By Fidelis Egugbo
Evidence has shown that all over the world, people are mainly interested in having leaders in authority that would create the enabling environment for them to engage in productive ventures and have the three basic needs of man – food, clothing, and shelter.
Delta State is so blessed that it is a production hub, tourism haven, and more. So, the people yearn for a government that will make such to happen.
The State boasts of a coastline that can be developed from Illah to Patani rivers and rivulets that are yet to be fully harnessed for economic benefits, four seaports located in strategic areas that can be made functional, two airports that are functional and also strategically sited to ensure complete coverage of the State, rich soil that has made it such that almost all crops can be cultivated in the State without fertilizer. The State also hosts the largest oil and gas deposit in sub-Sahara Africa.
Undoubtedly, with good leadership, Delta should be the destination of all investors.
If Delta is so blessed with so many natural resources, its location as a central state which everybody from the East and most people from the South-South region must pass through to get to the West and, in some cases, access the North, has also, made it almost like a nodal state. But the greatest asset of Delta lies in its people. With the Atlantic Ocean, Delta shares boundaries with other countries, so the opportunities are limitless.
Deltans are very enlightened people, industrious, and relatively peaceful. Of course, the State can be described as a mini-Nigeria with such ethnic groups like the Urhobo, Ndokwa, Ika, Ijaw, Aniocha, Itsekiri, Isoko, among numerous others, and more than 20 different dialects if we are to distinctly identify the Olukumis, Okpes, Ossissas, among others.
That the State is a tourism haven is an understatement. This is because, in Koko, there is the Nana Living Museum for one to look at the stories of the slave trade. In Aboh, there are also such tourist attractions that are begging for attention. Asaba, the Delta State capital city by the bank of the famous River Niger, plays host to the first administrative headquarter of Nigeria and its administrative building, the Mungo Park House, is still standing. Also in Asaba are the Lander Brothers’ Anchorage, the Onishe Shrine, and recently, the Mariam Babangida Leisure Park and Film Village. But of course, in Okpanam, which boasts of the Okpanam Wonder, is the Igwogwo Pit which has spring water and is said to be the source of the Anwai River. However, due to lack of attention, it is fast becoming a death trap with ecological challenges threatening the lives and houses of those built around the area.
At Umuaja, Ukwuani Local Government Area is the source of River Ethiope, which is the deepest river in Africa. In Ugiliamai, Onicha Ukwuani, Ndokwa West Local Government Area of the State, lies a unique soil that cannot be found in any other part of the State but lies untapped for economic gains.
Of course, while Delta is known for oil and gas, Ugboba, which is almost a twin town to Obomkpa in Aniocha North Local Government Area of the State, is a vast deposit of “matured coal” yet to be tapped.
So, what will Rt Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori’s administration do differently as the Governor of Delta State?
This question came to mind when I saw the display of raw talents at his 60th birthday anniversary celebration at the Events Centre Asaba, the state capital.
Indeed, Delta hosts the most significant number of Nigerians in the entertainment industry, whether in comedy or music. Also, it is a truism that people can talk about Nigeria’s exploits on the football field, with the contributions of Deltans topping the chart.
Due to Governor Oborevwori’s double celebration, his inauguration thanksgiving and 60th birthday anniversary service, on Monday, June 19, 2023, Asaba, the Capital of Delta State, was literally locked down. The Asaba International Airport also witnessed a flurry of activities that day.
The celebration was an extraordinary one coming precisely 21 days, three weeks after he subscribed to oaths of office as the elected Governor of Delta State. Rt. Hon. Oborevwori along with his Deputy, Sir Monday Onyeme.
The Winner’s Chapel, Living Faith Church, on Ibusa Road, Asaba where as a Christian, the Governor went for thanksgiving to mark the occasion, was filled. If the Church, where he had his thanksgiving, was filled to capacity, it was natural that the Events Centre, the venue of the reception, had to play host to the creme-de-la-creme of the society, from governors of neighboring states to industrialists such as Chief Alen Onyema of Air Peace.
Traditional rulers, religious leaders, and people from all walks of life attended the ceremony. Naturally, the Events Centre could not accommodate the dignitaries who wanted to identify with the Governor as he celebrated, so tents were provided within the premises of the Events Centre for those who preferred to sit outside.
The Deputy Governor of Delta State, Sir Monday Onyeme, as a man who confidently works with Rt. Hon. Oborevwori, as two hearts that beat as one, two men working in unison to deliver the goodies of democracy to Deltans without discrimination, was among the first set of people to get to the Church. Sir Onyeme, as a successful civil servant, industrialist, farmer, and tax administrator, knows the importance of time and utilizes it to the fullest.
As a trusted Deputy Governor and one who knows his onus, Sir Onyeme was at the Church long before the arrival of the Governor, and from the Church, he briefly played host to his Edo State counterpart, Comrade Philip Shuaibu, before moving to the Events Centre for what one can describe as the grand finale of the birthday anniversary celebration.
One can vividly recall that less than two months after his inauguration as Governor of Delta State in 2015, former governor Ifeanyi Okowa had a similar celebration in the State.
