Okowa Is Building A New Delta The Smart Way – Oke Umurhohwo

On May 29, 2015, Dr. Arthur Ifeanyi Okowa, took his oath of office, and right there he laid bare his plan to enthrone a legacy of wealth and prosperity for the people of the state. The plan, outlined as S.M.A.R.T, was a masterclass and a product of deep thinking– and has so far shown to be a catalyst for the monumental achievements recorded by the Dr. Okowa-led administration.

When Dr. Okowa took charge of Delta, the outlook of things was uninspiring, and debt binge put the revenue prospect of the state in a distress. People of the state were in a dilemma of what is to come and the fear of things going even worse filled the atmosphere. But those fears didn’t stay too long to fizzle out as Dr. Okowa smartly put in play mechanisms to confront the challenges he inherited.

Knowing so well the bearing of debt overhang on the state’s finances, Dr. Okowa renegotiated them and reduced the pressures that creditors exert on the state’s resources. This smart move freed up needed resources and was able to bail out local government councils who had for so long find it hard to meet up with some of their obligations.

Few months into office, Dr. Okowa’s burning desire to make a difference and change people’s perception about governance became so glaring. Every aspect of governance in the state came to life and in a characteristic manner of a performer, Dr. Okowa rekindled hopes of Deltans that a new dawn was here. Dejection left for optimism, and in no time, he was not only able to turn things around but has now positioned Delta in an enviable state.

Take it from his strides in education, and you will marvel at Dr. Okowa’s bold investments to give young Deltans the right training that would sustain them tomorrow. In the last six years, Dr. Okowa’s administration has invested N10.4 billion in public schools infrastructure– raising new buildings and renovating at least, 5,667 classrooms across Delta state in the process. A similar commitment is demonstrated towards the welfare of teachers, and to further improve their capacity to impact qualitative teaching on students in the state, Dr. Okowa administration established the Teacher’s Professional Development Centre (TPDC), which has so far trained 6,504 personnel.

For those in tertiary institutions, the story is not different as Dr. Okowa ensures that they are supported to do well in their studies. For instance, the state government paid a total of N381 million as a bursary to indigent students in the 2018/2019 academic session, and no fewer than 17,000 students across the state benefited. All these commitments of Dr. Okowa to education are already bringing encouraging outcomes as can be noticed in the state’s steady progression in external examination ratings and the gradual confidence people are picking in public schools in the state. And even more important, Delta state has seen a sharp drop in its illiteracy tally– a pointer to the fact that the investment of Dr. Okowa in education is paying off.

Upon his assumption of office, Dr. Okowa met a state struggling to put abled and skilled population into productive engagements and promised to change that ugly picture. This commitment, I guessed, was to check the tide of brain drain and guide against young people being enticed to crime as a way of survival. Job openings in government setups soon become a common occurrence in Delta and investments in the agricultural sector also opened up opportunities for numerous young people in the state to get something doing.

Talk of road infrastructure, and I doubt anyone will come near Dr. Okowa in that aspect. In fact, he’s famously addressed as ‘Road Master’ by many Deltans– an acknowledgement of the impressive record set in road construction. In six years, Dr. Okowa’s administration has built thousands of kilometers of roads and bridges to facilitate both inter and intrastate transit. Rural roads received facelift and problems usually associated with connecting communities are fast becoming a thing of the past. The horrible experience of people over the frequent occurrence of flooding is fast fading as Dr. Okowa’s administration explored technology to tackle the challenge.

Indicative of his deep resolve to make Delta the top destination for investors, Dr. Okowa entered into a reconstruction agreement with a consortium that will bring the Asaba airport to international standard and in turn, ease access to the state. For so long, the Asaba airport was left to rot but this agreement will position it as one of the best airports in the country and bring desired benefits to this state. However, here is the real deal– under the agreement secured by the Dr. Okowa-led government, at least 20 percent of the airport force will be made up of Deltans.

Demonstrating his avowed commitment to keep people safe, Dr. Okowa gave deserved attention to strengthening security in the state. From providing necessary types of equipment to all security agencies in the state to encouraging communal cohesion, Dr. Okowa facilitates a safe and secure Delta– a condition that is encouraging businesses in the state to thrive.

Economic activities in the oil-rich state are rapidly growing considering the various interventions of the Dr. Okowa-led government. Among the various interventions targeted at providing sustainable economic activities, especially for young people in the state, was the creation of the Girl Child Entrepreneurship Development and Empowerment Office. That has increased engagement and participation of women and girls in government-sponsored policies and initiatives, hence, contributing in no small measure to the economic activities of the state. Training and skills acquisition is a regular feature of Dr. Okowa’s government, equipping Deltans with the right skills to contribute meaningfully to the economy of the state. At the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the Delta state government engaged 300 designers and tailors trained by it to produce 1 million face masks for distribution to residents and citizens.

In the health sector, Dr. Okowa’s imprints are incredible. From the dejected state that he met most health facilities in the state, Dr. Okowa has turned things around, and now, Deltans enjoys one of the best health infrastructures in the country. Even impressive is the fact that Dr. Okowa’s administration enrolled over 630,000 Deltans in the Contributory Health Scheme, which has deepened access to healthcare and promote healthy living among the people. Dr. Okowa prioritizes the welfare of personnel in the health sector, and their safety is something he doesn’t joke with, which explains the provision of life insurance policies to them. All these investments in the health sector came to bear in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic, which leaves the state with lower casualties compared to other states.

And to cap it all, Dr. Okowa is turning the state into a top sporting centre in the country with the investment in necessary infrastructure and establishment of several competitive centres across Delta. Apart from the opportunities that the facilities will bring for athletes in the state, the revenue prospects that hosting sporting events offer to the state and local businesses cannot be overemphasized.

Without mincing words, Dr. Okowa is transforming Delta state and his giant strides since taking charge of the state is heartwarming. With a strong desire for a new thing and hard work, Dr. Okowa is redefining governance in the oil-producing Niger Delta state, promising to leave an enduring legacy when he concludes his term in office. Even for his adversaries, it will be hard to dismiss the broad changes he is effecting in the state, and in the minds of Deltans, his impressive achievements will stay forever.

By Oke Umurhohwo. He tweets via @OkeStalyf and can be reached on oke.umu@gmail.com