Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa

Gov Okowa and a New Beginning for Delta State

Gov Okowa and a New Beginning for Delta State by Annabel Ogheneganre

Delta State Governor Dr Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa (middle) at a thanksgiving church service

The 2015 general elections have come and gone with its attendant multiplier effects on relations, inter-personal, group and inter-ethnic relations. In the build up to the elections, individuals and groups took different positions depending on understanding and interests. As the politicians would say, politics is all about interests.

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All those who fought and voted during the elections did whatever they did to advance their personal or group interests as the case may be. The Urhobo nation, led by the revered Urhobo Progress Union, took a common stand, appealing to the political class to look inward in the search for the next Governor of Delta State. For quite a number of the politicians, power must shift to Delta north in the name of equity. The battle raged on for months as analysts, commentators and opinion specialists argued endlessly in support of one position or the other depending on positions taken and interests.

Reasons were advanced for whatever position was taken by all those who entered the field as spectators, participants or gladiators. At the end of the day, Senator Dr Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa emerged from the elections as winner of the coveted office of Governor of Delta State.

Okowa came into the race on the argument of merit and giving the best for the strengthening of the democratic institutions in the state. He wasn’t passionate about power-shift as some were won’t to do. He or his supporters argued for equity but most importantly, his greatest mantra in the build up to the poll was emphasis on merit and giving the best job for the best man to take charge.

The Urhobo nation fought hard to ensure they secure access to government house. However, the stand of the Urhobo nation was weakened by the presence of two strong candidates from Delta central in the persons of Great Ovedje Ogboru of the Labour Party and Olorogun Otega Emerhor of the All Progressives Congress. All three candidates gave their very best to the campaigns but with Delta north strongly united behind their son, it became easier for Governor Okowa to emerge at the end of the day.

The inauguration of the Governor Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa’s administration on May 29, 2015 opened a new chapter of hope for Delta State. But this also triggered questions on what lies ahead for the Urhobo nation. The argument of the Urhobo Progress Union and other patriotic Urhobos was driven by what Urhobo suffered under the out-gone Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, who treated the Urhobos as a conquered people.

Uduaghan was mean and did not actually give what is due the largest ethnic group in Delta state to them. This was what heightened the resentment and resistance of the Urhobo nation to the PDP. The fear in many quarters is that 8 more years under another Uduaghan could spell doom for the Urhobo nation. He concentrated patronages among his Itsekiri kinsmen and Delta south leaving Urhobo with crumbs on the excuses that Delta Central did not quite vote for him.

Based on the experiences under Governor Uduaghan, Urhobo was not prepared to concede power to another part of the State until another Urhobo son takes over to stabilise the polity and make efforts to undo the damages suffered by the people. Sentiments were high and the Urhobo people stood their ground against the PDP all because of the argument that Urhobo should take one more shot at government house. Now that the battle has been lost and won, what is left is governance and how Governor Okowa could move to assuage the hurting passions of the average Urhobo people.

Truth remains that the distrust among the people was deep and only a transparent and just distribution of patronages could assuage the Urhobo people. Therefore, when news filtered into town that Governor Okowa has made a choice of his Secretary to the State Government in the person of Rt Hon Festus Ovie Agas, the Urhobo nation went into jubilation that Okowa may just be an Urhobo friendly governor after all. Agas has been sworn-in and many people are of the opinion that Okowa could just be fine and a Daniel may have come to judgement. Shortly after that, the House of Assembly elected Rt Hon Monday Ovwigho Igbuya, also from Delta Central as Speaker of the 6th Assembly on Monday June 8, 2015.

These two developments have put the Okowa administration in a good stead to reap a handsome goodwill from the Urhobo nation. Urhobo that has been sulking over the traumatizing experiences under Uduaghan have started gaining confidence in the administration of the state as led by Governor Okowa. There is also information to the effect that the new Chairman of the PDP in Delta State after Chief Uzor will most likely come from the Urhobo nation, Delta Central to be precise. If that turns out to be true, then we may just be satisfied that Urhobo has been positioned to reap handsomely from the Okowa administration in order to wipe away the tears of yesterday.

Governor Okowa, if he must write his name in gold, must continue in this stead so that the largest ethnic group in Delta State, which Urhobo is, could be fairly treated and accommodated in his administration. Uduaghan was mean to Urhobo, took deliberate steps to undermine the Urhobo nation and incur the wrath of the average Urhobo man and woman against the PDP. The PDP as a party is being treated as unfriendly to the yearnings of the average Urhobo people because of the attitude of the leaders.

In the choice of his Commissioners and other top government functionaries therefore, Okowa will do well to ignore many of those whose behaviours and attitude to the people have given the party a bad name in the past. Many of the failed political leaders may wish to exploit their proximity to the governor to launch themselves to political reckoning again but they may well be the problem of the party in their localities. Okowa will do well to discover new talents and raise leaders without excess baggage of maladministration in the past.

Okowa should launch deeply into the arena to discover fresh hands, young and visionary people to help drive his SMART agenda for Delta state. There must be a new beginning for Delta state so as to launch the state to break new grounds and make things work better for the people. Some of those who have held positions and are the reasons why the party is not doing well in some quarters should not be too visible in his government. This is a new beginning and fresh hands are required. He should raise new leaders who could learn from the failure of past leaders and draw from same to create a new Delta state.

  • Miss Annabel Ogheneganre writes from Garki, Abuja. (08092569702 SMS only or

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