I need someone who believes that the sun will rise again but who does not fear my darkness. Someone who can point out the rocks in my way without making me a child by carrying me. Someone who can stand in thunder and watch the lightning and believe in a rainbow.
When the chronicle of Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa is written, the greatest achievement that will stand out will not be the magnificent N15.7 billion State Secretariat which is obviously the star project of his administration. It will not be the creation of the Asaba Capital Development Authority neither will the construction of the many linking roads in Asaba and Delta State truly count. The Stephen Kechi Stadium which he completed to magnificient standard will not form part of his legacies. If projects stand out people, the Asaba International Airport no matter how criticized it is, will become the legacy of former Governor Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan who built it from scratch to finish. Any sensible government in future will name it after him if any state treasure is requested to be named after him. The Delta State University Teaching Hospital can be morally named after former Governor James Onanefe Ibori for he built it even though Uduaghan completed a greater part of it.
Examples speaks everywhere in modern times. Right in Okowa’s backyard which is Akwa Ibom, their state airport was named after the former Governor Victor Attah who conceptualized it though built by his successor, Godswill Akpabio. Akpabio who built the Nest of Champion had it named after him. Probably the new state secretariat will be named after Okowa by another governor in future. If I contest and I’m elected to serve the people of Delta State, I will name it after him. If I become a lawmaker in the State House of Assembly, I will raise a motion to have it named after him. But that is all there is to legacy.
Beyond the naming of legacies comes the greatest of all, which is raising next generations of political leaders and human empowerment in all spheres of life and from all industries.
This is Okowa’s albatross, his emerging deadly cross to carry. It is his cross that five years as a Governor, no new person can comfortably be counted as conquering poverty or building his/her own business empire through his support, his influence or his name.
Under Ibori. Uduaghan, Senator James Manager, Ovie Omo-Agege who is now Deputy Senate President, and almost all the old political leaders of Delta State were made. They have never denied it. In one of my private conversation with Omo-Agege, he told me pointblank that the day he denies Ibori before me as the one who brought him to political limelight, that I should be wary of him. He admitted that no matter the crime Ibori is said to have committed, he can’t deny him. The notorious Senator representing Delta North, Peter Nwaoboshi is his product. Simply put, the three Senators representing Delta State are Ibori boys and there is no argument about that.
In the business world, Ibori made the quiet billionaire called Onajite Okoloko, even though I have my issues with his owning of Midwestern Oil and Gas, Eroton and Notore Chemicals. The three companies today employs over a thousand citizens of this country. The current Secretary to the State Government, Mr Chiedu Ebie owes his wealth gotten through business today from Ibori and he can deny like he will always do, but we know the true story. May his conscience be his judge as he defends his self-made story and history be fair or cruel to him.
Ovuzorie Macaulay who is today a force to be reckoned with in Delta is an offspring of the Uduaghan boys, who he made very powerful as his Secretary to the State Government. Today his political son, Ben Ibakpa who was his powerful commissioner for transport that brought about the ‘Uduaghan bus’ is now the House of Representatives member for Ethiope Federal Constituency. Reuben Izeze who announces his loyalty like a badge of honor is a House of Assembly member. The list abounds even though some may have deserted him, but in his honor and posterity sake, he made them all.
The best Hotel in Asaba today called Elomax is a product of his political son, Joel Onowakpor who owns another one in Lagos State, even though he can be accused of looting the Delta State Board of Internal Revenue during his years as the Chairman.
Almost all journalists that made it and live comfortably today in Delta State owe Uduaghan everlasting gratitude for patronizing them as a government, giving them lands to build on and supporting their businesses, that made local newspapers publishing to prosper, even though they were thorns in his flesh during his eight years. The records will speak even in heaven.
Which of these will Okowa be remembered for?
Will he be remembered for making Micheal Diden aka Ejele who was made successful by Uduaghan more wealthy by handing over DESOPADEC Chairmanship to him? Will he be remembered by allowing Lawrence Osiegbu, Lulu Enaboifo and Ross Uredi having huge stakes in critical agencies and partnership of the government. For the records, they have been in power for years. Among the old and new Commissioners, there are no new powerful Commissioners. The only powerful one was Kingsley Emu, an old time friend of the governor who was the immediate past Commissioner for Economic Planning. The rest were simply memo writing exco members with limited power of contract awards, which is the driving force of a ministry.
Few months after leaving power, some of the Commissioners who didn’t make it back to the cabinet are already struggling and begging for survival. Perhaps we can prove this further.
