“UNEASY lies the head that wears the crown,” says William Shakespeare in Henry IV Part 2. This quote came to mind when I recall what transpired during the recently held media chat with Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State.
At that media chat, the Journalists came prepared to seek clarifications on thorny issues, especially as it concerns the 2023 general elections. Who is the governor’s candidate? Is it true that due to political interests, the Chief Ibori’s political family is in shambles? Did you borrow N150 Billion to enable you sponsor your candidate for the 2023 general elections? Is it true that you have hijacked the delegates’ list and several other questions.
Trust my colleagues in the Fourth Estate of the Realm, some questions were asked to rattle the governor, some were asked to seek clarifications but at the end of the day, as a man who has nothing to hide, Governor Okowa in all sincerity, answered all the questions to the satisfaction of the journalists. At a stage, the journalists stopped asking questions but, rather, started making suggestions while applauding the governor for the successes recorded in different fields, especially in the execution of projects.
As it concerns the delegates’ list, the governor made it clear that as a democrat, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has laid down procedures on how delegates are to be chosen and as a father of all, he did not delve into who became a delegate including in his local government area. That is how it should be. Governor Okowa is the leader of the party in the state and if he had ventured into producing the list of delegates in his local government area, it would have amounted to him having hand in other local government areas, which could have led to crisis that would have been known by all. We can still vividly recall what happened during Governor James Ibori’s administration where the issue of who controlled the delegates’ list brought to the fore the importance of such list in the electioneering period. In fact, Governor Okowa, has to a very large extent, made it clear both in body language, statements and actions that for you to emerge for any elective position, you have to be popular among the people.
During that media parley, he said, “I have not endorsed any aspirant for any elective positions in the forthcoming general elections in the country. We shall provide a free, fair, transparent and credible party primaries.”
Naturally, as an individual, Governor Okowa should be interested in those who are contesting for elective positions, especially in areas that he will have to cast his votes, but he has chosen the honourable part of allowing the will of the people to prevail and whoever emerges as his party’s flag bearer will automatically, become his choice. He also said during that media chat that Chief Ibori’s political family is intact.
Before the commencement of sales of forms for aspirants seeking elective positions, there has been speculations as to who his choice aspirant would be especially for the governorship position. In some quarters, even till date, some persons did not believe that he did not pick form to contest for any elective position despite some of us crying out that he is too young to retire from active politics.
As it concerns the governorship slot, he made it clear that most of the aspirants had come out openly to use his name to campaign. As the leader of the party, and someone who is doing very well and is acceptable by the people, such is not strange. We have seen persons who came and spent time in their hotel rooms telling their followers on the phone that they were with the governor, despite the fact that they did not in any way get close to Government House. Name dropping is a natural thing in politics especially when mentioning such names could lead to acceptability.
So, for the governorship position, apart from one or two individuals if any, the aspirants are boasting with the name of the governor. Some are clearly using his name for campaign and almost all, will tell you that if elected, they will carry on from where he will stop. This is because of the fact that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s administration has impacted positively on almost all the families in the state.
A look at the governorship aspirants will also, make one to wonder who will campaign without using the governor’s name. Deacon Kingsley Burutu Otuaro, is his Deputy and they have worked closely since 2015 without hitches. Naturally, he will say that he is more qualified to take over from the governor. He is youthful, intelligent, well educated, happily married and he has never hidden the fact that he is a Christian.
Also, the Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborovweri, naturally, cannot run his campaign without boasting of Governor Okowa’s support bearing in mind the good working relationship that exists between the legislative and executive arms of government in the state. As a man who has ensured a stable legislature, effectively managing the elected representatives of the 25 local government areas of the state, if all the law makers throw their weight behind him, and also, using the name of the governor as his backer, he believes that the delegates will queue behind him.
What about Chief Abel Esievo, who is one of the leading technocrats in the race. He is one of the few individuals in the governorship race who successfully put in thirty five years in the civil service and retired as the Auditor-General, Local Government, Delta State. He knows a lot about the civil service and how to deliver dividends of democracy. He is well educated, happily married and a devout Catholic.
One man who has shown his love for egalitarian Delta State is Olorogun Fred Majemite, a renowned lawyer who has also, held positions in government since former Governor James Ibori’s administration. Olorogun Majemite, though, from Delta Central has political tentacles spread across the state as he is accessible, jovial and a good manager of human and material resources. Because he has come a long way with Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, one will not be surprised to also hear that he is enjoying the support of the governor.
A man who seems to have shown determination to occupy the Delta State Government House as landlord since Chief James Onanefe Ibori’s era is Olorogun David Edevbie. Olorogun Edevbie was a Commissioner when Chief Ibori was governor; he served at the Presidency during the administration of Alhaji Musa Yaradua’s administration and was very active in the administration of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa. Of course, it will not be out of place to hear him too campaigning with the name of the governor.
