What Senator Ifeanyi Okowa Told Me To Tell Deltans As He Strolls To Government House By Fejiro Oliver
The political kitchen gets hotter in Delta State and all the aspirants’ have served their meals to Deltans, but there stands one chef who stands shoulder tall above the rest, whose meal taste sweetest. We need not search far who this man is, for last night while I slept, this was what he told me in the dream to tell you. Friends, Senator Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa has not just prepared the meal, but set the table. In it, I saw him before a multitude and he spoke:
“As I walk down today to give my campaign speech before this vibrant men and women of Delta and beheld the crowd; I saw in you all the zeal for a greater Urhobo, Isoko, Itsekiri, Ijaw and Anioma nation and a more economically developed Delta. I do not stand before you today to reel out words that will impress your hearts, but melt out as soon as our purpose is achieved. Friends, I have not come to seek from you that which is not in your possession, but something which just only you can give. We share a common front, a united goal and a singular future; that Delta State will be governed by the right man, and in being governed; all our sons and daughters will be stakeholders in the Delta project.
The task ahead of us is great, but our resolve is greater and our tenacity more audacious than the snail that crawled up to Noah’s ark. The kind of state we desire is not the type studied in the four walls of Harvard University; neither is it the one taught by the brilliant professors in Cambridge University; but the very one where you and I are the architect. It is the new order of Delta, where politics is played without ethnicity and tribalism; nepotism and favoritism; a state where all are equal without the agitations of the minority or majority. As we set to sail and march on to this new order; fellow country and state men; I have a vision for Delta State. This vision knows no tribe or climes, no border or religion; no language or ethnicity, for beyond the skin; we are all kith and kin.
As we get set to sail; imagine running a state where almost all her youths are employed, not just by the government of the day, but by the numerous companies and establishments that we will bring into the state. The new Delta will not be just about empowering political loyalists and followers but about creating very conducive environment for investors to come in for huge investments and build their factories where our teeming youths; skilled and skilled; graduates and non graduates will be employed. We have works to do, so much works to do, but the bulk of it will lie on a government shouldered by me. You wonder how this is possible. Today I will answer your questions and quench your doubts. It is my vision, our vision that the many lands in Delta State lying by the roadsides as we all drive along will be bought from the various families that owns them and give them free to serious investors who will come and develop for economic purposes, while also giving them tax waivers for some years, to enable them have a very friendly environment to do business with the state and her citizens. Imagine a former bushy areas and forest all turned to economic centres and the number of Deltans who will be gainfully employed? Yes; it is very possible and this is my honest vision.
As we get set to sail; our health system which is already in a good state, all thanks to Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, a medical doctor for making it possible, can be transformed to state for health tourism. Do we doubt that Delta State can be the next India of the other states in Nigeria and the world? Certainly not! The Delta State University Teaching Hospital (DELSUTH) will be empowered to build on her success, not just through the successful surgeries they have carried out, but also a hospital known for groundbreaking researches in the field of medicine, from where will spring the Nobel Laureates of the future. Yes, from this very State of ours will men rise from the East and West; North and South to get their treatment done, not at exorbitant rates, but affordable for all Deltans and Nigerians. A government bearing my vision will build on His Excellency, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan legacy by providing free health care for our senior citizens who have shown us the path all these years. Are we stopping with them? Certainly not! The pregnant women in Delta State will have access to free medical care alongside their new babies till they are of age. This is to reduce infant mortality and meet with the MDG target for health. We will bring to the doorsteps of Deltans the health insurance scheme, such that have been successfully implemented in Ghana and other countries; right before you it will work.
