Confident Okowa Shuns Ethnic Politics, Says ‘I Will Make Delta a Model State’
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, candidate in the Delta State governorship election, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, has for the umpteenth time said he is not an apostle of divisive ethnic politics but a Pan-Delta politician whose government would be for the entire state and not a section of the state. He said he would make Delta State a model state in Nigeria through good governance which will entail a deepening of the various sectors of the economy, namely agriculture, healthcare, education, infrastructure etcetera.
Okowa who spoke first at a meeting with Delta community in Lagos hosted by Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan and later at a parley with the media, said his primary focus would be on the people of the state. He said: “I will be governor of Delta State, not of Anioma people and I will focus on development of the people. My government shall be guided by equitable distribution of resources and position. I will be fair to all”.
Okowa who exuded confidence, spoke off the cuff with so much eloquence and sound logic to the admiration of editors and Deltans in Lagos scored both the James Ibori and Emmanuel Uduaghan administrations very high in terms of their vision and efforts at developing the state. He promised to build on the foundation already laid. He sounded very serious.
The PDP guber candidate, a medical doctor has a lawyer, Kingsley Otuaro, as running mate just as Uduaghan, a medical doctor runs the state with a deputy who is also a lawyer. He explained that contrary to some media spin, Otuaro and himself had known each other over the years in Delta politics. “We have been friends and brothers and nobody imposed him on me. I thought through it, slept over it, prayed about his choice and my God gave me comfort and I was convinced I made the right choice”.
While addressing Deltans in Lagos, he said: “We know obviously that there were challenges in the past but I know that a lot has been done and peace has essentially returned to Delta State, and I believe that today we need to sing our song; peace has essentially returned to Delta state and we believe that together we’re able to develop Delta State in other to give hope to those in Delta and to move our state forward.
“Most times people will say we still have one form of crisis or the other, but until we invest we may not be able to turn the whole thing around because we need to create employment for the people to absorb the teeming youths who are being born on a daily basis and as we begin to create the enabling environment and begin to partner with the private sector to create the industries that will eventually take our youths we may not be able to get out of the entire crisis. But a lot has been done by His Excellency the governor and I think Delta State is ready to go with the infrastructure that is being put on ground and the environment is getting better.
“I also believe that the Federal Government is doing quite a lot, particularly with the privatisation that took place in the power sector. I envisage that in the next few months it will be a lot better and I know that, that has been a key challenge for industrialists. I believe that the Federal Government has stayed consistent with its words and I also hope that those who have taken over the power industry will live up to expectation. I hope and pray that we also partner with the sector which we seek to do to provide industrial estates and parks I believe that it’s going to reduce the costs that you have and by so doing we’re likely going to improve in terms of absorption of our youths and we’re also going to ensure that you make more profit if you don’t have to spend a lot of money on having to power your industry and you’re able to share common services.
“The Warri industrial business park has just begun and has gotten off the paper work. We will continue to ensure that we bring that project to fruition. I also believe that we need to create industrial parks that would provide the enabling environment for agro industries to thrive, of course that would absorb a lot of our youths. So I hope and pray that our businessmen and bankers will be ready to partner with us; we will provide the enabling environment; it is a promise. I thank you because I know that Deltans always think very far when it concerns Delta State and I believe that together we are able to develop our state and bring it to such an enviable height. It is not something that we can do alone, we must do it in partnership with all and we hope that you’ll be ready to partner with us.
“There are so many other things that we want to do but we’re very concerned about developing infrastructure, employment and engagement of our youths and we are ready to continue with the programs that have been started and we hope to also go into new programs that will enable us ensure that our youths acquire the appropriate skills necessary to feed the industries and get them engaged on their own because we think it is possible to do so.
“We have the existing infrastructure for that. Today we have three polytechnics, and a University with three campuses. I also believe that we will need to work out the curriculum in such a way that we produce graduates from these institutions that can help themselves and in doing that, all of us have a role to play, particularly the parents. Those who are in Lagos, you have brothers and sisters at home; we need to begin to teach them that it is possible to give their best to become reasonable human beings and people who can gradually build up for tomorrow rather than looking for quick money.
“This will require tutelage and care from mothers and fathers back home, right from the onset; that must be something that we must do together because until we change their perception and thought processes we may not be able to get all our youths out from what they’re doing at the moment. So many things have gone wrong, parents have ignored their children for too long and the children have seen so much hardship that they begin to think in the wrong manner. Together we’ll help to build up programs that will help to recapture our youths and make them better human beings for the future.
“A lot is being done in the education and health sector by His Excellency, but unfortunately the achievements in the health sector is largely unspoken about. If you look at the health indices in this country, Delta State is the best performing state in the country today, I’m aware of it because the rural health care program, the free maternal health care and eventually the under-five health care that is free, definitely set us apart from other states in this nation, but these are things that you’re not going to see physically but they impact on the family economy and the health of the people. We will advance it further and I believe that it is possible for us to begin a health care insurance program that can gradually affect the lives of all.
“It is important and I’m passionate about it; people may tell you that it may not work but it works because I know that in Ghana when they started about ten years ago they thought that it will not work but today over sixty per cent of Ghanaians are covered with health insurance. We will do that; we’ll have a start process and I believe that by the grace of God we’ll be able to progress it from there because for the very poor families when they get sick and they are made to pay money out of their pocket you get them deep down the poverty bracket and they’re not able to come out of it. We believe that will gradually be a thing of the past and we need to do something in other to promote and improve upon what governor Uduaghan did start.
“I also believe that in our education at the moment we’re doing well but we need to begin to rework our education system in such a manner that technical education takes a prime place in whatever we’re doing. And I believe that we’re able to grow enough middle manpower that will be able to fend for themselves without having to look for white collar jobs, and I also believe that it is possible to restructure our polytechnics to produce many more graduates that can truly fend for themselves after leaving school”.