By Charles Adingupu
As encomiums keep pouring in for Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, who recently clocked sixty, some critics say that there is nothing to cheer about. His followers and associates, however, describe the critics as mischievous.
According to his admirers, beside his suave personality as a certified medical doctor, his sojourn in the murky waters of Nigerian politics and subsequent emergence as governor were beyond a stroke of luck.
To them, Okowa is a man who knows his onions and not swayed by the tide of space and time.
The National Coordinator of the Benin River Vanguard and former board member of the Delta State Post Primary Education Board (PPEB), Comrade Anthony Loya Okotie, in an interview, described Okowa as a detribalized Nigerian and a political mathematician, who has complete knowledge of the political equation of Nigeria.
According to Okotie, the governor has demonstrated in his political adventure that he is indeed a leader, who has the vision and conviction that dreams can become reality. Hence in his first term, he created a promising future for the people whose destiny has been entrusted to his care.
Okotie, who dismissed the insinuation that the governor’s celebration of his 60th birthday was a political fluke organized to pull wool over the eyes of Deltans, stated that it was baseless responding to parochial critics whose past-time was to pull down successful people.
“First, Okowa is a certified medical doctor. He attended different schools and came out in flying colours and practised as a professional. Next, he got married to his heartthrob, Dame Edith. The marriage is blessed with beautiful children, who are presently doing well”, he said.
“His family life is complete and can be better described as the total package. The first family of Delta State is basking in the euphoria of good health other other numerous blessings from God. Yet people grumble that the man should not celebrate. Not everyone has the privilege to mark his golden age in good health and sound mind”.
The former member of the Delta State Post Primary Education Board stated that Okowa’s political profile started from the grass roots to assume this unprecedented height.
“His first political assignment was to serve as Secretary of Ika Local Government Council. In 1993, he became the Chairman of Ika North East Local Government Council. At the inception of the Fourth Republic in 1999, then-Governor James Ibori appointed him as Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources.
“He subsequently served in three different ministries in the state as Commissioner before he became the Secretary to the State Government and later his emergence in 2011 as senator representing Delta North”.
According to Okotie, since Okowa assumed office as governor, the state capital, Asaba, has been wearing a new look.
Deltans, who have been away from the city for a long time, would attest to this claim as there are infrastructures springing up in every nook and cranny of the city.
He also cited the governor’s economic blueprint, known as the SMART AGENDA, which focuses on wealth creation, peace building, security, urban renewal, affordable and quality health, agriculture and industrialization.
The economic policy, he said, is boosting the economy of Delta, adding that the governor understands the gains of industrialization, hence he engaged in massive provision of infrastructures and social amenities in every community.
Okotie also credits Okowa with the construction of 387 roads spread across Delta with over 70 in the works.
“This explains why he is popularly known as the Road Master”, he said.
“His empowerment scheme also took 17, 000 youths who were ready tools for crisis and security were also taken off the streets and meaningfully engaged.
“No fewer than 5, 500 widows were placed on monthly stipend of N5, 000 each in a pool of 20 widows per ward across the 25 council areas of the state.
“He made health care, his primary constituency, affordable while the education sector witnessed unprecedented development with the provision of structures and incentives to boost the morale of teachers”.
Okotie added, “I wish to join millions of Deltas in particular and Nigerians in general to wish our dynamic governor, Senator Okowa, happy sixtieth birthday. Age gracefully”.
- Adingupu is resident in Asaba