REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR, DR IFEANYI OKOWA, GOVERNOR OF DELTA STATE, AT THE NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COUNCIL MEETING OF THE NATIONAL UNION OF CIVIL ENGINEERING CONSTRUCTION, FURNITURE AND WOOD WORKERS, ON THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 01, 2016, AT GRAND HOTEL, ASABA.
First, let me welcome you to Asaba, the Capital of Delta State. For those of you who may be visiting the State for the first time, I encourage you to take time out to experience our unique cultural heritage and savour the warmth and hospitality of our people.
- The topic for today’s discourse, Infrastructure and Policy Development: Panacea for Economic Growth, is very timely and appropriate. A good economy is built on the ability of the government to improve the welfare of the people by providing basic infrastructure, public amenities and social services. The level of infrastructure in any society has a direct correlation with national development; it is a good indicator of its economic growth and, when the infrastructure is sophisticated in nature, it earns the country a respectable status in the comity of nations.
- It is for this reason that governments all over the world devote considerable time, energy and resources to develop their infrastructure and create the enabling environment conducive to the success of businesses in the new economy. Infrastructure development induces foreign direct investment, creates boundless opportunities for employment generation, boosts tourism, and engenders growth in industry and commerce by facilitating free movement of goods from production centres to marketing outlets.
- The Emirate of Dubai is a contemporary model of how infrastructural development can easily fast-track a country’s economic growth. The Emirate owes its rise to a global financial powerhouse in about three decades, to the huge drive in construction, building and trade embarked upon by successive administrations.
- It is common knowledge that some of the world’s most sophisticated infrastructure, including modern office and residential complexes, are located in Dubai. Burj Khalifa (world’s tallest building), Dubai Mall (second largest mall in the world), and Dubai International Airport (world’s busiest airport by international passenger traffic), are some of the ultra-modern architecture that have given the Emirate an iconic status. The resultant increase in tourism, investment and consumer culture has turned Dubai into a world economic power.
- Regrettably, the same cannot be said of Nigeria. The level of infrastructure development in our country has remained inconsistent with our growth aspirations; the situation is at best, abysmal, and at worst, decadent. Everywhere you turn in our country there is an overwhelming evidence of infrastructure decay with the attendant negative consequences on the economy. In most cases, our airports, roads, railways, hospitals, stadia, public buildings, sea ports, hotels, electricity supply, telephone and waste disposal systems fall well below the standard of the developed economies of the world.
- The infrastructure deficit is, in my considered view, as a result of the absence of a clear, coherent, and consistent public policy on infrastructure development. This problem has to be addressed urgently and forcefully, as one of the measures we must take to revive the ailing economy. It all begins with a vision of love and care for the country, and the welfare of its citizens by leaders at all levels.
- Indeed, For Nigeria to become a global economic force, we need to demonstrate resolve and determination, at both federal and state levels, to upgrade and modernise our infrastructure. We must not just try to play catch-up with the developed economies of the world, but move at a faster pace than they are moving, because they are not resting on their oars.
- This challenge we must embrace if the vision 20:20:20 is to become reality. If Dubai can be transformed into a foremost financial and business centre in its relatively short history, there is no reason why Nigeria with its immense natural and human resources cannot do the same within the shortest possible time.
- In Delta State, one of the cardinal programmes of our administration is urban renewal through massive infrastructure development. So far, major landmark projects that have been initiated by this administration include the
- In concluding, l wish to point out that policy formulation in infrastructure development is constantly evolving. Therefore, your Union must organise itself in such a way that it is able to render necessary input in the policy formulation process through expert advice.
- Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, your Union needs to urgently address the issue of poor workmanship that is bedevilling the construction and building industry. The quality of work has, no doubt, improved considerably, but it is also true that huge investments in the sector have been seriously undermined though sub-standard jobs, unethical conduct and sharp practices by some bad eggs in the industry.
- I, therefore, urge you to push for appropriate legislation that will regulate the training, licensing, hiring and compensation of workers in the construction and building industry. That is the way to fish out the bad eggs, and enthrone standard and excellence in the industry. The construction and building industry is so strategic that it cannot be left to every Tom, Dick and Harry.
- As more and more multinationals seek ways to globalise their operations by establishing manufacturing outlets abroad, they will require competent labour in their host countries. I, therefore, urge you to seek ways to update and upgrade the knowledge and skills of your members on a continual basis.
- Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, it is on this note that I now declare this meeting open, and wish you fruitful deliberations.
- I thank you for your time and attention.
- God bless you.
Office of the Governor