By Victor Efeizomor
When Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State was inaugurated on May 29,2015 , he knew the enormity of the task before him.
So he hit the ground running.
After two years and five months of four years tenure of his administration, an independent and non- political group, the National Competitiveness Council of Nigeria (NCCN), has passed a verdict.
The NCCN, a forth night ago, rated Delta State as number one in human capital development in Nigeria. It also rated the state second in Sub-National Index overall ranking in the country behind Lagos.
The council, whose mandate it is to improve the attractiveness of Nigeria’s economy as a place to do business in the global marketplace, carried out its assessments of Delta State socio-economic development devoid of bias or any political interference, but on what Okowa has done.
The implication of the NCCN report is that the governor has met the expectations of Deltans. It also means he has spread development across the state and removed the mistrust between the three senatorial zones in line with the SMART agenda of transforming lives.
No doubt, assessing Okowa’s accomplishments must come from a non-partisan angle with analytical mind to give a fair verdict that supports value for democracy.
But it is necessary to put the records straight. Okowa came at a most difficult time of recession, huge debt profile, bloated wage bills, uncompleted projects pipeline vandalism and fall of oil prices that dipped economic potentials.
And with a clear vision to create wealth, reduce unemployment through technical, vocational and formal education, make food abundant, provide functional health institutions, enhance peace building for economic growth, the SMART agenda became the template.
SMART means- Strategic wealth creation projects and provision of jobs for all Deltans, Meaningful peace building platforms aimed at political and social stability, Agricultural reforms and accelerated industrialization, Relevant health and education policies, and Transformed Environment through Urban Renewal.
It is economic, political and social awakening to deepen Delta beyond oil and lay sustainable economic and infrastructural development.
Okowa, upon assumption of office, blocked all leakages, made corruption unattractive and ensured prudent management and accountability to attract investors. This won him confidence of the masses.
He has demystified political power and office, that is why everybody including opposition elements, sees him as the central point for the fertilisation of ideas. Today, Delta is witnessing uncommon transformation in wealth creation, health institutions, agriculture, industrialisation, rural and infrastructural development, peace building and inter-ethnic relations among others.
The projects embarked by Okowa had multiplier effect on the economy. Delta invested in agriculture, acquiring 3,850 hectares of farmland and encouraged the establishment of rice processing mills to support rice cultivation.
Okowa places high premium on education.
Technical colleges have been upgraded, public schools have their pride restored and teachers are now well remunerated, while students study under conducive environment.
The health sector is transformed with a universal health insurance scheme that afford every Deltan access to health. The state’s teaching hospitals have been transformed in medical personnel, training and facilities. Primary health care is also a priority and various communities have functional health centers that take health closer to people.
The state is witnessing uncommon transformation of roads linking hamlets to villages, villages to towns and towns to cities, increasing transportation of goods and services, promoting economic activities.
The Commissioner for Economic Planning, Dr Kingsley Emu, while commenting on the National Competitiveness Council of Nigeria (NCCN) said the NCCN report was the outcome of a research carried out last two year which justifies the huge expenditure by the state government on developing its human capital base.
There is no other time than now in joining hands with Okowa in the task of building a greater and prosperous Deltan rather than engaging in mudslinging and being a clog in the wheel of progress as the transformation train is already in motion.
- Efeizomor is Print Media Assistant to Gov. Okowa