By Emmanuel Aziken
Immediate past governor of Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa following successive stints as commissioner, Secretary to the State Government, senator, and two terms as governor is presently on what his aficionados term as an interlude.
Senator Okowa, a medical doctor turned politician, has excelled beyond the imagination of that small boy from Esigie House, in Edo College, Benin, and the bookworm his colleagues at the University of Ibadan thought of.
However, his path to political glory as was witnessed by the mainstream of the political class in Delta State a week ago at his homecoming in Owa, Ika Northeast was, however, paved with many trials and tribulations.
Both politically and in the realm of governance of Delta State.Hours before he stepped down penultimate week, the former governor sat down with some of the country’s leading media chiefs and reviewed his stewardship, snags, and successes of a political career many of his supporters believe is yet to climax.
Asked about the most challenging times of his political career, Okowa shocked many when he looked beyond the shocks of the 2023 presidential election, the intrigues of the 2014 governorship primaries to the 2010 Senate primaries that eventually brought him to the national limelight.
He told his story:“Politically, maybe you may not know, the most challenging moment was making up my mind to go to the senate. I did not wish to go to the Senate then, not because I hated to be in the Senate, but I just thought somehow, did I need to? Because there was a lot of pressure when I was SSG. A lot of pressure, lot of pressure.
“In 2010 January, the party chairman then, Peter Nwaoboshi, came to me and said, governor wants you to go to the Senate and I said, I doubt if I want to go to the Senate and I doubt if I want to run any election. He said if he comes back tell him. Governor travelled then and end of January, he came back and sent for me, and he said he wanted me to go to the Senate.
Me, I had a difficulty in my hand. I had already called Victor Ochei (Speaker Emeritus, Delta State House of Assembly) and I had told him why don’t you prepare for the Senate, but Victor Ochei did not answer me in the affirmative as he said that he wanted to think about it.
“But the governor told me not to think about Ochei that Ochei will not go to the Senate, that he wanted me to go to the Senate.“I was confused. I told him to give me time to think about it. I came back to him at the end of April after three months. I said okay, if that is what he wanted that I would prepare myself to run for it.
“Of course, by July I had to resign and people were wondering, why should I resign. But I wanted to make contact with the people and I couldn’t combine SSG with that position because one of it must suffer.
“As I moved on, I met all manner of things. It was very frustrating. If you will remember that election was run three times under coverage by Channels because there were powers that be…
“It was very frustrating, but somehow, by God’s grace, God sent people to push me through.
“Funnily enough, our acting national chairman (Mohammed Aliero) had never me with me but he had to defend me in the presidency and from what I was told, he had to go into a physical combat with Dr Ali who was the former chairman to ensure that I was enabled to have a repeat primary. (And that was even after I had initially been declared winner, because he had gotten an instruction from the presidency that my name must be replaced.)
“I was told that the president had to separate both of them and the man said I am the acting
chairman, I will not send Dr (Mrs) Ali, the best I can do is to give 48 hours for a reconduct. How I managed to go into that primary …because I was as good as not having anything and I was told that the primary must be televised yet again and I had nothing.
“Meanwhile, the same Nwaoboshi who was my chairman who came to invite me to run for the race came with over 100 thugs that day as the presiding chairman of the State to try to stop me. But God saw us through.
“It is frustrating sometimes to run an election but what that thing did for me was that it drew me closer to people. When the police were shooting their guns, nobody moved. They all sat in their seats and nobody was fighting and nobody moved. When we were moving in for the election, a little over 2,000 delegates that were with me all decided that we would trek from my residence to the venue. It was a lot of support, a lot of encouragement,” the former governor said.