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Proofs That Okowa’s Fulfilling Promises, Deserving Of VP’s Role
Published Nov 08, 2022 IN Column, Features, STRONGER DELTA,
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HIS Excellency, Vice Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the 2023 Presidential elections, Senator (Dr.) Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, the Executive Governor of Delta State, deploys his Finishing Strong Agenda as an icing on the cake, after a most successful democratic tenure beginning with his S.M.A.R.T. Agenda in 2015, both of which has engendered a legacy of Prosperity Creation in the state, such that in the future, we will keep talking about the unforgettable years of the Okowa Administration in Delta State, a Stronger Delta State. Indeed, the ovation is getting loudest, as His Excellency, earnestly and ceaselessly deploys an abundance of development vision and enormous political will, into a prosperity of roads, bridges and drain­ages, flyovers and pedestrian bridges, in both quality and durability, which would make them indelible on the sands of time. Hence, Finishing Strong means that Governor Okowa’s envisioned legacy of creating strong institutions and all-round structures in Delta State is a growing reality each passing day. It is the reason Governor Okowa is eu­logised as a qualified Vice Presidential candidate, the ‘The Roadmaster’, the pace setter of a genera­tion, as he continues to bestride the entire Delta State landscape, with a roadmap of Prosperity. As we speak, Delta State, under Governor Okowa, the co-holder of the unifying joint Presidential ticket of the PDP, is a criss cross of democratic dividends, spanning all sectors of human development. Alas, one can truly exclaim that it is a ‘Stronger Delta’ State, with visible and fast paced development, never recorded as has been witnessed by all since 2015 when Governor Okowa came on board in a landslide electoral victory that is characteristic of his political trajectory.

Over the past years, precisely seven years plus, evidences abound in the public space of the com­mitment of Delta State Governor, Senator (Dr.) Arthur Ifeanyi Okowa towards the infrastructural development of the state. Okowa’s political will and clinical executive action in this direction has continued to assume an accelerated dimension with continual ground breaking and earnest completion, again and again, of many road and other projects all dotting across the entire state landscape, all of them simply timeless projects. From the Delta North Senatorial District hosting the state capital to the South and Central Senato­rial districts, roads, bridges, schools, etc have been constructed to ease the transportation needs of Deltans, in fulfillment of His Excellency’s promise to ensure that all parts of the state are touched, as encapsulated in his Stronger Delta Agenda. To say that before the coming of Governor Okowa, many roads across the state were in decrepit condition is an understatement. In Asaba, the state capital and other surrounding towns within the capital territory, especially Okpanam, the rainy season was a period of horror for those living along that route or have businesses that take them there on a daily basis, but Governor Okowa’s road construction drive and his commitment to it backed with untiring efforts, that has earned him the acronym, “Roadmaster” has today changed the narrative as in other parts of the state. The situation of Okpanam road particularly, which had been under construction for over eight years without completion was so bad that in May 2019, the state council of the Nigeria Union of Journal­ists (NUJ), called on Governor Okowa to declare a state of emergency on it, describing the state of road, especially the Okpanam axis of it as “an embarrassment to the Asaba capital territory and counter-productive to the promotion of the numerous road projects embarked upon and completed by the government of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa” and advised Governor Okowa to revoke the existing contract and award the road to a competent contractor. The NUJ had in a statement while commending the Gov­ernor Okowa administration for the massive award of road contracts across the length and breadth of the state and the completion of some, lamented the “inconsistent progres­sion of the work” on the road and expressed that observation over the years indicated that “whenever the contractor made two steps forward, the flood would drag the progress backward by three steps, adding that the road was “Too strategic to the Asaba capital terri­tory to be left at the pace at which the work has been going on”and blamed the poor state of the road on incompetence of the contractor handling the project. The union decried a situ­ation whereby ongoing construction work on the road had stopped for some time especially with the peak of the rainy season that year in view and noted that “the progress made in re­cent times before the stoppage of work might come under serious threat as experienced in the past.” Recall that Governor Okowa’s efforts on that road paid off with the commissioning of the dualised Okpanam road to the cheer and delight of residents of that part of the state capital. It must have been a proud Gov­ernor Okowa who said; “…As has been said, this area we are inaugurating this road today used to be a very difficult terrain and I must publicly appreciate the contractor, CCECC, for a great job done especially for achieving the ground sewer to the Amilimocha River. Today the sewer is under the ground and with the reconstruction of the roads and the drains, everything looks so good and we are happy that you are here to inaugurate these impor­tant roads,” adding that the road project was very key because it connected the twin towns of Asaba and Okpanam. He added; “The road connects two local government areas and we have completed it by ensuring that the storm water which used to be very problematic is now a thing of the past. We have completed six out of the eight storm drainages and still have two more to ensure the completion of the entire storm drainages in Okpanam and Asaba and thereafter we can sleep with our two eyes closed,” Governor Okowa added, expressing thanks to the people of Asaba and Okpanam for their cooperation and support towards the growth of the state capital territory. Recall that speaking at the inauguration ceremony, the Gover­nor of Taraba State, Arc. Darius Ishaku, while stating that governments in Niger Delta States deserved accolades for infra­structure development because projects, especially roads cost more to build in the region than in the Northern part of the because of the terrain, noted that as a former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, he was familiar with issues, including the terrain and cost of developing infrastruc­ture in the region, even as he said that he was impressed with the quality of work being done by Governor Okowa in Delta State. He commended Okowa for his out­standing accomplishments and commit­ment to the growth and development of the state saying; “I am happy to be here in Delta for this momentous and historical occasion. Governor Okowa’s performance is a testament of the quality of leaders the PDP is putting up for governance in the states where they are leading. I must commend him for his competence, integrity, commitment and indeed his wonderful contributions to the growth and development of Delta and Nigeria.

