MEET FRANK OSHANUGOR
By Frank Oshanugor
With just one year left to hand over the administration of Delta State to whoever would succeed him after the 2023 elections, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has been described as a man destined and determined to finish strong in the governance of the State in his two terms.
The Governor’s Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on Health Monitoring; Dr. Michael Nwoko made the assertion while engaging some Lagos based journalists who visited Asaba on Thursday.
Giving details of what looked like Okowa’s score card, Nwoko pointed out that evidence of the governor’s determination to finish strong is in leaps and bounds citing examples with the newly created state Universities in Asaba, Agbor and Ozoro.
According to him, “it is gratifying to note that about one year ago, Delta State Government under the leadership of Governor Okowa established three new universities to complement the only existing state University in Abraka. Following the promulgation of the Universities’ enabling Act and subsequent disbursement of about N2.8billion take off grant to the schools, Okowa had assured the take off of the universities within one year.”
The SSA said “it is interesting to note that the Governor has walked his talk by not only disbursing the take off grant but by ensuring that the money is put to good use. This is evident in the massive infrastructural upgrade in the new campuses.”
Citing example with Dennis Osadebey University, Asaba which replaced the former campus of Delta State University, at Anwai Asaba, he disclosed that not only has the school attained the status of a full fledged university with no fewer than five faculties each of which has no less than seven departments with their lecture halls and departmental offices well built and furnished, but academic activities have started taking off with the admission of new students.
According to him, the same thing plays out at the new University of Delta, Agbor where academic activities have officially begun on the 4th of March, with no fewer than 2000 students admitted into different faculties.
“The new Delta State University of Science and Technology at Ozoro has also come up as a testimony to the good intentions of Governor Okowa who has vowed to make access to tertiary education by Delta State indigenes as easy as possible for those qualified to seek admission.
The Governor’s aide added that with the coming on stream of the new universities, Delta State would soon take a lead in producing enough manpower in various sectors of the economy, be it banking, medicine, legal profession, science, engineering and so on.
With respect to the development of Asaba as the State’s capital, Nwoko pointed out that Okowa’s predecessors did their best in laying the foundation but Okowa with exceptional taste for global standard and innate desire to bequeath Deltans with more enduring infrastructures has taken Asaba to a higher level.
This is exemplified in the recent official commissioning of the multi-billion naira Delta State Civil Service Secretariat which took place on Monday November 29, 2021. The commissioning was done by the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; Prof. Yemi Osibanjo.
The project was described as another major landmark in the annals of Governor Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa’s administration in Delta State.
Commenting on the project, the Senior Special Assistant said “the Secretariat named after the Asaba monarch, Asagba of Asaba; Prof. Chike Edozien, is a mission accomplished by a Governor who thinks and believes that the State deserves nothing but the best.”
According to him,
“the Secretariat which was conceived by Governor Okowa and given birth to, in 2016 with mobilization to site in 2017, came as a better alternative to the huge sums of money being paid as rent by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA) over the years as government of the state has largely been operating from rented buildings since the State Secretariat hurriedly built by the military soon after creation of Delta State could not accommodate many of the public servants. So much has been spent on rent.”
Nwoko posited that Governor Okowa in conceiving the idea of building the Secretariat, had considered the deficit in having various departments and agencies of the State operating from rented apartments in terms of service delivery apart from the financial cost. “He had therefore gone ahead to actualize the dream of bequeathing the State with a world class Secretariat.”
Besides constructing a befitting Secretariat, Governor Okowa according to the SSA deemed it fit to frontally attack the issue of flooding in parts of the capital city of Asaba and other parts of the state by constructing over 1,000 kilometres of line drainages including the famous stormwater drainage projects to tackle flooding in Asaba, Okpanam and Warri, Effurun axis. More so, the administration has constructed over 1,500 kilometers of road in various parts of the state, rehabilitated some failed roads and linked up communities with new access roads.
Dr. Nwoko also disclosed that the Governor has been quite passionate in bringing back the lost glory in technical education at the secondary level. “This, Okowa has done by constructing nine new technical colleges in Asaba, Obiaruku, Orerokpe, Oghara, Uvwie, Irri, Omadino, Akugbene and Owa-Alero. At their completion, the state would boast of a total of 15 technical colleges.
The Governor’s aide emphasised that it was obviously in the light of Okowa’s commitment towards infrastructural development in Delta, the the Nigerian Institution of Civil Engineers (NICE) honored the Governor as the 2021 Honorary Fellow of the group. The Governor was decorated as the 2021 Best Performing Governor in Infrastructure Development in Nigeria.
Giving a further breakdown of what he considered the Governor’s achievements over the years, the SSA said Okowa has excelled in delivering the dividends of democracy to the people of the State in various sectors with a contention that the Governor’s “phenomenal achievements have lifted Delta State to the highest pedestal of socio-economic development which is unequalled in the history of the State.”
In the area of security and peace of the State, Nwoko noted that Delta has enjoyed relative peace and stability in spite of its heterogeneous nature and the invasion of some parts of the State by Ak47 wielding Fulani herdsmen who have made life difficult for local farmers by ravaging their farmlands.
