According to Rahul Gandhi, notable Indian politician and president of the Indian National Congress from Amethi, Uttar Pradesh, “A rising tide doesn’t raise people who don’t have a boat. We have to build the boat for them. We have to give them the basic infrastructure to rise with the tide.”
Candidly, the fundamental driver of development of both past and current civilisations is infrastructure. It’s really surprising that early in the 21st century, many Nigerian state actors are quite unaware that a lot of the challenges of poverty and lack are actually problems of physical infrastructure – few hospitals, not many schools, insufficient roads, bridges, lack of tools, social amenities and more.
Infrastructure represents the basic physical and organisational structures and facilities like buildings, roads, power/water supplies, etc required to operate a healthy society. Undeniably, these systems tend to be high-cost investments but are clearly vital to a societal entity’s economic development and prosperity. Let’s use Nigeria as our case study. In Nigeria, the attention of this article is on Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s Delta State.
An important individual, who has confidently introduced himself, by the sheer audacity and vision of his governance philosophy, into the infrastructural transformation of his region, is Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State.
Simply put, this visioneer is a force to be reckoned with in Southern Nigeria. Let’s briefly talk about his achievements.
In the Educational sector: The Delta State government reconstructed the state-owned technical colleges in Agbor, Ofagbe and Sapele. This was informed by its desire to promote technical and vocational education, which is at the core of its educational policy.
In the area of Job creation/Youth Empowerment, the Delta State government coached and trained a total of 1,027 youth under the Skills Training and Entrepreneurship Programme (STEP) while also making provisions for them to start their own businesses. Also, 256 people were trained under the Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurs Programme (YAGEP).
Furthermore, Governor Okowa’s administration introduced a new programme – Graduate Employment Enhancement Programme (GEEP), which was engineered to cater for unemployed graduates, a programme which will run on a pilot scale. So far, the government has created over 17,000 private sector jobs.
Blissfully aware of the reality that without proper road infrastructure, a society cannot thrive on development, the Delta State government constructed 55 road projects covering over 148 kilometres (including 113 kilometres of concrete-lined drains) at an overall cost of N27.2 billion. Aside that, between the month of June and November 2016, another N2 billion was invested in the construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation and completion of 29 roads across the state. Some of the roads referred to include, Oteri township roads, Ughelli, Oleh/Emede/Olomoro road, Owhe-Ologbo/Abbi road, Idumu-Ughoh road, Agbor and Ejinyere/Orode road, Orerokpe. Others are Alisimie-Ozanogogo road, dualisation of Nnebisi road, Asaba and Sapele road from Amukpe junction to AT&P.
Still on infrastructural development, the government also directed its attention on improvement and development of hospitals and primary health care centres, as well as the procurement of drugs and cutting edge medical equipment in major health care facilities in the three senatorial districts. To this end, the government is giving utmost importance to the Teaching Hospital at Oghara while the Central Hospital, Asaba, is almost completed.
In the area of environment and urban renewal, Governor Okowa’s government has constructed a Storm Drainage System in Asaba to end the perennial flooding in the town, not neglecting other key towns and cities which are also receiving attention.
Recently, Rivers State governor, Chief Nyesom Wike and former Delta State governor, Chief James Ibori, lauded the actions of the Delta State governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa in bringing great infrastructural development to Delta State. The endorsement by the two prominent leaders largely conveys the general impression of the level of development that Okowa has brought about in Delta State.
The two leaders, expressed satisfaction with the various project sites they visited at the instance of Governor Okowa who took them round. They praised him on account of what they saw and further described him as a performer, a promise keeper and dependable personality.
After he had commissioned one of the projects, Chief Wike stated inter-alia: “I identify myself with people who have something to show. I want to thank Governor Okowa, who invited me to commission this project. I know Governor Okowa is doing very well. When you make a promise, fulfil it. Okowa has fulfilled all his promises to Deltans. My coming here today has shown me the level of development in Delta State, particularly in Asaba. I am impressed with what I have seen today and happy with the quality of the projects and contractors”.
On his part, former governor of Delta State, Chief Ibori, spoke unequivocally of Okowa’s style of governance: ” I want to make it abundantly clear that you are doing well. I am indeed proud of you. I have no regret supporting you and I will continue to support you. I pray that God will continue to bless you with good health and abundant wisdom so that at the end of eight years, Deltans will continue to remember you for good.”
Okowa has added much to the pioneering efforts of his predecessors. Thus, it is neither grandstanding nor sheer hyperbole to say that Governor Okowa has delivered good governance relatively commensurate with his electioneering promises. The index of his achievements is visible in various sectors of the state.
Adegoke writes from Abuja