How Okowa fared in 1st one year, despite challenges

When Governor Okowa assumed the mantle of leadership of Delta State on May29, 2015, he was clear about his mission and vision for the state and the direction he intended to lead the people of the state.

Armed with his five point agenda, called SMART which include; Strategic wealth creation projects and provision of jobs for all Deltans, Meaningful peace building platforms aimed at political/ social stability, Agricultural reforms and accelerated industrialization, Relevant health and education policies and Transformed environment through urban renewal Okowa was confident to consolidate and advance the peace, progress and prosperity of the of the state.

He set out purposefully to initiate and implement laudable development projects and programmes that will impact positively on the lives of his people.
In one year, Okowa’s strategy has recorded tremendous successes in many areas. Observers agree that the governor has invested massively in infrastructural development in terms of road, education and skill acquisition centres.
But the first quarter of Okowa’s administration was very tough, everything was at a stand still, he even attracted political enemies to himself and the people expressed regrets voting him as their governor. Indeed, Deltans experienced untold hardships, petitions came from all quarters with the people saying it was not what they bargained for.

Elders in the state, political leaders, stakeholders, civil and public servants, market men and women lamented vehemently that they had made the mistake of their life by voting for Okowa.
Deltans now came to a conclusion that Okowa’s administration was akin to austerity measure, a contrast to the expected “prosperity”.
But, unknown to them Okowa was busy brainstorming on how to redeem his campaign promises.
As part of its urban renewal and developmental efforts, the governor at the second quarter of his administration, kick started the empowerment programmes, awarded over 54 road construction/rehabilitation contracts and billions of naira was approved for the construction which is expected to be completed before the end of 2016 despite the dwindling oil price.

The roads are the dualization of Sapele road from Amukpe roundabout, the dualization of Nnebisi Road to Cable Point, Asaba, Ozanogogo road phase II, Ejiyeren/Akemu, the main axial road, Arhoagba/Okobia/Okwuetolor/Okwabude Road, Phase I, Okpe Local Government Area; Ogwashi-Uku/Ubulu-Unor Road; and the Anglican Diocese Grammar School road and rehabilitation and overlay of some internal roads in Iyede. The road projects cut across all the senatorial district in the state. Interestingly, majority of these road projects have been completed and put to use and these include Kefas Road, Oleh and access road to Tankers Park, Warri, while other roads being constructed in different parts of the state.
The state Commissioner for information, Mr. Patrick Ukah who spoke on the one year of Okowa’s administration said his principal has kept faith to its promises in all the areas of his five point agenda.
However, he said that despite the prevailing harsh economic reality, this administration has made steady and remarkable progress in fulfilment of its campaign promises. Ukah explained that Okowa’s administration was poised to take advantage of the dry season to construct and rehabilitate roads and commended the contractors handling the projects for keeping to the project schedule and specifications.

However, he noted that the roads were meant to bring economic development closer to the people and linked various towns and villages.
On job and wealth creation, which is one of his cardinal points, the level of unemployment, especially among youth, has reached very worrisome level, with all the dire consequences this portends for the state.
Specifically in August 2015, Okowa launched the job and wealth creation scheme which include, youth agricultural entrepreneurs programme (YAGEP), skills training and entrepreneurship programme programme (STEP) and production and processing support programme (PPSP).
These programmes of Okowa’s administration as at April 30, 2016, have created a total of 17, 173 private sector job, the figure consists of 6,800 direct job and 10,373 indirect jobs of both skilled and unskilled workers.
In agriculture, a total of 815 farmers got support packages under the production and processing support programmes.
An Anglican priest, Ven. Dr. J B  Utomakili said that the benefits of this tractorrisation scheme are many in the sense that it becomes easier for individual farmers to make use of the tractors, because it is a difficult task for an individual to procure a tractor in the open market.

The Job Creation Officer, Prof. Eric Eboh said that the inauguration of the all the empowerment programmes of Okowa marked the historic turning point in the state government’s attempt to tackle youth unemployment head-on. However, it is not praises all the way for the administration, some observers have expressed reservations over Okowa’s approach to governance, maintaining that the administration did not meet the expectations of the people in its performance in one year.
Coupled with internal crisis among aides, the challenges posed by paucity of funds constituted major constraints for the governor to deliver on his campaign promises within the period under review.
Against the backdrop of unfulfilled promises, the governor has three years to prove critics of his administration wrong by taking the state beyond where he met it with regard to good governance and delivery on democratic dividends.
Source: Blueprint

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