Okowa, The Builder

By Fidelis Egugbo

DELTANS can easily attest to the fact that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s administration in Delta State has done very well in terms of road construction which earned him the sobriquet, “The Road Master.”

Naturally, we can easily say that it is part of his responsibility, as the governor, to do that but we seem to forget that those roads were not touched for more than 30 years of the state’s existence not to make reference to Nigeria becoming a sovereign nation in 1960. So, for the fact that Governor Okowa has ensured a sense of belonging for Deltans by constructing roads in all the local government areas of the state deserves accolades.

Just imagine the stress transporters and commuters go through when they get to Koka Junction, Asaba. Imagine smooth ride from Lagos, Kaduna, Warri and other places only to spend hours in a gridlock at the Koka Junction on your way to Onitsha. Even if you are coming from the East, imagine driving from Calabar, Abakiliki, Port Harcourt and other places trying to beat traffic to enable you get to your destination early only to be at the Koka junction for hours because of traffic jam. But, Governor Okowa, the humanist, despite knowing that the Federal Government ought to have awarded the contract for a flyover to be on that portion of the road, went ahead to save transporters and commuters the man-hour spent at the Koka Junction by constructing a flyover on that stretch.

Yes! The opposition political party, the All Progressive Congress (APC), in search of what they will use to discredit Governor Okowa’s administration has asked why should the governor decide to construct the flyover as he is about to leave office. They forgot that it is not only Governor Okowa that will be saved from the gridlock and the fact that the APC-led Federal Government has failed Nigerians and Deltans in particular, as that flyover is among several projects that the Federal Government has failed to do in the state. In fact, the APC in the state is in dilemma as there is no federal project they can pinpoint and say it was executed by the Federal Government since 2015.

However, today, while we appreciate Governor Okowa as the Road Master, it is important to look at the fact that his administration has also, done what could have been described as impossible in the housing sector.

Yours sincerely was with the Commissioner of Housing, Chief Festus Ochonogor recently when he went round Asaba to inspect some housing projects being executed by Governor Okowa’s administration.

As an astute administrator and a democrat, Governor Okowa no doubt, knows the importance of the comfort of the workplace to the workers. So, to the disappointment of those who believe that it was impossible to house all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in a place, he dared and did what seemed to be impossible and today, to the glory of God, all the MDAs are comfortably quartered at the Prof. Chike Edozien Secretariat. This is an edifice, a masterpiece that has an uninterrupted electricity supply at the Marian Babangida Way.

If it was only the Secretariat that the governor succeeded in doing for eight years, he would have also been applauded for doing what could not be done since the creation of Delta State but, again, he decided to also, build a six story High Court Complex to ensure speedy delivery of justice. The High Court building, when completed, is likely going to be the first six story building in Delta State and again, if it is the only project that is executed by his administration within its eight years, no one will say the governor has not done enough but, alas, he is also, building an Ecumenical Centre for the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the first again to be built possibly in this part of the country.

A visit to the Ecumenical Centre along Ambassador Ralph Uwechue way will hold you in awe and you may be imagining what the state government was spending on that structure but, Chief Ochonogor also, took me to another structure which is under construction for the Civil Service Commission (CSC).

Governor Okowa has, to a large extent, succeeded in saving for the state billions of naira being spent on rented property and the benefits will be for a very long time to come.

If one is saying that Governor Okowa administration has done well because of the above mentioned structures, then the person should pay a visit to any of the modern technical colleges built by the administration or any of the newly established universities to see what is being done by the governor in the housing sector.

It is a great achievement for an administration to establish an institution for higher learning within eight years, but GovernoOkowa’s administration did not just establish three universities at a go, his administration is on record to have established several new secondary schools and primary schools to cater for the growing population of Deltans.

One good thing about Governor Okowa is that he was careful in choosing those who will deliver the democratic goods for Deltans and one of such persons in Chief Ochonogor, the Commissioner for Housing.

Chief Ochonogor, a renowned Surveyor, whose sojourn in politics has seen him holding several political offices before becoming the Commissioner for Housing, is an experienced hand and as such, he sees his job as a “field work.” He is always at the construction sites with the staff of the Ministry to ensure that the jobs are not only executed to specifications but on schedule.

It is worthy to state that at the sites visited, the contractors were seen working seriously to beat the deadlines. At the High Court Complex, Engr. Gbenga Fakokunde gave assurance that the project will be delivered by November this year while Architect Tony Obiakor who is the Project Architect at the Ecumenical Centre, also, assured the Commissioner that work has reached an advanced stage and the Project Manager at the Civil Service Commission building, Engr. Ken Isibor, noted that they will not compromise quality and that the project will be delivered in October.

Addressing journalists after the inspection of the projects, Chief Ochonogor said, “the contractor has November deadline to deliver the High Court Complex. We are giving you all the encouragement to enable you deliver; agreed that the project is massive, but you have to deliver before November.

“This project is very dear to government that is why we are giving you all that you need to enable you deliver. It is a six story building with six Court halls.”

At the Ecumenical Centre, he urged the contractor to speed up the pace of work as the Center will not only serve as a place of worship but will have office spaces for the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).

On why he embarked on the inspection visits, he said, “this is almost like a daily activity; we need to see the pace of work and ensure that they are working to specifications.

“We need to complete the ongoing projects as we are winding down and we are going to continue with the inspection visits till the projects are inaugurated.

“I can assure you that a lot of projects executed by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s administration will be inaugurated this year. Governor has been able to manage the resources to ensure that the contractors deliver.

“All Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, are being moved to their permanent sites to enhance productivity and reduce cost of running government all in attempt to strengthen government housing for functionality.

“It was not like this in the past and a lot of money was being spent on rent.”

The days ahead promise a lot for Deltans as Governor Okowa who is the Vice Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 general elections has proven that governance is about being focused and meeting with the yearnings of the people.

In Delta, the civil servants are happy, the judiciary is happy, market women are happy, the youths are happy and in short, people of all walks of life can attest to the fact that the Governor Okowa administration has impacted positively on their lives in one way or the other within the past seven years, yet, thgovernor is not relenting, he is still working as if he is in his first tenure.

Naturally, there is still a lot to be done and one is confident that Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori and Chief Monday Onyeme will sustain the tempo set by Governor Okowa’s administration. This is because, they have successfully keyed into the programmes of the incumbent governor.

God bless Delta State.

Fidelis Egugbo, the author, is the Special Assistant, Media to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State.

Leave a Reply