By Augustine Avwode
For Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, Saturday, February 17, 2018, was a day of glory as he added yet another feather to his cap. And it came in the form of an award from the Independent Newspapers as Man of the Year in apparent recognition of Okowa’s achievements in the last 33 months of being in power in Delta State.
The latest recognition came six months after Okowa got a top-notch award from the University of Ibadan Alumni Association (UIAA) as The Alumni of the Year. National President of UIAA, Dr Kemi Emina, , in his speech on that occasion, said the event was to celebrate excellence and that the governor bagged the award as a result of his delivering of dividends of democracy, especially in the areas of empowerment, provision of infrastructure and the Contributory Health Insurance Scheme.
The Man of the Year Award also came on the heels of the endorsement by the World Bank, just three months ago, of Okowa’s job and wealth creation initiatives that are geared towards ensuring prosperity for Deltans.
It was during the Products Exhibition and Business Fair of the Delta State Government by beneficiaries of its Job Creation Scheme in December last year in Asaba.
Tunde Adekola, a Senior Education Specialist in the bank, noted that “Delta is the only state that has demonstrated its commitment to skills development in practical terms.” According to him, “the World Bank will continue to support the Delta State government in the areas of skills and technical development and will work with the Job Creation Office of the state government to strengthen their labour market observatory system in order to make Governor Okowa’s dream of re-creating the middle class a reality.”
These three recognition and endorsements are perfect and eloquent testimonies to the far reaching positive goals of the well thought-out S.M.A.R.T. agenda of the Okowa administration. Not many things gladden the heart of a man or woman and stir up a determination to do more, than the awareness that his or her contributions toward the uplift of humanity’s collective good are recognized and appreciated. And when such recognition are accompanied by official awards by high profile institutions, the recipient goes home with a determination to do even more.
It was, therefore, not surprising that on Monday, January 15, when the management of Independent Newspapers led by its Managing Director cum Editor-in-Chief, Chief Ade Ogidan, went to present the nomination letter, Governor Okowa solemnly promised to do more for the well being of everybody residing in the state.
Governor Okowa, fondly called Ekwueme, (his traditional chieftaincy title) by his teeming admirers, deserves the accolades. Why not? As it is written in the programme booklet: “Despite the severe economic challenges facing the country and the state, Governor Okowa has displayed remarkable resourcefulness, resilience and strong managerial acumen as reflected in the spread of infrastructural projects across the three senatorial districts; employment generation and notable transformation in the education sector.
“In just two years, his administration has embarked upon over 150 road projects with over 60 of them already completed. Also, his administration has created 41,532 direct and indirect private sector jobs through policies, programmes and initiatives of Ministries, Departments and Agencies….and Delta is the first state to launch the Universal Healthcare coverage with the creation of the Delta State Contributory Health Commission.”
All things considered, the award is a heart-warming development both for the Governor and the people of the state. For keen observers of the goings-on in Delta State, the award did not come to them as a surprise. If anything, it only reaffirms the popular believe in many quarters that Delta is not only on the right path but also in safe hands. The award represents an uncommon vote of confidence on Governor Okowa, his programmes and policies and the direction of his administration.
What’s more, it is instructive to state here that the presence of the two former Governors of the state, Chief James Onanefe Ibori and Dr Emmanuel Ewetan Uduaghan, other political heavyweights and time tested entrepreneurs, community leaders and sundry associates from across the state underscores the high approval rating of the Okowa administration in the state.
During the 2017 University of Ibadan Alumni Association Awards, Governor Okowa as the Guest Lecturer on Good Governance For Wealth Creation And Sustainable Development: Experiences and Lessons stressed that “Given the current economic challenges facing government at all levels, we are constantly exploring ways to partner with private sector, World bank and other privileged Nigerians in our quest to create wealth for sustainable development. This entails them investing in skills training programmes that would empower unemployed youths to start their businesses. This, I believe, will greatly mitigate the unemployment crisis, and move the nation on the path of wealth creation and sustainable development”.
Hopefully, with the encouragement that comes with this latest award and his unwavering commitment to the full implementation of the S.M.A.R.T agenda, the future looks good for Delta State and her people.
- Avwode lives in Asaba