Massive Projects, Job Creation, Hallmarks of Okowa Administration-Igbenije

The Special Assistant on Special Duties to the Governor of Delta State, Hon. Cosmas Igbenije is not only a household name in the political arena of


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Massive Projects, Job Creation, Hallmarks of Okowa Administration-Igbenije
Hon. Cosmas Igbenije

The Special Assistant on Special Duties to the Governor of Delta State, Hon. Cosmas Igbenije is not only a household name in the political arena of Ika South Local Government Area but also the entire Delta State.

He is a grassroots politician who has worked hard and contributed his quota to the success story of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Delta State and the administration of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa.

In an interview with our reporter, he bared his mind on the state of the nation, the lingering fuel scarcity, the giant strides of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa administration, the recent Local Government elections in the state, among other issues.

Excerpts:

Sir, Nigeria is currently facing so many challenges, particularly the killings by the Fulani Herdsmen in parts of the country. Do you think that the Federal Government is doing enough to address these challenges? Again, do you think the APC led Federal Government has kept faith with its campaign promises?

It is obvious that Nigerians are suffering, things are getting tougher and worse every day. I think this is the time we must go back to our roots and more importantly, go back to God. It is also time to ask and find out what we are doing wrong or where we went wrong, then pray for good leadership.

It is high time with the realities on ground that Nigerians went back to Agriculture and jettison the over dependence on oil. The economy that is solely dependent on oil is not good for our nation. We need good manager. Do I need to make a blame game? Things were not this bad when our sister Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was managing our economy as the Minister for Finance and leader of the Economic Team during Former President Goodluck Jonathan administration. Nothing seems to work because I do not see any cohesion between the executive, the National Assembly and the judiciary.

The Presidency seems not to know its left from its right. The three Arms of Government are always at daggers drawn. Nobody seems to have solutions to the happenings in our country. Did you see the Index that was released recently where 2.7 million jobs were lost? What of the "Maina" case? You are also aware of the grass cutting scandal of the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF)? What has happened to him? What about the leaked letters of Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State and that of Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu to President Mohammadu Buhari?

 We are now faced with the senseless killings by Fulani Herdsmen all over the country. Look at the brutal and senseless killings of innocent people in Benue, Taraba and Adamawa States by Fulani Herdsmen. What about Boko Haram? In all of these I think Nigerians now know better. My fervent prayer is that God Almighty will not allow the perpetrators of these evils and dastardly acts to go unpunished.

 

 What is your take on the lingering fuel scarcity in the country?

Well, I wish to sympathize with Nigerians who had to travel in these difficult times amidst high cost of transport fares. It is very sad and disheartening that Nigerians do not have food on their tables, but worst that it was almost impossible for them to go back home to meet their loved ones, having been stranded as a result of fuel scarcity with its resultant high cost of transport fare. Which way Nigeria? Apologies to late musician and freedom fighter, Sunny Okoaun in one of his tracks.

Is this the change the present APC administration promised Nigerians? The difference between Jonathan administration and that of Buhari is indeed very clear. You see, Nigerians are quick to forget. Remember all the noise when the government of Goodluck Jonathan was to deregulate the oil sector? If I may ask, where are all the various groups such as "Occupy Nigeria Group" making the noise? Now we are calling for the same deregulation. Where is the Petroleum Industry Bill? Why will NNPC have a reserved account instead of the TSA account? Where are all the promises that our Refineries will work within months of this present government? What about fuel price now? We can't even see the petrol to buy but some people opted for change that has thrown the nation into a bottomless abyss and economic woes. To crown it all my brother, look at the Niger Delta where these monies are generated. Only God can rescue us.

How would you access Governor Ifeanyi Okowa's performance so far?

Permit me to say that I do not envy any person who is faced with governing a State like Delta. Why do I say this? I believe it is easier to govern some State in the country than that of Delta because of the diverse nature of the State. Delta State has three Senatorial districts with no fewer than nine ethnic cultural groupings with different languages and cultural background unlike those States who have one cultural background and speak one general language. Secondly, as an oil producing State where degradation and agitation resulting from activities of the oil companies take it obvious toll, as a Governor, you must be faced with great security challenges or militancy, all these some governors do not have to grapple with.

His Excellency, Senator Arthur Ifeanyi Okowa has done very well in human capital development, infrastructural development, healthcare delivery, job creation, peace building and he is seen as workers’ friendly governor. He is a good administrator, great politician and a God - fearing man who has brought his ingenuity, wealth of experience and administrative acumen to bear in the governance of Delta State. We must all accept that things are no longer the way they used to be. May I state here that a drastic situation require drastic solution. I believe you know that. In a democratic environment, time does not give room for drastic handling of issues or situations unlike the dictatorial governance of the military which do not care much about the masses.

