‘Okowa’s First 100 Days Has Been A Period Of Strategic Planning’
Mr. Jackson Ekwugum is the Communication Manager to Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa. He said that the governor has actually hit the ground running and was poised to deliver on his promises of prosperity to Deltans, which was his campaign mantra.
How would you assess Okowa in his first 100 days in office? Okowa’s first 100 days in office has been a period of critical thinking, strategic planning and focused action.
As promised, the Governor has hit the ground running when he presented two bills to the State House of Assembly within 48 hours of assuming office. The Bills namely; Delta State Capital Territory Agency Development Bill, 2015, and Technical and Vocational Education Board Bill 2015 were passed by the House within the first week of his administration.
This was a superb demonstration of a leader who has done his homework and has a clear vision of what he plans to do in office. In keeping with his campaign promise to pursue a legislation that will support and promote Universal Health Insurance Policy for all Deltans, the governor has forwarded the Delta State Contributory Health Commission Bill to the State House of Assembly.
The bill is currently for second reading in the House. It is expected to be passed into law within the year. It is expected that increasing health insurance coverage in Delta will significantly increase the demand for health services, which will in turn require expansion of service delivery facilities and personnel and increase the need for standardisation and enforcement of quality.
What would you say are his major achievements so far? But by far the biggest news of Okowa’s first 100 days in office is the launch of five entrepreneurship programmes under the State’s Job and Wealth Creation Scheme known as OkowaPlus.
The programmes under the scheme are Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurs Programme (YAGEP), Skills Training and Entrepreneurship Programme (STEP), Production and Processing Support Programme (PPSP), Development of Agro-Industries and Extension of Micro-credit.
Unlike youth empowerment programmes that people are used to, OkowaPlus seeks to produce wealth and job creators through a rigorous and elaborate entrepreneurship training programme designed to equip participants with life skills, imbue them with leadership attributes, and wire them for sustainable outcomes.
It is not your typical empowerment programme that is often cash-based. It is about building a knowledge economy and the overarching goal is to equip participants with the technical know-how, vocational/technical skills, values, and resources to become both self-employed and employers of labour.
In terms of infrastructure, how will you assess Okowa government? On infrastructural development, three technical colleges in Agbor, Ofagbe and Sapele are undergoing extensive infrastructural overhaul.
Two General Hospitals in Patani and Abavo are being rebuilt, while the rebuilding of the Sapele Main Market is nearing completion. Extensive repair works are also ongoing at Okpanam road in Asaba and other major roads in the state.
What are the challenges? The governor inherited a troubled economic situation that threatened to derail the administration’s S.M.A.R.T agenda. SMART stands for Strategic Wealth Creation and Provisions of Jobs, Meaningful Peace Building Platforms.
With a massive debt overhang of over N600b vis-à-vis dwindling receipts from the Federation Account, something drastic needed to be done to stop the economy of the state from imminent collapse.
The policy response to the crisis has been bold and decisive. Aside from renegotiating the bank loans, the governor undertook a downward review of the 2015 budget as approved to bring it in line with the current economic realities, suspended recruitment into the civil service and adopted a phased-out approach to constituting his cabinet to cushion the financial burden on the state.