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By; Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi.
If there is any cardinal action in recent time that proved beyond reasonable doubt to deltans that the Governor Sheriff Oborevwori led administration in Delta state is laced with burning desire to empower the poor and vulnerable in the state, it is the Governor’s well thought out decision to continue with the Social Investment Programmes (SIPs) created by the immediate past administration in the state coupled with his re-appointment of Chief Dr. Isioma Okonta, as Senior Special Assistant(SSA) in charge of the office.
Aside from aligning with global call on leaders to prioritize identifying the problems of the poor in the society and according deserving attention to them, Governor Sheriff Oborevwori’s latest decision to build on sustainable Social Investment foundation laid by Senator Dr Ifeanyi Okowa’s out gone administration, signifies a leadership that is at home with understanding that any transformation agenda in the state that does not have social investment at the centre of its programme will take us nowhere.
Like every deltan of goodwill, this piece is particularly happy that the re-appointment of Isioma Okonta, as Senior Special Assistant (SSA) is not only timely but critical to the success of the programme.
This particular assertion is predicated on his exemplary and impressive scorecard previously achieved while in that office.
First and very fundamental, deltans, particularly beneficiaries of social investment programmes in the state under the previous administration in the state, are in agreement that Isioma Okonta , is not only a ‘round peg in a round whole’ when it comes to the issue of social investment in the state. Rather, his experience in this direction is unparalleled.
He was the pioneer Senior Special Assistant to the former Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s administration and the only soul that has occupied that position in the state. He incubated, nurtured and brought the programme to fruition to the administration of all. Under his watch as SSA to the Governor on Social Investment, Delta state, going by reports, won so many awards as the best state in Nigeria in social investments.
It is equally a statement of fact that Governor Okowa’s led administration in the state is today perceived as one of the best administrations in the anal of Delta state because of its huge dedication to carefully crafted and meticulously executed social investment programmes.
in 2018, as the state Coordinator of Widows Welfare Programme, widely known as ‘Widows Alert’ an initiative under the state’s social investment scheme set up by the state to provide succour and wipe away tears, remedy and assuage hunger in the 25 local government areas of the state, Dr Isioma reportedly changed the fortunes of widows in the state who were hitherto invisible to policymakers.
Before his appointment as SSA to Governor Okowa, nothing was specifically discussed about widows in policy-making meetings. But upon assumption of office, he, with unalloyed support from the former Governor Okowa, creatively brought about policy focus on common citizens, labourers, jobless youth, and other suffering segments of society.
Today in the state, there exist beam of socioeconomic hope for all!
Separate from the aforementioned reality, Isioma has in the past sustainably manifested leadership traits that qualifies as people-focused and demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that he is a believer in the words of the late former Secretary General of the United Nation (UN), Kofi Annan, that there is no tool for development more effective than empowerment of women, and no other policy is as likely to raise economic productivity, or to reduce infant and maternal mortality.
Also working in favour of Dr Isioma and of course another reason why his latest appointment is considered the right step taken in the right direction on the part of Governor Sheriff, is the awareness that he is among the public office holders in the country that could be trusted with funds. It is factually backed that throughout his occupation of the position during the last administration, there were no case(s) of manipulation, opaque, shaddy or shoddy deals. There were no reported or perceived traces of financial misappropriation or irregularities.
To achieve transparency in his day to day administration of programmes, he designed a viable and workable framework that assisted the state in tracking those that are real widows. The names of these widows were drawn from the communities and the state made sure the community leaders were involved to help ascertain the veracity of the widows. “To those that were saying they are widows, indeed and to those that are saying they are poor and vulnerable widows, the community leaders were there to ascertain those points.”
Under his watch, the state did not draw up a list without making sure the community leaders cross checked the facts:
In furtherance of this efficiency and accountability, Governor Okowa brought in a consultant “to conduct an integrated service.
They were saddled with the responsibility of coming up with an electronic database of widows across Delta State. So, today, they have rounded off their work and we have over 50,000 widows in the Delta State widow’s electronic database. The state now has a compendium of widows that have been electronically generated. This database is used as veritable tools for the government to make decisions and plans concerning the widows.
For me these, These were but some of his giant strides as Coordinator of Widows Welfare initiative in the state under the previous administration,
Thus, as I therefore, congratulate Isioma Okonta for his latest appointment, two things stand out; one, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa did not make a mistake throwing his weight behind Rt. Honourable Sheriff Governorship ambition. It was indeed a very wise leadership judgment-deltans are presently reaping the reward of such brilliant decision/support.
Secondly, on his part, the amiable peoples’ Governor, His Excellency, Rt Honourable, Sheriff Oborevwori have within the shortest period of his leadership in the state proved to be a creative public servant. This fact is particularly evident in the caliber of people he surrounds himself with. A glaring example of such notable and result oriented men is Dr Isioma Okonta.
•Utomi Jerome-Mario is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), The Social Ane Economic Justice Advocacy(SEJA). He could be reached via; email@example.com or 08032725374.
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