By Ben Nwanne
The immediate past Governor of Delta State, Sen. (Dr.) Ifeanyi Okowa has expressed satisfaction with the political arrangement whereby the position of Governor is rotated among the three Senatorial Districts in the state, thereby promoting inclusivity and shared ownership.
Former Governor Okowa made the remark yesterday in Asaba, the Delta State Capital, at the presentation of “Hope and fulfillment”, a book on selected articles on Senator Okowa in the saddle, edited by Olisa Ifeajika, his Chief Press Secretary and Frank Igwebueze, a veteran journalist. He stated that the position of No.1 in the state which returned to Delta Central, has demonstrated that all Deltans had equal stake in the Delta project.
At the expiration of the tenure of the current Governor, ex-Governor Okowa noted that the Ijaws or Isokos of the Delta South Senatorial District would take their turn. “That is the clear ownership we collectively have”, he told the huge audience, consisting mainly of the political class. “God has moved us in a particular direction, achieving that oneness that makes us respect one another, working together.”
Reflecting on his eventful eight-year tenure, the Owa-Alero born political tactician explained that his administration did not play to the gallery but rather concentrated on sustainable programmes that would touch the lives of the people.
While praising Deltans for their resilience and huge support for his administration, the soft-spoken medical doctor explained that Delta State was diverse in nature and therefore difficult to govern.
The former Governor recalled that when he took over government on May 29, 2015, the state was in dire straits economically and politically, but had to work hard, along with others, to stabilize the state and put it on the path of growth and development.
“No administration is run by one man. I was the leader of the team. The success story was a result of the cooperation of many persons in the executive, legislative and judiciary arms of government.
“Without their cooperation we would not have achieved much. Our people agreed there was need to sit together so that we did not destroy ourselves”, he said.
He also spoke about the debilitating effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic which crippled global economy for a long time. “I got worried in 2020”, he admitted, but expressed gratitude to God for saving the state.
Okowa, accompanied by his wife and former First Lady, Dame Edith Okowa, made a robust case for mentoring the youths, who are the hope of tomorrow.
He commended the Governor, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori for having a good mix in his appointment of commissioners, adding that ten of them are under 40 years of age. “That is the real hope. We cannot keep recycling ourselves. That hope is not real”, he noted.
The two-term governor who graduated from Medical School at the University of Ibadan, at just 22, recalled that many persons thought he was crazy for establishing three Universities in one fell swoop adding that his administration took that decision “to create more opportunities for the youths to achieve”. He added that the Universities were succeeding and would continue to succeed, while urging the administrations of the Universities to continue to put in their best and urged Deltans to extend to the current Government the high level of support given to his administration.
Speaking at the occasion, the Governor of Delta State commended the former Governor for his achievements in office and promised to consolidate of his achievements and do more for the state. He described former Governor Okowa as ‘wise’, ‘brilliant’ and ‘kind’ and commended the authors of the “unique book” for documenting the achievements of the administration adding that “once a man leaves office it is easy to forget his achievements”.
Governor Oborevwori who has done two months in office, commended the Delta State House of Assembly for drilling the commissioners designate to ensure “they have content”, assuring that there would be meaningful development and opportunities for all Deltans.
Also speaking at the occasion, a former Federal Minister of Information and immediate past Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council of Delta State University, Abraka, Prof. Sam Oyovbaire observed that Senator Dr. Okowa’s tenure was the most documented since the return to civil rule in Delta State on May 29, 1999.
Professor Oyovbaire who played important roles in the Okowa-led administration in advisory capacity, wrote the foreword to the book of “over forty five articles by seasoned on-line and print journalists that are devoted to analysis and assessment of the administration’s roll-call and record of impact, achievements and challenges”.
Prof Oyovbaire said the articles provided a “bird’s eye view” of good governance by former Governor Okowa in the period between 2015 and 2022”.
The Chairman of the Organizing Committee and Vice-Chancellor of Delta State University, Abraka, Professor Andy Egwunyenga noted that the book was a wonderful attempt to document a challenging but glorious era when the Okowa-led administration had to confront the Niger Delta question, which almost crushed oil production, the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy.
He commended the former governor for coming up with a peace building and urban renewal and development plan. Professor Egwunyenga who is giving DELSU an enlightened and committed leadership in the past 44 months, lauded the Okowa-led administration for establishing three Universities in 2021 thereby providing Deltans with more opportunities for higher education, describing it as the “democratization of higher education”.
Prof. Egwunyenga also commended the Okowa-led administration for its various youth empowerment programmes, massive road construction and the transformation of the state, particularly the Professor Chike Edozien Secretariat, Asaba.
He stated that the Pan-Delta mandate given to Governor Sheriff Oborevwori was “an eloquent endorsement of the good governance we have had under Sen. Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa”.
The book reviewer, Professor Emmanuel Ofuophu-Biri, who is Rector of the State Polytechnic, Otefe-Oghara described the book as a compendium of facts about the sterling performance of Sen. Dr. Okowa.
He pointed out some of the highlights of the eleven-chapter book to include the former governor’s performance in sports, economy, gender sensitivity, youth empowerment, general infrastructural development, with particular reference to the ultra modern Professor Chike Edozien Secretariat, which the reviewer described as “the best in sub-Saharan Africa, and perhaps the entire continent”.
The Professor of Mass Communication did not forget to observe the enhancement of security through the establishment of Delta Hawk, the policy of inclusivity, the fact that Delta State is the only state with four government owned Universities.
The book was unveiled by the Chief Executive Officer of ICMA Professional Services, Lagos, Dr. Awa Ibraheem, represented by Mrs. Susan Ochia, a Director of the company.
*Prof. Ben Nwanne is Director, Ceremonials, Information and Public Relations, Delta State University, Abraka.