To be in the Senate for five consecutive terms is not an easy task. As such, after five terms in the Senate representing Delta South Senatorial District, it was not unexpected that Senator James Manager, will come out to contest for the governorship seat in the state. He believes that as a former Chairman of the state PDP and served as the Commissioner for Works, Housing and Transport in the state during the administration of Chief James Ibori, it will not be out of place to take over from Governor Ifeanyi Okowa in 2023. As a former colleague of the governor as a Commissioner, it will not be a surprise for him to come out openly to say that he has the backing of the governor.
And one will be tempted to ask, is it possible for the governor to endorse all the aspirants? The answer is succinctly, NO. That was why he has at several fora, made it clear to the aspirants to prepare to slog it out in the primaries.
Throwing it open too has led to some persons saying that the delegates would be influenced financially to cast their votes. This will not be out of place, but Nigeria’s democracy is evolving to the extent that one can be sure that there is no one who is a delegate, especially in Delta State that is not educated. As such, they will be able to discern who will be in a better position to take over from the governor.
In some circles, there is fear that indirect rule may be applied in the emergence of some persons as governor in 2023. This fear was borne out of the revelation in some quarters that some powerful people outside the state are ready to stake up to N100 billion to ensure that their choice aspirant emerges as candidate in the state. One may be tempted to ask what will be the fate of Deltans if such aspirant emerges as candidate? What is the interest of such moneybags in Delta?
The good thing about democracy is that those who lead the people are chosen from among the people unlike in the military era where those who are not familiar with the state were sent to be administrators of the state and at the end of the day, they will see the state as a place to make money without looking at the welfare of the people. But, it will be wrong if the state is sold to the highest bidder in the name of political office. This is why it should not be out of place for Governor Okowa to be interested as a democrat in also, looking at who takes over from him. His administration has done well in all spheres – construction of roads, building of schools including universities, ensuring a healthy state through well-equipped hospitals and a model health insurance scheme for the people, empowering the people through job and wealth creation programmes and above all ensuring a stable polity. There is no doubt that his achievements as a governor has made the state to be so attractive as to having people seeing the state as investment haven, but such should not be taken far as to sponsoring our next governor.
When outsiders are ready to invest billions of naira to ensure that their choice aspirant emerges as Governor of the state, they may go the extra miles for the jugular of Governor Okowa if they believe that the governor may not give room for their mission to be accomplished. This makes it obvious the need for Deltans to pray for the governor.
Governor Okowa is not contesting for any political office, all the governorship aspirants are well known to him. In short, all the governorship aspirants have worked closely with him, but, desperation could make people to be involved in unhealthy activities.
The governor means well for the people and outsiders should not be allowed to dictate what happens in the state; attack on the governor is an attack on all Deltans especially when he has proven without doubt that his hands are clean and at every point in time, told the people about what he is doing.
Many people, will pretend not to know that Governor Okowa’s administration from 2015 has spent more than N100 billion on pensions. Of course, these debts were not incurred by his administration. Again, we may pretend not to know that the administration took a dare to construct flyover at Koka junction, solving the flooding of Asaba and its metropolis including the flooding of Warri and Uvwie, stop heavy spending on rent for government offices with the housing of all Ministries, Agencies and Departments in one secretariat, among several others. It is no longer news that the governor has achieved a 24-hours electricity supply in government offices with the Independent Power Project thereby stopping the purchase of electricity generating sets and diesel by government. So, Mr Prudent Manager Of Resources should be another name for the governor.
If you believe that the blocking of leakages in finances will go down well with everybody, then, you are not realistic. So, when the issue of N150 billion which was approved by the Delta State House of Assembly was raised, the governor gave an analogy which clearly showed that the money would not even be assessed until the Federal Government starts paying back what it is owing the state government from where the money would be raised.
He said that the N150 billion “Bridging Finance” facility was not a fresh loan but an advance from the N270 billion owed the state by the Federal Government, emphasising that the N150 billion had been tied to projects embarked upon by his administration and his predecessor.
He explained that the reason people questioned the approval of the facility by the House of Assembly was due to lack of information, pointing out that his administration would not take any decision that jeopardise the peace, unity and overall transformation of the state.
Ahead of the 2023 general elections, Deltans have never had such a peaceful atmosphere in a year of primary elections. This is largely due to the way the governor is managing the political space and all well-meaning Deltans should support the governor, pray for him to succeed.
Deltans should be watchful too to ensure that outsiders, those who do not have the interest of the state at heart will not come and truncate the peace and unity we are presently enjoying in the state. Expectedly, politics in Delta has always been PDP vs PDP because whoever emerges as candidate of the party will naturally, become the winner in the general elections based on previous antecedents. So, the campaign should continue but like I said earlier, since Governor Okowa is not contesting for any position, those who are contesting for positions or their supporters should stop throwing stones at him bearing in mind the fact that he had defeated some of them in previous elections as an individual. Also, should Governor Okowa do what former Governor James Ibori and former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan’s administrations did in the emergence of some candidates of the party, in the past, there is no way that anyone who is against his choice aspirant will win in the elections.