The Delta SEEFOR Project, which came on stream in the state in 2013 has been consistently and tremendously impacting on several lives in Delta State in multifaceted areas in tandem with its core objective of enhancing opportunities for employment and access to socio-economic services while improving the public expenditure management systems in the participating states of Niger Delta such as Bayelsa, Delta, Edo and Rivers.
In partnership with the World Bank and European Union, the State Government under the present administration of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, through the SEEFOR intervention have engaged over 8,455 youths to work in the small public works component of SEEFOR for a period of 12 months interval thereafter, sent to the Sate Technical Colleges and Vocational Centres to acquire one form of skill/vocation or the other and presentation of starter-packs to SEEFOR trainees to commence their businesses with a view to becoming entrepreneurs and thus contribute their quota to the economic base of the state.
To this end, a total of 101 beneficiaries have already benefited from starter-packs from the laudable initiative of SEEFOR intervention with many more to benefit in few weeks from now. In realization of the multiplier effects of technical and vocational education, especially as a veritable tool for driving the economy of any nation, the Delta SEEFOR project as mandated by the funding partners-World Bank and European Union have given all TVET institutions in the state a face-lift, aimed at improving the learning environment and provision of modern learning equipment among others, and today the State owned six Technical Colleges and three Vocational Centres can compete favourably with their counterparts in any part of the world. The SEEFOR intervention in this regard, in addition to the uncommon passion and resources being invested in the sector by the State Governor, Senator (Dr.) Ifeanyi Okowa towards re-positioning technical education in the state.
Other achievements of the SEEFOR project in the Technical Colleges and vocational centre include the sponsorship and eventual accreditation of all the courses in the six Technical Colleges by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), Kaduna, and sponsorship of three weeks training of Assessors and verifies by NBTE in Lagos as part of the fulfillment for the accreditation of trade courses in vocational centres.
In the area of public works, a total of 254 projects have been executed by the SEEFOR project across the state. Out of this statistics, 94 projects are in the areas of road maintenance while 160 projects were achieved in the waste collection. For the roads maintenance, the project includes construction, either roads or drains, de-silting and erosion vegetation among others.
Again, SEEFOR project had recorded giant strides in the CDD social sub component as 122 micro-projects executed with 96 out of the number already completed and in use by the benefitted communities. These micro-projects range from water supply, construction of modern market, classroom blocks, multi-purpose halls, science laboratory and equipment among others.
To ascertain the level of implementation of the SEEFOR project and its achievements in Delta State, a cracked team of officials from the Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning and National Project Coordinating Unit of the World Bank SEEFOR project visited the state on a two-day advocacy. During the visit, a stakeholders interactive session with participants from the Activities Executing Agencies(AEAs) and members of the SEEFOR Steering Committee as well as Delta SEEFOR staff at the instance of the Delta State Commissioner for Economic Planning, Dr. Kingsley Emu. The officials were later taken on a guided tour to some SEEFOR sponsored roads projects in Asaba, Ekuma-Abavo and Owanta-Aliosimi, State Skill Acquisition Centre, Asaba, SIFMIS project , CDD-social water and market micro projects in Onitcha-Uku and Igbodo communities and Agbor Technical College. All project and facilities in the communities and TVET institutions were achieved through SEEFOR intervention.
Considering the overwhelming impacts of the SEEFOR project in all the four implementing states, the officials avail themselves of the engagement with the critical stakeholders to harp on sustainability of the project so that those who are yet to benefit through the intervention would benefit. Against this backdrop, the State Commissioner for Economic Planning, Dr. Kingsley Emu stated that as part of deliberate strategies to ensure the sustainability, the Okowa-led administration would mainstream the SEEFOR development template into its budget.
The commissioner, who lauded the World Bank, and the European Union for their partnership with the State Government in driving development in the state, maintained that the SEEFOR programme was in consonance with the SMART agenda of Delta State Government, anchored on job creation through empowerment of the teeming jobless youths.
