Okowa’s Performance Profile Budget Presentation Session ofile As Unveiled At 2018 Session

RECENTLY, Delta State Governor appeared before the
Delta State House of Assembly in an official capacity
to do just one thing that had far more amalgams than
can readily be enumerated on the five phalanges of
the human hand: Present to the legislators the budget estimate
of the state for the 2018 fiscal year, and, in a precedent
action, give the sinews of the performance of the 2017 budget
as approved by the House and passed into law.
At that occasion-which held on Thursday, October 19,
2017- Governor Okowa, in deference to the concept and practice
of the inviolability of accountability, unfolded the details
of the actual performance of his administration thus far with
the fiscal year of 2017 in mind, but with an understandably
adequate slant on the 2017 budget in mind.
Sector-by-sector, Okowa gave an impressive account of the
projection of the administration on the various segments of
the economy and the actual performance. From wealth and
job creation , education, health, infrastructure, environment
and public administration through finance and investment,
he gave account of what the administration had been able to
attain, and what foot it would be putting forward stepping
into the rump of the current year and the next fiscal year.
Specifically, he put out the attainments of the administration
in the following sectors as follows:
(A) RISING ABOVE RECESSION
It is without an iota of doubt that the Okowa administration,
short on its inauguration into office, walked, like its
peers, into a recession that had triggered nail-biting effects
as it has persisted. Clearly, the import of this on the administration,
was a major challenge of how, in the light of the
huge impotentiating effects of the economic downturn, the
economy was to be navigated without running aground. This,
quite understandably, was no mean challenge.
However, it would appear that the administration learnt
much from the import of the wise crack of the legendary
eneke the bird which said that it had learnt never to carelessly
perch while in flight, since men had acquired efficiency at
shooting without missing their target. Actually, the lesson
here, for the administration, is in inverse; since the economy
would not stop bleeding, it would never cease efforts its to
patch it up.
Well, thanks to the efficiency of the hands that manned
the state’s economy during the era in question, the administration
has largely been able to tide over the current of
the gale of flood. An apparently impressed governor Okowa
put it this way at the session at the DTHA, “Confronted with
the dwindling receipts from the Federation Account and
Internally-Generated Revenue vis-a-vis inherited contractual
obligations, the first challenge we faced was the payment of
salaries to the huge workforce. ..As at the time we assumed
office on May 29, 2015, Delta State had over 60,000 workers
on its payroll. However, we were able to meet our obligations
to the workers through debt payment rescheduling, cutting
waste, contract reviews and prudent management. As part of
the on-going biometric exercise to weed out ghost workers,
the state has been able to prune the size of the workforce
to 55,000, which is still very high compared to that of peer
states…We have paid all salaries to date and supported Local
Government Councils in their constitutional responsibility
of the payment of the salaries in excess of N5billion, We
have also consistently made monthly provision towards the
state’s obligation to the Contributory Pensions Scheme, and,
indeed, paid out lump sum of N2.5billion in two tranches to
cushion arrears. All other outstanding liabilities are being
given priority attention , even as we proactively engage with
organised labour to reconcile whatever discrepancies may
exist in terms of actual liabilities.”
(B) WEALTH AND JOB CREATION
The administration came into office professing an operational
code called the SMART Agenda, the first element of
which is strategic wealth creation and provision of jobs for
Deltans. In pursuit of that goal, the government has been
actively running the field of service delivery with regard to
the four core elements of Skill Training and Entrepreneurship
Programme (STEP); the Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurs
Programme (YAGEP); the Special Programme for Persons
With Disabilities (PWDs)and the Graduate Employment
Enhancement Programme (GEEP)
Okowa said at the occasion that while 2, 324 otherwise
unemployed youths , including 51 persons with physical
challenges, had been trained and established under the four
empowerment genres, “another 4,000 youths were trained
in vocational centres across the state”
He added that “under the State Employment and Expenditure
For Results (SEEFOR) project to which the state has
contributed N600m as counterpart fund, 5, 312 youths were
employed and trained on building their self-esteem, savings
culture and entrepreneurship to sustain their livelihoods.
When we add these figures to the over 42,000 private secto jobs that we created by programmes and projects of the various
Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAS), we can
clearly see that a new era beckons in Delta State.”
