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Published On: Wed, Dec 19th, 2018

2019 Delta Gov: Okowa, Ogboru Who The Cap Fit?


By Cogent Owhe
LAGOS DECEMBER 19TH (URHOBOTODAY)-The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) are warming up for next year’s governorship election in Delta State. Cogent Owhe examines the factors that will shape the exercise.
Although many political parties are fielding candidates for the governorship election in Delta State, the contest is a two- horse race between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC). I shall therefore limit myself to highlighting the electoral fortunes of Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru of APC and Dr Ifeanyi Okowa of PDP in the forthcoming election.
Unarguably, voters in the state can be categorised into two baskets of apostles of competence/performance or zoning/ethnic sentiments proponents.
In my evaluation and prognosis, I shall be confining myself to trending issues , opinions gathered from preliminary survey and intereactions with Deltans across the three senatorial districts.
All over the state, the verdict of failure passed on the performance of Okowa in the past three years plus is bi-tribal. From civil servants who are being owed salaries for at least eight months and more, whose pains are multiplied by the brazen denial and misleading media information to the contrary, churned out by the governor, through jobless youths who the state governor does not have a palliative package for, to other residents denied basic services of pedestrian infrastructures such as good roads, hospitals etc. The song and refrain is that Dr. Okowa is a burden to the state.
The popular sentiment among Deltans is that his abysmal failure is not a function of revenue streaming into the state since he assumed office, but incompetence.
Respondents are quick to cite amazing achievements of governors of Kebbi, Cross River and Anambra states who get les revenue than Delta State. Regrettably, Dr Okowa does not have any record of managerial success, prior to his public service that can inspire confidence in voters to risk returning him to govern the state in 2019.
However, Okowa, undeniably a medical doctor, a profession which nitwits dare not aspire to, appears to be performing below what is expected of gifted people which medical doctors supposedly.
In sharp distinction, Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru, the partriach of the once famous Fiograte conglomerate who provided employment for Bendelites and Nigerians at large, when his group of companies were cynosures of the Nigeria economy before they were shut down by a reactionary government, is viewed by many as a better manager of resources and therefore possesses the qualities to transform the fortune of the state. That assertion is supported by the fact of Ogboru’s uncommon transformation from a common employee to an employer of labour and billionaire within a short period as a result of good judgement, a quality Deltans expect from the next governor.
In terms of academic credentials, Ogboru is a holder of two masters degrees in management sciences which are very relevant in the management of the economy than the medical credentials of Dr. Okowa, which can be put into use in other speres of service.
Deltans will vote for a man whom they know to be selfless and can initiate a boom turning vision for the state. Great Ovedje Ogboru fits this bill based on his antecedent in building his vast buisness from the scratch. In him, Deltans will put their faith and trust and expect to reap bountifully from the wise decision.
On the zoning scale, Dr Okowa appears to enjoy some support.There are many people from Anioma, Urhobo, Itsekiris, Ijaws and Isoko who have imbibed the philosophy of zoning and are prepared to cast their votes along the line of zoning.
For this group of persons, good governance of the state is secondary, as long as their zoning sentiments are ingratiated with little handouts from the governor.
Yet there are still some people who believe in zoning but who strongly feel that there should be a balance between good governance and adherence to zoning. As it stand, a higher percentage of those in this sub-bracket will go for a candidate with vision that can impact their lives positively.
No doubt, in this clear contest between Ogboru and Okowa, they will vote for Ogboru. They are applying the anxiom that a good neighbour is better than a bad brother, which is evidently correct.
Strangely, there are also some good number of people who are religious believers of zoning but are scared of Okowa’s return as governor on account of certain hegemonistic tendencies displayed by Okowa that could jeopardise their traditional values and institutions. Such sentiments are coming from Okowa’s backyard in Ika nation and neighbouring kingdoms.
Ogboru can wager on the votes of people with this mindset. They are even prepared to assist beyond casting votes to include spending money and much more to send Okowa packing.
There are yet another group within the zoning fans, who believe that Ogboru deserves their votes as an Anioma son. These voters are mainly from Ndokwa nation who rightly feel that Ogboru being maternally from their enclave, deserve their votes moreso for his outstanding competence. They buttress this with the fact that it was Okowa and his kinsmen who voted for Chief Ibru against Professor Eric Opia from Ndokwa in the first governorship election held after the creation of Delta State.
In the Central where Ogboru is from paternally, the predominant sentiment is that zoning is a conspiracy against the people of Urhobo extraction. Their argument is that, whilst in Midwest and Bendel state , inspite of the unsuccessful shots they took at the governorship office, they never sought to compromise standard by calling for zoning.
Voters in this mindset want to cast their votes for Ogboru for reasons of competence and not ethnic affinity. This sentiment is also prevalent in Itsekiri nation because of the unexpected support Urhobos once gave to their kinsman, Chief Festus Okotie Eboh, in the height of the rivalry between itsekiri and Urhobo.Thus, their assessment of the rivalry and suspicion between the two neighbours is no longer necessary as marriage ties has created too many bi-ethnic nationalities of these once distinct peoples whose sensibilities must be respected moving forward..
Acccordingly, they reasoned that they stand to gain more from a competent neighbour than Okowa who is filled with vengeance against their son, Dr. Uduaghan. It is not different in Ijaw, Isoko , Oshimili and Aniocha who accuse Okowa of nepotic tendencies. They would rather have a man with vision to pilot the affairs of the state than allow a failed Okowa continue with governance of the state.
Inexorably, the evaluation of the sentiments for and against Okowa in the light of the sterling record of Ogboru in the private sector is tilting victory in the 2019 election in favour of Ogboru.
Against the clarion call that public officers should be transparent with official activities, a reaction to the repulsive revelations of corrupt practices of previous governments, Okowa has even become more opaque with funds coming to the state coffer from internal sources of income . This lack of transparency, viewed seriously by Deltans will hurt Dr Okowa hard in the 2019 election.
Ogboru promises to end this despicable conduct by injecting transparency as an integral tendency of his government come 2019.
One way he will show this is regular briefing of Deltans on the status of our revenue earnings, an item in his mission statement. And it is a promise that is resonating with Deltans having regard to the incorruptibility posture of Ogboru in the past 18 years he assumed leading opposition to enthrone an accountable government.
Ogboru is one of the very few individuals in the entire country who successfully resisted the irrestible tempting offers which many others fell for in Delta and beyond. Courage and determination,which are admirable virtues displayed by Ogboru all these years are now being characterised by opponents without selling points as desperation on the part of Ogboru.
Of course, if it could be proven that Ogboru is seeking the office more for self than service, then such negative characterisation could stick.
But the evidence available is that after the last election, Ogboru vowed not to be in the ballot again for the governorship of the state, but sustained pressure from associates couple with compassion for Deltans held hostage by a class of insensitive “leader predators” caused a change of mind. This completely dispels the negative construct of desperation against Ogboru.
Okowa and his collaborators who could not build enduring infrastructures or create jobs from economic activies taking advantage of our comparative competitiveness in the season of abundance should not be expected to manage drought to the relief of Deltans.
A governor who could not create jobs for genuine job seekers, but his mindlessly appointing thousands of political appointees drawing stupendous amounts from our public coffer without providing a corresponding economic or social service is a damned jester.
Another four years for Okowa is invitation for sorrow and irredeemable decay.

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