ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR DR IFEANYI OKOWA, GOVERNOR OF DELTA STATE, TO MARK THE FIRST YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF HIS ADMINISTRATION ON MONDAY, MAY 23, 2016, AT THE PRESS CENTRE, GOVERNMENT HOUSE, ASABA.
Gentlemen of the Press
When I addressed the State immediately after my swearing-in as Governor on May 29, 2015, we were in the middle of a serious economic crisis. Our monthly revenue both from the Federation Account and Internally Generated Revenue had dipped significantly. The non-oil sector of the economy remained largely untapped. The level of youth unemployment was troubling, posing a clear and present danger to the socio-political stability of the State. Our credit was in bad shape, and the financial system was at best, shaky and at worst, perilous. Indeed, our promise of prosperity for all Deltans seemed illusory.
2. Upon assumption of office, we moved swiftly and decisively to restructure our liabilities and instituted processes and procedures to plug leakages, eliminate wastes and ensure fiscal discipline. The fiscal consolidation measures we put in place have enabled us to achieve a great deal of macro-economic stability while creating the right conditions for us to implement programmes under the S.M.A.R.T agenda.
3. Had we not taken the steps we took, our financial system would have been on the verge of collapse by now. The global price of oil has continued to tumble, the naira has substantially weakened against the dollar, and recent security challenges in the Niger Delta region have combined to compound our national economic woes. Yet despite the prevailing harsh economic reality, I am pleased to announce that we have made steady – and remarkable – progress in the fulfilment of our campaign promises.
4. I will now present to you some highlights of our achievements in the first year of this administration.
Job and Wealth Creation
5. As everyone gathered here today knows, the big issue in Nigeria today is that of unemployment. It is one issue that sticks out like a sore thumb in the face of celebrated economic growth indices. Here in Delta, the level of unemployment, especially among the youth, has reached very worrisome levels, with all the dire consequences this portends for our collective safety and security.
6. At the very core of our S.M.A.R.T agenda is job and wealth creation because we realize that the only way to achieve sustainable economic growth is to create new jobs, diversify the economy through the development of non-oil sectors, and provide the enabling environment for enterprises and industries to thrive. In August 2015, we launched the Job and Wealth Creation Scheme with the following programmes viz; Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurs Programme (YAGEP), Skills Training and Entrepreneurship Programme (STEP), and Production and Processing Support Programme (PPSP).
7. In structure, design and implementation, these programmes are focused on equipping participants with life skills, developing their leadership qualities, increasing their personal effectiveness, harnessing their productive potentials, and enabling them to become entrepreneurs, managers and leaders. In addition to these specialized job creation programmes under the Office of the Chief Job Creation Officer, Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government were mandated to undertake projects that have inbuilt employment generating capacity.
8. It is my pleasure to announce that as at April 30, 2016, a total of 17,173 (seventeen thousand, one hundred and seventy three) private sector jobs were created by this administration. This figure consists of 6,800 (six thousand, eight hundred) direct jobs and 10,373 (ten thousand, three hundred and seventy three) indirect jobs of both skilled and unskilled workers. As a Special Purpose Vehicle, the Office of the Chief Job Creation Officer accounted for 7,522 (seven thousand, five hundred and twenty two) of these jobs while the remaining 9,651 (nine thousand, six hundred and fifty one) were created through projects, programmes and initiatives implemented through the various MDAs. The sectoral breakdown of the job creation scorecard is contained in the First Year performance Report to be issued within days of this briefing.
9. As I made clear in my Inaugural Address, “our vision is to drive an inclusive economic growth policy that works for all.” Hence, we are constantly retooling our processes to fund the unfunded – i.e. the poor, women and vulnerable in the society – so that they can prosper from the global economy. Towards this end, we have restructured and repositioned the Delta State Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency to make it more responsive towards the needs and aspirations of this category of people.
10. From May 2015 to April 30, 2016, the sum of N546m (five hundred and forty six million) was disbursed to a total number of 3,110 (three thousand, one hundred and ten persons) within the various micro, small and medium enterprises. They included 2,052 females representing 66% of the loan recipients and 1,058 males representing 34%. The ratio is in compliance with CBN regulations that 60% of micro credit should go to women.