The governor, in relation to the performance of the administration
in the micro-credit sector, also submitted thus,
“Under the Delta State Micro-Credit Scheme, N835.7m has
been disbursed to 593 cooperative societies, comprising
6, 252 beneficiaries in the 25 local government areas, The
enterprises cover trading, agric-business, manufacturing
with active participants such as market women, artisans and
small farm holders.”
(C)EDUCATION
In his inaugural speech, Governor Okowa, in unfolding
the SMART Agenda, vowed to introduce and run relevant
health and educational policies in the state, under his watch
as governor.
In pursuit of that dream, it has re-kitted the six technical
colleges in the state at Agbor, Oto-Ogor, Okwagbe, Kwale,
Sapele and Issele-Uku. All six technical schools and the legion
technical/vocational centres are now being run by the Delta
State Technical and Vocational Education Board, which was
also created and institutionalised by his administration.
With regard to infrastructure, Okowa spoke to the legislators
on the floor of the House in the following words,
“This administration has also embarked on the massive
infrastructure upgrade of facilities across the selected public
primary and post-primary schools in the state. So far, we
have constructed a total of 560 classrooms and renovated another
599. Within the period, a total of 59, 267 classroom furniture and
7, 884 teachers’ furniture were provided by this administration. In
addition, we have completed the infrastructural upgrades in four
model secondary schools, namely Ogbemeudein College, Agbor; Owa
Model College, Boji Boji-Owa; Alema Colege, Abigborodo and Burutu
College, Burutu. Work is currently in progress in the following model
schools: Government Secondary School, Ughelli (former St. Theresa);
Emore College, Oleh; Ashaka Mixed Secondary School, Ashaka, and
Ogini Grammar School, Ogharefe.”
He added that, “in order to increase access to quality and functional
basic and secondary education, we have considered and approved
the establishment of 25 new schools comprising eight primary and
seventeen post-primary schools. For quality assurance, we have
also undertaken a complete a comprehensive review of the books
for the secondary school system for improved curriculum delivery.
Following the outcome of Education Summit in 2016, a Teachers
Professional Development Centre is to be established in the state
to facilitate manpower development in tandem with our policy on
human capital development and professionalization,”
(D)INFRASTRUCTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT
With deep conviction, Governor Okowa also at the budget proposal
presentation ceremony on the floor of DTHA, equally dwelt
on the activities of his administration in the infrastructure and rural
development sector.
This was how he put out his delivery on this score, “We are working
hard at urban renewal, while striving to open up the rural areas to be part of the global economy. A total of 697.36 km roads and 208
km of drains have been embarked upon by the administration. Of
this figure, 276,63km roads are in the rural areas.”
Under the State Employment For Expenditure Results (SEEFOR)
community-driven development (CDD) social sub-component,
over 300,000 Deltans in 42 communities now have access to
socio-economic services as electricity extension, water, skill
acquisition centres, and multi-purpose town halls. On the CDD
Economic Stream being implemented by Fadama 111, over 199
sub-projects have been completed in 20 communities and 15 rural
infrastructure subprojects (block of market stall, boats, boreholes,
etc). To date, about 26,000 persons have access to socio-economic
services in the rural areas.”
(E)ENVIRONMENT AND URBAN RENEWAL
In deference to the huge slant on the environment in the
SMART Agenda, the administration has equally been quite active
in the environment sector. This is in realisation of the fact of the
over-bearing influence of the environment on the total well-being
of man.
Aside of tackling the plethora of issues related to the environment
via the machinery of the Waste Management Board and in
collaboration with the local government system in the state, the
administration has equally dredged existing drains, canals and
other water courses and even opened new ones. Besides, it has
also begun the effective implementation of the Nigeria Erosion
and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) in selected parts
of the state, including Boji -Boji Owa, Ubulu-Uku, Obomkpa, Jesse
and Ukwu-Nzu. The efforts of the administration in this regard
have been adequately borne out by its prompt payment of a total
of N530m in both counterpart funding and take-off fund for the
project.
