By Julius Oweh
President Muhammadu Buhari apart from his integrity quotient is not a man given to flattery and when he says a word, that is usually his bond. Buhari and Governor Ifeanyi Okowa do not belong to the same political party but that in no way has affected the state of amity between the two men. And not too long ago, Buhari in an unusual gesture very rare in our political clime described Okowa as the most media friendly governor in the country. This was no mean feat for Okowa and this description was not lost on the array of mass media organizations in the country.
Thus recently, prominent media organizations in the mould of Vanguard newspaper, Independent newspaper and DAAR communications, the owners of AIT and Raypower radio rolled out the drums to celebrate the numerous achievements of Governor Okowa. These media houses by their gesture are not only endorsing the many achievements of the Delta State government under the able captainship of Okowa but also part of the status conferral role of the mass media. That apart from the roles of information, education, entertainment, merchandise and setting agenda for government, the media can also monitor the activities of those in power, holding them accountable to the electorate and confer on them special status for work done. It is in this province the various awards received by the governor recently can be situated.
The Independent newspaper named Okowa as the governor of the year for his diligent delivery of democratic dividends and working to make Nigerian democracy better. In the case of DAAR communication, the governor bagged the award of outstanding governor of the year in the area of job creation. The Vanguard award was also predicated in faithful implementation of programmes and delivery of democratic dividends to the people.
Speaking at the Independent newspaper award ceremony which was held at Eko Hotel, Lagos, the governor said that he was very appreciative that his efforts at enhancing the welfare and security of the people are being recognized. He also thanked the organizers for finding him wealthy of the award and honour.
He opened up on the achievements :‘ Recall that last year I was here to receive the “Man of The Year Award, 2017“ and I am honoured again today, these are possible because we are in perfect relationship with our people back home. I thank God for His blessings, though, the terrain was tough , I am able to succeed with our people because of the experience we have garnered in the act of governance over the years; in partnership with all Deltans that are now, more united than ever, as a government, we will continue to ensure good governance and better days ahead for us all. I am comfortable saying that we are achieving results which has earned us several awards, including this Governor Of The Year Award because of partnership, positive partnership that brings confidence and satisfaction to our people no matter where they may be and as an individual, I will continue to appreciate Deltans for the genuine partnership with my administration.‘
The testimony at the DAAR communication on the award of Governor Okowa as outstanding governor of the year in job creation by the organizers was more of a catalogue of the achievements of the man. This is how Daar Communications, owners of African Independent Television (AIT) and Ray Power FM said of the award: ‘Governor Okowa is a man whose life has been dedicated to public service. Despite the economic challenges that greeted his assumption of office, Governor Okowa has displayed remarkable resourcefulness, resilience, and strong managerial acumen as reflected in the spread of infrastructural projects across the three senatorial districts, employment generation and notable transformation in the education sector. In less than four years, his administration has embarked upon 357 road projects, comprising 1, 056. 15 kms of roads and 352.78 kms of drains; also, his administration has trained and established 4, 253 young graduates in their choice enterprise, while 16, 081 others have been trained and empowered to grow their businesses. Under him, Delta State was in 2017, ranked number one among the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory in human capital development by the National Competitive Council of Nigeria‘.
Ogbueshi Patrick Ukah, the Information Commissioner and the chief image maker of government could not hide his joy over the avalanche of awards got by his principal, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa saying that these awards have disarmed his critics who continue to deny the existence of Okowa‘s achievements . He argued thus on the relevance of the awards : ‘This is a testimony and evidence to what we know and the world now know it is the truth that Governor Okowa has done very well in serving Deltans; I am happy today that everybody can testify that this government has performed and as the Commissioner for Information, I am happy that my job has been made easy, the world is aware of the performance of the governor; they are all saying congratulations but, they have not seen the best of Governor Okowa, in the next four years, it will all be thanksgiving, thanksgiving, and thanksgiving‘.
The chairman of the state PDP, the party on which platform Okowa is etching his name in gold, Barrister Kingsley Esiso described the various awards bestowed on Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as a hallmark of development of the governor.
He said that Okowa’s performance; in spite of the poor economic situation of the country before now is a testimony of development that makes Deltans to believe in the governor’s developmental strides.
Esiso explained further: ‘It will only take a man that is hungry for development to be Governor of Delta, Delta State is not a one-sided state because of the multiplicity of the various ethnic groups and that it is not a place that, when you build a dam, 50 communities can benefit from it. In Delta the governor is identifying with the people’s felt needs and concentrating on them.`
Speaking to the press on the various media awards, Dr Timi Tonye, a state legislator and chairman of publicity committee of Delta State PDP Campaign Organization said Okowa by these awards remain the man to beat in March 2, governorship polls. He bared his sentiments: ‘The awards are recognition of excellence. If you are doing the right thing as a governor and people from far and near will recognize it, these are no mean achievements. They are just recognition for hard work and deliverance of democratic dividends. We are happy as a government. And as the governor has spoken as various fora in receiving these awards, these awards are dedicated to all Deltans.‘
It could also be recalled that while speaking last week in Lagos while receiving the Vanguard award, the governor dedicated all the awards to all Deltans, adding that the award will serve as spring board for more hard work and dedication to duties. His views : ‘I thank Deltans for their partnership and I’m happy to dedicate this award to them. Deltans are wonderful, understanding people; through collaborative efforts, we have made great impact on the provision of infrastructure and development of our people, to achieve prosperity for all Deltans. In the next four years, we hope to build on the successes we’ve made, thus far. With God and effective partnership, we can. ‘
The views of Buhari that Okowa is a media friendly governor could not get better practical ventilation than the various endorsements by the media houses. It is another affirmation that the status conferral of the media is being taken to its logical conclusion by the management of Independent newspaper, Vanguard newspaper and DAAR communications.