s phrase, I declare that the Okowa-led administration has performed excellently well and it behooves us all to acknowledge this high standard of government and governance as the administration establishes its winding down process.
© Ifeanyi Osuoza, Ph.D., is the State Publicity Secretary, Peoples Democratic Party, Delta State, and Deputy Director, Media/Publicity, Delta PDP Campaign Council.