224 views | JEROME-MARIO UTOMI | January 16, 2021
For decades, no one says a report, around the world talked that much about the importance of a president’s first 100 days—until Franklin D. Roosevelt of the United States took office in 1933. He took swift action to calm the nation’s crippling financial panic (cue the Emergency Banking Act and the “fireside chats” that became Roosevelt’s signature) and began rolling out the programs that made up his New Deal, including 15 major pieces of legislation in the first 100 days. FDR’s extraordinary productivity translated into enormous popularity, and he set a first 100-day standard against which all future U.S. presidents would (perhaps unfairly) be measured.
But today, such practice has since become native among leaders across the world with Nigeria not an exception.
Given the above clarification, coupled with the fact that we are witnessing intense social, political and economic ‘revolution’ in Nigeria in which there is no time for leisurely discussion or anemic expressions, the question may be asked why this piece focuses on Dr. (Senator) Ifeanyi Ekwueme Arthur Okowa, who assumed the governorship position of Delta state on the 29th May, 2015, when he has celebrated 100 days in office a while ago? Why subjecting to scrutiny his goodwill, valuable qualities cultivated and implemented by his skillful use of power whereas he only on Friday January 1, 2021, clocked 2044 days? And when there is no concrete evidence that his promise to serve the public and to pursue the ‘public good’ have been soiled by private ambitions and the administration still has about 2years in office?
Indeed, similar to complex but conventional business environments, leaders are encouraged to develop their peculiar identities. It has also been reasonably argued that a leader’s image is an almagarm of a variety of factors, and followers must at intervals evaluate these perceived factors in order to dictate if they are in positive or negative lights. Particularly as image is capable of saying much more about a leader than any of his long speeches and verbal declarations; and very unique is that once established, image becomes not just the leader’s picture but remains highly durable.
In line with the above argument, it may again elicit the poser; what image has Governor Okowa’s led administration carved for itself since May 29, 2015, when it was inaugurated? Within this period under review, could the image be described as positive or negative? Finding answers to these questions is the objective of this piece.
Beginning with the positive actions so far taken in the last 2044 days, it will not be characterized as out of place to, on the one hand, describe the Governors performance as historic. The facts are there and speak for it. Certainly, in the estimation of this piece, the administration has scored some good points in certain areas of life-infrastructure, security and sports development.
Analysts believe that right from May 29, 1999, when democracy re-emerged in the state, Okowa has constructed more roads in the state than his predecessors put together, trained more youths in the state in different skills, paid civil servants salaries and pensions as promptly, recently inaugurated “Operation Delta Hawk”, a new security outfit floated by the State Government to enhance security of lives and property, can fittingly be described as welcoming. And most importantly taken development to the ones abandoned coastal dwellers in the state.
Okowa, says a commentator, is God sent.. For a very long time, all we have heard from past leaders is that the coastal region is marshy and road construction will be difficult if not impossible. But Okowa’s administration has since sent that arguments/logic to the dustbin of history as the coastal region is now blessed with an appreciable level of good internal road networks’.
However, even as these achievements are spotlighted and celebrated, it is important to underline that deafening complaints, disappointments, frustration fueled by economic plights and uneven.spread of projects in the state daily resonate from some deltans. They are particularly not happy that in the then Mid-West and Bendel state of old, there existed government owned companies of which Governor Okowa witnessed, established by ex- leaders These corporations, they argued, were established to among other aims create employment while bringing revenue to government coffers. Examples of such companies include but not limited to; MidWest Lines, Bendel Hotel, Bendel Insurance, Bendel Glass among others.
What stopped the governor from resuscitating some of these organizations the state inherited from the old Bendel state considering the volume of money the state has received as federal allocation in the last five years? Or established new ones under public-private partnership (PPP) to tackle youth unemployment and generate income for the state? What is the wisdom behind teaching a man to fish (referring to the state’s youths skill training programmes) in an environment where there is no river to fish? Or train a man without a job creation plan? How will Okowa’s administration explain the fact that his skill acquisition initiative which was programmed to empower the youths of the state via employment, have finally left the large army of deltans without a job? They queried.
Without doubt, it is obvious that the future of the state is full of promises as it is fraught with uncertainty. And the keys to victory lay in allowing actions to be guided by reason and reality, re-investment in education, infrastructural development particularly in the coastal areas of the state, employment generation and injection of young Deltans who have integrity, intellect, energy and drive into your administration as the success of any group or nation depends on the quality of people in charge.
Apart from creating jobs for the youths in the state, finishing with strong/positive image will require the realization that with sound educational institutions and infrastructure, a state is as good as made, as the institutions will turn out all rounded manpower to continue with the development of the state driven by well-thought ideas, policies projects and programmes. In the same vein, rededication of energy to the plight of Deltans living in the coastal part of the state and tackling other youths’ challenges such as unemployment should be the best way to start.
Utomi is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), A Lagos-Based Non Governmental Organization. He could be reached via; (email@example.com/08032725374.