By Albert OGRAKA
If you are wondering how Governor Ifeanyi Okowa became the “favorite” of the fourth estate of the realm, ask Mr. President.
Governor Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa of oil and gas wealthy Delta state is a friend of President Muhammadu Buhari, Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and as a serving Governor under a serving President, loyalty cannot be easily wished away.
At the inception of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, Delta State governor, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, was among the first few selected state governors that accompanied President Muhammadu Buhari to India on a fact-finding mission for Nigeria’s economic gains.
The governor has oftentimes prayed for the speedy recovery and quick return of President Muhammadu Buhari to Nigeria while he was recuperating in London, United Kingdom, saying nobody should wish the President otherwise.
He said: “Let nobody wish President Buhari otherwise as life and death are in the hands of God. We will continue to pray for his quick recovery.”
Although, Governor Okowa has been touted in many quarters as “non performing”, majority of Deltans are thinking that the governor has implemented many of his campaign promises, hinged on the SMART agenda policy within two years of his first tenure in office.
The media, however, has also helped in laundering the good part of the governor’s image of delivering on his campaign promises to actualize the sing-song of “prosperity to all Deltans.”
President Muhammadu Buhari, at the closed-door meeting with state governors at the Presidential Villa on Friday, August 25, 2017 remarked to the Delta state Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa that he is the favourite of the Nigerian Press.
In the meeting attended by at least the 35 state governors except Governor Fayose of Ekiti, President Buhari had a hand shake with the governors as they arrived for the meeting.
To Governor Okowa, Buhari said, “You are a favorite of the press.”
Some say Governor Okowa may have earned the accolade from his recent role in the affairs of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), a key opposing political party to President Muhammadu Buhari’s ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) by successfully organizing a Special Non-Elective National Convention at Eagles Square, Abuja, which extended the tenure of the Senator Ahmed Makarfi’s led Caretaker Committee for a period of four months.
As as Chairman of the Convention Planning Committee, Senator Okowa assured that “This is a new PDP and with the excitement we saw after the supreme court victory amongst Nigerians and not only PDP followers, I believe that a lot of people who thought that the party was going to implode by itself will realise that we are back alive and ready to offer what it takes to better the lives of Nigerians.
“From the way things are going presently in this country, I believe Nigerians will realise that PDP is the only alternative that can bring Nigeria out of her present economic challenges.”, he added.
Others, however, have alluded the feat to his near frantic zeal to contribute his quota in the solid infrastructure development of the state.
According to Mr. Charles Ehiedu Aniagwu, the Chief Press Secretary to Delta State, Governor, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, the state has recorded huge socio- economic and political transformation under the governor’s watch.
Specifically, the Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa’s administration since assuming office has embarked on the construction of more than 98 roads, covering a distance of over 612 kilometers, realizing that road development and construction is the backbone for the achievement of the SMART agenda.
These roads are intended to link up our various communities to enhance social- economic development in the state. The movement of farm produce from one locality to another has been enhanced with the provision of motorable roads linking communities.”
The unprecedented growth in Asaba, the state capital, has moved away from a glorified local government headquarters to something that looks more like an urban center.
In the area of education, the sate government has registered a level of progress by paying more attention to vocational training for students to reduce the incidence of unemployable graduates and focusing on graduating students who can not only employ themselves but become employers of labour.
It is on record that the state government has repositioned the technical and vocational schools in the state by investing huge resources to ensure that they become center of excellence, as Governor Okowa has approved the upgrade of infrastructure and equipment in Agbor, Ofagbe, Sapele, Issele-Uku, Ogor and Utagba-Ogbe technical colleges.
A lot of policy initiatives have also been directed at the tertiary institutions as the Delta State University and the state polytechnics have received various degrees of attention from the government in recent times in terms of upgrade of facilities and funding.
The state has also achieved a lot in the areas of Agriculture, Transport, culture and tourism as well as healthcare by sustaining programmes for mother and child healthcare, care of the aged, introduction of the contributory health insurance scheme and revamping of hospitals.
Aniagwu pointed out that “As a state government we are not owning our workers, just as the state government has taken steps to pay the pensioners. The recession that is ravaging the country will not permit for frivolous spending, rather such funds would be channeled towards uplifting the life of Deltans. Governor Okowa is building on the foundation laid by the administrations of Chief James Onanefe Ibori and Dr. Emmnauel Eweta Uduaghan.”
By Albert Ograka, Blank NEWS Online