The ‘SMART’ Agenda Of The New Governor

BY MONDAY UWAGWU‘

It is not at birth that royalty is bestowed’The above wise crack, forged by African sages aeons ago, implies, in effect, that royalty-and I dare add, its alluring essences are conferred not at birth, but much earlier, at conception.And how true this is of the case of Senator (Dr.) Ifeanyi Okowa, Governor-elect of Delta State!Long before the April 11, 2015 gubernatorial poll that gave him the mandate to become the fourth Executive Governor of Delta State, in view-after Felix Ibru, James Ibori and the receding Emmanuel Uduaghan-Senator Okowa, like the wise weaver bird, had woven the skeleton of the operational code of his administration, and etched out its essences. This operational code name is tagged SMART, and is meant to be an appropriate response to the wholesome development challenges facing the state.Thematically, SMART is the response of the Okowa team to the state’s contemporary development situation; it revolves around the ive-prong goal of correlated activities intended to drive the policies and programmes of the in-coming administration. In net, SMART is the acronym for its constituent components outlined as: Strategic Wealth-Creation Projects and Provision of Jobs for Deltans; Meaningful Peace-Building Platforms aimed at Social /Political Stability; Agricultural Reforms and Accelerated Industrialisation; Relevant Health and Education Policies, and Transformed Environment Through Urban Renewal.Taken together, all ive core elements of SMART virtually encapsulate the entire development sectors and envelopes them in a compact, doable framework. It has both short, medium and long-term assessment/target benchmarks, all intended to ensuring that, while focus is not lost on target goals, the potency of operational and implementation eficiency can be measured on the designed benchmarks.SINEWS OF A SMART AGENDAA sketch of the ive core elements of the development agenda of the incoming administration is outlined hereunder.(A)WEALTH CREATIONAND EMPLOYMENT GENERATIONThe fact of the enduring generic global economic meltdown and its harsh effects on available jobs-formal and informal-and the related personal and individual incomes is self-evident, as are some of its debilitating effects, including, and particularly, unemployment, and its associated social vices. Delta, as part of the economically-inter-locked global human community, is not exempt from the effects of this southwards slide of the global economy, particularly joblessness and receding general economic prospects.Given the preponderance of material poverty, one of the physically-discernible effects of a south-bound economy as Delta’s, and its effects on the state’s wholesome development dream, sheer wisdom requires that it be tackled effectively, proactively. This is probably one of the core reasons the incoming administration made it as the primus inter-pares, sitting pretty as it were, atop its priority areas.Inherent in the administration’s desire in this direction is the provision of formal job opportunities for suitable hands and heads in the public sector; the creation of a clement operational environment for the lourish of the private sector, particularly the big trans nationals, and the rearmament and reactivation of existing and potential small and medium-scale enterprises, (SMEs), more aptly called the driving wheel of wholesome societal development, particularly the SMEs’ segment of industrialisation. Efforts in this sector, without prejudice to all else, will also include deliberate, sustained attempts at the empowerment of men, women and youths with viable skills as would enhance their competency, productivity, economic self-reliance and sense of self-worth, and their enablement with cash, as appropriate-and vital starter packs. The wealth- creation and job-generation efforts of the administration in this vital area, of necessity, revolve around two basic facts; the job opportunities available in the public sector are limited, hence the capacity of the government to, on its own, engage all those desirous of such jobs is seriously impaired by the fact of gross shortfall, and to respond to the fact of this huge shortfall, the organised private sector must have a conducive environment, largely at the instance of the state government, to ill the gap, for the overall beneit of society. As a matter of purpose, due slant will be on rural areas, without an infringement of the necessity to accord the urban centres their due share of comprehensive attention. The philosophy underpinning the administration’s slant on this sector is the infallible ascription and fact that it is only in an economically-vibrant and productive society that such vices as crime and others can best be tackled with assured positive result. A common byword for the truism in this is the saying that an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.