Okowa captured the tempo of activities with regard to the
NEWMAP initiative in the following words, “ This administration
has taken action to end the perennial flooding of the state capital
and other key towns and cities across the state. While work is
on-going to ensure water control in Asaba, a comprehensive
drainage Master Plan for the territory is nearing completion. In
the meantime, we have entered into partnership with the World
Bank-assisted Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management
Project (NEWMAP). We have already paid the sum of 500million
naira being our counterpart fund for the NEWMAP project and an
additional 30 million naira as start-up fund.”
(F) HEALTH
The health sector is of top priority to the administration of
Senator Ifeanyi Okowa. And this is understandable in the light of
two thinsg; the common knowledge of the overall importance of
that sector to man in whatever clime and at whatever time, and the
fact that the principal of the government, Senator Okowa, having
graduated in Medicine and Surgery at just 22 years of age, is well
placed in this regard to appreciate this fact.
In lieu of these fact, therefore, the administration has accorded
the sector deserved attention by the sustenance of the more than
180 hospitals and health centres across the state; the grant of
N100m to the Delta State University Teaching Hospital (DELSUTH)
, Oghara, to re-kit it in order to resume its engagement in highly
demanding medical procedures, including knee cap replacement
and kidney transplant; built and equipped the Cottage Hospital,
Abavo, and retrofitted the General Hospital, Patani. It has equally
delivered more than 40,000 delivery kits, locally called mama
packs, to the legion hospitals and health centres across the state.
The Okowa government has equally sustained the free health care
programmes for expectant mothers and under-five children under
a new direct and potentially more convenient structure.
Okowa told this story in the following words,: “ In fulfilment of
our pledge to deliver accessible, affordable and quality healthcare,
the Delta State Contributory Commission was established in 2016.
With just N7,000 as premium, the health insurance scheme is
already providing pre-paid health services to 112, 169 registered
enrolees. The scheme is currently functional in 63 secondary
health centres, while 97 primary healthcare facilities in the state
have been designated to commence provision of services under
the scheme. The free maternal and the free Under-Five Health
care programmes that were initiated by the previous administration
in the state in 2007 and 2010, respectively, are still
being implemented. In January 2017, the financing of these
programmes was taken over by the Delta State Contributory
Health Commission. As at July 2017, total enrolment
of these categories of people in the scheme stood at 71, 350
(under five-44, 445; maternal-26, 905). Registration of civil
servants under the scheme has commenced and is currently
in progress. Sustaining the free maternal and the free underfive
healthcare programmes has been critical in ensuring
that maternal mortality ratio and under-five mortality in
the state remain the lowest in the country.”
Okowa added, quite significantly, that while the administration
had signed an agreement with Instrat Global
Health Solutions for the deeper penetration of Information
Communication Technology (ICT) in the state healthcare
system, it had also continued to accord quality attention
to on-going works at the new Central Hospital in Asaba, on
which construction activity is almost 70 per cent completed.
The central hospital is expected, on completion sooner than
later, to augment the efforts of the existing smaller hospital
at Okwe and the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) , Asaba, a
referral facility, in meeting the health needs of the people of
the state, especially in and around the state capital .
(G)AGRICULTURE AND FOOD SECURITY
Agriculture is, perhaps, the only engagement of man that
is as old as man himself. This is because, since creation, the
need for man to feed has compelled him to be involved in this
occupation/ calling.
This fact was never going to be lost on the administration
of Senator Okowa which has taken measures to respond to
the vital issues of access and quality in the food supply situation
in the state.
To this end, it has, via YAGEP, trained and empowered
thousands of youths in various farm genres as poultry, piggery,
fishery and crop farming, especially commercial rice
engagement. Encouragingly, these trainees, called YAGEPreneurs,
have not only actively been contributing to the
food supply situation in the state and become a new reliable
generation of commercial farmers, but also have become
employers of labour in their various fields of engagement.
The YAGEPreneurs –more than 3,000 of them at the last
count-are without prejudice to the 4,000 youths engaged
in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Anchor Borrowers
Programme.
