By Festus Ahon
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa came into office with dynamism and a clear cut agenda of what he wants to achieve for the people of Delta State. Since he assumed office on May 29, 2015, he has been making efforts to reduce unemployment rate in the state through his job creation program. Over 1,300 youths have so far been trained and provided with equipment in their respective areas of trade and cash empowerment to start off business. While some of the youths are trained in skills, others are trained in the area of farming.
These youths are expected to be employers of labour. The job creation program is a continuous one. In the area of roads, Okowa is not lagging behind. He has embarked on the building of many township and rural roads. His desire to provide good network of roads in Delta is not deterred by the present economic crunch.
He has embarked on the construction of middle section of Alisimie-Ozanogogo Road, Ozanogogo; dualization of Nnebisi Road, from traffic light to cable point, Asaba and the construction of Idumu-Ughoh street, Agbor.
Also, he is reconstructing the old Oleh/Emede/ Olomoro Road; widening/reconstruction of Owhe-Ologbo/Abbi Road and reconstruction/expansion/construction of Kefas Road, Emore Road and Uzere Road.
In Sapele, Orerokpe and Ughelli axis, Okowa is working on the dualization of Sapele Road, from Amukpe roundabout to AT&P, Sapele; the construction of Ejinyere/Orodje Street, Orerokpe and construction of Oteri township roads, Ughelli . In pursuit of his resolve to raise the standard of education, the governor held a two-day Education Summit under the theme, ‘Leapfroging Education in Delta’. The summit, which attracted prominent Nigerians and educationists like Chief Afe Babalola, Prof Pai Obaya and a host of others, addressed the challenges the education sector was facing in the state and proffered the way forward.
As part of his effort to revive vocational study, Okowa has embarked on the upgrade of Sapele, Agbor Technical College and Ofagbe Technical Colleges. He is also upgrading infrastructures in both primary and secondary schools across Delta.
To drive home his policy of prosperity-for-all Deltans, believing in the age-old truism that health is wealth, Okowa’s administration is poised to implement the Contributory Health Pension scheme which will ensure universal coverage for all categories of Deltans.
The Governor has equally consented to the establishment of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research’s, NIMR South South out station in Asaba . This will bring closer collaboration with NIMR and Medical School of the State’s University Teaching Hospital and other health institutions as well as provide employment for Deltans. And in line with the Okowa administration’s commitment to open up the state for business and tourism, he has embarked on the remodeling of 3.4 kilometers runway of the Asaba International Airport to meet international standard. The aviation authorities had recommended the measure to enable bigger aircraft operate the Asaba route.
The economic diversification initiatives of the governor have also yielded results as many investors have signed Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, on key areas designed to boost the economy of Delta with the state government.
There is an agreement with the Greenfield and Lafarge for the construction of 10,000 housing units for which 202 hectares of land have been acquired in Illah, Oshimili North Local Government Area. The project would be executed under the Public Private Partnership model-where the state’s contribution would be the provision of land and secured environment for business.
There is also an MoU with a Chinese firm for the construction of solar generating plant. Land for this has also been provided along the Umunede Otolokpor road. As part of effort to open up Asaba for commerce, another agreement has also been signed with Consortia of Construction Company to construct a-one-stop-shop commercial city within Asaba and about 305 hectares of land for the project has also been acquired towards the Niger bridge.
The representatives of the company have indicated that construction work on the project would commence before the end of the year. Another initiative which has elicited a lot of interest from within and outside Delta state is the Fast Track 90 scheme. This is a platform that enables a land owner or a prospective land owner to process and be issued with Certificate of Occupancy on the land within 90 days; baring all unforeseen circumstances.
In an effort to stem pipelines vandalism, Okowa organized a well publicized stakeholders’ forum on the dangers of the activities of vandals and oil thieves who destroy oil facilities and reduce oil production in the State.
It was a no-hold-back-forum where the locals, the IOCs, the security agencies and the state united in condemning the activities of vandals and expressed commitment to work together to ensure that the state is seen as a
place where peoples’ investments have all the protections it deserves. Governor Ifeanyi Okowa who is very appreciative of the level of solidarity and support he enjoys from Deltans, is desirous to do more for his people and sees his modest achievements in the first one-year in office as a drop in the ocean. His prayers no doubt, is for the people of the state to sustain their unassailable demonstration of goodwill for his government to enable him fly the Delta State flag even higher.