Okowa’s One Year in Office: 5 Most Powerful People in Okowa’s Government
Today, the Governor of Delta State, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, marks his one year in office. Many political analysts have rated his tenure so far as hit and miss. Some scored him highly on agricultural reforms and job creations, whilst others insist that Okowa’s infrastructural development lags far behind other States. They even go as far as dismissing his political tactics as “Ikacentric,” that is, focusing more on Ika and Ika people to the disadvantage of other areas and people of the State. Do we need to say that Delta State civil servants are having a hard time under Okowa’s administration, with their salaries not paid regularly?
Now let us cut to the chase! Here are the Five (5) Most Powerful People in Okowa’s Government and why they are that powerful. Note: not in order of power or influence. Forget all the rumour of usurpation flying around. Forget the social media rascality about who is threatening to resign. This is an authoritative voice! Enjoy!
1. Hilary Ibegbulem (Principal Secretary)
The position of the Principal Secretary is not a normal arrangement of government; it is a new creation of Okowa. And as the Principal Secretary to Okowa, Hilary Ibegbulem is strategically positioned to be a very powerful person in his government, and he is. Hilary’s appointment to this position did raise a lot of dust on the allegation that he was the leader of a killer squad pointedly accused of the gruesome murder of an Agbor youth, Arthur Agbe.
In petitions to the President, the Inspector General of Police, the Delta State Police Command, the Agbe family had not only fingered Hiliary in their son’s murder, but also accused Governor Okowa as sponsoring the horrific murder.
Hilary seems to have weathered this storm of allegations to become one of the most powerful members of Okowa’s government. In fact, he is so powerful that it is sometimes rumoured that he is encroaching on the job of Rt. Hon. Festus Agas as the Secretary to the State Government.
2. Dr Kingsley Emu (Commissioner for Economic Planning)
Dr Kingsley Emu is described by a Delta State government insider as Okowa’s right hand man. He is the Commissioner for Economic Planning, but Dr Emu’s authority and power is so pervading that it is believed very strongly by those who are privy to the day-to-day running of government that Dr Emu has hijacked the official functions of Olorogun David Edevbie, the commissioner of Finance. However, a government insider explains to XCLUSIVE MAGAZINE that it is understandable when political outsiders see Emu as usurping the powers of Olorogun Edevbie. Our insider source contends that the Ministry of Economic Planning is the clearing house of economic planning, and every economic decision of the State must get Dr Emu’s approval and clearance before implementation, and that the Ministry of Finance that Edevbie oversees is just there to make payments, to disburse money approved by Emu’s Economic Planning ministry. Another government insider reveals that Dr Emu is not powerful just because of the weighty nature of his political office, but also because he and Okowa have come through thick and thin, way back before this present government. Dr Emu sees the governor at the drop of a hat; he does not need an appointment. He has the ear of the governor at any time.
3. Barrister Festus Ovie Agas (Secretary to the State Government, SSG)
Despite the loud whispers that Hilary Ibegbulem has unofficially taken over all the official functions of the SSG, Agas is unarguably a very powerful figure in Okowa’s government. Those in the know insist that allegation of Hilary’s usurpation of his powers is unfounded. In fact, in a press release signed by Hon. Godspower Omafuvwe Asiuwhu, the Special Assistant to the Delta state Governor (Social Media) rubbished the purported power struggle between Agas and Hilary as “rumour being peddled by some soft sell media and online personalities … and should not be taken to heart by any well meaning Deltan.” Another government insider source explains to XCLUSIVE MAGAZINE that Agas’ office remains the clearing house of all the decisions of the state, and as the third in command in the Organogram of the State government, Barrister Agas wields immense power in Okowa’s government. The insider source, however, accepts and contends that it is not all the time that the governor has the time to go through all the details of documents of the state with Agas, and in this instance, it is understandable that he may need Hilary, as his Principal Secretary, to get something done quickly. And that cannot be seen as usurpation of the power of the SSG.
4. Prof Sam Oyovbaire (Chairman, Advisory and Peace Building Council)
Prof Sam Oyovbaire heads a 30-man Advisory and Peace Building Council (APBC), charged by governor Okowa to strengthen the foundation of the unity of Delta State. All the State muscles – the Who-is-Who – are in the Council. It is put together by governor Okowa to hold the State together, to advice the government and to ensure that the State is stable. Described by Okowa’s insider as “father of this government,” Prof. Oyovbaire is generally known in government as a father figure to Gov Okowa. A government insider told to XCLUSIVE MAGAZINE that Prof. Oyovbaire has a deep voice in this government and his opinion is weighty and taken seriously by the governor. In fact, the erstwhile Nigerian information minister is to Okowa what Elder statesman E. K. Clark was to former president Goodluck Jonathan. The difference is that whilst Chief Clark was not in government, Prof Oyovbaire is holding a key political position. The consensus of all our government insider sources is that Prof Oyovbaire is undoubtedly the most powerful of Okowa’s five most powerful men in government!
5. Chief Festus Ochonogor (Senior Political Adviser)
Chief Festus Ochonogor flexes political muscles in Okowa’s government. Being the Senior Political Adviser to the Governor, he is the clearing house of all political matters and decisions in the State. A government insider explains to XCLUSIVE MAGAZINE that Chief Ochonogor is the government’s political power house: he aligns the political decisions of State government with that of the Political party and balances and harmonises the different political interests. Our government insider source likens Ochonogor’s influential position in Okowa’s government to what Chief Ighoyota Amori was to Chief James Ibori’s government. Another political figure that she compares Chief Ochonogor with is Chief Tony Anenih. The government insider sources said: “Chief Anenih is a master tactician and that is Chief Ochonogor for you. He is a master political tactician per excellence. He juggles all the political interests in the State and balances them in such a way that the government and the State is able to find political stability. Chief Ochonogor is so powerful in this government.”
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