By Julius Oweh
The presidential system of government which we currently practice makes provisions for a president and vice president at the national level and at the state level for a governor and a deputy governor. The constitutional provision is so all encompassing that it is impossible for a governorship candidate to run for election without a deputy governorship candidate. But that is where the constitution stops as far as the deputy governor or the vice president is concerned. There is no specific role for the deputy governor and the functions performed by the deputy governor are at the whims and caprices of the governor. And this unfortunately has led to frosty relationships between some governors and their deputies even leading to the impeachment of the latter.
However here in Delta State, since the Okowa administration mounted the reins of power in 2015, the story has been one of amity and love between the two men – a medical doctor and a lawyer. Dr Ifeanyi Okowa and Barrister Kingsley Burutu Otuaro have piloted the state of affairs to the envy of other governors and deputy governors. In some states where the governors are afraid to go annual leave, it is always pleasurable for Okowa to go on leave, giving the reins of powers to Otuaro as acting governor. As you read this piece, Otuaro is piloting Delta State as acting governor and the people of the state are happier for it.
In one of the letters intimating the State House of Assembly about his annual leave and intention to pass the reins of power to his deputy, the Okowa spoke of his confidence in Otuaro and his ability to take charge of state affairs in the governor‘s absence.
This is the tenor of one of such letters : ‘I send warm greetings to the Right Honourabe Speaker, and write to intimate the Honourable House, that I would be proceeding on 15 days leave which will form part of my 2017 annual vacation from Monday, June 26 to Wednesday, July 12, 2017, while the remaining part of my annual leave will be enjoyed later in the year.
In accordance with Section 190 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, His Excellency, Barr. Kingsley Otuaro, the Deputy Governor of Delta State, shall perform the duties of my office as Acting Governor during the period of my absence on leave.
I will greatly appreciate if the foregoing is placed before the Honourable House for information.
Please, accept the assurances of my high regard and best wishes for you and the Honourable Members of the House.‘ And in all the occasions, the deputy governor has discharged his duties to the best of his abilities and to the admiration of all Deltans.
And on Tuesday, the deputy governor turned 51 and there were messages of goodwill and congratulations to him from all parts of the state. His principal, the state governor congratulated Otuaro on his birthday, describing him as a dependable ally. He also commended the qualities and competence of the deputy governor. Okowa specifically mentioned the role of Otuaro as chairman of Peace Advocacy Committee Against Oil Facility Vandalism in Delta state. This role , according to Okowa ensured peace in oil production in the state.
The congratulatory message which was signed by the chief press secretary to the governor Mr. Charles Aniagwu read thus :‘On behalf of my family, the government and people of Delta State, I wish to felicitate with my amiable deputy governor, a party stalwart and leader of inestimable value on the occasion of his 51stbirthday anniversary celebration.
You have been a worthy and dependable partner in our quest to ensure peace and security in our dear state and I must place it on record that you and your team in the Peace Advocacy Committee Against Oil Facility Vandalism in Delta state contributed largely to the peace we enjoy today in the oil and gas industry in the state.
Your life symbolizes diligence, humility, perseverance, focus and dedicated service and this explains why your people of Warri South West local government area and Deltans overwhelmingly voted us back for a second term, to continue in our quest to build a stronger Delta of our dream.
Your Excellency, your indefatigable role as the deputy governor of our dear Delta State has contributed to the remarkable and modest achievements recorded by our administration and I thank God because, with your continued partnership and that of entire Deltans, better days are indeed here for our people. I join your family, friends and well-wishers to thank Almighty God for His continued guidance, protection and provision for you in the past 51 years of a life of forthrightness, outstanding patriotism and service to humanity with which He has blessed you. Happy birthday, my brother and friend‘.
And from the legislature arm of government, the State House of Assembly was a message of hope and felicitation with the deputy governor. The message which was signed by the Speaker of the State House of Assembly Honourable Sheriff Oborevwori and other members praised the deputy governor for his loyalty and working in harmony with his principal for the good and development of the state . Part of the message reads :‘We wish to rejoice and felicitate with our amiable deputy governor Barrister Kingsley Otuaro. We are proud to be associated with you on this occasion. You have indeed been a dependable deputy governor to our governor and your contribution to the development of our state is commendable. May God illuminate your path as you continue to contribute to the development of our people. Once again, happy birthday and congratulations.‘
Chief Favour Izoukumor, the chief scribe of Ogbe-Ijoh Warri kingdom spoke of Otuaro loyalty, a shining example to other deputy governors in the country and his passion for hard work and dedication to serve. Izoukumor shared his sentiments on the deputy governor: ‘Your commitment to the principles of fairness, justice, equity and fair play for all has endeared you to many near and far away and endeared peace in our state. Your years in the politics have burnished your reputation as a peace maker, a disciple of Christ just as positive advocacy for peace as chairman of the Peace Advocacy Committee Against Oil Facilities Vandalism has not only brought peace but reassured foreign and local investors on this administration‘s commitment to a viable business environment. You have thus shown that the explicit confidence reposed on you by our amiable governor was not misplaced. It is truism that God rewards the diligent and faithful, as your efforts were rewarded with outstanding results from the three Warri Local government Areas and the whole of Delta South senatorial district in the last election‘.
The Delta State deputy governor is a graduate of Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma. He also has Masters in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of Ibadan. A deacon of Christ Embassy and happily married to Mrs. Ebierin Otuaro, an engineer and the union is blessed with children.