Never in the history of Delta State election has attention been fixated on it like the 2015 general election. Some political scholars attribute it to the growing awareness brought about by the emergence of the social media, where information is easily passed wherever one is.
That the 2015 election in Delta State will one day be a project topic for political and media students is not in doubt. It saw dark horses become super heroes overnight. Anyone who was told in 2013 that a permanent secretary like Sir Anthony Chuks Obuh will one day cause nightmare to seasoned politicians will term it a joke of the decade, but it did happen. Like a thunderbolt, he struck every quarter, as his news spread like wild fire, thanks to his social media team led by Fred Latimore and Ebitimi Tugbene who never slept but dedicated their time to shake the new media sector.
Undaunted as ever, the leading candidate, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa put his hope on God to see him through. For every time I see him, he looked unruffled by the events happening, smiling and looking confident. It was a week of attack and counter attack in the social media, an era where what was thought to be secret began to get exposed and it was to continue until December 8th 2013, when he finally emerged as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate.
Credit I have always said must be given to the State Governor, Dr Emmanuel Ewetan Uduaghan fondly called Asamaigor, who allowed a level playing field for all the candidates. Argue this or not, he could have used his might as a sitting governor to frustrate the outcome of the primaries; used all state apparatus and finance to bulldoze his way into power and the heavens would not have fallen but for the love of a peaceful Delta and democracy, he allowed the will of God and the delegates to prevail. Yes, he takes the credit while God takes the glory.
As a political commentator and public affairs analyst who have studied the political terrain of Delta State especially in the last three years, no one stands shoulder tall with Okowa in terms of political experience, even in the South South and Northern Nigeria. He began from the very low cadre of politics, being a Councillor to a Local Government Secretary. It seems as if he was born to be a politician but went to school to read medicine in order to understand that in politics, human lives has value and thus must not engage in violence just to have his way.
Equity, fairness and justice demands that naturally a man from Anioma walks into Dennis Osadebey House, without contest from anyone from the Urhobo or Delta South axis, but politics is a matter of interest which has brought all tom, dick and harry to run for the same position even when two of the Senatorial District has had their turn. In all of this pack, Okowa again stands tall like Caesar. Truth be said; he has no peers among them, as he weighs higher than them in all political ramification.
He didn’t just end up as a Secretary to a Local Government, but went on to become the first Chairman of the defunct Ika Local Government Area, which he governed so well that his traces abound till date. This was before the coming of the 4thRepublic. And then came the Obasanjo era when he was made a Commissioner thrice under the James Onanefe Ibori administration. A loyal servant, he also served his boss and political leader, Uduaghan, as the Secretary to the State Government, a position he held and again left his mark. It is on record that he stopped politicians from paying their Special Advisers directly since they don’t pay the full amount, but ensured that they were paid directly from the State purse. Okowa hates cheating, fraud and oppression, just as a true priest will never engage in such.
Like a fully fitted factory car, he drove his political career to the Red Chambers, where he became a Senator and despite being a first timer, he was made the Chairman, Senate Committee on Health; again, he set another record as being the one to reform the health sector today through his sponsorship of the National Health Bill. Even when it was rejected by other medical and health workers as favoring the Medical Doctors; he gracefully took it back to the house to amend and with joy it was accepted by all health workers and today it has been passed into law
A priest fixes his eyes on God, and as a political priest; he has dedicatedly done so. His speech on his declaration day was all about God, God and God, with promise to turn government house to a church on the day he will be sworn in, instead of the usual merriment that accompany such an event. Anyone who thought that his godly actions that day was out of desperation for God to help him must now be convinced after watching his campaign rallies where God has taken the centre stage. If he is not singing a worship song, he is adding ‘”by God grace” to every of his campaign promises.
Ladies and Gentlemen, if it were in the church setting, Okowa political sojourn from being a Councillor to a Senator would be ranking him a Cardinal now and very fit to contest for the position of the Pope. Delta State does not need a man who will speak of division but a man who unites. Deltans do not need a man who cannot forgive, but one who forgives even before the offence has been committed. Oh Deltans do not need an arrogant man, who feels he must be worshipped but someone humble enough to kneel before the crowd and beg for forgiveness from those he has offended, this was done in Ndowka East by him.
Every leader must have a shoulder to climb on in other to see far, and without sounding motivational, the duo of Ovedje Great Ogboru and O’tega Emerhor will do us whole lots of good if they can point out their political leader who have guided them or tutored them on this journey that they have embarked on. Deltans should begin to ask them who they call their leaders even in the religious circle. This cannot be said of Okowa who has two shoulders to climb on, which has made him balance. First, his left leg was on the shoulders of Ibori and now his right legs are on the shoulders of Uduaghan and it has remained there, from where he can see farther than they did because he was well schooled under them.
Give it to this thorough bred politician who began his sojourn from the lowest cadre and now climbing to a higher position. It is natural that we reward this man who knows that the Local Government needs funding because he has been in their shoes; who knows that all the ministries must work to its maximum best because he has headed three of them; who knows that the state legislature must be totally independent of the executive because he has tested it. If his political travel can be likened to a lady, permit me to say that he is well endowed front and back; pikin wey him mama born well.
At a time that our State needs a man to cover up the surgery performed by the duo of Ibori and Uduaghan, we will be making a great mistake to hand over the surgical knife to an intern medical worker who was never part of the surgery. An attempt to do so is to eventually perform a stitch up where they will forget two sharp blades in the body of Delta which will eventually lead to death. We just cannot afford such grave mistake to allow an infant to drive this beautiful state where they will have accident and crash all of us. We need an experienced politician and a career person who understands that Delta State is not an insurance business venture where they lie to unsuspecting victims just to market them or a career politician who sees governance as an avenue to carry out his revenge or even expand his fish business to the detriment of Deltans.
Just one competent man at this time can do this. He is not called Ekwueme because it’s a title, but because he does what he says. We are presented with this golden opportunity to elect a man in Okowa who has not chosen a slogan of the elite such as ‘Yes we believe’ and we begin to ask, believe in what? Believe in poverty, disunity, corruption or wealth creation? The slogan is for you and me, ‘prosperity for all’. And yes we all believe that he will make it happen, as he is not a man that will squander our collective wealth. I know this because all around him are fragrance of simplicity, little wonder he could not afford to buy any branded vehicles for his campaigns as his colleagues in other States have done, but move around in vehicles volunteered by supporters to campaign venues. I know this because his house is not the finest or the biggest in the area where he stays, but so modest that it doesn’t befit a politician of his ranking, but that is because he didn’t steal our money while in government.
Priests alone have this attribute and we can only compensate righteous priests with a higher position. He has paid his political dues to humanity, empowering all that comes his ways in manners that awes the benefactors. He has served his masters diligently and loyally and it is our turn to reciprocate by settling him with the position of the governor so that he can serve us the masses loyally and faithfully. Deltans, this is the plea of over 500,000 youths who wants to be comfortable with their lives and not engage in thuggery or hooliganism, that our brethren from the central join hands to deliver this well packaged product to Unity House and we can.
Let us not deny him and ourselves this golden opportunity to build a better Delta, for if he was a priest in the church, he would have long being a Pope.
These little things matter…
Fejiro Oliver, Editorial Board Chairman of Secrets Reporters, Media Consultant and Human Rights Activist is also the Co-Convener of Coalition of Human Rights Defender (CHORD) and can be reached on +2348022050733, +2348160067613 (SMS ONLY) or [email protected]. Engage him on twitter on @fejirooliver86