Okowa Has Performed Creditably Well In Delta – Onoriode | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Okowa Has Performed Creditably Well In Delta – Onoriode

Posted: Sep 14, 2016 at 6:54 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

PDP’s Crisis Will Soon Be Resolved’

Hon. Sunday Eromedoghene Onoriode is the Organising Secretary of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Delta State and the immediate past Chairman of Ethiope East Local Government Area of the state. He spoke with JOHN DUGBE on efforts of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to deliver dividends of democracy, the state’s 25th anniversary as well the crisis in the party, among other issues. Excerpts:

Delta State is 25 years. How would you say has been the journey so far?

The journey actually has not been so easy. From the time the state was created, it has not easy trying to get things together. It has been a tasking job for all those who had governed Delta State from the time of late Chief Felix Ibru, the first civilian governor, to that of Chief James Ibori’s administration, to Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan’s administration and now the present administration of our amiable governor, Dr. Arthur Ifeanyi Okowa, who is performing wonderfully. Several persons have made sacrifices by way of contributing their quota to the development of the state, and these contributions are what we are celebrating today. But, the celebration of the Delta State’s 25th anniversary will not be complete without mentioning the incumbent governor, Dr. Arthur Ifeanyi Okowa who has given the state a new face through his Smart Agenda.

A lot of people are still of the view that Okowa’s administration has not done much for Deltans. Such people feel that most projects were the continuation of Uduaghan’s government. What is your take on this?

I totally disagree with such views. Since the governor assumed office on May 29, 2015, he has been making a lot of efforts towards reducing unemployment in the state through his job creation programme, Smart Agenda. More than 1,300 youths have been trained and given starter pack to enable them begin practicing the training the Delta State government has given. These youths who are being trained and empowered financially by the government are expected to be employers of labour in no time. For the short time he has assumed office, Okowa has embarked on the construction of many township and rural roads. Despite the economic situation of the country, the governor has not relented as he has embarked on the construction of the middle section of Alisimie-Ozanogogo Road; dualisation of Nnebisi Road, from traffic light to Cable Point, Asaba.
Okowa has also embarked on the reconstructing of the old Oleh/Emede/Olomoro Road; widening/reconstruction of Owhe-Ologbo/Abbi Road and reconstruction/expansion/construction of Kefas Road, Emore Road and Uzere Road. In Sapele, Orerokpe and Ughelli area of Delta Central, the governor is working on the dualisation of Sapele Road, from Amukpe Roundabout to AT&P, Sapele; the construction of Ejinyere/Orodje Street, Orerokpe and construction of Oteri township roads, Ughelli.
In his vision and mission to raise the standard of education, Okowa held a two-day Education Summit with the theme ‘Leapfrogging Education in Delta.’ The summit which attracted prominent Nigerians and educationists like Chief Afe Babalola, Prof Pai Obaya and a host of others addressed the challenges education sector was facing in the state and the way forward. As part of his effort to revive vocational study, Okowa has embarked on the upgrade of Sapele, Agbor, and Ofagbe Technical Colleges. He is also upgrading infrastructure in both primary and secondary schools across the state.

To drive home his policy of prosperity for all Deltans, believing in the concept that health is wealth, Governor Okowa’s administration is poised to implement the Contributory Health Pension scheme which will ensure universal coverage for all categories of Deltans. The governor has equally consented to the establishment of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) South-South out station in Asaba. This will bring closer collaboration between NIMR and tertiary health institutions in the state and that is besides providing employment for Deltans.

What would you say that Gov Okowa has done in the area of business and tourism?

In line with the administration’s commitment to open up the state for business and tourism, he has embarked on the remodelling of the 3.4 kilometers runway of the Asaba International Airport to meet international standard. The aviation authorities had recommended the measure to enable bigger aircraft to land at the airport. The economic diversification initiatives of government have also yielded results as many investors and the government have signed Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) on key areas meant to boost the state’s economy. Among them is an agreement for the construction of 10,000 housing units for which 202 hectares of land have been acquired in Illah, Oshimili North Local Government Area. The project would be executed under the Public Private Partnership model – where the state’s contribution would be the provision of land and secured environment for business.
There is also an MoU with a Chinese firm for the construction of Solar Generating Plant. Land for this has also been provided along Umunede – Otolokpo Road in Ika North East local government area. As part of efforts to open up Asaba for commerce, another agreement has also been signed with a consortium of construction companies to construct a-one-stop-shop commercial city within Asaba and about 305 hectares of land for the project has also been acquired towards the Niger Bridge. The representatives of the company have indicated that construction work on the project would commence before the end of the year.

