Is Festus Agas the Next Governor of Delta State?
Is Festus Agas the Next Governor of Delta State? To be a political insider in Delta State one must be high up in the PDP and perhaps be part of the “Ibori Dynasty”. James Ibori started out in politics as a “political outsider” governor with little or no political pedigree even though he has proven to be enduringly popular in his constituency, Delta State, and for successfully entrenching the People Democratic Party (PDP) as the undisputable dominant political force therein. This is despite his current misfortune.
However, Ibori’s two successors as governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan and the incumbent Ifeanyi Okowa, have been deeply entrenched “political insiders.” Ex-Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan was Commissioner for Health for four years and Secretary to the State Government (SSG) for another four years under Ibori. Governor Ifeanyi Okowa was also Commissioner (for Agriculture and Natural Resources, then Water Resources Development and lastly Health) throughout the Ibori years and SSG under Uduaghan before being elected as Senator in the National assembly.
The two gubernatorial successors to Ibori were thus both commissioners then SSGs before becoming governor. If this is a pattern of selection for governor as emerged and will persist, it is very likely and logical that Festus Agas, the current SSG to Governor Okowa, will be the next governor of Delta State. Even though Festus Agas has not been a commissioner, he has been twice elected to the Delta State House of Assembly, emerging as its Deputy Speaker, and has also been the Director-General of the Direct Labour Agency (DLA).
However, according to the pattern, as it is appearing to unfold, Ovuozorie Macaulay may appear even more likely to be the next governor of Delta State than Festus Agas. Macaulay was Commissioner for Ethnic Conflict under Ibori and SSG under Uduaghan fitting the requirements to conform with pattern more completely. It is also possible the battle for governor of Delta State after Okowa leaves office will be between Ovuozorie Macaulay and Festus Agas, both political insiders. Who knows?
Another pattern of political selection that has emerged, though of trifling importance, is that both Ibori’s successors as governor have been medical doctors by training thus Commissioners for Health. Neither Ovuozorie Macaulay nor Festus Agas trained in medicine. Macaulay is a well-known trade unionist while Agas is a lawyer, but interestingly both of them are mass communicators by training.
There are others who could fit into the emergent pattern of governorship selection. Ovie Omo-Agege, a lawyer by training, as a transition SSG and Commissioner (for Special Duties) became a political insider, but has since made himself into a political outsider through his various political manoeuvres. James Erhuero, an engineer by training, has in Delta State been Head of Service, Permanent Secretary and the first SSG under Ibori. However, Erhuero is a rather obscure individual in the Delta State compared to the other SSGs in the state.
Another transition SSG is Beatrice Omeni, a mathematician and educator by training, and was also a Permanent Secretary. With the popular emergence of Tony Obuh, a former Permanent Secretary, as favourite to be governor of Delta State in the recent 2015 elections, past anyone who has held that post, counts as a viable political insider to be selected as governor.
All candidates considered, I would put all my money on Festus Agas becoming governor over Macaulay though due to his being more youthful and voter friendly, and for his almost effortless penetrating political reach.
Perhaps, what is most important about the emergent pattern of political selection for governorship in Delta State is that the days when political outsiders could become governor appear to have rendered extinct since the election of James Ibori. The much spoken about “Ibori Dynasty” is a dynasty of very close and handpicked political insiders.
It would be interesting to see if another political outsider can and will emerge as governor in Delta State in the near future, but considering the monumental cost and very narrow patronage requirements involved it will take very exceptional circumstances and a very exceptional person to achieve such. A political insider even quipped that “them never born that person yet!”
- Dr. Nane is an errant scholar and economist. Follow him on twitter: @Grimot