Patriot Dantes Odogwu is the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the Governor of Delta State on New Media.
As Governor Okowa was marking his second year in office through project inspection, commissioning and town hall meetings, The Pointer Chief of Bureau, Government House, Asaba, FIDELIS EGUGBO had a one-on-one chat with the SSA who was attracted back from his comfort zone in London to contribute to the development of the state. It was a revealing chat as he talked about how the New Media has been deployed to work for Deltans, and achievements of the Governor, among others. He summed up his assessment of the administration by saying, the best is yet to come. Excerpt
As the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa on New Media, how have you fared?
I can say, we have done very well. Deltans are enlightened people and it is a fact that more than 80 per cent of Deltans have access to the New Media. Most people are on Facebook, some are on twitter, a lot of persons are using WhatsApp, Instagram and I can confidently tell you that a lot of us are also, making use of all the platforms the new media provides. Almost everyone who has access to GSM phone in Delta State is in one form of new media or the other and this has made it easier for us to market the activities of government to Deltans in particular and the world at large.
In that case, it was not wrong for Governor Okowa to have created the office of the SSA on New Media?
Not at all. Our Governor is well educated, he is a thorough-bred politician and he is aware that Delta State plays host to the most enlightened people in Nigeria. Evidently, there is no other state that is in the country that has the number of tertiary educational institutions that Delta State Government currently sponsors – a multi-campus university, the Delta State University with campuses at Abraka, Asaba and Oleh; three Polytechnics located at Ogwashi-Uku, Ozoro, and Oghara; Colleges of Education at Agbor and Warri; College of Physical Education at Mosogar; College of Marine Technology, Burutu; three schools of Nursing, one School of Health Technology, not to talk about Federal Institutions like the University of Petroleum Technology, the Petroleum Training Institute, the Maritime University; the National Open University with more than three campuses in the state, Federal College of a Education and several others. All these translate to enlightened people. Before now, people easily attack government and its programmes, but, we have effectively, deployed the new media in feeding the people with verifiable information about government and its activities. The conventional media is still very good. That is, talking about print and electronics, unfortunately, they don’t get to most Deltans like what we achieve through the new media. Because Deltans are enlightened, they are also, very critical people, as such, we have avoided propaganda, rather, we have checked the activities of opposition with accurate data. Governor Okowa is running an open-door policy, so, we have used the new media to ensure that just with a tap on your phone, your doubts will be cleared. This has made it difficult for those who tell lies to the people because, with the facts presented, Deltans are happy with Governor Okowa’s administration.
But, we heard the Governor had a lot of aides and they do disagree?
Naturally, people are bound to misconstrue certain issues. But, it is normal, too, for people to disagree, even husbands quarrel with their wives. The most important thing is disagreeing to agree for the best to be achieved for our people, Deltans and humanity. There is no restriction to the number of political aides the Governor may have or the nomenclature of such appointments. But, to answer your question, all appointees of the Governor see themselves as belonging to one family, working in the interest of the larger family, Delta State. Yes! We are one because, what affects the man in Bomadi affects the man in Asaba and with Governor Okowa’s style of leadership, we are more united in Delta State. This has also, ensured that we are more peaceful and committed to the development of Delta State.
(Chips in) Are the aides necessary bearing in mind that the country is in recession?
(Laughing). Who did he appoint? Are they not Deltans? If the country is in recession and with the appointments he has empowered your brother, sister or parents to feed you, are you not happy? He made necessary appointments. Nobody has come out to say the appointments were not justified because, the overall objective is to make Deltans happy and reposition the state to be among the best in the world. Agreed that Nigeria is in recession, but Governor Okowa through the capable brains he has appointmented, has ensured that salaries of civil servants are paid as at when due; he has also, ensured that despite the economic situation of the country, physical infrastructure are being provided in all parts of the state. The question I expect is, ‘is Delta working?’ and I will say, yes, Delta is working beyond expectations under the able leadership of Governor Okowa.
Talking about rating the Governor, which area do you think he has done well?
Making Deltans to believe in themselves is the greatest achievement of this administration. Before now, how many Deltans were interested in growing rice? Today, rice is being cultivated in commercial quantities in all parts of the state through the empowerment programmes of the Governor. In the next few years, Delta State will boast of more industrialists than any other state in the country because of the large number of persons Governor Okowa’s administration has trained, empowered and mentored to be industrialists. So, the Governor has done well in making Deltans believe in themselves. Don’t forget that I told you that the state boasts of more tertiary schools than any other state in the country. But, apart from that, to give a boost to his dream of grooming entrepreneurs, Governor Okowa re-established technical education in the state and three technical schools are currently equipped to international standards while three others are being reconstructed. With technical training, the youths who cannot afford to go to universities will set up their businesses from loans given at single digit interest rates from the Micro-Credit financed banks. Soon, there will be no capital flights as a result of non-Nigerians coming to lay our tiles, paint our houses or generally engage in money-making ventures that we can engage in. Today, Delta State is peaceful because of purposeful engagement, the people are happy and the Governor in his humble nature, is working with all stakeholders for the speedy development of the state.
Governor Okowa has done two years in office, what should Deltans expect in the next two years?
If Governor Okowa could achieve these much within two years, within a period that the country was in recession, I am confident that the people are yet to see the best. In the next two years, with improved revenue, with those trained already becoming employers of labour, Deltans should expect a boost in their socio-economic life; Deltans should expect more roads; Deltans should expect a lot of investments from Deltans and foreigners; Deltans should expect a more peaceful and united state; Deltans should expect a state that will be working more than it is now.