The Chief Press Secretary (CPS), to the Delta State governor, Mr Charles Ehiedu Aniagwu, has revealed the underlined strategies behind the success of his principal, assuring that the governor is not losing sleep over the 2019 general election.
Mr. Aniagwu made this disclosure on Monday, April 3, 2017, when he made his scheduled visit to the Indigenous Newspapers and Magazines Chapel (INMC) of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Delta State Council in Asaba, even as he urged reporters and Publishers in the Chapel to embrace a cordial and harmonious relationship, in order to sustain the recognition and credibility which the INMC has enjoyed in recent times.
Aniagwu said: “The Indigenous Chapel of NUJ has always done something very remarkable and one of those legacies is the commissioning of the chapel’s secretariat and this conference hall, which is rightly called the Senator Arthur Ifeanyi Okowa Conference Hall.”
Addressing governance issues raised by newsmen in an interactive parley during the visit, the Chief Press Secretary insisted that the Okowa led administration is delivering on the 5-Point SMART Agenda, which the Governor had promised Deltans during the electioneering campaign and hence was not disturbed about insinuations and speculations concerning the 2019 Governorship elections in the state.
According to him, “What disturbs us now is how to get the funds to deliver on the promises we made in the course of the 2015 electioneering campaign. Perhaps I will not call it disturbance but would rather prefer to call it challenge. What we are concerned about is how we will be able to address the many promises we made to Deltan and to the best of my knowledge by the grace of God, my boss Senator Dr Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa is, as much as possible and given the available resources at his disposal, delivering on the 5-Point Agenda.”
Dissecting Governor Okowa’s 5-Point Agenda, Aniagwu re-affirmed that the vision was encapsulated in the Governor’s blueprint for the State with the acronym SMART, which means Strategic Wealth Creation Projects and Provision of Jobs for all Deltann, Meaningful Peace Building Platforms aimed at Political and Social Harmony, Agricultural Reforms and Accelerated Industrialization, Relevant Health and Education Policies, Transformed Environment through Urban Renewal.
He further noted that the Relevant Wealth Creation initiative of the 5Point Agenda, which is based on the strategic policy the government is putting in place to create wealth, has been successful. “We have been able to provide a number of jobs. But the jobs we are providing are not just the ones you need to write application for and begin to earn salaries. The jobs the state government is providing are to make those engaged in them employers of labour, creating entrepreneurs who are on their own been able to also employ a lot of persons,” he stressed.
While cautioning against the penchant of newsmen pressurizing the government to employ people when there are no vacancies, he was quick to add that such a policy will not translate into any form of tangible development under this present dispensation, especially given the harsh economic realities facing the country presently.
“Trying to pressurize government to employ people when vacancies don’t exist does not bring about development. What brings development is to as much as possible, create the enabling environment for investment to grow and that is what we are trying to do by providing roads that link up some communities so that those who are into certain forms of production will have access to the reasonable market. Being able to empower our brothers and sisters who have got certain talents to be able to move to the next level has also been key to our job creation agenda, because when we do that they will be able to employ more people and when they employ more people, it means that government has created more jobs”, he explained.
The Delta CPS also noted that the state government was equally doing well in the area of ‘Meaningful Peace Building’, in collaboration with the federal government, which, “to a very reasonable extent has brought about the cessation of hostilities in the creeks and motivated us to encourage private investors to come into the state”.
Speaking further, Aniagwu emphasized that, “We are also very much concerned about the Agricultural reforms that we are doing both in the area of using YAGEP as a platform of getting our youths to be engaged in agriculture whether in terms of aquaculture, horticulture or any other endeavour that is involved in the agricultural sector and also in the provision of tractors under the policy we call Tractorization to our farmers to ensure that more persons are engaged”.
He also noted that the state government was doing everything in its powers to elevate cottage hospitals in the state, “in addition to making sure that some other dispensaries and tertiary health facilities are also upgraded. We have also engaged a number of doctors to increase the number of medical personnel per patient”.
On the issue of ‘Transformed Environment through Urban Renewal’, the governor’s spokesperson said that in Asaba, the capital city, a good number of roads have been constructed and others are being rehabilitated, even as he commended the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), that is assisting the state government to tackle a number of the inner streets.
“While we are also doing a number of the roads, the intervention of NDDC has equally enhanced the ecstatic value of the state capital and though the state has not got to where it is supposed to be yet, you will agree that we have left where we were as at a year or two ago. Yes, we have for those who want to be very objective”, he said.
Still on Urban renewal, Aniagwu said major towns and urban centres across the state have witnessed upgrade of facilities, and this is much more instructive and it is happening at a time when the resources at the disposal of the different tiers government is at its lowest ebb.
The CPS, who was also addressed the lingering issue of payment of Primary school Teachers salaries, was quick to point out that the state government was not owing Secondary school Teachers, which made the sympathy strike in solidarity with Primary school Teachers unusual and disturbing especially when the teachers had proceeded to forcefully lock up the schools.
Explaining further Aniagwu affirmed that the real bone of contention, beyond the arrears and grading issues, was not that Primary school Teachers had not been paid, but the 19% deduction which JAAC had agreed to effect in order to also make some provision for the other cadre of Local Government workers, who also operated in the same councils and whose salary arrears had accumulated to as much as eight to eleven months in some cases, as a result of the zero allocation which many states were faced with.
While pointing out that the state government had revamped existing educational institutions in both primary, secondary and tertiary institutions across the state, Aniagwu assured that Governor Okowa was a labour friendly governor and the welfare of teachers was top priority, even as he urged Teachers to always explore and exhaust all alternative dispute resolution processes before embarking on industrial action, adding that all outstanding issues would be addressed as the economy and finances of the state continues to improve.
Mr. Aniagwu also used the opportunity to lay to rest, the often contentious issue of Publishers were also Journalists, who belong to the Indigenous Newspapers and Magazine Chapel, explaining that the publishers of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, were like bus owners and who are also drivers of their own buses and as such were eligible to belong to both the different unions of the drivers and bus owners.
He then advised members of NUJ to look at the values of one another and how they can collectively improve on the credibility and acceptance of their Union, rather than the nomenclature of members.
High point of the very enlightening and interactive visit, with Mr. Aniagwu, who was accompanied by his team of Media Aides to Governor Okowa; Amaechi Udemba (Electronic), Victor Efeizormor (Print) and Jonathan Onwuka (Community Newspapers), was the presentation of a life-sized flexi banner self portrait to the Chief Press Secretary by the INMC, in recognition of his tremendous magnanimity and unparalleled generosity to the chapel.