By Gongbeat Ken Ugbechie
She’s Nigeria’s blood-giver. Oil in Delta sustains the life of the nation.
Delta harbours in her belly one of the largest gas reserves in the world. So many good things about Delta, including a healthy agrarian life, aquatic splendour and an enchanting, even magical kaleidoscope of culture, couture and cuisines. Blessed Delta!
But she also breeds a vicious variant of political treachery and mischief. Delta variant of politics breeds bad blood, oozes the most virulent and noxious stench.
In Delta, just because of politics, men who ought to know, would see black and call it white. They deodorize evil and apply lavender on that which is not only bad but odious.
They say it is the way of the politician. They call it propaganda, brinkmanship; shenanigan. Yes, I know. But Delta beats the rest for the Oscars.
Unschooled and uncouth political vermin now slouch through the political ecosystem intent on destroying and maligning the reputation of their selected targets.
In the last seven years, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, has been a victim of these political layabouts. They push a fallacious theory that Okowa does not keep his friends, does not keep his words and would easily betray his peers.
This is the unintelligent and poorly scripted stratagem being deployed, especially in recent months to discredit a man they can’t match his credentials, work ethic, and on-the-job performance.
Strangely, but not surprisingly, some e-thugs and their ilk have been recruited to shoot down a man that has disrupted governance in the state, taking it from the mundane to modernity.
Without prejudice to the contributions of past leaders in the state, Deltans of all walks of life can today boldly attest that Okowa has set the state on the path of urbanization, industrialization and development. To live in denial of this is to become a hostage to treachery.
There are two theories being hawked in Delta. The first is that Okowa is stingy. Second, he is a betrayer of his own friends and associates.
For outsiders, it is imperative to treat both theories seriatim. Yes, Okowa may appear stingy. But that’s just because he has refused to walk the typical Nigerian political office path of financial profligacy and wanton recklessness with public funds.
He has refused to shell out Delta money to his cronies in careless animated orgy of awarding bogus contracts as conduits for siphoning public funds.
Okowa may be stingy but it’s in the best interest of the state. And he’s not alone on this road. Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi has the same tag emblazoned on him by some persons in his state all because he chose frugality over wasteful spending.
The result of such ‘stinginess’ is the transformational leadership he has wrought in Ebonyi, creating an oasis of modernity and development in a state reputed to be among the poorest in the country.
Okowa is doing same in Delta. Leading the state at a period of lean receipts from crude oil and a global pandemic that stifled development even in developed climes, he has deployed a very smart financial management template that has helped him to execute billion-naira projects while still keeping tab on personnel expenditure.
The result of Okowa’s ‘stinginess’ shows in the vastly improved network of roads, bridges that link communities, the expansive one-of-its kind secretariat, the revamp of education in the state, the upgrade and concession of the Asaba International Airport, the resurgence of Delta in sporting excellence, the repositioning of the state as a production hub for agricultural produce, textile materials, and the rebirth of skills acquisition as an effective anti-dote to unemployment, among others.
The second allegation is that Okowa betrayed his political peers. This is a lazy, thoughtless and unkind cut. If anything, Okowa is the real victim of betrayal.
The first point of betrayal was when he resigned as commissioner to contest in the 2007 Delta State PDP governorship primaries. The unwritten agreement was for power to shift to Delta North.
And Okowa, coming from the Grassroots Democratic Movement (GDM), many of which members later joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was favoured to pick the ticket. But never! He was forced to contend for the party guber ticket with Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, a cousin to the then sitting governor, James Ibori.
Those who witnessed the event and are conversant with the undercurrents of Delta politics are still praising Okowa till this day for his calmness, sportsmanship, comportment and strong showing he put up in the face of a gang-up.
Okowa ran on his own strength and clout and he was able to match an incumbent governor’s candidate such that the primary headed for a run-off as there was no clear-cut winner.
Okowa was heavily projected to clinch the ticket in the run-off before elders in the party prevailed and a consensus was reached to hand the ticket to Uduaghan. Okowa, like the gentleman he has always been, acceded to the elders’ request and the ticket was handed over to Uduaghan.
With such sacrifice, you would expect that in 2014, according to the gentlemen’s agreement, Okowa would be roundly supported to pick the PDP guber ticket.
Again, he was betrayed. David Edevbie from Delta Central and others were sponsored to upstage Okowa, but he triumphed, beating all other contestants with a wide margin and moving deftly to win the governorship election with yet another wide margin.
A chronicle of Okowa’s political trajectory will show evidentially that he has been the real victim of betrayal, yet he takes them all in his taciturn calmness.
It’s hard to find any justification for the effort of hirelings who go about sowing the misconception that Okowa betrayed Ibori with the emergence of Sheriff Francis Oborovwei as the standard bearer of the PDP in Delta.
What, then, shall we call the case of Uduaghan contesting against Okowa in 2007 or Edevbie contesting the primary in 2014 at a time it was very obvious that it had been zoned to Delta North?
But if their intendment was to drive a wedge through the decades-long friendship among the trio of Ibori, Uduaghan and Okowa, they lost the plot.
They are friends and will always be. Ibori and Okowa especially came from the same GDM political family. Some of those dancing like a just-beheaded turkey should look for another fib to sell to their audience.
And you just wonder: Why would any reasonable Deltan seek to malign Okowa? Why would any sane mind see good and call it bad?
Okowa has earned the epaulet as the face of good governance in the history of Delta.
Slinging mud to paint him otherwise is an exercise in futility and a clear demonstration of vexatious political treachery.
The truth is: Okowa’s political profile has cast its rays beyond Delta. It resonates among well-meaning, non-partisan Nigerians who in the last seven years, have witnessed the true essence of pragmatic, transformational leadership in Delta.
Okowa is a political eagle whose wings cannot be clipped. Know this and have peace.