The team leader of the British Department for International Development (DFID), Mr. Terry Lacey, has identified agriculture as one of the best ways for job creation especially with the current economic downturn associated with the fall in oil prices in the international market.
He made the declaration during a business visit to the Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, to discuss their intention to partner with the state government in the areas of agricultural development.
They presented plans to focus on the private sector, and particularly small farmers because they are the foundation to achieving a stable and sustainable economy for the state.
According to him, if some Deltans decide to become small scale farmers, the internally generated revenue and the agriculture sector would see a tremendous boost and for this to happen the small scale farming has to be recognized by government, big scale farmers and companies.
Acknowledging that the DFID programme falls in line with the Governor’s smart agenda in the area of agricultural boost and wealth creation, he noted that keying into this programme would surely bring about a boost in the state’s agricultural produce.
Expressing satisfaction with the partnership and giving assurances of the state government’s support to the agency, Governor Okowa said that the partnership would boost his efforts towards reducing the number of unemployed people in Delta State.
He reiterated his belief that the agricultural sector was a sure way of boosting the state’s internally generated revenue as well as creating job opportunities for the teeming youths in the state.
He also mentioned that his administration was looking into how it can develop more agro based industries especially in areas with comparative advantage of agro products such as cassava and palm oil.
He added that going into agro processing entails creating market linkages which would form a key factor to the success of the agricultural sector in the state.
Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa has said that the multi-billion naira Delta Steel Company, Aladja would commence full operations in 14 months’ time.
He made this revelation while addressing leaders and elders of Delta North Senatorial District (Anioma nation) who paid him a solidarity visit at Government House, Asaba.
According to the Governor when the steel company becomes fully operational, it would add value to his administration’s commitment to job creation for Delta citizens, disclosing that he had a fruitful discussion with the new owners of the company on the revamping of the steel company during the recent India/Africa Business summit he attended with President Muhammadu Buhari in India.
He also believes that in another 12 to 14 months, the DSC would come alive again with many other companies in the state.
While thanking the people of Delta North for their support and show of solidarity to his administration, the Governor urged the people of Anioma to remain united and cooperate with all ethnic nationalities to move the state forward.
He asserted that the leaders must show examples to their followers so as to engender peace in their areas.
Earlier, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, who spoke on behalf of the Anioma people said that their visit was to show solidarity and support to Governor Okowa.
They congratulated him on his victory at the election petition tribunal, observing that Deltans overwhelmingly voted for the Governor.
Senator Nwaoboshi told the Governor that political leaders and their followers in Anioma have resolved to support his administration to realise vision of prosperity for all Deltans.
The Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, believes that Delta State has come out greater despite being created amidst controversies, especially those surrounding the location of the state capital.
Speaking on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, Uduaghan noted that although “a lot still has to be done” he was happy that “in the last 23 years, a lot has been done in terms of infrastructure” and this has impacted on the lives of the people.
He said that the major challenges in terms of infrastructure would be power, school, hospitals, water, transportation and the state has done well in these regards and continues to do more.
The Governor also spoke about the state’s developmental strategy, ‘Delta Beyond Oil’, which has been his administration’s focus.
He explained that the strategy has been approached in two ways. One arm was to create the infrastructure that would bring in investments into the state and the other arm was to empower citizens with tools for economic productivity through the state’s micro-credit facility.
He also explained that the Government has been able to set its priorities in terms of infrastructure. While power, seaport and the airport would be targeted at creating enabling environment for investment, social amenities like healthcare, schools, water, and others meant for the comfort of the citizens have also been taken very seriously.
Governor Uduaghan, however, noted that the notable development of the state has also created an influx of people into the state, thereby creating congestion in certain places. He cited the establishment of an airport and the development in the health sector among the social facilities impacting on the state’s population.
The Governor believes that Local Government Areas should be better empowered to enable the states develop better. He mentioned the payment of teachers’ salaries as one of the areas in which the roles of the State and Local Government should be better defined, noting that LGAs as they are currently cannot handle such roles.
There were questions on the economic impact of creating new states in Nigeria, in a situation where the cost of running governments have been considered high, but the Delta Governor believes that the new states and the civil service jobs that come with them could also be seen as a way of empowering the people.
He noted that people should now learn from Delta State’s strategy of ‘Delta Beyond Oil’ by creating alternative sources of economic empowerment for the people.