“In spite of the provocation by the nomadic killer helmsmen, Governor Okowa has continued to preach peace and even refused to set up a uniformed security as it is done elsewhere as he did not want any confrontation with Federal security agencies.”
Rather, as a way of achieving total peace in the State through the instrumentality of the Rule of Law, Okowa has chosen to empower the security agencies to enable them carry their responsibilities with relative ease. This was why in February 2020, he donated 35 brand new operational vehicles to the various security agencies in Delta State. They included police, military, DSS, Civil Defence and so on.
As the Coordinator of the Health Monitoring Team of the State Nwoko explained that Okowa started well by establishing the Delta State Contributory Health Commission. This according to him “was to change the dynamics of health care delivery system that would ensure affordable, accessible and quality health care for all residents of the State.”
The SSA noted that under the Contributory Health Scheme, about 1,000,000 residents have been enrolled, with free health services being administered to children between the ages of 0 – 5 years, pregnant women and widows.
He said that this effort has been complimented by the wife of the Governor, Her Excellency, Dame Edith Okowa through the 05 Initiative – a Non Governmental Organization which has built and equipped no fewer than 13 Sickle Cell facilities across Delta.
Describing “The 05 Initiative” as another revolutionary concept of health service delivery of the Okowa’s administration, Nwoko revealed that the NGO is performing magic in the lives of thousands of Deltans who have been treated of varying degrees of eye problems and sight restored for many”, adding that under Okowa’s leadership, “many hospitals and health centres have been constructed, rehabilitated and equipped with modern medical supplies and personnel to deliver quality health care services to Deltans.”
Though the COVID-19 pandemic has simmered down, Nwoko emphasised that Governor Okowa possibly with a benefit of hindsight as a medical doctor, did not leave anything to chance as he placed high premium in ensuring that the spread of the dreaded global disease was curtailed and contained through measures that were promptly put in place.
“Today, Delta State has built enough capacity to contain the pandemic and other infectious diseases as residents of the State are sensitized to adhere to safety precautions” he said.
According to him, over 200,000 residents in the State have received the first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at the various vaccination centres across the State while more awareness is being created for more residents to avail themselves of the free vaccination exercise going on the State.
The SSA noted that beyond the institutional approach to health, “Gov. Okowa has invested resources in the supply and installation of critical tools and equipment in numerous Healthcare facilities and training institutions in the State.” These include the College of Health Technology, Ofuoma Ughelli where the governor purchased medical laboratory equipment and effected infrastructural repair to meet accreditation requirements of its academic programmes. He also re-modelled and rehabilitated the Renal Dialysis Center at the Central Hospital, Warri.”
“Governor Okowa has also invested resources in the building and equipping of health institutions like the 180 bed capacity Asaba Specialist Hospital which is now a huge relief to people of Asaba and environs as they now have access to affordable and accessible healthcare of global standard.”
Beyond the aforementioned efforts in the health sector, Nwoko said that Governor Okowa’s administration over the years has completed some other projects and procured nine Oxygen Concentrators which are installed in selected general hospitals across the three senatorial zones just as he had approved special grant to Delta State University Teaching Hospital (DELSUTH) for major equipment repairs including MRI, CT Scan, Mobile X-ray equipment and rehabilitation of power supply system.
The SSA pointed out that among other things, the health programme being implemented by the Okowa administration contributed greatly in the movement of Secretariat of Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to DELSUTH in 2020, adding that “this is the first time that the Secretariat of NARD is coming to a State University Teaching Hospital in its 40 years of existence.
Through his STEP and YAGEP, Nwoko disclosed that Gov. Okowa has made thousands of young Deltans self employed and employers of labour, contending that “today in Delta State, the new spirit among the youth is entrepreneurship brought about by the new philosophy of self employment being inculcated in the people. He added that over 200,000 youths have so far been empowered.
Not leaving anything to chance, Nwoko pointed out that” Okowa’s conscious effort to fully develop the State infrastructurally, necessitated the upgrading of Asaba Airport in 2018 to International Airport with the airport recording its first international flight when a Boeing 747 took off from the airport with Super Eagles players to South Africa”.
“The Governor had also reconstructed the State Sports Stadium named Stephen Keshi Stadium. His administration had met the stadium in a dilapidated form on assumption of office.
The transformational facelift given the Stadium according to the Governor’s aide necessitated the choice of The Confederation of Africa Athletics Senior Championship (for CAA Asaba 2018). Other international sporting events have been holding in the world class stadium”.
Mindful of the insufficiency of public power supply, Nwoko revealed that “the Delta State Governor has constructed a power generating plant to augment power supply in the State capital. The power plant was one of the projects commissioned by Vice President Yemi Osibanjo on Monday 29th November, 2021”.
In Nwoko’s words, the Governor as a man who believes in party supremacy has firmly led the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the State with such panache that constantly sends shivers done the spine of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC).
The intra-party rift commonly found in other states is largely absent in Delta due to Dr. Okowa’s commitment to party principles and not individual whims as leader of the party in the State. Such a gesture, according to the SSA, would prevent a possible implosion of the party in the days leading to the 2023 election as the choice of candidates would not be by imposition but by Democratic process Dr. Nwoko concluded.