By Ovie Edomi
Political scientists, social commentators and analysts have recently been presenting diverse postulations and speculations about the workings and emerging interests and concerns of various stalwarts of the ruling party in Delta State and with special reference to the body language of the incumbent governor of Delta State: Senator Ifeanyi Okowa.
This development is naturally expected and very welcome in view of the fact that the party primaries for the selection of a governorship candidate for the impending 2023 gubernatorial elections is less than a year from now. Another congruent milestone development is the growing number of very important personalities, distinguished Deltans who have expressed their interest in the governorship position of the State.
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Significantly, the personal interest and disposition of the incumbent Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa who naturally has some latitudes, to tango or tilt the election pendulum depending on the flexibility allowed into the election process by the key stakeholders of the PDP. Whatever it is and however the process works out, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa as the incumbent governor definitely has a significant role to play in the determination, implementation and implications of the 2023 gubernatorial political process in Delta State as the chief umpire and moderator of the event. Without whim, fantasy or exaggeration, this is a very important role in Senator Ifeanyi Okowa’s political career and he will no doubt by his implicit and explicit actions in this event be creating and keeping a very memorable date with history.
Fortunately, perhaps the most remarkable and outstanding character which personifies and has typified his administration to Deltans is INTEGRITY. This characteristic feature has either been desecrated, relegated or abandoned in the Nigerian political space. INTEGRITY has become like the proverbial narrow way in the Bible, which the Bible declares is hard to find and by few. Needless therefore to say that many Nigerian politicians are crooked and disgruntled without any moral fiber of integrity, being blown and swayed only by fleeting considerations of pedestrian mercurial benefits and inglorious, uncanny, heroism.
They rise to notorious unpopularity by shameless, conscienceless despicable monstrosity, which evaporates into thin air soon after their inglorious exit from political office. This is where fortunately Delta and Deltans are blessed by having one of the rare men who have displayed and are ruled by principled INTEGRITY, obviously through influences of family background and personal inclination.
Anyone who has keenly observed and followed the trajectory of recruitments, appointments, transfers, promotions, contract awards and general administrative business of the 1st tenure and thus far into the 2nd tenure of Governor Okowa would easily attest that the defining character and quality of his administration is INTEGRITY.
There are three critical trimesters in the threshold of an administration, political or otherwise. The process of acquiring or coming into power, the process of dispensing (implementing) power, and the last stage which pertains to the process of terminating or leaving power. Interestingly and fortunately, the first and second stages of the Okowa administration have transpired very well by the special grace of God and the goodwill and cooperation of well-meaning Deltans. To keep up the tide therefore, the Governor should give special attention to the political activities and election rituals surrounding his exit from office, which would determine the very crucial issue of a successor who would take his achievements in office, his party and the entire state to the NEXT LEVEL positively.
The Governor Okowa I know is a political juggernaut who knows very well that he would be remembered for a long time, on how he plays the politics of who replaces him to carry on his massive political legacies. On a personal note of advice, if I were Governor Okowa and I have by the special grace of God started well and achieved the lofty heights in governance, I will certainly be very careful because the saying goes that it is better to end well than to begin. The scriptures lend credence to this maxim in averring that ‘the glory of the latter, shall surpass the former’.
For the end to be sweet, it must be carefully prepared and very carefully sealed and delivered.
The bottom line consideration should be hinged on the gentleman zoning plan/agreement between the 3 senatorial districts. That extant agreement vests the turn of Okowa’s successor on the Delta Central Senatorial zone.
It is therefore only fit and proper that this arrangement/agreement which has oiled the wheels of peace and progress and facilitated the process of gubernatorial transition smoothly and cordially in the state be upheld, at the least by someone like Governor Okowa; whom Governor Ibori stood doggedly by in the face of daunting odds. This milestone transitional midwifing of his successor, would thus only be satisfactory and peaceful, if the Governor’s actions are in keeping with and conform to the rightful expectations of the people of Delta Central Senatorial Zone, who are standing faithfully by to receive the truncheon baton of the state’s governance. As the present leader of the PDP in Delta State, all eyes are definitely focused on Governor Okowa to play the last role on the Delta State political stage with his characteristic elegance, charismatic equanimity, practiced integrity and eclectic dexterity.
This is the epistle, the image and endnote that Deltans want him to leave with. These qualities summarize and would ultimately memorialize the indelible footprints which he has signposted everywhere and etched deeply into the sands as governor of Delta State in various terrains and landmarks of his very remarkable and distinguished administration.
No doubt, Governor Okowa is presently widely regarded beyond Delta State as the strongman of Delta politics after Governor James Ibori, the Odidigboigbo himself, who is like the wind that blows in every direction and thus cannot be avoided; and who is irrefutably like the water that has no enemy. Governor Okowa on his part has himself come a long way. He is presently regarded as the road master and grand master of politics beyond Delta State, which is very good. But how the master of politics and the governor of oil rich Delta would handle the politics of who replaces him is presently a mystery that would soon be uncovered.