At the Jesus Saves Road, Agric Road and Onwuegbuzia Road in Asaba, and the Asaba-Okpanam Road, Governor Ishaku who noted that Governor Okowa had at some very critical points in the develop­ment of the country risen up to the challenge by offering purposeful leadership and averting major political crises in the country. Ac­cording to Gov. Darius Ishaku of Taraba State,“I am aware of Okowa’s outstanding accomplishments in education, road construction, water supply as well as the empower­ment of women and youths in the state. I have been opportune to be Minister of Niger Delta and I know how difficult and how expensive it is to build roads in the Niger Delta because it costs up to four to five times of what we spend in the North. Not many people know what goes on underground in the roads and our people need to be told what Niger Delta states pass through in constructing roads.

“In most cases people don’t understand that the underground drainages cost even more than asphalting of the road itself. It is imperative that we continue to sustain our support to governors like Okowa, who has been doing extremely well for his people and for the PDP.

 As we approach 2023, I urge Nigerians to support the party in our quest to take back power at the centre. Happily today, the residents of these roads have joined the community of beneficiaries of the Okowa-led administration. Without mincing words we are proud of you, Governor Okowa, because you have done us proud in PDP and you have made your people happy as well.” Going further, he stated; “Happily today the residents of these roads have joined the community of beneficiaries of the Okowa-led administration. With­out mincing words we are proud of you, Governor Okowa, because you have done us proud in PDP and you have made your people happy as well,” he said and thanked Deltans for the support and cooperation given to the Gov­ernor Okowa administration and the PDP, urging them to remain committed in sustaining their support. Indeed, for every resident of the state, the twist in the positive direction that the state of the roads in the state has taken is gratifying; especially for those who experience night­mares during rainy seasons can now heave sighs of relief. Obviously, Governor Okowa has kept and is still keeping faith in his words expressed in his inaugural address for second tenure on May 2019, Governor Okowa said that, “My first term was quite busy with road and physical infrastructure construction of the most vital interest and consequence. Through the Ministries of Works, Urban Re­newal and the Delta State Capital Territory Development Agency, we embarked on a total of 455 projects compris­ing 1,269.42 kilometres of roads and 517.34kilometres of drainage channels. 263 kms of these roads, covering 638.23 kilometres of roads and 295.71 kilometres of as­sociated drains have been completed. The Direct Labour Agency also made great strides in the development of road infrastructure during this period. Consequently, we have advanced rural-urban integration whilst ensur­ing that our urban centres remain liveable cities with good road network and recreation opportunities. Even much more significant is that our success in this sector not only saved thousands of jobs, it also created several thousand others as well as opportunities for the informal business sector to grow. When this administration came on board, many of the major construction companies/ Government contractors were at the verge of retrench­ing many of their workers as a result of the slump in the economy. However, we prevailed on them not to do so assuring them of patronage. Today, these companies have expanded and employed more people as a result of our huge investment in road and physical infrastructure,” he added. That is why the declaration by the state chapter of the the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that avail­able records have shown that Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa has distinguished himself in infrastructure delivery including quality roads construction across the state is very apt. Recall that the party had in a statement issued by its State Publicity Secretary, Dr. Ifeanyi Osuoza, and made available to journalists in Asaba in reaction to the state­ment credited to an opposition party which called on the state governor to ensure quality in roads construction, alleging collapse of roads due to poor engineering works, cautioned the opposition in the state to get its facts right before going to the press.

