A few days after Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, Executive Governor of Delta state assumed office, he convened a town hall meeting of sorts with top government functionaries of the state.
At that meeting, Okowa spoke candidly about the financial position of the state and the fact that Delta state owes banks about N98bn with contractual obligations coming to N538,601,962, 421.50.
According to the governor, the state government with a workforce of 60,000 persons and a monthly personnel cost of N7,437,940,015.38 will run a monthly deficit of N2bn when its N5.40bn monthly revenue from FAAC allocation and IGR is taken into account.
A newspaper reported that after presenting these figures, a director stood up and said he pitied the governor.
Any chief executive taking over a company or state with such a huge financial problem as is the case with Ifeanyi Okowa deserves to be pitied but most importantly, he deserves the support of all and sundry to succeed in turning around the state.
A few days after that meeting with top functionaries, Okowa presented what he called “My Vision for Honest Leadership and Responsible Governance” to the Delta State House of Assembly.
In his speech to the house, Okowa also outlined the parlous state of the economy but then he made a startling statement. “I am told that when written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters – one represents danger and the other opportunity. I see more opportunities in our current economic predicament than the threats it poses.”
Contained in the seed of that statement was a clear message – Ifeanyi Okowa has a plan and is clearly the right man for the job.
A medical doctor by training, Ifeanyi Okowa comes to the job of governor with intimidating credentials which make him immensely qualified and ready to tackle the daunting problems facing his state.
Okowa was commissioner twice under Governor James Ibori and served as Secretary to the State Government under his immediate predecessor Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, (with whom he contested for the gubernatorial ticket of the PDP in 2007). Okowa then went on to run for the senate. He won and served as chair of the Health Committee at the Senate.
What these mean is that Okowa was, before even resuming as governor, already conversant with how the ministries function, how the executive runs the affairs of state and how the legislative arm provides oversight over the executive. He is also at home with the process of proposing and passing bills which is remarkable because in the first one month of his administration, Okowa sent two bills to the house and had them passed expeditiously.
What this clearly points to is a man who has hit the ground running by proposing workable solutions to the problems on ground but these are very daunting problems which could so easily overwhelm even the best intentions.
Okowa seems to have come prepared. During his campaign, Okowa captured his executive agenda for the state under what he called S.M.A.R.T which is short hand for ‘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.
It is heartening to note that the first 2 bills sent to the house of Assembly were targeted at two of these areas. ‘The Technical and Vocational Education Board Bill, 2015’ is clearly targeted at helping in the realization of the first pillar; “Strategic wealth creation initiatives and provision of Jobs for all” while the Delta State Capital Territory Development Agency Bill 2015 concerns itself with the 5th pillar, “Transformed environment through massive urban renewal.”
A man who has set the scene for solving two key problems before he even settled in office has shown clearly that his four years would be very result-oriented and positively impactful.
To close, business schools across the world will tell you that to turn around a financially faltering entity requires a few key moves, top of which is transparency. Transparency ensures that everyone understands the problem and state of affairs. Ifeanyi Okowa has done this by presenting a status report but he has gone a step further than many others by not just presenting the problem but by providing a S.M.A.R.T solution.