The disbursement cuts across different sectors:
a. Cottage industries-6%
b. Trading – 29%
c. Agriculture – 41%
d. Agro-Processing -16%
e. Services -8%
11. With enhanced funding and strong corporate governance culture in place, the Delta State Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency is poised for more effective and efficient service delivery to actualize the administration’s goal of bringing prosperity to all Deltans.
12. Consistent with our determination to develop, maintain and renew our infrastructure in line with our growth aspirations, the first year of this administration has witnessed wide ranging developments in the construction of roads, markets development and the building of hospitals and schools. To date, at least 54 road construction/rehabilitation contracts have been awarded through the State Tenders Board and the Ministerial Tenders Board. This figure does not include projects executed by the Direct Labour Agency (DLA).
13. Starting from tomorrow, I shall commence the commissioning of these projects. Some of the projects scheduled for commissioning are:
– Ejinyere/Orodje Street in Orerokpe, Okpe Local Government Area;
– Jeddo Ughoton Road and Access Road to Eagles Height University (Phase 1 Jeddo/Omadino Bridge), Okpe local Government Area;
– Oteri Township Road in Ughelli North Local Government Area;
– Okere-Urhobo Community Roads in Warri South Local Government Area (Olomu link Road, 1st and 2nd Olomu Streets, Otor-Okere and Agba Roads);
– Kefas Road with a spur to Uzere junction, Oleh, Isoko South Local Government Area;
– Uduophori road (Phase 1), Patani Local Government Area;
– Orikeze Street with a spur to Orikeze close, Agbor, Ika South Local Government Area;
– Usonia Road, off Nnebisi Road, Asaba;
– Faculty of Law Complex, Delta State University, Oleh Campus, Isoko South Local Government Area;
– Pedriatic Wards/Water Scheme in Patani General Hospital; and
– Azu-Owa Abavo Cottage Hospital, Abavo, Ika South Local Government Area
14. Meanwhile, work on Cable Point Road dualization, Asaba, Okpanam Road Dualization, Asaba, Warri-Sapele Road Dualization in Sapele from Amukpe Roundabout, the construction of Amekpa-Afiesere-Ufuoma Road in Ughelli North Local Government Area, Lagos-Asaba Road dualization in Agbor, constructions of Oza-nogogo-Alisimie Road in Ika South Local Government Area, and Okerenkoko Beach Road in Warri South West Local Government Area, are progressing steadily and should be ready for commissioning a few months from now.
15. It goes without saying that there is need for continual investment in infrastructure renewal and new constructions that will engender economic growth, lead to social improvements, and give all communities equal opportunity to benefit from the economy. The amount of investment required is huge because the need for infrastructure development is ever growing and expanding. It requires collaboration with the private sector and it is gratifying to note that local and international investors are taking a keen interest in our State.
16. In the next few weeks I shall unveil the Delta State Medium Term Development Plan (2015-2019) which provides the template for our growth plans and will, undoubtedly, enhance the ease of doing business in the State and inspire confidence in prospective investors. Public-Private Partnership in infrastructure development is critical for our economic growth because, among other things, it enables innovation in project design and implementation, creates more value for money because of the due diligence involved, and ensures professionalism and timeliness in service delivery. We are determined to pursue our collaboration with the private sector with vigour.
17. From the onset of this administration, we were determined to diversify the economy and make it more resilient to external shocks. One major way to achieve this is to develop the agricultural sector of which Delta State has immense potentials. We have huge landmass suitable for the cultivation of cash crops, tree crops, livestock farming and aquaculture.
18. In the year under review, we focussed our attention on stimulating and increasing the yield of our small-holder farmers through the Production and Processing Support Programme (PPSP). The PPSP is aimed at up scaling the use of modern farm inputs and technologies of small-holder farmers to increase the yield of crop, livestock and fishery enterprises. Towards this end, we distributed tractors to 64 Cooperative Societies. Another set of 106 Cooperative Societies got Mellon Shellers while 18 other Cooperative Societies received Outboard Engines and Fishing Gears support packages.
19. We also distributed improved variety of cassava cuttings, fertilizer, and cash to 475 cassava farmers; 100 fishery farmers were given fingerlings, feeds and cash; 100 poultry farmers were supported with 200-day-old chicks each, feeds and cash; 50 poultry layer farmers got 200 layers each, feeds and cash; 50 piggery farmers received 10 growers, feeds and cash; while 40 tomatoes farmers were supported with seedlings, agrochemicals and cash.