The statement read; “Our attention has been drawn to a recent, spurious and misleading press statement titled: “Pay attention to quality in road construction, Delta APC charges Okowa” and signed by one Sylvester Imonina. “It is indeed a pity that the APC, perhaps be­cause of its fractured nature in the state, has forgotten that it was the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who nick-named Gov. Okowa the “Road Master” in recogni­tion of his outstanding accomplishments in road con­struction across the State. We find it amazing and quite laughable that amongst the thousands of kilometres of quality roads and bridges which the Governor Okowa adminis­tration has constructed and commissioned across the state, the opposition would dredge up non-existing instances.” We need not remind the opposition that one of the hallmarks of Gov. Okowa’s administration is the hands-on, pragmatic, on-the-spot assessment of all construction work by himself and regular fol­low up assessments by the Ministry of Work’s team. The Roads highlighted in the APC statement, is prosecuted and delivered by tried and tested construction firms, in accordance with the very high-quality control standards and specifications demanded by Gov. Okowa himself”. He added that; “from Asaba to Isaba, Akugbeni to Agbor, Okpanam to Okpe, Warri to Irri, Issele Uku to Shekelewu, Idumuje-Unor to Idjerhe, Ogume to Ogulagha, Oleh to Odimodi, Koko to Kokodiagbene, the Okowa administration has made impact in urbanisation, rural integration and the provi­sion of quality roads and bridges. In Delta North, starting from Asaba, the capital city, Gov. Okowa has built circles of roads and mega drainage systems to address the critical infrastructural deficiency in the zone. With Cable Point Dual Carriageway and several township roads delivered, residents of Asaba now have routes to beat the perennial gridlock of the key access way, the Nnebisi Road. In addition, a multi-billion naira storm drainage project has saved most residents of the capital city from danger­ous flooding. To address the infrastructure needs of the Warri axis is best captured by the establishment of the Warri-Uvwie Area and Environs Development Agency (WUEDA), under the astute supervision and administration of Comrade Ovuozuorie Macaulay. It is with the clear mandate to bring sustainable social infrastructure to the twin cities of Warri and Effurun, the body has since risen to effect a positive change.

