By Festus Ahon
TWO prominent Deltans, Dr Akpo Mudiaga-Odje and Chief Sunny Onuesoke, have said the state made giant strides in the last 20 years of democracy but a lot still needed to be done to improve on the fortunes of the people of the state.
Dr Akpo Mudiaga-Odje, a human rights activist and legal practitioner, said: “Delta State needs unity. We need to change our primordial aspirations along ethnic lines and harness the diversity of potentials given to us by God.
“Delta has 75 percent of oil and gas onshore and 25 percent offshore. These natural endowments need to be explored with circumspect and quintessence. So, we as Deltans need to change our fixated mindset towards one another and be our brother’s keeper for us to properly develop.”
On his part, Chief Sunny Onuesoke said: “So far so good. Delta State has made giant strides in 20 years of democratic experience beginning from 1999 when democracy returned to Nigeria. Although, it is not yet Eldorado one can attest to the fact that 20 years after, we are not where we used to be. We have taken a leap 20 times from where we were when democracy returned.
“Our democratic experience has been a story of progress to progress, starting from the tenure of Chief Jame Onanefe Ibori, 1999-2017, Delta State has witnessed what can only be described as developmental revolution in all spheres of life, specifically in education and infrastructural development. Governor Ibori through his development master plan brought about total transformation of the three senatorial district across the state.
“The endearing legacies of the Odidigboigbo of Africa, in transforming the social, political and economic landscape of Delta state is second to none among his peers as governors in the period 1999 – 2007, with giant strides in education, infrastructure and human empowerment which traversed the length and breadth of Delta State.
“Building on the success story of the Ibori administration, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan consolidated the developmental strides of his predecessor through his three-point agenda of peace and security, human capital development and infrastructural development, which became the policy thrust of his government.
“Government is a continuum; hence what we are seeing today in terms of developmental strides since the return of democracy is continuity in government policies which is a hallmark of democratic practice. Governor Ifeanyi Okowa haven taken over the mantle of leadership has gone beyond the status quo in the overall social economic growth of the state through the strategic implementation of his SMART AGENDA, prosperity for all Deltans mantra.
“The Okowa government has seen huge investment in human capital development, infrastructural development and education. Through the STEP and YAGEP initiatives, the Delta State government has created over 20,000 jobs for young men and women through the wealth creation office. With over 350 roads constructed and other infrastructural development taking place simultaneously, Deltans are indeed grateful for the return of democracy, for it has never been this good for the state before these past 20 years of democratic sojourn.
What must be change
“The drivers of the biggest economy in the world is the private sector and I think this is where we are lacking as a state. The level of private sector collaboration in our state is virtually at the point of zero if not negative. The failure of the private sector to key into government policies and effort is a major reason why we are still at where we are today.
“Reaching our full potential as a state requires the collaborative participation of both the private and public sectors in major government policies. To tackle the youth employment challenges, governments have put in place a range of different interventions such as STEP and YAGEP and yet not fully reaping the fruit it was intended to produce due to lack of private sector collaboration.
“But at this level, we have not been able to fully engage the private sector to key into or fully embrace these intervention, hence the minimal result we are getting from these interventions. We need a more vibrant, well developed and purposed driven private sector in Delta state to further cement and consolidate government effort in bringing about the 100 percent transformation of Delta Sate, in order to be in comparison with other states in the federation like Lagos, for example.
“There is need for a conventional and potentially viable source of revenue for the state government, which will be far from oil. The state is currently benefiting from the 13% oil derivation proceed and hence should show serious effort towards state economy diversification, this can only happen when there is cohesive synergy between the government and the private sector.
“Government must begin to approach and engage the private sector with more commitment while the private sector must begin to embrace government policies as a tool for transforming the state. Only when this is done can we say we are indeed getting closer in our journey to Eldorado.”