20. It is important to point out that there was equitable distribution of these support packages across the three senatorial districts. We were also able to avoid the leakages of similar interventions in the past through accurate targeting made possible by the rigorous screening process. To ensure the beneficiaries are actual farmers, these inputs were painstakingly delivered directly to them at their farm sites.
21. It is one thing to increase output. It is quite another to be able to sell the produce and make profit. To tackle the marketing challenges faced by our farmers, we have created the Agricultural Marketing Coordination Committee with membership drawn from the relevant government institutions/agencies, commodity associations and organised private sector. The Committee is mandated to:
– identify existing and potential markets for agricultural produce and devise measures and arrangements for our farmers to access those markets;
– obtain and disseminate market information to agricultural producers;
– proffer measures for boosting market infrastructure; and
– arrange for facilities such as warehouses, cold storage and aggregation centres.
22. We shall continue to deepen the agricultural value chain to modernise and grow the agricultural sector for the benefit of current and future generations of Deltans.
23. The major slippage in our educational sector in the last two decades or so has been the overemphasis on certificate acquisition. As a result, we have a generation of secondary school leavers and university graduates that can only survive on paid employment; worse still, many of them are actually unemployable. This administration is convinced that the solution to our current unemployment crisis and youth restiveness is to focus attention on the acquisition of vocational and technical skills by our teeming youth population.
24. Upon assumption of office, I sent the Delta State Vocational and Technical Education Board Bill to the State House of Assembly. The Bill, meant to provide the regulatory framework to administer and promote technical education in the State, was passed and signed into law in June 2015.
Since then, we have reconstructed/rehabilitated and equipped three technical colleges in Ofagbe, Sapele and Agbor.
25. At Agbor Technical College, we undertook the following:
– Conversion of Catering/Workshop Block to a Six-Classroom Block with Stores and Toilets;
– Conversion of a Six-Classroom Block without Stores and Toilets to a standard Classroom Block with Stores and Toilets;
– Demolition and reconstruction of Hostel Block;
– Renovation of Six-Classroom Block with Stores and Toilets;
– Renovation of three-Classroom Block with Stores and Toilets;
– Demolition of 2Nos dilapidated Four-Classroom/Workshop Block and construction of 2Nos Prototype Six-Classroom Block with Stores and Toilet facilities;
– Renovation of Prototype Building/Block Laying Workshop with Offices;
– Completion of Prototype Steel Stanchion and Structural roof Workshop Building;
– Construction of a 3-Bedroom Bungalow for the Principal;
– Completion of Prototype Steel Stanchion and Structural Roof Workshop -Building(Auto Mechanic and Welding Fabrication Workshop);
– Improvement of Multi-Purpose School Hall;
– Demolition and reconstruction of a Prototype Administrative Block; and
– Construction of Twin 2-Bedroom Staff Quarters (2No).
26. The awarded Phase II Project which captured construction of School Fence, Gate/Gate House have also been completed, while building of Generator House, Erosion Control and construction of the school’s access roads and drains are all currently work in progress
27. At Sapele Technical College, we undertook the following:
– Renovation of principal’s Lodge (2-Bedroom Duplex Quarters and 18Nos Garages);
– Renovation of staff room/Computer Centre;
– Renovation/Rehabilitation of Hostel Block;
– Renovation of Painting and Decoration Block;
– Renovation of Electrical Building;
– Expansion/Renovation Of Generator House;
– Renovation of Electrical Workshop;
– Renovation of Radio, TV and Electronics Block;
– Renovation of Toilet Block by Woodwork and furniture Craft Practice Workshop;
– Renovation of Secretariat Department Typing Pool;
– Completion of Science Laboratory;
– Renovation/Alteration works of Administrative/Principal’s Office Block;
– Renovation of Welding and Fabrication Classroom;
– Renovation of Mechanical Engineering Department Classroom Block;
– Renovation/Rehabilitation of Storey Building Hostel Block;
– Renovation of Kitchen/Dining Hall;
– Provision of Overhead Water Tanks;
– Renovation of ICT/Assembly Hall;
– Renovation of Two-Classroom Block; and
– Renovation of Three-Classroom Block.