“Already, over N3 billion contracts have been awarded for storm drainages in the Warri-Uvwie metropolis and with the flood control measures in place and to undertake expansion and rehabilitation of the long Warri-Effurun-Sapele Road, stretching to Enerhen Junction. The Ughelli–Asaba dualisation project has witnessed great improvement. The Kwale-Ogume-Obiaruku and Ozoro-Oleh Roads developed by the Okowa administration have brought respite to the people. Just like the construction of Ekete main Road, off DSC Expressway, rehabilitation of Ekreravwe/ Orhoakpor/Isiokolo Road, Abraka Township Roads Phase 1, as well the 8.5km Ughelli-Afiesere-Ofuoma Road in the heart of Delta central have all been captured. Irri, Oleh, Ozoro, Iyede, Emede, Owhelogbo, Ellu, Ofagbe, Ikpide-Irri all in Isoko North and Isoko South and Ughelli, Amekpa, Afiesere, Ofuoma, Oteri, Abraka, Orerokpe, and several other communities in Delta Cen­tral and Delta South all have good stories to tell of Gov. Okowa’s footprints in road construction into their various communities. For the Riverine Delta, there are the Main Axial Road and Oke­renkoko Township roads Asphalt Overlay of the 19.7km Obutobo 1 –Obutobo11 – Sokebolou – Yokori road; 10.8km Okpare-Umolo-Ov­wodokpor-Kiagbodo road among numerous others; A 25.8 kilometers Trans Warri-Ode-Itsekiri bridges and access road project which is un­der construction, would be ready in this 2021. The story is not different in other riverine communities like Ogulagha, Obotobo, Okerenkoko, Ogidigben, Koko among others,” the statement had concluded.

It is therefore not surprising that these efforts are attracting accolades from a wide spectrum of individuals, organisations and others. The National Executive Council (NEC) of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) commended Governor Okowa for the massive infrastructure development of the state.

Speaking shortly after the NUJ NEC members were conducted round some of the projects, includ­ing the Traditional Rulers Council Secretariat, the new ultra-modern State Central Secretariat, the Delta State Council NUJ Secretariat then under construction, executed by the Okowa administration by the state Commissioner for Information by Mr. Charles Aniagwu, the National President of NUJ impressed by what he saw, called on other state govern­ments in the country to emulate what the Delta State Government had done, noting that that the decision of the state government to build and furnish the secretariat with state-of-the-art facilities was a right step in the right direction. Isiguzo who stated that the traditional rulers’ secretariat would foster greater unity among traditional rulers in the state, implored other state governors in the country to emulate what the Delta State Government had done, commending the traditional rulers for their roles in promoting peace and unity in their respective kingdoms.

Prior to its commissioning by VP Osinbajo, describing the State Central Secretariat as a beautiful architectural edifice, the NUJ president noted that when a work place is made comfortable for workers, they will deliver excellently well on their work schedules, adding; “With what we have seen, it is obvious that the Delta State Government is integrating traditional rulers and members of the NUJ in the scheme of things by investing in the traditional institu­tion and in the media. “Other state governments in the country should come to Delta State to see how to effectively partner with the media,” Comrade Isiguzo said while urging journalists in the state to reciprocate government’s gesture by helping to adequately publicise government’s policies and programmes. The Chike Edozien Secretariat executed by a reputable Chinese firm was laid in 2018; the idea to build the Central Secretariat was mooted by the Governor Okowa administration towards solving the accom­modation problem being faced by some ministries, departments and agencies of the state government who, he said, were hitherto operating from rented apartments. The State Central Secretariat furnished with state-of-the-art facilities, is today accommodating over 29 ministries, departments and agencies, while the car park in the secretariat accommodates over 2,000 cars. “The State Cen­tral Secretariat has a dedicated power line, two banking halls, a hospital and a shopping mall among other facilities.”

Governor Okowa further embarked on the construction of several inner city roads, including Kefas Road in Oleh, Old Ozoro/ Oleh Road in Isoko North and South local government areas. From Asaba to Ughelli, Akugbene to Agbor, Okpanam to Orerokpe, Warri to Irri, Issele Uku to Iselegu, Idumuje-Unor to Idjerhe, Ogume to Ogulagha, Oleh to Odimodi, Koko to Kokodiagbene, the Okowa administration has made a great impact in urbanisation, rural integration and the provision of quality roads, drainages and bridges for the people.