Karo Ilolo aka Mr Lick Oil who was first time Commissioner for Urban Renewal and later Youth and Development is currently stranded, Henry Sakpra as a Commissioner for Special Duties (Gov’t House) can easily pass for a Special Assistant in Lagos State as his only duty is to supervise the building of the state secretariat that will be completed this year. Arc. Joseph Ogieh as a housing Commissioner was only a memo carrying member. He was more powerful as a DESOPADEC board member.
The list goes on and on.
In terms of media empowerment, no journalists can lay claim to getting financial freedom through the government of the day. Trend FM and Rave TV is a product of Uduaghan massive support to Delta great minds. Urhobo Times which was the leading paper for over eight years under Uduaghan and a great critic of his administration folded under this Okowa’s administration.
Is it the online media practitioners that can be quoted as an industry that the government has built to self-sustainability? Is it the social media that were manned by excellent minds but abandoned to their fate after every election year? When I remember all these, water flow from my eyes. I remember the mortal enemies created in the course of doing their job and the friends they lost because of the belief of a Stronger Delta.
The persons strutting the political system are still person made by Ibori and Uduaghan, with the exception of Hilary Ibegbulem, Ifeanyi Eboigbe and Raymond Mgbakor.
In terms of human development outside the political system, there are no new set of millionaires or emerging business tycoons with notable establishment. Today, we can still remember Ayiri Emami, Emmanuel Uduaghan (Jnr) and others who are products of Uduaghan.
I still remember that even Lulu Enaboifo was made by Ibori. My memory stretches far to know that there exists a business tycoon called Matthew Edevbie, the owner of Income Electrix Limited, a leading electrical engineering company, who is elder brother of David Edevbie who Ibori lifted from grass to grace. Very unassuming billionaire who almost singlehandedly bought the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) but was allegedly cheated out. What of Niran Malaolu, the journalist jailed by late Sani Abacha and later made a Commissioner in Ogun State by Ibori?
Do we talk about Willy Oki or Chief Oguma who previous government turned into big businessmen till date? Is it Dere Otubu, the billionaire who was elevated to affluence by Ibori, so much that he owns companies that employs Deltans and Nigeria in Lagos State?
Who will Okowa be remember for making successful in every sector of the economy through his government?
No one is asking him to steal money to give. He does not even have the heart and conscience to take a dime from the state treasury. All that is needed is for him to support people to grow through the instrument of government which includes financial influence, recommendation, awarding of contracts and consultancy jobs to deserving and hardworking Deltan who worked for his victory.
The Job Creation Office headed by a Professor has not produced one single ‘thousandnaire’, yet billions have been pumped into the project. When the record is written in future, I will be vindicated that those who were in charge of the project turned out millionaires.
A leader is one who can successfully raise new generation of leaders politically and in corporate society? A leader is one who will nurture emerging leaders in their various industry and give them a helping hand when they call. A leader is one who will not allow consultancy jobs that can be done by his ‘boys’ and political sons given to firms in Lagos or give contracts that can be done by his loyalists to already established persons.
Governor Okowa must begin to raise a new generational of leaders and move away from the old order or risk becoming the politician who came, saw and never conquered. Young persons like his Commissioner for Youth, Ifeanyi Egwuyenga, Micheal Akpobire who was an Executive Secretary of a board in the last administration even though a product of Uduaghan, Ezekiel Okoh who was immediate Personal Assistant on Students Affairs, Pedro Chibuzor who is an emerging youth leader in his own right, Akigho Kent Okiemute who is DESOPADEC Commissioner, Godspower Asigwhu, Victor who is his Domestic Aide, Nelson Egware, Ossai Ovie Success, and lots of others which include those in the Online Media, ICT and Social Media users should be pushed up. We rise by lifting others. We grow by pushing each other out of the poverty zone, for when we all have, relationship is sweeter and no one becomes a burden to each other.
To achieve this by Okowa is as easy as ABC. He should begin to identify the sharp minds among his followers now, who have not contemplated leaving his fold now for another not due to his non deliberate neglect but fault of his numerous sycophants who have blinded him with idiotic praises. To do otherwise by developing only the old political cargoes without building his own sincere political and business empire is to bid goodbye to his place in the political soil of Delta. Oops, the Senate is always there to jump into as an ex-governor.
In my last column, I wrote that Uduaghan left to stay in the house of a political contractor when his election was annulled in 2010. Recent information confirms that he went to his house as the first political appointee to build a house when he was Secretary to the State Government.
These little things matter…
Fejiro Oliver, an investigative journalist can be reach on +2348022050733 (SMS ONLY). He tweets with @fejiroooliver86 and IG handle @elahuva