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Fighting Poverty with Big Heart
By Roland Ogbonnaya

Madam Agnes Emeni is a mother of five. She lives with her children and fisherman-husband, Agbede around Ogbejor area of Warri, Delta State. She sells vegetables and dry fish in one of the markets in the area. Before now she bought her wares in small quantities from other traders who in turn buy in whole sale from the rural communities.
Until recently it has been her dream to expand her business and like others cross the river and into the rural communities and buy her wares in large quantities. Despite her dream and effort, funds remained a hindrance.

She was almost giving up the dream when the Delta State Government recognized the importance of empowering the rural people, especially women to be economically relevant by establishing a micro-finance scheme. The micro-finance scheme introduced by the Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan Administration has not only empowered women like Madam Emeni, it has helped in alleviating poverty in many parts of the state.
In terms of economic empowerment of the human capital, the state micro credit program has turned out to be one of the rare achievements so far recorded within the last one year. The program which was deployed in partnership with the Bank of Industry (BoI) provides seed capital to carefully selected cooperative societies for business growth and expansion in a manner that grooms micro businesses towards making them attain the status of small and medium scale enterprises.
According to the state government, the scheme is not a stop-gap program; it is a long term scheme that is designed to fight poverty to a standstill. It was also in line with this that Uduaghan introduced the state’s integrated development program popularly referred to as IDP in and outside the state. The State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Oma Djeba said the governor conceived the IDP as an integrated and totally holistic development strategy to transform Delta State into a global investment destination for both potential and real investors from various parts of the world, especially China and countries within European Union (EU), Asia and the Pacific region and of course, north America.
“It is significant to stress that Uduaghan and his team are working earnestly and tirelessly to build a greater Delta that would inevitably be the pride of our generation and generations unborn. The governor has broken the imaginary wall of distance through a number of laudable initiatives that have left the people overwhelmed with joy, happiness and a pervasive feeling of satisfaction,” the commissioner said.
One of the measures, according to Djeba is the periodic town hall meetings where the governor engages the people in exchange of perspectives, dialogue and public communication. By opening up and democratizing the governance process in the state, the meetings thus give the average Deltan the feeling of belonging and contributing to governance. “This has expectedly worked like miracles, as the old and very ancient walls of divide have crumbled and given way to the new thinking, the Uduaghan renaissance,” he said.
The Governor underscored this himself recently when he addressed a world press conference in Asaba, the state capital to mark his one year in office. “On May 29, 2007 when the baton of leadership in Delta State was handed over to me after receiving the mandate of the people in the April election, I set out immediately to build a public-private sector partnership that would draw from the rich economies of the industrialized world.
“We are committed to a total transformation of Delta State to an enviable industrial and investment destination within the shortest possible time. To this end, the IDP has been carefully put together as our own empowerment initiative that would propel development and accelerate the pace of capital growth both in human and material terms. The whole idea is to develop and jump-start Delta State into a global investment hub,” Uduaghan further explained. As he marks his one year in office the governor said this year, his administration would deepen this whole process so that this generation and generations yet unborn would be earnestly proud of being Deltans.
“We are determined to build on the telling and manifest achievements we have recorded within the last seven months in the area of peace and security, human capital  and infrastructure development, which in brief, represents my administration’s three point agenda,” Uduaghan said.
The medical doctor and administrator knows that he will not go far in delivering the dividend of democracy without peace and security in the state. As a result, he said the prevailing peace and security has invariably thrown up enabling environment for optimal human capital development and building of a vibrant infrastructural platform across Delta. “In less than 48 hours after coming on board, I constituted and inaugurated the Inland Waterways Committee and it is to the credit of this proactive step that Delta State has witnessed relative and prevailing peace. Apart from this I have also had to be directly involved in troubleshooting and peace-building initiatives,” he stressed.
Uduaghan further stated that the empowerment of the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC) by the government by dedicating 50 per cent of derivation revenue accruing to the state to the commission is another significant factor that contributes largely to the relative peace being enjoyed in the oil bearing communities. “We have also made significant strides in other areas of my administration’s three point agenda. Under the human capital development, health care and economic empowerment of the citizens of the state have taken a pride of place,” he said.
Last November, for example, the state launched the free maternal health care program. The program which was launched by the former Minister of Health, Dr. Adenike Grange at the Ughelli General Hospital was to offer good free maternal health services to women and children. In addition to this, a lot of work has been done in education by reopening of shut schools and providing them with equipment and furniture. Teachers’ welfare has also been paramount to the administration.
The Uduaghan Administration has also made its mark in other infrastructural development and this began very early the life of the government when within the 100 days in office it was able to construct four ultra-modern markets in Abavo, Patani, Ekwuoma and Mosogor. The road dualisation project in Jakpa in Uvwie local government area is one of several ongoing projects in the state.  The Asaba and Warri Street light and beautification are still a project that many visitors and indigenes still marvel at. These projects have dramatically transformed night life and the aesthetics of both cities.
Interestingly, in recognition of the prime position of a good infrastructure base as one of the most compelling factors of growth in society, the Uduaghan Administration is steadily building on the gains of the past, while quickly opening up new ones in the determined effort to transform Delta State into one of the fastest growing states. “The critical role of first class infrastructure in jump-starting real growth cannot be over-emphasized. This explains why the governor is working tirelessly to build a super infrastructure base which would be the pride of people of the state,” the information commissioner stressed.