In what could be decscribed as an extraordinary economic State Executive Council (EXCO) meeting, the Delta State Government has taken far-reaching decisions meant to shore-up the economic and social fortunes of the state in a post-COVID-19 era.
This is coming on the heels of the 667 new cases of COVID-19 recorded nationwide yesterday, taking the tally to 19,147, with 6581 discharged and 487 deaths.
Accordingly, Delta State has unfolded plans to establish a modular refinery in Okpai, Ndokwa East Local Government Area of the state as well as commence work at an agro-industrial park in the state in adjoining Kwale, Ndokwa West Local Government Area.
Delta State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, while briefing newsmen on the outcome of this week’s state EXCO meeting presided over by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa in Asaba, revealed that the government also “appointed a committee to assess the state of Africa Timber and Plywood (AT&P) Sapele and determine how the land it is occupying could be effectively utilised for other economic ventures and job creation.”
Aniagwu, who was joined at the post-EXCO briefing by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Olisa Ifeajika, also disclosed that a review of the Delta State 2020 Budget would soon be ready for onward submission to the Delta State House of Assembly owing to the drastic dip in expected revenue from oil because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Information Commissioner noted that Governor Okowa remained passionate about rekindling the state’s economy in the ‘Greater Delta’ spirit through programmes and schemes that would get more Deltans positively engaged and significantly shake off the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Aniagwu said that the aforementioned projects would create numerous jobs even at their construction stages and a good number of youths engaged as the state government would also be partnering the private sector to train some youths on how to construct telecommunication towers, for instance, as “it’s the global economic trend and we don’t want the world to leave us behind.” Aniagwu said, “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, what we had today was more of an economic EXCO meeting as it was basically on how to re-jig the economy of the state to get more of our people engaged now and after the COVID-19.
“Most of us are aware of the agro-industrial Park at Aboh-Ogwashi. EXCO approved that government should explore the window provided by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Agriculture Loan to see that the industrial park, which will be private sector-driven, comes on stream. “Delta is known for its petrochemicals and EXCO believes that it is high time we participated in that sector.
So, we are investing in a modular refinery to be established at Okpai, Ndokwa East Local Government Area.
“The modular refinery will generate revenue for the state and create job opportunities for our people.
“Also, EXCO examined the AT&P that occupies a vast area in Sapele; and, we are looking at how to auction some of the machinery and look at how to utilise that land to help more people to be employed.
“We also looked at a proposal by a company to produce towers for the telecom sector and the EXCO approved investment in the tower production plant to be sited at Issele-Uku.
“All that I have mentioned as approved by Exco are value-driven projects that will be of immense benefit to our people.”
He advised that people should take Covid-19 serious by going for medical checks once they had any symptom of the ailment.
He expressed worry that the number of COVID-19 cases was on the rise in the state and the country in general, urging the people to take responsibility by obeying laid down health protocols instead of living in self-denial about the disease.
“We don’t want to hear about mysterious deaths in our state; we advise Deltans to go for testing so that we can get out of the curve. There is nothing to be afraid of or run away from because the government is committed to ensuring that the state is out of the spike and safe for everybody”, Aniagwu said.