By Olise Onwusando
Among the gubernatorial candidates with an identifiable manifesto in Delta State is Dr. Goodnews Agbi, the governorship standard bearer of the New Nigeria People’s Party(NNPP). While his emergence as the party’s candidate elicited considerable acclaim in the political circle on account of his antecedents as truth and justice crusader, Dr. Agbi’s eventual release of his DEAL Agenda encapsulating his envisioned path of governance has greatly burnished his aspiration.
As an acronym, a singular letter is embedded with an item which joined with others becomes organic. ‘D’ stands for develop every sector of the state through enhanced security, beneficial educational reforms, improved healthcare delivery and infrastructure provision devoid of favour to any ethnicity or senatorial district. ‘E’ refers to employment of Deltans into government agencies and empowerment of people with skill and subsequent provision of low-interest loan to start their own businesses. ‘A’ is to aggregate and explore agricultural resources which abound in the state with a view to assisting genuine farmers with soft loans, inputs, and seedlings to ensure greater yield needed for food security. The ‘L’ is meant to”leapfrog Delta State into new frontiers relevant to science and technology aimed at driving industrial development and growth”.
The DEAL manifesto illuminates a five-point agenda that is well-thought-out to enrich Delta State with a governance model centred on formulation of policies and programmes to meet the aspirations and yearnings of the people in practical and beneficial ways. It’s a shift from the past agenda of the previous administrations in the state, which seemed relatively beautiful in conception but unarguably dismal in delivery on promises.
An interrogation of the DEAL Agenda conveys Dr. Agbi’s deep knowledge of issues and problems which require insightful solutions to recreate and build a new Delta State from May 29, 2023. Of course, his choice of security, infrastructure, healthcare delivery, education, and viable agricultural pursuit as key areas is understandable. Addressing the aforementioned areas one by one and comprehensively will essentially redirect the trajectory of Delta State, which after thirty-one years of existence, is still grappling with basic issues coterminous with a fledging entity.
For instance, under the security sub-head, Dr. Agbi is keen on giving a boost to security of lives and property across the state. Part of his ideas is to leverage the expected review of the constitution empowering sub-national governments to establish a para-military agency that will be strong enough to counter threats to lives and property and protect farmers in the rural areas from the rampaging armed herders. An excerpt from the document states that “our vision is to have a secure state which guarantees unfettered movement of people in pursuit of legitimate businesses, especially farming activities in the rural areas”.
A further perusal of the document clearly expresses the course of action the NNPP candidate will pursue in addressing infrastructure needs of the state. His agenda is not to construct new road infrastructure in the first year but would rather assess the state of the roads and thereafter embark on reconstructing and rehabilitating failed roads whether they are owned by state or federal government. “Our goal is to build a network of quality roads and maintain same irrespective of ownership by state or federal government through transparent awards to contractors with track records of quality job delivery”, the document states.
As regards healthcare delivery, the manifesto is emphatic on democratising health facilities such as cottage hospitals within a distance of 20 kilometres, regular recruitment of health personnel and upgrade of secondary and tertiary health institutions to effectively serve as referral centres. The manifesto also seeks to promote the health of mother from pregnancy to delivery of the child until he is five years old.
The manifesto is explicit on the educational reforms to be pursued and that include increase of budgetary allocation to 10 per cent in the first year and additional increase of two per cent in subsequent years. According to the document, “Having recognised education as pivotal to the development of Delta State, we will create an ambience that is conducive to growth at all levels by building infrastructure, human capacity, boost Information and Communication Technology(ICT) in primary and secondary schools and ensure that fees being paid at tertiary institutions are affordable by students of Delta State origin”.
The agricultural aspect specifically identifies proactive steps to regenerate production of food crops such as cassava, rice and yam and to stimulate cultivation of palm plantation in order to optimally create new plantations sites in places other than Nsukwa and Ajagbodudu”.
From all indications, the DEAL Agenda of Dr. Agbi is integral to his gubernatorial quest and compared with the agenda of other candidates, the former towers in creativity and richness in ideation and implementation to deliver good governance which has eluded Delta State since its creation in 1991.
Onwusando, journalist and public affairs analyst, is based in Asaba, Delta State capital.