IN the last seven years, Delta State, under the excellent leadership of His Excellency, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, Governor of Delta State, has witnessed unprecedented positive social and economic transformations.
These unparalleled achievements and impacts have not happened by chance. They are the outcomes of Governor Okowa’s critical thinking, clear foresight, sound planning, effective execution, smart coordination, political astuteness and executive intelligence.
Considering the landmark nature of transformations across the economic sectors and the instrumental role of Governor Okowa’s personal effectiveness and superlative leadership, the present governance and developmental chapter in Delta State qualifies as the era of “Okowanomics”.
The concept of Okowanomics denotes Governor Okowa’s development philosophy defined by his unique people-centred ideologies, policies and approaches of political governance, economic management and social mobilization. In fact, Okowanomics is the philosophical foundation and development strategy for the wide-ranging and deep-seated social and economic impacts in Delta State from 2015 to date.
Evidence of the impacts of Okowanomics abounds across the economic and social sectors as substantiated by development statistics regarding human capital development, poverty reduction, inclusive economic growth and better business environment. In particular, the sectoral footprints of Okowanomics include job creation and youth empowerment, road and transport infrastructure, growth and development of educational institutions, contributory health insurance system, development of tourism and sports. Others are prudent fiscal and economic management, development of the agricultural value chain, conducive investment and business environment, enhancement of micro and small enterprises through microcredit, gender mainstreaming and creation of social safety-net mechanisms.
Today, the agricultural landscape of Delta State is dotted with historic landmarks of Governor Okowa’s developmental philosophy and economic management prowess. Within the framework of the S.M.A.R.T Agenda and the Delta State Medium-Term Development Plan 2016-2020, the agricultural sector has since 2015 been targeted with policies, strategies and programmes aimed at transforming and uplifting the agricultural value chain. The agricultural testimonial of Okowanomics is the economic philosophy of developing the agricultural value chain as the cornerstone of employment generation, wealth creation, economic inclusion and sustainable growth.
In line with the personal effectiveness axiom “begin with the end in mind”, Governor Okowa enunciated and has been consistently implementing transformative agricultural programmes and projects since assuming office in 2015. The programmes include those implemented by Delta State Job and Wealth Creation Bureau (DSJCWB), Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources (MANR) and under Public-Private Partnership arrangements. Specifically, since 2015, the Job and Wealth Creation Bureau has been implementing Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurs Programme (YAGEP), Production and Processing Support Programme (PPSP), Delta State Agro-Industrial Park (DSAIP) at Aboh Ogwashi-Uku and Delta State Foods Export Initiative (DSFEI). These agricultural programmes and projects are collectively transforming the agricultural value chain, improving agricultural outputs-cum-productivity and promoting wealth creation.
Moreover, the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources have been implementing commodity value chain support programmes and initiatives covering cassava, fishery, oil palm, vegetables, rice, maize and livestock. Through these programmes, farmers, agro-processors and service providers have received targeted support including production inputs and technologies, tractorisation, training and skills upgrading, market linkages, production credit and agricultural extension advisory.
With one thousand five hundred and twenty (1,520) youths trained and established or supported as agricultural entrepreneurs from 2015 to 2021, YAGEP has demonstrated that, with the right design and faithful execution, agriculture and agribusiness can attract the youths and tackle youth unemployment. Moreover, YAGEP has positively impacted the agricultural landscape of Delta State through the establishment and sustenance of youth-managed agricultural enterprise clusters, numbering more than twenty (20) across the state. Similarly, PPSP has shown how accurate targeting of smallholder farmers and agro-processors can be achieved through participatory design of support, rigorous vetting of beneficiaries and impeccable delivery of support items.
The Agro-Industrial Park, under construction at Aboh Ogwashi-Uku, will be game-changer and growth pole for the agricultural economy. The envisaged impacts include creating markets and wealth for smallholder farmers, industrializing agriculture, stimulating efficient farm technologies and creating tens of thousands of direct and indirect jobs along the agricultural value chain. In the same vein, Delta State Food Exports Initiative has exhibited market-led development of the agricultural sector and its inherent ability to induce profitable investments in the farm subsector. Also, it has shown how to create thousands of jobs through integrated targeted development of cassava farming, transportation, processing, logistics and marketing.
Indeed, the agricultural development landmarks under the astute leadership of His Excellency, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, Governor of Delta State, are a major testimonial of Okowanomics in action. The agricultural development footprints of Governor Okowa are indelible signs of the economic impacts that can result from appropriate programme design, proper planning and faithful implementation backed by unwavering political commitment.
The author, Prof. Eric Eboh is the Chief Job and Wealth Creation Officer, Delta State.