Track him to Government House Chapel where he worships
Blackmail themselves, gossip to gain attention
By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South- South
THE Government House Chapel in Asaba, Delta State, where Governor Ifeanyi Okowa , aka Ekwueme, devotedly worships every morning in the past four years before going to the office to attend to state matters, has recorded very large flock in last few days, especially after his swearing-in for a second tenure, May 29.
Indisputably, the presiding pastor and his assistants are engaged in the business of soul winning, an injunction from the Lord, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, but from the conduct of the “new converts,” it is manifestly clear that there is more than meets the eye.
Besides flocking the chapel, they do everything that will make the governor notice them while in the church, some mannerism that has given them out as lobbyists.
Those who could not make it the holy place to “see” the governor have also devised other means; including blackmail and tittle-tattle to get the governor’s attention.
A politician, who spoke to Saturday Vanguard, said, “You are aware of the African proverb that says ‘since the bird has learned how to fly without perching, the hunter has also learned how to shoot without missing.’ Then, it should not be difficult for you to understand that since the governor has learned how to fly without perching, we have also learnt how to shoot without missing.”
“When you go to see him, there is security barricade, you call and send text message, there is no reply, what will you do? That is why some politicians have resorted to the church because we know he comes there to worship. This is the season of political appointments, we are politicians, if you do not lobby, push and fight for yourself, who will do it for you,” he asserted
“Everybody is greedy, even your political leaders will supplant the list agreed by the party in the respective areas with different names and this is already causing animosity in the state,” he explained.
A former Special Assistant to Governor Okowa, who confirmed the new tricks by politicians lobbying Okowa, asserted: “The lobby to get reappointed or get fresh appointments by the political class is hot. The scheming for the governor’s attention is massively ongoing. Some of us even sleep at the Government House Chapel to get closer to the governor.”
“Personally, I do not see anything wrong with lobbying or being a lobbyist. In fact, I am considering a certificate course in United States soon in the art of lobbying and being a lobbyist. So let us allow those who lobby to do so in peace.
“My only fear, however, is that I believe that Senator Okowa will be difficult to lobby, if not impossible to lobby on appointments. Some powerful Deltans can testify to this already.
“I think he has already made up his mind on what he needs from what he wants in his second term and he will hardly deviate from his set objectives. Remember, even Governor Okowa’s testimony that his former Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Barrister Festus Agas, yet he did not re-appoint him.
“Therefore, what makes you feel that you will be re-appointed to office? Clearly, whether you are competent or think you are very close to Ekwueme, if you do not fit into his set vision at this time, you are on your own, OYO,” he revealed.
The former aide, however, added, “If one ever gets considered, let him praise God, if not, so be it, one must move on and try business. The man, Okowa, faithfully paid us every month and we cannot say he has not made our life better. Hmmm, but hunger is already beating some people in the street less than one month out of office.”
According to him, “For me, I cannot pretend I am not hoping to be reappointed, but truly I will not lobby. I do not want to fool myself as many are doing. If Governor Okowa feels my service is needed in this government, he will definitely appoint me, if not, I am grateful enough to have served in his first tenure.”
At the time of this report, the governor had made three key appointments, among them Secretary to the State Government, SSG, which went to a former Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, Mr. Chiedu Ebie.
Though there was speculation that the former SSG, Barr Agas, would not make it, many disbelieved because he was one of the politicians that went to the political trenches in 2015 with Okowa, which earned him the appointment in the first instance.
However, the governor, who described him as competent still left him for Ebie because of the new indices he has put in place for political appointments. It does not mean Agas may not serve in another capacity.
Ebie, a lawyer, never knew that the governor was going to appoint him SSG. People, who did not quite know that Ebie is from Delta North senatorial district, same region with Okowa, kicked against his appointment in the social media, saying he is a protégé of the former governor of the state, Chief James Ibori. They equally made same insinuation about the new Chief of Staff, Olorogun David Edevbie, former Commissioner for Finance, identified as another Ibori boy
A dependable source familiar with what transpired on the appointment of Ebie as SSG, Edevwie as Chief of Staff, Government House and Hon Solomon Funkekeme as Senior Political Adviser, said they are all members of Ibori political family, including Okowa, but their appointments had nothing to do with Ibori.
The source said, “Okowa is not listening to any political godfather this time and had made it clear that he should be allowed to choose capable people that will work with him because at the end, it is him that will take the blame for any lapse.”
Executive Director, Centre for the Vulnerable and Underprivileged, CENTREP in Delta State, Mr. Oghenejabor Ikimi, recently came hard on those that accused Okowa in the social media of playing ethnic politics with the appointment of Ebie as SSG, describing them as deluded.
“We in CENTREP do not agree with some of the state policies of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, but we, however, believe that his recent political appointments of his personal staffers are in order as the said appointments cut across the three senatorial districts of the state.”
“Our position devoid of any primordial motive stems from the fact that the political equation in Delta State lies in the offices of the Governor, (Delta North), Deputy Governor, (Delta South) and Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, (Delta Central) and not in the appointment by Governor Okowa of his personal political staffers as in the instant case.
“Without holding brief for the governor, we believe that as chief executive, the governor has the prerogative to appoint whomever he desires as his personal staff whether or not they are his relatives as long as the appointees are eminently qualified to occupy such positions. It is, therefore, unfair and sarcastic for the proponents of the above theory to pontificate that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa is a tribal bigot trying to Aniomalize the entire Delta state,” Ikimi added.
His words, “Since Governor Okowa had assured Deltans that further political appointments would be done on the basis of equity and fair play across the three senatorial districts of the state, we call on the proponents of the above tribal theory, who are indeed troublemakers to sheathe their swords henceforth.”
“Such inflammatory statements are capable of further dividing and polarizing our beloved state along tribal lines to the detriment of peace, progress and development of our state and her citizenry,” he cautioned.
Swearing-in Ebie on Monday, the governor said, “Sectionalism and nepotism must not have a place in the thoughts, choices and actions of those who will work with me.”
“I want to assure all Deltans that this administration will continue to run an all-inclusive government whether in terms of appointments or projects distribution. We have only just started; Deltans should trust us to do the right thing, and do it we shall and I wish to emphasize that appointments into this administration will be based on merit and geographical spread, not on emotions, sentiments or for the sole purpose of political patronage,” he said.
“We are in a hurry to get things done and cannot afford to lose precious time; therefore, this is not the time for apprenticeship. We shall be going for men and women, who are conversant with governance, understand our policy direction and require minimal supervision to do their work; it shall be a good combination of youth and experience to ensure that governance goes on seamlessly.”
He specifically urged Mr Ebie to know that as SSG, his office is the engine room of governance and he has to maintain an open door policy as much as possible, make himself available to all and sundry and give every citizen the opportunity to benefit from government programmes.
Also urging him to be tactful, objective, resourceful and calm at all times, he expressed confidence that Mr Ebie would work tirelessly to help his administration deliver on its electioneering promises by reconciling and harmonizing the activities of ministries, departments and agencies of government for effective policy formulation and implementation.
Governor Okowa asserted, “Mr Ebie is a fine gentleman who served meritoriously as Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education in the first tenure of this administration; his civility, analytical depth, communication skills and diligence are essential qualities needed for the office of the SSG.”
“In addition to these, modern statecraft, with all its complexities and challenges, requires team players, proactive leaders and men with large appetite for work; criteria which I am convinced Mr Ebie is well equipped with to enrich the social, political and economic narrative of our dear State,” he said.