Governor Okowa has built circles of roads and mega drainage systems to address the critical infrastructural challenges. With Cable Point Dual Carriageway, Okpanam Road, Mariam Babangida Way and the hitherto intractable DLA Road fully delivered, residents of Asaba now have al­ternative routes to savour and to herald as testimonies of Governor Okowa’s delivery of unparalleled dividends of democracy. In addition, a multibillion naira storm drain­age project has saved most residents of the capital city from dangerous flooding, which had been an annual woe before the Okowa administration tackled it headlong and gave the people a sigh of relief. To mark the third anniversary of his administration, Governor Okowa inaugurated the rehabilitated Issele-Uku/Issele-Mkpitime/Onicha-Olona road, phase I of Issele-Uku/Onicha-Uku/Ugbodu/Ukwu- Nzu/Obomkpa/Idumu-Ogo road, rehabilitated Issele-Uku/ Onicha-Ugbo road and phase I of Onicha-Ugbo/Ubulu-Uku road, Idumueje-Unor Road in Aniocha North Local Govern­ment Area. He has brought the Ughelli–Asaba dualisation project up to speed, especially from the Sector C1 and Sec­tor C2 axis, from Asaba to Ollo/Ossisa. The Kwale-Ogume- Obiaruku roads developed by the Okowa administration also brought respite to the people of the areas, just like the construction of Ekete main Road, off DSC Expressway, reha­bilitation of Ekreravwe/Orhoakpor/Isiokolo Road, Abraka Township roads Phase 1, including the 8.5km Ughelli- Afiesere-Ofuoma Road in the heart of Delta Central; have all brought joy and development to the various impacted communities. The people of Irri, Oleh, Ozoro, Iyede, Emede, Owhelogbo, Ellu, Ofagbe, Ikpide-Irri, all in Isoko North and Isoko South and Ughelli, Amekpa, Afiesere, Ofuoma, Oteri, Abraka, Orerokpe and several other communities in Delta Central and Delta South all have great testimonies to tell of Okowa’s footprints in road construction.

The Okowa administration exhibited greater courage in the construction of roads in the riverine areas. According to the Governor, the riverside Delta contributes largely to the production of oil, which is the economic mainstay of the nation and therefore, deserves the entire infrastructure hitherto being enjoyed in the uplands. With this develop­ment philosophy in mind, Governor Okowa ensured that all roads in Burutu Town were entirely paved to give the people a new lease of life and there is the Main Axial Road and Okerenkoko Township roads, Asphalt Overlay of the 19.7km Obotobo 1 –Obotobo11 – Sokebolou – Yokori road; 10.8km Okpare-Umolo-Ovwodokpor-Kiagbodo road, among numer­ous others; A 25.8 kilometers Trans Warri-Ode-Itsekiri, with 19 bridges and access road project, is another testimony of Governor Okowa’s infrastructural feats.

Aside road construction, Governor Okowa also completed several bridges, including Ovwor-Olomu-Effurun-Otor Bridge, linking the age long communities in Ughelli South and also the Agbarho Orhere Bridge and access road to Otokutu in Ughelli North and Ughelli South and also the Oha Bridge along the old Oha-Orerokpe Road in Okpe Local Government Area. To give a new lease of life to the people of the oil-rich Benekuku, Okpai and other communities along the creeks of Ndokwa East a fresh lease of life, the Okowa administration embarked on the construction of a massive bridge across the Ase creek to connect the riverine communities with the upland of Kwale in Ndokwa West Local Government Area. Governor Okowa noted that the oil companies operating in the area should have constructed the bridge long ago, but he took up the gauntlet to ameliorate the sufferings of the people. As Delta rolled forth the drums to celebrate three decades of its existence, it was worthy of note that indeed, it has been 30 years of great impact in road infrastructure, but that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa took the infrastructure sector to greater heights, making his ap­pellation as Road Master a very deserving one. The huge construction sites are palpable and visible signs that Deltans are no longer where they used to be.

