ASABA/Nigeria: The Delta State Government has revealed that a lot of milestones have been recorded so far in fulfilling the fundamental policy thrust of the administration anchored on the legacy of Wealth Creation and Prosperity for all Deltans in line with its electoral promises.
The Secretary to the Delta State Government, Hon. Festus Ovie Agas, stated this during the 2018 edition of the Ministerial Press Briefing held at the Conference Hall of the Ministry of Information, Asaba.
Hon. Agas said that the State Government, despite its lean resources from inception, had engaged over 2,500 unemployed youths and have transformed them into owners of businesses and employers of labour in its job creation scheme.
According to the SSG, “The success of the schemes has attracted commendations and support of many national and international institutions, including the World Bank which became a co-sponsor for the third-cycle of the programme.
“The State Government has redoubled its efforts in engaging Deltans, especially the youths, in meaningful ventures through various skill acquisition programmes such as the Youth Agricultural Entrepreneur Programme (YAGEP) and Skills Training and Entrepreneurial Programme (STEP).”
The Secretary to the State Government revealed that a Department of Monitoring and Mentoring under the Governor’s Office has been established to properly monitor the implementation of these programmes and mentor the beneficiaries.”
On the Delta State Contributory Health Scheme, the SSG stated that it was central to the Okowa led administration’s vision for universal health coverage in the state, saying that its purpose was to improve the availability and access to quality healthcare services for all Deltans.
While saying that over 62 general hospitals, 107 primary health care centres, 10 private hospitals and the federal medical centre, Asaba, had been accredited for the programme, Hon Agas affirmed that due care was taken to ensure fair distribution of the facilities across the state.
He said that while most public officers had enrolled into the scheme, the informal and private sectors were being mobilized to enroll, even as he said, “Annual premium is about seven thousand naira only which may be paid in installment and the state government bear the premium of pregnant women, children under 5-years and widows.
He assured that before the year runs out, physically and mentally challenged persons as well as the elderly above 65 years of age, would be enrolled on a free-premium basis.
The SSG stated that a total of 70 road projects with a length of 263 kilometers had been completed and others were at various stages of progress.
According to him, to curb the effect of the perennial rain flood in Asaba, a massive storm-drain project was underway in the capital territory, saying it would curb the menace of flooding that annually overwhelms vast sections of the territory thereby dislodging traffic, businesses and homes.
He also added that there had been massive development of infrastructure across primary, post-primary and tertiary educational institutions in the state, saying, “This has partly contributed to the successful accreditation of the courses in most of the institutions, including the Law, Engineering and Medical Sciences programmes in Delta State University, Abraka.
On the Asaba International Airport, the Secretary to the State Government said, “In order to further boost the economy of the state, the Asaba Airport has been undergoing a major upgrade especially, the resurfacing of its runway and the provision of some vital technical facilities such as the Voice Communication System (VCS), the Automatic Weather Observation System (AWOS) and Low Level Windshear Alert System (LLWAS).”
He revealed that the airport had been closed to traffic for five weeks with effect from today, April 9, 2018 to enable the completion of the resurfacing of the runway, saying that after the resurfacing, bigger Airplane would land at the Airport.
Hon. Agas also used the occasion to debunk the allegation that due process was not followed in the award of the contract for the building of new Secretariat Complex.
With respect to Pensions, Hon Agas said, “Workers that retired under the Old Pension Scheme are up to date. For the workers that retired under the Contributory scheme, government been releasing N300 million naira monthly towards defraying the commitments to them, while the re-computation of the actuarial value of their past services in line with the current salary scale is at the completion stage.
“Government has been regular in releasing its 10% counterpart contribution towards the claims of serving workers which amounts to approximately N322 million monthly while also ensuring the release of the workers 7½% contribution into their Retirement Savings Accounts.”
“The payment of the accrued claims from the Old Scheme into the new scheme has been a challenge because of the huge outlay of funds required and appealed to the retirees involved with the claim to bear with the state government as work towards resolving the actuarial valuation is on-going to find a way forward towards defraying it.”
Earlier, the Commissioner for Information, Mr. Patrick Ukah, stated that the Okowa led-administration had made exemplary legacy records of policy reforms and landmark achievements in agricultural transformation, fiscal prudence, road rehabilitation and construction.
“It is therefore very important that the information on the programmes, projects and policies of the government is transmitted down to the populace as it is the fundamental right of the people to be properly informed of the activities of their government.” Mr Ukah stated.
He revealed that in order to build on what the State Governor, Senator Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, said during his media chat with journalist last month, the Ministry of Information, as the organ of government responsible for the dissemination of information, had put in place the press briefing to engage the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to take turn to brief the press.