He applauded the Federal Government’s initiative in Agriculture with special mention of the Minister of Agriculture’s recent promotion of home-grown rice.
While admitting that the challenge of any new state is usually funding, the Governor, however, was of the opinion that for the agitation for state creation to be reduced, there must be a way of ensuring that there is even development across Nigeria.
The National Conference, in its final submission on state creation, recommended the creation of Anioma State from the current Delta and the Governor says that this does not underline a problem peculiar to Delta State but one for the entire Nigeria as the agitation for new states is always an ongoing request.
Despite the government’s emphasis on peace, love and unity among the Delta State people, the agitation by the Anioma people would seem to be disappointing for the Governor but he said that it was not, as he believes that ethnic groups would always have reasons to agitate but what should be given attention are the factors that cause ethnic distrust – development, empowerment, inclusion and other issues.
Delta State is known for outstanding performances in the area of sport and the conversation naturally tilted in the direction of its impact on the average Delta youth.
Governor Uduaghan revealed that the secret behind the successes was the decision of the government to professionalize the sector in a manner that professional sportsmen and women are put in charge of managing the state’s sport programmes.
Supported by infrastructures to support their programmes, he said that the citizens and especially the youths have grown to see sport successes as part of their lives.
Governor Uduaghan noted that any Delta State Governor who fails to win at least one National Sports Festival would have that used against him as a campaign tool.
Ready To Curb Ebola
Governor Uduaghan also said that the Government has made adequate preparations to prevent the outbreak of the Ebola disease in the state and to control its spread if at all it finds its way into the state.
He gave a brief insight into the strategies that have been put in place to ensure that the people are not caught unaware, adding that sensitization has also been one of their major activities in recent weeks.
He noted that the isolation centres have been built in different places in the state but the locations have not been made public to avoid protests from the citizens who would not want to have them around due to ignorant beliefs.
Dr. Uduaghan also decried the circumstances surrounding the spread of the Ebola Virus Disease to Port Harcourt in Rivers State. He wondered why a medical doctor would decide to treat a patient of Ebola in an hotel, despite the level of knowledge he must have had of the virus.
He said that as a professional, he felt bad that a colleague would ignore some basic things that must have been taught from his days in medical school.
The Delta State Commissioner for Housing, Paulinus Akpeki, believes that the level of development in their region of the old Bendel State and the ethnic harmony that now existed have justified the creation of Delta State.
Mr Akpeki was speaking on the Friday edition of Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, where discussions bordered on the celebration of the 23rd anniversary of the creation of Delta State.
Speaking on the rationale behind the creation of the State, he recalled that there had been a high level of discontentment and complaints of marginalization from different ethnic groups in the old Bendel State.
He explained that if Delta State had not been created, a number of the rural areas would not have experienced the level of development they have. He said that while a lot of people feel that the Delta State capital, Asaba, was the main city in the state, Delta actually has about 23 good cities which were in the past marginalized.
Akpeki, who was once the Commissioner for Orientation and Communication in the state, said that access to the leadership of the state has also contributed to the growth of the state, as the creation of the state had brought about a better level of closeness between the leaders and the people.
He spoke about the transformation that the state had experienced since its creation in different sectors ranging from road construction, to healthcare, education, commerce and other areas of the economy. He cited towns like Warri and Ugheli as having experienced remarkable transformation.
With the ability of the Governor to easily identify and address all projects going on the state, “the government has been able to instil that trust in the people”, he said, adding that the State Governor has particularly focused on preaching peace and love among the people as a major ingredient for development.
With the creation of Delta State, Akpeki believes the idea of creating more states as recommended by the National Conference was justified, and their recommendation of Anioma State to be created from the current Delta was driven by the need for further development rather than ethnic differences. However, he said that development was not just about creating more states but restructuring governance and distribution of funds.
Akpeki was part of the constitutional conference in the past and he said that a 2-tier government made of the federal and state would have been better for Nigeria because Local Governments are not able to do what is expected of them.
He explained that states still carry out majority of the functions that should have been the role of the Local Government thereby putting pressure on funds that could have been deployed into other needs. He said that states would have been under less pressure if the LGAs were more productive.
He was, however, reluctant to suggest the 2-tier government for the current Nigeria.
On youth development, Akpeki, who was the youngest member of the House of Representatives in the old Bendel during the second republic, said that the Government of Delta State has also set good examples by giving ample space to the youths to excel, not just academically but also by being part of government.