In this new economy, providing free health care without the hospitals to make it possible will be just a tale of the politicians of old. I refuse to be termed alongside a generation of men who had visions but never propounded ways on achieving them. Today, I stand before you with the blueprint of my vision for a healthy state and citizen. Many years ago, a world class hospital was built in this state, not just anywhere, but in the very land of the Urhobos and under our very nose; the hospital never worked. Fellow Deltans, I refer to the Nkoyo Ibori Children referral hospital in Agbarho. This is no time to trade blames; neither is it time to fault ourselves, but we must know that in this new dispensation; teaching our kids the way to school is not enough without us caring for their health first. This is my vision; to settle all aggrieved minds and hearts and bring back the Children referral hospital to work again. Think of the many lives of the kids we cherish that would have been saved were it functioning for the past eight years. Imagine how many Deltans and Nigerians would have been employed were the hospital working. Oh, just begin to reflect on the income the hospital would have generated to the community of Agbarho were it is located and even beyond. If we claim to love these kids; if we truly profess love for the children of Delta State who are the acclaimed leaders of tomorrow; let our hearts weep for such massive structures turned home to reptiles, deadly animals and even the terrors of the society. My vision is to see that the hospital perform to a world class standard and help in building a more health Delta. That is not all, as a world class Specialist Hospital which will be built through public private partnership (PPP) will come to place in the healthy Delta that we are conceiving. Just one Teaching Hospital is not enough to cater for all our health needs; just as not all medical cases can be treated in the Teaching Hospital and if this is so, our vision will see that almost all cases are treated in the specialist hospital that will be established in the new Delta State of our dreams. Again, all of this will provide the employment that my vision seeks to give to Deltans. Tasking as this may be, daunting as the challenges towards realizing it may seem; fixing the health care system is not impossible for us. We have the world technology and the experts to make it come to pass and most of all we have the capital to achieve every bit of it, but all that is needed is just the right leadership which is what I humbly offer myself to give.
As we get set to sail; let there be no illusion that Delta State cannot be the food basket of the nation. Is there any local government in Delta State today that is not fertile? No! Is there any community in Delta State today that there are no farmers? No! Then why are we not producing enough food for every home in Delta? Again I ask; why is food not cheap in Delta State when we have all the fertile lands to produce all we need and export to other parts of the country. The Delta State of my dream if administered by me will ensure that our farmers no longer till the ground so deep and sweat before planting, as the ministry of agriculture will be directed to supply them fertilizers at a very subsidized rate which will be paid back only when they have harvested and sold their produce. We will encourage our farmers by giving them soft loans to enable them buy seedlings to plant not just for this generations but seedlings which when planted will live for generations to generations. Just think of what this will do for our economy. Farmers will not just be left in the villages, but seminars will be organized for them both in English and our local languages on how to use the modern technology to achieve results. We will plough their lands and not plunder. The study of Agriculture will be made enticing to our young school leavers, as scholarships will be given to Deltans who voluntarily chose to read it as a course. As we send other students in the faculty of health sciences and engineering to foreign countries; so shall we also send our agriculture students to study the new method of agriculture and come back home to implement it. This is my vision.
As we get set to sail and if Delta State is to be the place to do business, we will not play with her security. The life of even the insane man on the street is important to us, for there is only freeborn in the eyes of the creator; not black or white, sane or insane; VIP or ordinary and so it is in our vision. The very security that will protect all those in government house and see that all that lives there are secure is the same security that will secure the very citizen who lives in the slums and ghettos of our beloved state. This will be no administration to engage in the luxury of packing all security apparatus to itself when the oath which I swore to keep; that is if I’m elected; which is the security of lives and properties has not been kept. The security systems in Delta State will go into technology especially in public places; to check crimes and actions of those who do not mean well for our state and people. We will employ the use of hi-tech modern technology to check the infiltration of criminals into our borders, especially in these times that we are faced with terrorism; so that our investors will do business in peace. While we understand that there is no exclusive state security, my vision is to ensure that internal security will be well equipped to complement the efforts of the Federal Government. And may I tell you this today; all security personnels under the Federal Government will be given all that is required to protect Delta and Deltans so much that almost all of them will lobby to be posted to our dear state. This is my promise; that your security will be first and foremost our priority.
