Delta state is one of the luckiest states in Nigeria in the current political dispensation having witnessed a smooth transition from a PDP governor to another one; a governor who has been, as politicians like to say, in the system.
His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Francis Orohwedor Oborevwori political sojourn has seen him serve as Councilor, Special Assistant to Governor James Ibori on Youth Development, Special Adviser to Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan on Land Security, State Coordinator of the Amnesty Programme, Senior Special Assistant on Security to the Governor, Member and Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly.
Unlike many politicians, Oborevwori has been in the same political party. So, for those who hold the view that government is a continuum, Delta state seems set to be a case study for affirming that aphorism.
The immediate past governor, Ifeanyi Okowa had upon assumption of office raised the alarm that the state was in dire financial straits. According to Okowa, Delta State owed banks about N98bn with contractual obligations coming to N538,601,962,421.50. According to Okowa, the state government with a workforce of 60,000 persons and a monthly personnel cost of N7,437,940,015.38 was going to run a monthly deficit of N2bn when its N5.40bn monthly revenue from FAAC allocation and IGR was taken into account.
To deliver on his mandate for the state, Okowa had presented his S.M.A.RT agenda. Showcasing what he described as “My Vision for Honest Leadership and Responsible Governance” to the Delta State House of Assembly, Okowa described his agenda as focused on ‘Strategic wealth creation initiatives and provision of jobs for all; Meaningful peace building platforms aimed at political/social stability; Agricultural reforms and industrialisation; Relevant health and education policies; Transformed environment through massive urban renewal.”
How successful was the S.M.A.R.T agenda in improving the lot of Delta state? While the jury is still out, Oborevwori believes his predecessor gave a good account of himself despite severe economic and sundry headwinds.
According to Governor Oborevwori, his predecessor took over “at a very precarious time in the history of our country. In addition to the massive disruptions caused by COVID-19, the country went through two recessions at different times in the last eight years. But thanks to Governor Okowa’s discipline, wisdom, prudent management of the economy, and political insight, Delta State not only survived, but it also came out stronger. Indeed, I celebrate Governor Okowa for his fiscal discipline, and groundbreaking strides in human capital development, infrastructure renewal, technical and vocational education, as well as peace building.”
As Oborevwori takes over the mantle of leadership in the Big Heart, he has outlined his own agenda which seems intent on building on the gains of the S.M.A.R.T agenda in order to give Deltans M.O.R.E in terms of socio-economic development.
He made the point clearly in his inaugural address where he noted that “I represent consolidation and advancement; consolidation because I am continuing from where the previous government stopped, and advancement because I am advancing Delta State to greater heights in inclusive economic growth, human capital development, infrastructure renewal, and peace and security.”
M.O.R.E is an acronym for Meaningful development through the provision of Opportunities for all through Realistic reforms and Enhanced peace and security for all. The key words are development, opportunities, reforms and peace and security.
An agenda such as M.O.R.E is at its core, a work plan outlining a process of providing development and prosperity for the generality of the people and as the trite aphorism goes, those who fail to plan, plan to fail.
With his M.O.R.E agenda, Oborevwori has shown that he has not failed to plan but we all know that the best laid plans can go belly up if the process of implementation goes awry. This is why it is incumbent on all to interrogate Oborevwori’s M.O.R.E Agenda in the context of how realistic it is in delivering on its ambitious promises.
That interrogation begins with an understanding of the strategic intent behind the agenda as well as the expected outcomes. What will successful implementation look like in four years? According to Governor Oborevwori, success will impact Delta state in a few choice areas and they include job creation, enhanced GDP and internally generated revenue, improved capital inflow, export of raw and processed agricultural products, an improved economy and living condition for citizens, environmental rejuvenation, improved infrastructural facilities, social stability and security of lives and properties as well as improved educational and healthcare system
In his first year, Oborevwori will have to work with an already approved budget of
N642.8 billion. Of that sum, N241.1 bn (58%) is slated for recurrent expenditure while N401.6bn (42%) will be utilized for capital expenditure.
A further breakdown shows that Education will receive N42.6 billion; Health will get N12.4 billion, N8.4 billion will go to Sports and N10bn to Housing while Culture and Tourism will gulp N2.7 billion respectively to address the improved economy and living condition for citizens, social stability and security of lives and properties as well as improved educational and healthcare system components of the M.O.R.E agenda.
Delta state seems set to remain a massive construction site as the government is committing N111.4 to Works, N5.9 billion to Urban Renewal, N8.3 billion to the Delta State Capital Territory Development Agency and N8bn to the Warri-Uvwie and Environs Development Agency which is line with the environmental rejuvenation, improved infrastructural facilities pillars of the agenda.
To stimulate the economy, the state government will commit N8.6bn to Trade and investment. News of the approval of Nigerian Export Processing Zone Authority (NEPZA), for Koko and Kwale has been received with joy as it will provide further stimulus for the economy.
The governor has noted that to make these happen and happen well, the government will explore synergy between the public and private sectors in order to ensure “the completion of all ongoing projects – roads, bridges, schools, and other physical infrastructure… we shall build a conducive environment for public-private partnership investments in virtually all sectors of the economy.”
To return again to the issue of plans and implementation, let us look, as we say in Delta state at Oborevwori’s “doings” since his inauguration.
Oborevwori has literally put his money where his mouth is – he has inspected ongoing work on projects in Warri, Effurun and its environs as well as the Ughelli Asaba dualisation project; met with different groups as a means of feeling the pulse of the people in order to better serve them; announced the provision of free healthcare for pregnant women and children under five years during the flagging off of the Maternal Newborn and Child health care wee and; met with Chairmen of LGA council to get their buy-in with regard to environmental sanitation and end to multiple taxation amongst others.
For naysayers who may be inclined to see these as populist moves common to politicians, let us look at his antecedents. As former Special Assistant on Youth Development Oborevwori has a handle on issues affecting the youth, as Special Adviser on Land Security, Coordinator of the Amnesty Programme and Senior Special Assistant on Security the Governor will not need help in delivering on securing and stabilising the state.
And as the longest serving Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Oborevwori has reviewed hundreds of pages of bills and proposals and superintended over hearings on various issues to build up historical knowledge and insights to help him prosecute his agenda.
So, as the state awaits the announcement of his cabinet, there is no doubt that this one governor who is well placed to deliver M.O.R.E than enough for his state.
Toni Kan Onwordi, writer and PR and Developmental expert writes from London