Imagine a situation where intermittently the Federal allocation you receive as a State falls lower than the wage bill. Remember too that this Delta State had a debt profile to settle, let alone carrying out capital projects or any programmes to positively affect the lives of the people. Irrespective of all these, the governor has done tremendously well in human capital development and infrastructural development across the state despite paucity of funds occasioned by the economic quagmire that has confronted the nation.

In fact, Governor Okowa's milestone achievements in all spheres of the economy, massive projects, job creation and good governance are the hallmarks of his administration. He, therefore, needs our support and encouragement to enable him do more. Believe you me that his score card so far are clear indications of more prosperity and dividends of democracy for all Deltans beyond 2019 to enable him consolidate on his good works because one good term deserves another.  

 Without mincing words, I applaud Governor Okowa's political prowess with regard to the way he evenly distributed political offices across the state not minding the adverse effects of the dwindling economy and the fact that PDP no longer controls the central government. I also score him high in terms of managing various agitations and the prevailing peace which hitherto hindered Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).

He has created some laudable programmes through his SMART Agenda mantra, the job and wealth creation scheme such as the Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurship Programme (YAGEP), Skills Training and Entrepreneurship Progamme (STEP), Production and Processing Support Programme (PPSP) which have turned out over 40.000 entrepreneurs/business owners and employers of labours. The most surprising of them all is his managerial ability leading to his payment of salaries every month when federal allocations dropped. I must congratulate him on that and pray that God almighty keeps him focused and steadfast. 

What would you say about improving the infrastructure of the State?

The setting up of the Asaba Beautification and Management Agency was one key stroke for me. The befitting outlook of Asaba cannot be undermined by any government. Being the seat of governance and the first point of call of any visitor to the State, His Excellency, Senator Arthur Okowa has done tremendously well in road construction across the State. Over 90 roads which are verifiable have been constructed: a lot of school classrooms have been renovated or outright construction of new and additional classrooms through the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) and the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education. It will also interest you to know that furniture for both pupils and teachers have been supplied to so many schools across the State. Furthermore, the Asaba International Airport has a fair share of the governor's quest to fix the infrastructure needs of the State - resurfacing and lightening of the runway and the taxiway. Streets lightening at night have been reactivated to mention but a few.

For all these achievements you enumerated, don't you think the perennial flooding problem in Asaba, the state capital and other towns in the State is giving the state government bad image?

I was coming to that, but since you raised it, you will agree with me that Asaba didn't have the issue of flood until the later part of Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan's administration. Yes, you will also say that the population has not increased to what we have now. I want to believe that the governor is as concerned and worried as every person who is affected. I had the privilege of to have attended a government function where the governor dwelled heavily on the issue. He stated that the problem will be tackled in phases which he kick started with his first EXCO of the year. His Excellency has embarked on flood control projects in Asaba. The Commissioner of Works, Chief James Augoye announced after meeting with the 25 Local Government engineers that Ralph Uwechue and DBS road drainage projects will link the Anwai and Amilimocha Rivers respectively. I know he will match these words with actions. As you can see also drainage project is currently ongoing in front the Federal Medical Centre and Uzoigwe Primary School in Nnebisi Road, Asaba to link Ambassador Leo Okogwu underground drainage, DLA road and finally discharge flood water through the street behind the FMC to Amilimaocha River.

The just concluded Local Government elections conducted by DSIEC in the state saw the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) winning all the Chairmanship seats in the 25 Local Government Areas of the State, what was responsible?

If you have been around the State for some time, you would agree with me that Deltans as a people are fully behind the PDP from the time of Ibori, Uduaghan and now His Excellency, Senator Arthur Ifeanyi Okowa whose good works cut across the entire nooks and crannies of the State. Remember that the Governor led the PDP Campaign team through the 25 Local Government Areas. At each Local Government, the Governor listed the various projects either concluded or on-going, canvassing for votes for the party's Chairmanship candidates. Another reason is the level of transparency in the selection process of the party which helped to reduce acrimony and encouraged oneness. Kudos must be given to the Chairman of our great party in the State, Barr. Kingsley Esiso and his entire team.

I wish to give kudos to His Excellency, the Governor of Delta State, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa for taking the bull by the horn in the conduct of the council elections against the old practice of appointing transition committees. My congratulations goes out to the newly elected council Chairmen and Councillors, while charging them to make a difference in their various Local Governments and make those who voted them into office proud. They should bear in mind that they are now Executive Chairmen of every person in their council areas and as such, impact positively on the lives of the people at the grassroots.

 


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