AN ADDRESS BY CHIEF JOB CREATION OFFICER, PROF. ERIC EBOH, ON THE OCCASION OF HIS EXCELLENCY, THE GOVERNOR’S FLAG-OFF OF THE VALIDATION WORKSHOP FOR THE DELTA STATE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PLAN, 3RD MARCH 2016, UNITY HALL, ASABA. Protocols……….. I am highly honoured and privileged to give an overview of the draft policy document (referred to as the Delta State Economic Development Plan, 2016-2019) and to explain the modalities and expected outcomes of this validation workshop. The importance of an official policy document in the form of an economic development plan is self-evident in the life and times of any government. In addition to its traditional value as the state government’s policy roadmap and prioritization blueprint, the plan document serves as a mechanism for resource planning, a tool for public communication as well as a vehicle for stakeholder buy-in and investment mobilization. In fact, it is the current administration’s policy biography by which it will be publicly mirrored and referenced today, tomorrow and in the annals of posterity. With this consideration in mind, the process of developing an official policy document was kick-started by HE through the formation of a Technical Working Group (TWG), early in the life of the administration. It is common knowledge that the current administration set exemplary records in swiftly commencing the implementation of significant policy reforms and people-oriented programs upon assumption of office. But, it was realized that there was yet no single formal reference document that encapsulates the development goals, sectoral priorities, policy thrusts and implementation strategies of the administration. Besides, an official policy document is justified, in our case, by the necessity and legitimacy of translating the S.M.A.R.T Agenda into concrete policy reforms, measurable development outcomes and performance indicators. The process of preparing the policy document has involved the participation of MDAs through the submission of policy memoranda, the use of a variety of source literature including the SMART Agenda document, report of the transition committee and various official speeches and proclamations by His Excellency as well as policy directions espoused in EXCO Memos. It is therefore pleasing to note that today, the state government has a draft Economic Development Plan that is founded on the S.M.A.R.T Agenda. We are now at a critical juncture in the process of having an economic development plan, that is, the stage of validation. True ownership and buy-in requires that the policy document be reviewed and validated by the policy designers and implementers across state government MDAs. Hence, this validation workshop is an essential and indispensable phase of the entire process. During this workshop, MDAs, represented by yourselves that are gathered here, will critically examine the respective chapters of the draft economic development plan to ensure that the content (including assumptions, projections, facts and figures) are correct, adequate and realistic. To make the review process effective, every chapter in the draft document has been assigned to the relevant MDAs or group of MDAs for examination. In reviewing the draft document, it is also imperative for MDAs to verify that the policy thrusts, implementation strategies and projects are well aligned with the S.M.A.R.T Agenda which is akin to a “social contract” between the current administration and the people of Delta State. Given that this validation exercise is the last feedback stage of the policy development process prior to publication, I would like to urge MDAs, particularly those officials who are leading the various review groups, to give quality attention to scrutinizing the content and reverting with suggested revisions. All the inputs and amendments contributed by MDAs will be utilized for producing a revised and improved version of the plan document. It is expected that the final document will be presented to the State Executive Council for adoption as the Delta State Economic Development Plan. Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen, you would agree with me that this validation workshop is crucially important for the state government and for all Deltans. Let us therefore make it a huge success. Thank you for your kind attention.