However, his thanksgiving occurred at St. Philip’s Anglican Church, Asaba. So, it was not surprising that Sen. Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, his wife, Edith, his predecessor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, and his wife, Roli, were also at the Events Centre to celebrate the incumbent Governor.
Delta-born musicians, Harrysong and Daddy Showkey, thrilled the mature audience. Of course, veteran, well-organized musician Emma Grey and his Afric Wadada band presented the sound system, the beats, and backups for the musicians that performed at the occasion.
Going back memory lane, when Chief James Ibori became the Governor of the oil-rich State in 1999, it was obvious that Rt. Hon. Oborevwori is the oldest person to be administered the oath of office as Delta’s Governor.
Chief Ibori was born on August 4, 1959, and became a Governor at the age of 40 years; Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan was born on October 22, 1954, and became the Governor of Delta State at the age of 53 years, while Sen. Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa was born on July 8, 1959, and became Governor at the age of 56 years.
So, Rt. Hon. Oborevwori became Governor 21 days before his 60th birthday anniversary. Will age have an impact on how he will govern Deltans? We shall know how far he will go in the next few weeks. Deltans and Nigerians are watching keenly how he will put his experience to bear in managing the affairs of the State, and as my friends in Warri will say, “he should not fall our hands.”
Yes, he cannot afford to fail because, apart from the oldest among those who took oaths of office, Rt. Hon. Oborevowri, is also the most experienced among them. Experienced based on the fact that he was the longest-serving Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, a position he relinquished when he took the oaths of office as Governor.
Deputy Governor Monday Onyeme, in a goodwill message, described the Governor is “a man of grace who has been given the mantle of leadership to ensure a stable and progressive Delta State.
“Your Excellency, it gladdens our hearts to celebrate with you and thank the Almighty God for making it possible for you to celebrate your first birthday anniversary while in office as the Governor of our dear State, Delta.
“No doubt, God has ordained you to pilot the affairs of our State as your special activities as the most extended serving Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, a position that required managing lawmakers from all the Constituencies of our State, speaks volumes of how God loves you.
“Your carriage and professional handling of issues relating to our State has distinguished you as a man prepared for governance, and we are confident that Deltans who overwhelmingly spoke with their ballot papers will have every reason to thank God for bringing you as our Governor. As you celebrate, we wish you happy more years, blessed with wisdom, peace, and good health through Christ our Lord. Amen.”
Rt. Hon. Oborevwori, during the celebration, rekindled the hope of Deltans who voted for him massively at the elections, saying, “I want to start by thanking all of you who have come to celebrate with me. Your presence means a lot to me.
“You all know my relationship with the people at the grassroots; that relationship is key and will not stop. I want everyone to be patient; more appointments will come, and more development for the State, even as I sincerely thank all our leaders for showing love to me.”
Rt. Hon. Oborevwori is a lucky man. His predecessors, Sen. Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa and Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan are working closely with him. Neither Ibori, Uduaghan, nor Okowa enjoyed such privilege of having predecessors working closely with them when they were Governors. But, the questions revived at the reception venue were, are the predecessors working for their interest or the generality of Deltans?
Time shall tell, but if it were at the Federal Government’s level, they constitute the Council of State. The predecessors had already identified their mistakes when they were saddled with governing the State, so they will naturally ensure that Rt. Hon. Oborevwori will not make such mistakes; they have also all made money, so they will not be looking at how much will enter their pockets but how to spread the wealth so that before Oborevwori leaves office in the next eight years, those in Dubai should visit to see Oborevwori’s wonders in Delta State.
Yes! It is possible – the resources to do such is available and begging to be utilized. All that is required is the will.
Rt. Hon. Oborevwori’s antecedents do not also portray him as a poor man. Granted that some are even poor at heart that no matter their wealth, they keep amassing more to the detriment of the people, but if Rt. Hon. Oborevwori could get more than 90 percent support from lawmakers across the State, which means that he has listening ears, and as a true democrat, he works according to the dictates of the masses.
Deltans are already counting the days, and he is cautious, calculative, and focused. He called for patience, but are the people patient? They want action, and that is another task before him, the job of developing the State to a level where most people will not be dependent on the State but can be positively engaged and happily pay their taxes without government officials prompting them.
The days ahead are challenging, and he has to do something different, what former Governor Uduaghan will describe as “low-hanging fruits;” Deltans are watching, not only watching Rt. Hon. Oborevwori, but watching former Governors Okowa and Uduaghan, because with them teaming up with Oborevwori with the people’s interest coming first, life will be better.
If Deltans and the world are watching, expectedly too, they are praying for them to succeed because, when they grow in ensuring good governance, the greatest beneficiaries will be Deltans. So, As a Deltan, this is the time to be on your knees, praying for Rt. Hon. Oborevwori’s administration to succeed, engaging in actions that will encourage the government to grow and avoid any activity that will portray the State negatively to the world, and we shall all have reasons to say, “God, thank you for answered prayers.”
- Egugbo is an author cum journalist based in Asaba, Delta State.