Engineer Victor Oritsetimeyin Wood is the Executive Director, Directorate of Planning , Research and Statistics (DPRS) in DESOPADEC, a directorate he describes as the engine room of the Commission.

In this interview with the duo of Larry Mogbeyiteren and Ibru Nejuvie in his office, he brought his vast private sector background to bear in his new assignment. 

DESOPADEC TODAY: What is the role of the Directorate of Planning, Research and Statistics (DPRS) in DESOPADEC?

In a nutshell, I see the Directorate of Planning, Research and Statistics as the engine room of DESOPADEC. I will start from

the answer and go back to the question. If the brain box of an engine is not functioning properly the engine cannot work properly. That is the position of DPRS in DESOPADEC and that is my idea and vision for the

Directorate. Going forward, I want to elevate the directorate to be recognized as such so that whatever is t h e f i n i s h e d p r o d u c t f r o m DESOPADEC can be linked to the packaging from the Directorate. Our mission is to add value linked to the vision and mission of the Commission.

As we know, garbage in garbage out. Ensuring that inputs are well p a c ka g e d fo r D E S O PA D E C i s essentially DPRS function. I want to ensure that my staff understand this mission and work in with this direction.

DESOPADEC TODAY: How do you assess the importance of data and statistics in the development of projects. in DESOPADEC?

If I understand the role clearly without even delving into details, statistics is about collation and analysis of data. If you don't have information you cannot

work or plan. You want to build ten schools for instance, how did you arrive at that decision? How did you arrive at the decision that there is a shortfall you must fill in this area? You need information by way of survey to asses the need of the area. So, that is one aspect in terms of planning for action.

Then, the other aspect is keeping records. For instance, if you say you want to improve literacy, you must know where you stand in percentage literacy rate in an environment. If the percentage of literacy is 40% for instance, you can then set an improvement target of say, 60% and put actions in place to achieve that. So, if I don't have that foundation or information, I cannot do the work. Statistics is essential for planning. Once your data are well managed action planning becomes easy. 

DESOPADEC TODAY: In your own assessment what are the challenges f a c i n g p l a n n i n g i n t h e Commission?

I am still new in the system and trying to Aunderstand the challenges we face. But to be honest with you, there is no planning in the real sense of the word. Five years ago did we have short, medium and long terms plans in the Commission to guide our intervention actions?

Forinstance, how did we decide on how many classrooms or roads to build? Since government funding is based on annual cycle, what are we projecting for 2016 and beyond? I am sure if you ask anybody in this Commission they probably don't know. Budgets should be driving activities but it is the other way round in DESOPADEC

DESOPADEC TODAY: Could this paucity of planning be ascribed to lack of capable hands?

I wouldn't know for now because I am still doing the assessment. But I can assure you that by the time I complete the assessment we will place round pegs in round holes to rev the engine for onward movement. We need people who will work and apply intellectual power to do their work. It is not just coming to the office.

DESOPADEC TODAY: How would you influence a total re-engineering of the workforce to achieve efficiency at the Board level?

Before I take certain actions I like doing thorough assessment. I am a very methodical person. I like to study, understand and then take action. When I say DPRS is the engine room of DESOPADEC, how many people feel that way in DESOPADEC and even within the directorate? So, the first thing is to study what is on ground and figure out gaps. Studying what is on ground means having an overview of what various sections should be doing and what their deliverables are or should be. Once you are able to discern that, you begin to look at the people doing the work. Do the people have the capacity to deliver at that level?

That is when you know whether you have round pegs in round holes. You give them assignments and if they cannot meet up with the vision of a directorate recognized as engine room of the Commission, you begin to develop-the profile of the people you want to work with.

For me, I am not a politician by vocation. I am here to serve Delta State in a professional capacity. If you want to work with me, you should demonstrate professionalism before politics.

Like when I met with my team recently I asked them, "who do you think we are?" as Jesus Christ will ask. They said, "we are this and that.". They gave several answers.