While acknowledging the unequaled achievements of the immediate past Project Coordinator, Delta SEEFOR Project, Mr. Benson Ojoko under whose watch, Delta SEEFOR was rated high and very successful by the funding partners and thanked him for bringing his wealth of experience to bear within the period he was under the saddle. Dr. Emu, however, pledged his support for the new Project Coordinator, Mr. Frank Apokwu and described him as a seasoned technocrat in administrator but advised him to always call on the former Project Coordinator, Mr. Benson Ojoko to put him through in some areas of the job and expressed optimism that Mr. Frank Apokwu would consolidate on the gains recorded Mr. Benson Ojoko. Dr. Emu particularly stressed the need to always follow World Bank procedures.
In his remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Abuja, Mr. Samson Odewala, who is the leader of the team urged Delta State Government to fashion out critical measures of ensuring the sustainability of the SEEFOR programme in the state, noting that the programme would exit in 2019. Mr. Odewala maintained that the Delta SEEFOR project was rated the best implementing state in the league of benefiting states in Nigeria. He said they were in the state to assess the level of the implementation of SEEFOR Project in the state so as to evaluate the reality of what was being read on newspapers concerning the achievements of Delta SEEFOR and applauded the SEEFOR team in the state led by the former Project Coordinator, Mr. Benson Ojoko for the uncommon achievements, even as he enjoined the new Project Coordinator, Mr. Frank Apokwu to brace up the challenge of recording more successes. He recommended private sector participation as one of the ways with which to ensure that the project was sustained in order for more communities to benefit from the initiative.
Speaking in an interview with newsmen, the National Project Coordinator, SEEFOR Project, Mr. Tunde Lawal said ‘’ We have seen that Delta State Government has since surpassed the laid down target in all the components of this intervention programme and it is obvious that beneficiaries in all the communities are asking for more’’ . While saying that Delta SEEFOR was second to none, Mr. Lawal also stressed the need for sustainability of the programme, even as the Administrator of Delta State Skill Acquisition Centre, Mrs. Peace Okonye and the Principal, Agbor Technical College, Mr. Owabor Jude, who conducted the officials round the facilities procured through SEEFOR intervention in their institutions, noted that since the SEEFOR intervention, the institutions had witnessed tremendous increase in the students enrolment figures especially in skill acquisition.
For his part, the immediate past Project Coordinator, Delta SEEFOR Project, Mr. Benson Ojoko who highlighted the achievements in different components including the small public works where about 254 projects both in roads maintenance and waste collection, CDD social where 122 micro-projects were achieved with 96 already completed and in use, success in the FADAMA project, the induction of 745 youths sponsored by the SEEFOR project on the current batch of the YGEP and STEP programme, the accreditation of six state owned Technical Colleges and the sponsorship of the training of 29 Assessors to NBTE as step to accredit the three state Vocational Centres, improvement of the learning environment in all the TVET institutions, employment of 8,455 beneficiaries as well as presentation of starter-packs to SEEFOR trainees in TVET institutions among others among others, thanked World Bank and European Union for admitting Delta state as one of the benefiting states of the SEEFOR project.
The Delta State Commissioner for Economic Planning, Dr. Kingsley Emu, flanked by his right hand side, the Permanent Secretary in his Ministry, Mr. Ben Igo and to his left the Permanent Secretary,Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Mr. Samson Odewala listening to the National Project Coordinator, SEEFOR, Mr. Tunde Lawal during a courtesy call on the commissioner
The State Commissioner for Economic Planning, Dr. Kingsley Emu, flanked by his right hand side, the Permanent Secretary in his ministry, Mr. Ben Igo, the Permanent Secretary, Fed. Ministry of Budget and National Planning, the immediate past Project Coordinator of Delta SEEFOR, Mr. Benson Ojoko and the the new Project Coordinator, Mr. Frank Apokwu during an inspection visit to one of the roads projects in Asaba