According to statements and utterances made by aides and close confidants of the Governor of Delta State, the Governor is disposed to upholding the rotational arrangement that has brought peace to Delta State, which means the agreement remains sacrosanct. The implication of this position is that Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, the Governor of Delta State will hand over power to someone from Delta central, which is the 1st angle of this political equation.
The next angle, which is certainly more crucial is the question of who in Delta central from the PDP, is the more qualified, better positioned and well-suited candidate presently jostling for the position among the several contenders that have shown interest in the number one seat? As the late veteran female playwright echoed in her ‘’Wedlock of the gods” about Uloko by Odibei, ‘’it’s not anything that parades an okra sprout that is a man”. The issue of the most dependable, most commanding, most imposing, most compelling, most alluring, most accessable and most quintessential candidate is as crucial as imaginable.
This is why the PDP kingmakers must carefully consider and decide on the caliber of candidate to field in the 2023 gubernatorial election if victory is desired and deserved by the party indeed. The party clearly needs a candidate who when placed with other candidates from the APC on the ballot box balance would tower (not merely physically of course) like Saul in the Bible, head and shoulders above his counterparts. Someone with the charisma and sweeping acceptance that would demystify and swallow any force that any APC candidate can command or wield during the 2023 gubernatorial election. This is the real crux of the issue that the PDP should be dealing with and not divertive external or superficial considerations.
There is indeed a candidate who commands that level of acceptance, goodwill and trust that is demanded. Let Governor Okowa look at the aspirants from Delta Central very well.
A man like Governor Obaseki of Edo State won the PDP election because he had the massive confidence and support of the masses. Similarly, the victory of PDP in Oyo State during the last gubernatorial poll was ostensibly decided by the caliber of the candidate the party fielded. A candidate who was accepted, loved and trusted by the people and who equally had the necessary influence and supportive means, is who PDP needs to settle for.
I do know very well such a worthy man. A man with very enviable track records of selfless services to the PDP and Delta state equally; with a penchant for open door policy. I will however keep mum on him for Governor Okowa to unveil him.
Therefore, if Gov. Okowa and his team must over-run the APC candidate despite any federal favours or privileges such a candidate may wield, then they must come together this time and unanimously agree on a candidate with the winning pedigree. Anything to the contrary would mean that PDP’s days in Delta state’s governance are numbered.
Furthermore, to do this selection correctly and meritoriously therefore, Gov. Okowa very importantly needs to consult widely. There is a maxim that wisdom resides in the multitude of counsel, which is why it is said that a man who asks the way hardly misses his tracks. Though there is no doubt that the Governor is very versatile politically, it would be wrong to assume that he knows it all; because in politics; clearly there is no man who is an island unto himself and knows it all.
Expectedly therefore and very imperatively, the Governor should bring to a round table former Governors, former Federal Ministers, former Senators, present House of Representative members, former speakers of the House of Assembly who are all descendants and ancestors of the great PDP; inclusive of but not restricted to veterans like Chiefs Ibori, Orubebe, Elumelu, Amori, Osakwe. There is nothing to be ashamed of in seeking counsel; on the contrary, it is a virtue.
Definitely, the central issue and overriding concern that should be of focus at this time is not the axis in Delta Central that the governor should emerge from in 2023. That would be to reduce the governorship to ethnic groups, basis and biases, which would no doubt pose dangers of ethnic vicissitudes for the party subsequently.
The legacy that Gov. Okowa and the party leaders should consider leaving behind, which would guarantee the victory and progress of the PDP and Deltans; can only derive from searching and installing a worthy, people – oriented candidate, who would have a walk- over at the primaries and win the APC candidate hands down and without stress.
If however the number one candidate of the party in Delta State in the person of Governor Okowa decides to jettison edifying considerations and cling to old sentimental alliances with some power brokers, he is most likely not going be able to identify a winning candidate who will naturally succeed him and continue the legacies of peace and prosperity that the PDP has painsgtakingtly established in Delta State. This would inevitably be very regrettable.
This therefore is time to learn from history. This period of skepticism calls for strong consultations and divine instruction. To do otherwise would be counterproductive.
Thus, the onus is on Gov. Okowa to make things better for him and Delta State politically by supporting a popular aspirant from Delta Central Senatorial zone, so that when he rounds off his second tenure, he would be greatly remembered for supporting his successor and bequeathing to the next generation of leaders a lasting legacy.
Edomi, is the Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, South-South International, Member, Editorial Board of SANs Compendium & Former Publicity Secretary of Association of Communication Scholars & Professionals of Nigeria.