Another initiative which has elicited a lot of interest from within and outside Delta State is the Fast Track 90 scheme. This is a platform that enables a land owner or a prospective land owner to process and be issued with Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) on the land within 90 days, baring all unforeseen circumstances. The governor made several appointments to kick start the programme and has gone ahead to pick on some key projects that are significant to the people of Delta State to show that he has a mindset to move the state forward. Within the short time in office, he has done great things through his SMART Agenda, rooted on making Deltans self-reliance.

How do you see Gov Okowa’s agenda for the youths?

The governor’s Smart Agenda is all about self-reliance. It is about training the youths, and at the end of the day empowering them to be on their own. With that, they can help employ other youths to work with them. The programme started immediately the governor was sworn in. The first batch just got through with their training in different fields of specialisation. Some are today into farming, welding and fabrication, handicrafts, among others. They all left to start on their own with the starter-pack. The essence of the programme is to train them in the areas where they can excel since government cannot provide employment for all the youths. The programme has been a laudable one and something one must be interested in. So far, so good. From the training, reports have shown that it is a perfect programme of the Okowa governor. l must tell you that the governor I know is not the kind of governor that will get good policies and will not utilise them. He is a hardworking governor, not because of his new assignment as governor, but for who he has been over the years, from councillor, local government chairman, commissioner, Secretary to State Government, immediate past senator that represented Delta North and now governor of Delta State. So, tell me, why will such a person not excel? I know he is going to do very well because his experience counts. You will see, at the end, his Smart Agenda will usher in tremendous changes to Delta State. So, Okowa’s Smart Agenda was what gave credence to the 25 years anniversary of Delta State.

You have previously served under Chief Edwin Uzor as state chairman of PDP. How would you describe the previous administration of Uzor, Barr Peter Nwanboshi and the present administration of Barr, Kingsley Esiso and the rumour of being press shy?

Actually, the Delta State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) under the chairmanship of Barr Arthur Nwanboshi and later to Chief Edwin Uzor did so well, and that was what gave victory to the present administration of our amiable governor, Dr. Arthur Ifeanyi Okowa, the performing governor. Both chairmen had, during their time, worked around the clock in ensuring that continuity was followed and was well fought for, even when there was the perception that PDP had lost out in Delta.
Without mincing words, I know it was the same step the new chairman of the Delta PDP party, Barr. Kingsley Esiso had taken and l know with his experience as seasoned politician who has contributed greatly to the growth of the party, l know Delta state PDP will excel in all its elections under the leadership of Barr. Kingsley Esiso. On the perception that the state chairman is seen as press shy, that he never speaks like in the era of Barr. Arthur Nwanboshi and Chief Edwin Uzor, l want to disagree on that because what has brought him to limelight in politics today was his eloquent and out spoken nation. So, it will be funny to say he is press shy when there are not issues to talk about and he was there. I have this confidence that he started well by ensuring that all aggrieved persons are reconciled and brought back to the PDP fold knowing fully well that PDP is a big family and at one time or the other, there are bound to be such development which is common with big political parties.

There is this fear that with the rate All Progressive Congress is going in Delta State, it seems it will perform exceedingly well in the forthcoming local government election and probably take over the state in the 2019 general elections. What is your take on this?

It is not an issue at all. We all know that all they are doing is to satisfy their pay master. To tell their pay master they are on ground and they are waxing stronger but you and l know that APC has no single structure in Delta. You must have a structure before you start thinking of winning elections, and that does not happen when you don’t have structure. When we will come out with our plans, like the way we did during our governor’s election, where we meet the people one on one, they will know who has structure on ground. It is not by social media or newspapers, it is naturally what you have on ground, APC has never be a threat to Delta PDP, may be the local government election will spell it out who and who has no structure in the state, about a year from today we will know this. The governor of the state is performing so well and Deltans are appreciating his programmes of lifting the state to an enviable height and we don’t want distracters to distract the PDP government from delivering dividends of democracy to Deltans in respective of political party.

With the crises rocking the party over Modu Sherriff and Makarfi factions that PDP, don’t you think your party may lose to the APC come 2019 presidential and other elections?

It is normal what is happening in PDP. What you ought to know is that when you have a party like PDP, with a big family, it is expected to see this happen. When you do not see this happening, then it means, it is still a small or mushroom party. But thank God that PDP is the biggest political party in Africa. Kudos to the vision of its founding fathers.

There is every tendency that it will be calm after the storm and that is the symbol of a big party. No matter the differences, it will come to pass because there is always an interest in a big family and there is always a meeting point at the end of the day, so we are not strange to it and it was not the first time. But, the beauty of it is that we have always have our way at the end of the struggle, no matter the storm.
PDP is one political party and one family and that we will continue to be, as it has been before, now and tomorrow. It is a party for the people, smart at managing circumstances in ensuring that those it governs are given top priority in all spheres of live, no matter the state of the economy, Nigerians first