One of them actually said, "we are the engine room of DESOPADEC". That answer struck a chord and was perfect. But I asked them, "are you demonstrating that to the

people?" And the answer from all was a clear No. And I asked why? The chorus was that the current set-up in the commission does not foster such demonstration. My

duty now is to change that and create the enabling environment.

So, once we are able to engender that mentality in the Directorate, when you tell someone you cannot fit in, he or she knows why. If there are capable hands elsewhere in the Commission we will bring them on board to serve the purpose of our vision.

DESOPADEC TODAY: Coming from the private sector, how will your experience impact on DESOPADEC?

I want to be blinded to politics even though you cannot completely ignore it. When I talk to people I usually say there several fault lines.within the Commission - mostly political and ethnic fault lines. As much as possible I want to operate above those lines. I am a Drilling Engineer. When youare drilling an oil or gas well, if you drill to

or across a fault line you always struggle. As a rule, you always try to avoid fault lines if you want to drill very good well.

So, I am applying the same mentality to avoid the fault lines so that I will be able to operate with an unbiased mind just as we do in the private sector. If you are given targets you deliver. At the end of the year your appraisal or promotion is not based on whether you are Itsekiri or Ijaw or APC or POP. That is the mentality I want to engender here. At the beginning the year, I will sit with my Heads of Units and based on plans and targets set and agree their work actions and targets and on a quarterly basis I will be reviewing those targets. We will assess how well have we have fared and if we have not fared well, figure out the reasons and seek to correct or improve on them.

DESOPADEC TODAY: How do you intend to strengthen the internal process of your directorate to enhance efficiency?

We have almost addressed some of that already. Where I come from, it is all about processes and procedures , independent of individuals . For example , if DESOPADEC is not doing well or a car is not doing well, you know something is wrong. The engine is the powerhouse of the car. Sometimes the engine is fine but other parts may not be fine. All parts have a role to play. For me, we are the engine and I need to ensure that there are systems and processes in place for the engine to deliver the horse power that is expected of it. Where I am coming from, there are clear processes and procedures aka due process. I know there are political pressures but under my watch I will do my best to make sure that I avoid the fault lines and establish basic processes and procedures where they don't already exist, that will guide our activities. I expect people to understand that the man is not being wicked uncooperative, but just trying to do things the way they should be done.

Where processes are non-existent, we will try to put them in place. For example, where I worked before (Shell), apart from holding technical positions, I was Head of contracts for about five years handling all kinds of contracts. So, I know how contracts are managed and processed but that is not exactly the case in DESOPADEC. For example, currently, the only qualification a contractor is required to have before bidding for a hundred million naira contract ispayment of tender fee corresponding to a hundred million naira. That means anybody from the street who can pay tender fee corresponding to any category can potentially get a contract in D E S O PA D E C . W h e t h e r t h e contractor has built a house before or even has an office is irrelevant.

Yet we wonder why our projects are failing? I know in tendering process we have initial pre-qualification.

Pre- qualification means finding out if you have the capacity to do the job in terms of your track records? That is the first stage where we have to screen people who are qualified with track record. Then you can now ask for office and financial standing and all the rest. The next is technical requirement. For example, this road you want to build, have you built a road before? Are you established to build a road? Do you have what it takes to design a road? At the end of the day you screen only those who are capable and ask them to quote their Bill of Quantity (BOQ). At the end of the day, the tendering is done and contracts are awarded based on sound criteria. That is the way it is done in the private sector. Things like that will be tough to implement here but there are ways around it. Where I worked before we promote local content.

Sometimes, when the local contractor does not have the capacity, we encourage them to partner with major contractors. For example, if we want to groom a future Julius Berger, we advice a local contractor who is keen to go enter a partnership agreement with Julius Berger and come back to us to tie the knots of the partnership to enable us award them the contract. We will then ensure that as part of the agreement, some scope the local contractor can handle are identified and reserved for it.

We then compel Julius Berger to reserve those aspects for you and also commit to train the local contractor on those aspects where it lacks capacity. At the end of the day, everybody is happy. 


Last modified on Friday, 27 May 2016 14:33

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