28. At Ofagbe Technical College, we undertook the following:
– Renovation of Boys Quarter;
– Renovation of Multi-Purpose Hall;
– Demolition and Reconstruction of Administrative Block (Principal’s Office);
– Renovation of Staff Quarters;
– Renovation of Welding/Fabrication Workshop;
– Renovation of Automobile Workshop;
– Construction of Dining Hall;
– Construction of Block of Toilets;
– Renovation of Hostel Block(Storey Building);
– Renovation of Electrical Workshop;
– Renovation of Mechanical Department (Six-Classroom Block);
– Renovation of Library Block;
– Renovation of Science Laboratory/Business Studies Department; and
– Renovation of Mechanical Department (Four-Classroom Block)
29. To complement the infrastructural upgrade in our technical colleges, we have set in motion the process of curriculum review and enrichment to make them more relevant to the dynamics of the 21stcentury marketplace. The three colleges will be commissioned during the course of the one-year anniversary celebrations. Also to be commissioned is the Law Faculty Complex of the Delta State University in Oleh, which was completed by this administration.
30. I promised Deltans upon assumption of office to pursue legislation that will “support and promote Universal Health Insurance Policy for all Deltans.” The inauguration of the Delta State Contributory Health Commission on Wednesday, May 4, 2016, marks the fulfillment of that promise. With the inauguration of the Commission, Delta became the first State in the country to have a mandatory health insurance scheme for the purpose of universal healthcare coverage.
31. The goal of universal health coverage, which the United Nations has been encouraging all member – countries to adopt, is to ensure that all people are able to access and get treatment at our hospitals/clinics without suffering financial hardship at the point of service, or denied service outright due to lack of funds. When the insurance scheme is fully operational, it will lead to a more robust healthcare system, improved quality and more affordable healthcare delivery as well as significantly better health outcomes.
32. Even more significant to me is that the poor, women and the vulnerable will no longer have to seek recourse to money lenders to pay for health services, leading to further impoverishment. To mark our first anniversary, we will be commissioning the newly-built Azu –Owa Cottage Hospital in
Abavo, Ika South Local Government Area, and the Children’s Ward and other facilities at the General Hospital, Patani.
33. Peace and security are integral to the successful implementation of our S.M.A.R.T agenda. Our strategy is to strengthen, sustain and create the institutions and structures that enable peaceful co-existence among diverse ethnic groups and communities. We are committed to seeing that our cities, towns and communities become places where people feel safe to work, live and do business.
34. In August, 2015, we inaugurated a 41-member Delta State Peace Building and Advisory Council comprising men and women of proven integrity and exemplary character. The Council meets regularly and has been very active in working to implement policies and programmes to increase public safety in Delta State.
35. In collaboration with the Council, the State Government organised a well-attended One-Day Stakeholders Summit on “Vandalisation of Oil and Gas Facilities” on Wednesday, January 31, 2016, at the Petroleum Training Institute Conference Centre in Effurun, Warri. In attendance were representatives of the oil companies, community leaders, labour leaders, human rights group as well as various youth and grassroots organisations. While noting that there was need for effective monitoring and policing of oil and gas installations/facilities because of their strategic importance to the economy, the Summit also called for attitudinal change among the populace.
36. It is regrettable that the gains of the Summit appear to have been eroded by recent events in the Niger Delta region. However, we remain resolute in our quest put an end to the unfortunate incidence of pipeline vandalisation/bombings. Currently, an Advocacy Peace Committee headed by His Excellency, the Deputy Governor, has been traversing the length and breadth of our riverine communities holding talks with traditional rulers, community and youth leaders on the need for peace in the region. We are confident of positive outcomes from these interactions.
37. I have shared with you some highlights of the administration’s scorecard in twelve months. You can obtain further details from ourFirst Year Performance Report to be published any moment from now. I want to assure you that this administration shall continuously uphold and strengthen the values of good governance, honesty, transparency, fiscal discipline, effective public communication, community engagement and excellence in service delivery. And despite what you may sometimes read in the news media, members of this administration remain a united, cohesive force determined to make Delta State the pacesetter within the Nigerian Federation.
38 Thank you for your time and attention.
God bless us all.