(B)PEACE-BUILDING AND SECURITYLike the road to the future which is permanently under construction, the efforts to build and sustain peace and security, since creation, have never been a one-touch thing; consistency at it has always been the overriding character. This has been the situation in all climes of the world, in the light of the multiple,long-range restrictive effects of the lack of sustainable peace on wholesome development.In deference to this, the administration intends, in addition to other measures that can shore up security in the state, including job creation and an effective regime of wholesome empowerment of the citizenry, consolidate existing measures and adopt new ones.Chief among the existing measures that would be consolidated for enhanced potency are the effective support for all existing security agencies in the state, assistance to community-based police-approved vigilance groups and the strengthening of the traditional institution as a primary plank in the community policing package.An innovation to the welter of security-heaving measures that are primed for introduction by the administration is the institution of a Delta Stakeholders Forum for regular discourses on peace and security-related issues. This revolutionary move will not only strengthen the hands of existing security agencies in their calling, but equally importantly, introduce other stakeholders to the envisaged regular sessions of the forum at which, it is hoped, a broad range of related issues would be thrown up before the largest throng of relevant stakeholders. (C) AGRICULTURE AND INDUSTRIALISATIONSince life began, credible wisdom has not disputed either the importance of agriculture, or its strategic place and inluence on industrialisation. This is on account of its importance as a source of employment, food, income, security facilitator, and stimulator of sustainable industrialisation to which it serves as a steady source of vital raw materials.In view of all of its multi-prong beneits, the Okowa administration hopes to accord the sector and its correlate, industrialisation, adequate attention. Part of the strategies in this regard is to create and sustain a clement environment to effectively harness the huge resources adequate manpower, particularly youths; a glut of rivers/streams rich in aquatic life; a well-ordered rainy season and plentiful arable land that accommodate the cultivation of virtually all crops, grains, vegetables and tubers under the sun. For the clear reason of the yearn for eficiency, the administration hopes to discourage the active participation of the public sector in direct agricultural activities beyond the creation of a sustainable conducive atmosphere for practice and the provision of subsidised inputs, but would heavily deploy the private/public module of engagement, especially with regard to viable commercial farming. For obvious reason of the necessity for the sustenance of the farming generation, emphasis would be on youths who would be encouraged, via a structured process, to go into viable life -long commercial farming as part of the consistent answer to the choking incidence of poverty and unemployment, particularly among them, and the imperative to ensure food security in the state and re-kit the economy away from its crude oil dependency.(D) COMMERCE AND INDUSTRYAs the successor-generation of economic activities to effective agriculture, commerce and industry have a place of pride in the heart of the in-coming administration, which hopes to utilise its huge potential positive impact for the wellbeing of the people by harnessing, on the greater scales of quantity and quality, all opportunities available on the value chain in agriculture and other related economic activities, including the crucial oil sector. In the pursuit of deep penetration, the administration shall tailor its efforts along the geo-spatiality of the state, such that senatorial districts and local government areas shall have due encouragement in all areas where, by natural and other considerations, they enjoy comparative economic advantages on the benchmark of cost-eficiency. To give vent to the spirit of continuity, the administration intends to consolidate on the gains of its predecessor in such aspects as the Warri Industrial Business Park, the ICT Park, the Economic Free Zones and the 10 feed mills in parts of the state. It intends to institute a culture of viable liaison with the Federal Government and its agencies to ensure that the direct and indirect products of the multiple investments in the oil and gas sector are eficiently harnessed for the enhanced commercial and industrial development of the state. For clearly understandable reasons, the module here would be the private /public partnership strategy.(E) THE HEALTH AND EDUCATION SECTORSHEALTHThe Okowa administration, again for largely the reasons of his professional calling and his love of the sector and the wellbeing of Deltans,has a largely two-prong strategy for this sector; consolidate the huge gains of his predecessor in ofice, institute new eficient measures as necessary for enhanced generic results.Okowa’s personal dream of enhanced eficiency in this sector and his multiple effective actions in this regard are too well known to be recounted here. What is evidently important is his vow to bring his vast professional experience, via missionary zeal, to bear on Cont. from Page 3029
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