Thoughts are a reality, and for Delta State, the three cardinal points of the Ifeanyi Okowa administration manifest in positive results.
Delta State emerged as the second best in the federation regarding the incidence of poverty in a ranking by the World Bank.
Delta recorded only a six per cent poverty level, second to Lagos State at 4.5 per cent.
Top five states with the most negligible poverty incidence
Osun (8.5%), Ogun (9.3%) and Oyo (9.8%).
Edo comes in at sixth with an incidence of 12%, followed by Ondo, 12.5%, Anambra, 14.8%, and Kwara, 20.4%.
Oil-bearing state Bayelsa (22.6%) comes in at tenth, followed by Rivers (23.9%). Akwa Ibom comes in at 12th at 26.8%.
The ranking of oil states Rivers, Akwa Ibom, and Bayelsa immediately indicates that the Delta State’s position on the table is not because it is oil-bearing.
It speaks to managerial capacity and the enabling environment.
Delta State has marched to the Three Ps of Prosperity, Peace, and Progress as articulated by Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, its governor. Okowa envisions moving “From prosperity to a stronger Delta”.
An official publication states, “With a vision to transform Delta State into the pacesetter in the Nigerian federation, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has, since May 29, 2015, developed a sustainable job and wealth creation template for the teeming youth population, reformed the education landscape, rejuvenated the agriculture sector, reshaped the health sector and embarked on massive infrastructure renewal across the 25 local government areas of the state.”
The difference lies in the enabling environment of applying a positive philosophy aimed at betterment: For many years in the 80s and 90s, the enabling environment featured prominently in Nigerian economic and socio-political discourse.
The World Bank, UNDP and other development institutions placed the concept on the top burner.
The enabling environment features discourses in politics, economics, health, agriculture, and other disciplines.
Pillars of the enabling environment are the management of social dynamics, relevant and capable institutions, and laws and regulations. This backdrop enables interrogation of the Three Ps of Delta State.
I have followed Dr Ifeanyi Okowa’s administration and those of some other state governors before he emerged as a vice presidential candidate of his party.
He delivers on most things and suffers mortifying criticisms on others. Some of that plays into politics, such as the attacks regarding the commercialisation of the Asaba airport that I examined. It is the nature of the sport.
Prosperity has a strong foundation in the best of all philosophies. Even Karl Marx recognised its significance.
He stated in the eponymous Communist Manifesto that “the economic condition of man determines his every other condition”. Other philosophers and statesmen also speak about the issue.
Okowa has pursued deliberate policies and programmes to promote prosperity in Delta State.
These include an inclusive security framework that reduced vandalization of the oil platforms in the state, consistent engagement with groups with various agenda items and hands-on management.
One of these was the Stakeholders’ Summit on Vandalisation of Oil & Gas Facilities held on 13 January 2016. Okowa summoned stakeholders to address “Security and Environmental Challenges in the Oil and Gas Sector in Delta State.”
Okowa said the meeting was imperative to “devise appropriate security strategies, regulatory frameworks, and countervailing measures needed for adequate protection of our oil and gas installations.”
Okowa was prescient. Within two months of the summit, militant activities resurged in the Niger Delta.
The attendant destruction/vandalism of oil and gas facilities, leading to the downturn oil production, impacted negatively on the nation’s revenue receipts from oil exports. A catastrophic resultant effect was mass spillage and destruction of aquatic life.
Truncation of the Forcados Export Terminal made Delta State bear the brunt of the carnage. Governor Okowa swiftly inaugurated a nine-man Advocacy Committee Against Vandalism of Oil & Gas Facilities. His Excellency, Barr. (Dcn) Kingsley Burutu Otuaro, Deputy Governor of Delta State, chaired it.
The committee pursued objectives of ensuring the cessation of bombings of critical oil and gas infrastructure; deepen intelligence on the activities of persons involved in the disturbance; identifying the causes; and strategically create platforms for dialogue between the agitators/vandals and government and its agencies to end vandalism of oil and gas facilities.
The Advocacy Committee relocated to the riverine communities, engaged citizens, and visited the sites of the explosions and destructions. It created dialogue platforms and initiated community/sectorial engagement with relevant and key stakeholders in the oil-bearing communities.
Within a month following the Committee’s work, bombings of oil and gas facilities ceased. Delta State returned to relative peace.
The Committee also secured the repair work at the vandalised Forcados Export Terminal.
The Forcados 48-inch underwater export pipeline that Shell Petroleum Development Company operates receives over 200, 000 barrels of crude oil for export.
Ensuring the repair and activation of the export line meant a higher level of crude export for the national economy and Delta State, the host State of the facility, has been better for it.
In July 2016, the Federal Government joined the Delta State Advocacy Committee in a joint campaign to the oil-bearing communities. Paul Boroh, Presidential Adviser on the Niger Delta, led the federal team.
The Advocacy Committee has since sustained the engagement of youths in intelligence gathering and surveillance of facilities from May 2017 till date. The effort changed the narrative of downturn in oil and gas production in the state.
Due to the need to secure national attention to Delta State, nay Niger Delta aspirations, the Advocacy Committee reached out to the presidency resulting in the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo’s fact finding visit to the Niger Delta which began from Gbaramatu Kingdom in Delta State.
Prosperity promotes the economics of belonging. Conditions of prosperity promote security, diversity, and democracy. Prosperity in an environment promotes inclusivity, productivity, and peace.
Peace is critical. Various interventions have worked to promote peace in Delta State as the centre of the Niger Delta. Prof Sam Oyovbaire leads a Peace Building Committee. It comprises all communities in the state as well as key political figures.
The Committee provides early warning and ensures quick and amicable resolution of issues that can trigger crisis.
These conditions enable progress. It is the framework for understanding the impressive figures and stats that the Delta State government rolls out about its strides in various areas.
They cover roads and infrastructure, human capital development, enterprise development; health care; education; skills acquisition; school sports.
For Okowa, the team player, the challenge is to incorporate this philosophy into the manifesto and governance plan when he gets to Abuja. Nigeria certainly deserves prosperity, peace, and progress.