In order to sustain the level of quality food supply in the
state and enhance the health of the citizenry, the administration
has equally revived the Agricultural Development
Programme (ADP) at Ibusa, where it is equally establishing a
centre for the rapid multiplication of goat and cane rat, locally
called the grass cutter. This is, again, without prejudice to
the partnership deals with the foreign firms for the creation
of agro-industrial parks in the state, and the huge support
to various individual and cooperative farmers by way of
cash, technical support, agro-inputs and others. It has given
out more than 50,000 fingerlings to fish famers, more than
200 fish kilns to fish farmers, more than 200,000 oil palm
seedlings to farmers and in excess of 200 melon shellers to
women’s cooperative groups. On account of the huge active
encouragement of the state government, new cooperative
farm groups, including the hugely successful Okowa House
To House Cooperative Society (which is into commercial
rice farming and produces the Prosperity brand in the open
market) and Okowa Fish Farmers near Camp 74, Asaba, have
sprung up and are flourishing.
In all, the goals of the administration in this regard are
to boost food security, create jobs, breed a new dependable
generation of farmers, create wealth for the system, and, arising
from all of the effects of these variables, create a social
and political ambience that can sustain peace and security
in the system, aside all else.
(H)HOUSING, RELATED OTHERS
In deference to the fact of the overall importance of shelter
in the life of man, the Okowa government has also acted in
a manner to live out its conviction in this regard by demonstrated
action. In this sense, it has completed and allocated
the Sapele Urban Market, completed and concessioned the
Delta Towers, Abuja, to a private interest,in the pursuit of the
virtue of transparency and reached a deal for the construction
of a high-brow central secretariat in Asaba, to house
some 28 ministries, departments and agencies still in rented
apartments. It has also strengthened the hands of the Delta
Mortgage Bank Limited, popularly called Delta Trust, which
runs a virile public sector mortgage scheme for the state. This
is aside of the several agreements it has sealed with various
interests for the development of the housing sector.
Fundamentally, the government, under the watch of Okowa,
has formulated and introduced the first housing policy in the
history of the 26 years old state.
(I) POWER AND ENERGY
It goes with little iota of reasonable argument that the
power sector is vital in the overall development index of any
society, Delta State inclusive.
Unfortunately, in spite of the truism of the above fact,
Delta has had an ironic experience in this sector. This is
because, in spite of the fact of its vital need of power-just as
elsewhere-and the fact that it is host to vital power plants
in Sapele, Ekakpamre and Okpai, it only accesses just 9 per
cent of its estimated daily power need of 1,008Megawatts
of electricity.
In order to respond to this quite unimpressive scenario, the
state government, under the watch of Senator Okowa, has had
to initial some power development deals with some interests
under the private/public partnership module. Examples in
this regard include the clean power agreements with Luxra
Nigeria Limited; Yutai Li Nigeria Limited and Basanchury
Power solutions Nigeria Limited. While the first two deals
are to supply power for general use/application, the latter
involves the generation of 8.5mw of electricity to power public
assets in Asaba and its environs, as a veritable way to whittle
down the huge cost of filling the power supply gap with small
power packs better called generators.
(J)FINANCE, INVESTMENTS AND PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION/
GOVERNANCE
The development-on a sustainable basis- of any community/
society, or, even an individual, is inextricably tied
to its/his/her ability to manage the resources-time, money
and materials-available at any given time and how, on the
basis of objective judgment, he/she/it is able to put it/them
to use (investment).
This much is equally true of the government, and for the
administration of Senator Okowa, this fact was never to get
lost to it. On this account, it has adopted a welter of strategies/
measures to attain the golden goal of enhanced cost
-efficiency in the system. In this regard, it has adopted contractual
obligations/debts repayment rescheduling; opted for
contractor -financed module of project funding and reached
for the private/public module of project/service delivery. Part
of the overall strategies of the administration in this regard
is the deepening of the personnel audit exercise with the introduction
of the vital element of Bank Verification Number
(BVN) in the course of the exercise that is still on-going. In fact,
a measure of the efficacy of the new approach to governance
and investment with regard to the principle of due process
and accountability, is the fact of the expunging of a whooping
5,000 ghost names from the payroll of the state government,
over the past two years.
The administration’s new approach to governance, investment
and finance has also yielded good fruits as can be found
in the institution of the Delta State Investment Development
Agency (DIDA) which bill was signed into law on July 25, 2017,
and the various private /public partnership modules reached
between it and investors in respect of the Warri/Effurun Water
Scheme, the Delta Commercial City Project; the Delta Rest
Park, the Asaba Integrated Power Project, housing projects in
the state and the various agro-industrial parks.