Hence, Senator (Dr.) Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa has welcomed innumerable awards. He was conferred with “Ambassador of the Senate Award” by The Senate Press Corps of the National Assembly. Receiving the award, Okowa, who was represented at the ceremony by Deputy Speaker of Delta State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Ochor Ochor, said he was delighted to be honoured with the award, while stating that it would encourage him to do more for the people of Delta in the remaining period of his administration. He thanked the Senate Press Corps for the honour and called on journalists in the country to intensify efforts at preserving the nation’s hard earned democracy. Chairman of the Senate Press Corps, James Itodo, while welcoming dignitaries to the event, said Governor Okowa was recognised for the award because he stood very tall among his peers, in terms of develop­ment across Delta and enhancement of welfare of Deltans through series of poverty eradication and empowerment programmes in Delta State.

Governor Okowa was honoured with the 2019 “Zik Prize in Leadership and Good Governance”, also in recognition of his outstanding accomplishments in road infrastructure and the socio economic development strides under his leader­ship. The award was presented to the Governor by the Public Policy Research and Analysis Centre (PPRAC), organisers of the Zik Prize in Leadership Awards, to mark its 25th anni­versary. Receiving the award at the Civic Centre, Lagos, Gov­ernor Okowa said that the honour done him by the PPRAC would spur him to do more in the areas of skills acquisition, the Contributory Health Insurance Scheme, micro credit, widows and household support and general infrastructural upgrade in different sectors of the state’s economy. The Governor said: “I am impressed with the recognition of our modest contributions to the development of our state and I want to assure you that we will expand the frontiers of all the programmes that earned us this award. In spite of the present global economic hardship, our administration will continue to adopt best practices in project conception, execu­tion and implementation of policies and programmes, even as I thank all Deltans for their support in moving the state forward. The late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was a great patriot, bridge builder and a role model of note and I therefore, call on Nigerians to sustain his legacies by promoting positive traits that he radiated while on earth.” Several other dis­section of the Zik Prize was convincing of the integrity of the award and the suitability of recipients, notably Senator (Dr.) Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa. Hence, while he was commend­ing the organisers of the ceremony for the honour done him and other recipients, Mustapha called on Nigerians to put the interest of the nation above self as late Nnamdi Azikiwe did and was called Great Zik of Africa.” Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka noted, “As I congratulate recipients of various cat­egories of the 2019 Zik Prize, I must also laud the organisers of the programme for sustaining the annual event since its inception 25 years ago.” In his welcome address, Chairman of the Advisory Board of PPRAC, Chief Marc Wagbara, said that since inception 25 years ago, the Zik Prize had emerged as the most respected award in Nigeria. According to him, PPRAC established the Zik Prize in Leadership Awards as part of its annual lecture series to further highlight the Great Zik’s monumental legacy of patriotic fervour and national­ist vision. Further dissecting the Zik Award, he stressed the need for Nigeria to continue to work for every Nigerian, ir­respective of ethnic, religious and political affiliations, while he congratulated recipients of the Zik Prize in Leadership and implored them to remain committed to the noble ideals of good governance, which had earned them the awards. He restated that Great Zik, as he was fondly called, believed in “One Nigeria, adding that size, diversity and demography of Nigeria, makes it one of the most important countries in the world. “The Zik Prize has continued to attract interest from Nigeria and beyond because the organisers have been led by great Nigerians of impeccable honour and integrity. The personality of the man in whose honour the award was instituted has also contributed to the great successes recorded by the Zik Prize since it was founded in 1995. To put Nigeria on the path of progress as envisioned by the Great Zik and other great nationalists, justice, equity and fairness must be observed by leaders in all ramifications.” Why restate all of the above- Truly, they are aids to development-justice, equity, fairness, particularly, balance of projects across the three Senatorial Districts of Delta State, which have given impetus to the realisation of Governor Okowa’s Stronger Delta Agenda.

