When Ifeanyi Okowa was inaugurated in May last year as the governor of oil-rich Delta State, he was saddled with the responsibility of effectively utilising the states resources.
Delta achieved notoriety when its former governor, James Ibori, was convicted in the UK for laundering millions of dollars of funds stolen from the state’s treasury.
PREMIUM TIMES reviews the performance Governor Okowa in the past year amidst dwindling revenue occasioned by the fall in global oil prices and pipeline vandalism.
- Education: The government reconstructed the state-owned technical colleges in Agbor, Ofagbe and Sapele. This was informed by its desire to promote technical and vocational education, which is at the core of its educational policy.
- Job creation/Youth Empowerment: The government trained a total of 1,027 youth under the Skills Training and Entrepreneurship Programme (STEP) and made provisions for them to start their own businesses. Another 256 people were trained under the Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurs Programme (YAGEP).
Mr. Okowa’s administration also introduced a new programme – Graduate Employment Enhancement Programme (GEEP), designed to cater for unemployed graduates. The programme will run on a pilot scale. So far, the government has created over 17,000 private sector jobs.
- Road infrastructure: The government constructed 55 roads projects covering over 148kilometres (including 113 kilometres of concrete-lined drains) at a total cost of N27.2 billion. Between June and November 2016, a further N2 billionwas committed to the construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation and completion of 29 roads across the state. Some of the roads are Oteri township roads, Ughelli, Oleh/Emede/Olomoro road, Owhe-Ologbo/Abbi road, Idumu-Ughoh road, Agbor and Ejinyere/Orode road, Orerokpe. Others are Alisimie-Ozanogogo road, dualisation of Nnebisi road, Asaba and Sapele road from Amukpe junction to AT&P.
- Health: The government focused on infrastructural development of hospitals and primary health care centres as well as the procurement of drugs and cutting edge medical equipment in major health care facilities in the three senatorial districts. To this end, the government is paying attention to the Teaching Hospital at Oghara while the Central Hospital, Asaba, is near completion.
- Environment and Urban Renewal: Construction of Storm Drainage System in Asaba to end the perennial flooding in the town. Other key towns and cities are also receiving attention
- Insecurity: Pipeline vandalism and militancy in the creeks have continued to plague the state. This has posed a major security challenge to the peace of the state. Such pipelines include the ones operated by Chevron and NPDC.
- Dwindling Revenue: Although, Delta is an oil-producing state, its revenue has dwindled thus affecting the execution of major projects. Governor Ifeanyi Okowa recently said the monthly allocation of between N20 billion and N25 billion from the Federation Account to the state had dropped to between N3 billion and N5 billion. He attributed the failure of the government to deliver on promises on the dwindling financial fortunes. Between January and June, the state recorded a mere N71.3 billion revenue as against the projected N268 billion as contained in the 2016 Appropriation Bill.
- Debt burden: The government is weighed down by huge debt burden. The state is owing about N773 billion in outstanding liabilities from previous administration, alongside monthly expenditure which far outstrip earning.
- Communal clashes: Incessant communal clashes across the state, especially those of Ogbe Ijaw and Aladja communities, have defied solutions and are therefore causing the government some distractions. The government appears not to have the capacity to stop the mayhem.
- Huge wage bill: The state is confronted with rising wage bill of about N6 billion, which has forced it to introduce staggered mode of payment. The local government areas are owing their workers running into N8.4 billion.