The Governor in a crowded press conference to kick-start activities to celebrate his one year of being in office yesterday (23/05/16) in Asaba, said, “when I addressed the State immediately after my swearing-in as Governor on May 29, 2015, we were in the middle of a serious economic crisis, our monthly revenue both from the Federation Account and Internally Generated Revenue had dipped significantly; the non-oil sector of the economy remained largely untapped; the level of youth unemployment was troubling, posing a clear and present danger to the socio-political stability of the State; our credit was in bad shape, and the financial system was at best, shaky and at worst, perilous; indeed, our promise of prosperity for all Deltans seemed illusory, but, we moved swiftly and decisively to restructure our liabilities and instituted processes and procedures to plug leakages, eliminate wastes and ensure fiscal discipline.”
“The fiscal consolidation measures we put in place have enabled us to achieve a great deal of macro-economic stability while creating the right conditions for us to implement programmes under the S.M.A.R.T agenda,” Senator Okowa disclosed, asserting, “had we not taken the steps we took, our financial system would have been on the verge of collapse by now; the global price of oil has continued to tumble, the naira has substantially weakened against the dollar, and recent security challenges in the Niger Delta region have combined to compound our national economic woes.”
He stated that to diversify the economy of the state, his administration invested heavily in agriculture by “stimulating and increasing the yield of our small-holder farmers through the Production and Processing Support Programme (PPSP), as the PPSP is aimed at up scaling the use of modern farm inputs and technologies of small-holder farmers to increase the yield of crop, livestock and fishery enterprises; towards this end, we distributed tractors to 64 Cooperative Societies and another set of 106 Cooperative Societies got Mellon Shellers while 18 other Cooperative Societies received Outboard Engines and Fishing Gears support packages.”
“We also distributed improved variety of cassava cuttings, fertilizer, and cash to 475 cassava farmers; 100 fishery farmers were given fingerlings, feeds and cash; 100 poultry farmers were supported with 200-day-old chicks each, feeds and cash; 50 poultry layer farmers got 200 layers each, feeds and cash; 50 piggery farmers received 10 growers, feeds and cash; while 40 tomatoes farmers were supported with seedlings, agrochemicals and cash,” Governor Okowa said, adding that in the area of education, his administration was working to ensure a paradigm shift from certificate acquisition of vocational and technical skills by the teeming youth population.
He stated, “upon assumption of office, I sent the Delta State Vocational and Technical Education Board Bill to the State House of Assembly; the Bill, meant to provide the regulatory framework to administer and promote technical education in the State, was passed and signed into law in June 2015 and since then, we have reconstructed/rehabilitated and equipped three technical colleges in Ofagbe, Sapele and Agbor. “
While stating that the process to ensure curriculum review and enrichment to make the technical colleges more relevant to the dynamics of the 21st century marketplace, Governor Okowa confidently informed the Journalists that the inauguration of the Delta State Contributory Health Commission by his administration which made the state the first “in the country to have a mandatory health insurance scheme for the purpose of universal healthcare coverage would ensure that “people are able to access and get treatment at our hospitals/clinics without suffering financial hardship at the point of service, or denied service outright due to lack of funds because, when the insurance scheme is fully operational, it will lead to a more robust healthcare system, improved quality and more affordable healthcare delivery as well as significantly better health outcomes.”