Doctors under the aegis of NARD independently declared that it found Governor Okowa deserving of the recognition, due to his outstanding contributions to midwifing and implementation of the National Health Act and implementa­tion of the Residency Training Act, 2017. There was a time lag between the award notification and the eventual award presentation by the NARD leadership, being an evidence that it went through a process of validation of the Gover­nor’s conformity with the set criteria. NARD confirmed that efforts by Governor Okowa in pioneering the implementa­tion of the Residency Training Programme in Nigeria and his legacy involvement with the National Health Act, are laudable and worthy of their professional commenda­tion. Receiving the dual award, Governor Okowa thanked NARD for the honour and assured that his administration supports the hosting of the National Secretariat of the as­sociation at DELSUTH, Oghara. Next, he assured of liaison with the Nigeria Governors’ Forum to ensure that more states “domesticate and implement the Residency Training Act as assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari’’. The Governor also called for the adoption and implementation of a viable and sustainable healthcare financing programme for the 36 states of the Federation. Ever concerned with the prevailing state of the country’s health landscape, the medical doctor-cum-Executive Governor of Delta State, Senator (Dr.) Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, diagnosed that, “with an abysmal 0.5 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in public health spending, Nigeria had one of the lowest public healthcare financing globally.” The awards did not only rain, but poured. As more of the awards came his way, Governor Okowa attributed the success stories to partnership with Deltans through years of experience in governance. Thus, on Thursday, January 17, 2019, Gov­ernor Okowa emerged as “Governor of The Year, 2018”. The award organisers declared that the award was for his diligent delivery of democratic dividends and working to make Nigeria’s democracy better, through result-oriented governance. Governor Okowa, while receiving the award, christened “Independent Newspaper Award” at an impres­sive event held at Eko Hotels and Suites, Lagos, went down memory lane to his sojourn in politics, through climbing the rungs, which many love to recite, given the various political positions he held in the course of perfecting the act of governance and strong partnership with the people of Delta State.

A performer extraordinaire, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has turned Delta State into a massive infrastructure ha­ven, encompassing the length and breadth of the state. It underscored his astute management of the challenges exacerbated by the pandemic situation and his creation of a novel infrastructure base for building a Stronger Delta now and in the future. Indeed, Governor Okowa’s non-stop infrastructural and general development strides across Delta State since May 29, 2015 has been a strong reply to the rigid and close-minded few, whose stock in trade was engaging in idle talk, while Governor Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa came, saw and conquered on the infrastructural turf and across varied sectors of the state’s economy. It is noteworthy that Governor Okowa’s resilience and drive for the needed infrastructure turnaround of Delta State was axiomatic with the creation of Prosperity for All Deltans. Given his rich governance experience and most active involvement for a better Delta State and Nigeria, he said: “it’s crucial that we align our programmes with world traits and upscale our vision deliverables by means of considered allocation of resources, prudent administration, in addition to strict and efficient monitoring. Additionally essential in this regard is the creation of Public-Private-Partnership financing fashions, which would speed up infrastructure growth, actualise essential investments and foster inclusivity.” All of the above Governor Okowa exemplifies through fiscal discipline and holding public expenditure within income limits. “This approach has been very helpful in serving Deltans and realising rural-urban integration and concrete urban renewal by means of huge growth of infrastructure, which is among the pillars of our Stronger Delta Agenda.

“My administration launched the development of 799 roads, with a mixed size of 1,577.8 kilometres of roads and 908.34 kilometres of drainage channels, as at June 30, 2021. The 20.28km Obotobo I – Obotobo II – Sokebolou–Yokri – Highway beside the Atlantic Ocean is a basic instance of our dedication to offering infrastructure of the most positive impact on the populace. Certainly, the riverine communi­ties of Burutu,Oporoza, Okerenkoko, Benekuku, amongst several others, now savour the experience of well paved roads, which are no longer the exclusive preserve of the uplands.” He continued: “Asaba, the capital metropolis of our state, has been remodeled into one of the fastest rising cities in Nigeria. The Asaba Storm Water Drainage and the ultra