As we get set to sail; an important requirement into achieving our vision is to see that our educational standard is not compromised. The banners of excellence under a government run by me will be flown high by our Dear State high above the oceans and mountains, with a resounding non negotiable agreement that we are not just the big heart in wealth, but also in academic excellence. No child in Delta State will be allowed to sit on the classrooms floor to write; as long as our government is aware of it. Let’s be realistic; we have failed our kids by failing to give to them what the Obafemi Awolowos of this world gave to us in our time. Our time was describes as the golden era and we rejoice, but may I say to us today that it is to our shame that the yesteryears can be described as a golden era while the present which is described as the jet age has not yet witnessed fifteen percent of what we witnessed in the golden era. We have to go back to the drawing board and in doing so; the free scholarship given to all primary and school children will continue, while all their WAEC and NECO and NABTEB exam fees will be fully paid for. Best graduating students of Delta origin from indigent homes will be on scholarship in any university approved by the State government, to enable them serve as role models to others. Delta State will lead the train in having enough graduates of 20 years and this we will make possible through early child education, not in private schools but in government owned schools. Our children cannot afford to be among the least passed in national and international exams, as my vision is to ensure that effective and worthy teachers who are willing to teach them all they know are employed to stand in front of them, not just to impact learning but character which will form our home value system, while those already employed will be sent for training and re-training by the government.
Our State model schools embarked on by Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan will be extended to all the nook and cranny of the state, with the environment made conducive for both the pupils, students and teachers. If politicians get their rewards on earth; the teachers who taught us to become what we are today and still teach our children should also have their rewards on earth by also being sponsored by the state government for more degrees just like we do to lecturers in the tertiary institutions. To the teachers in the house; mark you this day; that my vision for you is to see that you all have access to housing and car loans so that your years of service is not spent as tenants in the houses of some big men, but in your own apartments, while you also drive your personal cars. In the words of Barrack Hussein Obama, which I share; “If we truly believe in our public schools, then we have a moral responsibility to do better-to break the either-or mentality around school reform, and embrace a both-and mentality. Good schools will require both the structural reform and the resources necessary to prepare our kids for the future”.
As we get set to sail; we have heard time and time again that a healthy nation is a wealthy nation. You will all agree with me that when the history of Delta is written in the healthy environment sector, Gov. Emmanuel Uduaghan would have etched his name in marbles, by turning the notorious Enerhen Junction into a neat area today, where notorious criminals no longer pleasant to carry out their activities. But we can do more and more we will do. Our resolve will be to remove every dump site from the face of Delta and turn our waste into wealth. My vision is to bring in environmental experts to proffer solutions on how we can create revenue from the waste gathered in the state and set up the company that will do so. We cannot afford to preach a healthy Delta and still allow dirt to strut the corners of the state, polluting the environment and causing sickness to those who live close there. Dirt free Delta is possible. My vision towards achieving this is to set up a waste site in every local government in the state, where the waste agency will gather all the dirt of each household to take it to for dumping.
Again it is audacious, but it is possible. Friends, we will generate wealth with dirt in Delta State and set a pace for others to follow. This is my vision.
I do not have to list to all present here today the multitude of needs facing Deltans. My vision is not blurred on the transportation system of Delta State, neither am I forgetful of the housing challenges facing Delta State. It will all be addressed. To the activists in the house today; take it home that my vision is a state where no single industrial action will be recorded as all parts of bargains with labour will be fully met.
I am convinced that the shores of Delta North will play host to economic activities of the state, as her nearest neighbour, Onitsha is doing to Anambra State; just as my conviction tells me that Delta Central and South will be centres of industrial activities in the state while the entire state plays host to Nigeria in both leisure and health tourism. It is very possible in the Delta State of my dream, but made possible only by you as I offer my selfless service. And just like Franklin Roosevelt said, “In every dark hour of our national life, a leadership of frankness and vigour has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory”
As we get set to sail; I trust that you will be gracious enough to share in my visions, bearing in mind that they reflect the very needs of the future that we seek to create and the next generations that must be our judge. “
These little things matter…
Fejiro Oliver, Editorial Board Chairman of Secrets Reporters, Media Consultant and Human Rights Activist is also the Co-Convener of Coalition of Human Rights Defender (CHORD) and can be reached on +2348022050733, +2348160067613 (SMS ONLY) or [email protected]. Engage him on twitter on @fejirooliver86