 modern Central Secretariat, are two of the flagship initiatives within the Delta State Capital Territory.” At this juncture, it is pertinent to say that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has ensured high quality of infrastructural projects, which has not gone unnoticed, hence the rain of numerous awards on the per­forming Governor. He domesticated the COREN model of project coverage, with the inauguration of the Delta State Expatriates Monitoring Committee and the State Technical Committee, saying that, “it would see to the enforcement of requirements and professional ethics within engineering practice in our state. My administration has since inception, been organising and coaching our engineers via refresher programmes within the Delta State Civil Service, as a way of upgrading and updating their professional knowledge and abilities on a continuing basis. Our self assessment and monitoring has certainly strengthened the present high quality management mechanisms and enhanced the impact of engineering activities by the state.” He was once Secretary to Local Government (SLG), Local Government Chairman, Commissioner for Agriculture, Health and Water Resources, Secretary to State Government (SSG) and Senator of the Fed­eral Republic, before emerging as the Elected Governor of Delta State on May 29, 2015 and Re-Elected on May 29, 2019. As Governor Okowa recalled, “I was here in 2017 to receive the ‘Man of The Year Award 2017’ and I am being honoured again. Both awards were possible because we are in perfect relationship with our people back home. I thank God for His blessings, though, the terrain was tough but, I was able to succeed with our people because of the experiences we have garnered in the act of governance over the years; in partner­ship with all Deltans, who are now, more united than ever. As a government, we will continue to ensure good governance and better days ahead for us all. I can comfortably say that we are achieving results, of which people are watching as demonstrated through several awards, including your own awards- Governor of The Year Award 2017 and 2018, mak­ing me a two-time winner, in a row. If you ask me, it was due to a positive partnership, which brought confidence and faith by our people that no matter what, we will continue to respect our Social Contract with them, which guaranteed their genuine partnership with my administration.” Then brother Governor, Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State, did not begrudge the deserving award recipient, Governor Okowa, but congratulated him for receiving the Governor of The Year Award, noting that the Delta State Governor was contribut­ing greatly to the building of his state and nation.”.” As if to underline the areas that truly made Governor Okowa the Governor of the Year, he subsequently bagged another award for his great strides in enthroning a better environment in Delta State, just as an Agency he created on Warri, Uvwie and Environ development had swung into action, to fulfill its mandate on the environment.

“Despite the economic challenges that greeted his as­sumption of office, Governor Okowa displayed remarkable resourcefulness, resilience and strong managerial acumen, as reflected in the spread and balance of infrastructural projects across the three Senatorial districts of the state, employment generation and notable transformation in the education sector”. They continued, “In less than four years, his administration embarked upon 357 road projects, com­prising 1, 056. 15 kms of roads and 352.78 kms of drains; also, his administration has trained huge numbers of young graduates in choice enterprises, while training and empow­ering Deltans to own their own businesses. In circumspect, keen observers of the unprecedented development in Delta State, have bestowed added energies to the developmental strides of the performing Okowa Administration, thus bid­ding it greater speed in the full realisation of the promised Prosperity for All Deltans; their commendations were not meant to serve as idle praise singing or to ruffle the feathers of arm chair critics, who even in the comfort of their arm chairs, cannot deny the glaring fact that Delta State, under the able leadership of Senator (Dr.) Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, have never had it so good, just as he continues to soar upon the building blocks of the past years of the state’s existence and to chart unprecedented inroads of democratic dividends-a narrative underscored by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governance in Delta State.

As a performing government, it does not pander to the interests of praise singers and has no need to curry the favour of award givers; but accepts varied acknowledgements because they are the result of the independent verification of a burgeoning era of Prosperity through a people-centred governance, with manifest testimonies of a new dawn across multiple sectors of the state’s economy. Of note is the popu­lar recognition by the Nigerian Institute of Civil Engineers (NICE), coinciding with his “Finishing Strong Agenda”, thus it is the reflection of a leader, who has never wavered in the Godspeed to realise the Delta State of the collective aspira­tion of all Deltans, while he marches on, focused and undis­tracted, in making history with a higher national assignment come 2023, where his party, in its very believable manifesto, has vowed to unify Nigeria and restore hope by executing to the latter, its current Covenant with Nigerians, starting in earnest, May 29, 2023, through the electoral support of all Nigerians.

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