BY FIDELIS EGUGBO
IN life, one can comfortably say that trust is everything. But, in politics, struggle for power, deception is the act. Even Brutus had to betray his bosom friend and Boss, Julius Caesar because of power. Betrayal due to quest for power transcends human understanding as even the witches gave false prophecies that led to the fall of Macbeth. The game of power is such that the devil also uses it on human; Jesus Christ declined the offers of the devil but, one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot could not resist such. Who knows the official position that Judas Iscariot could have been offered aside 30 pieces of silver?
Trust, is a five letter word that was fast becoming what can only be gleaned from fairy tales, especially in politics until Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa emerged as the Governor of Delta State. Okowa’s emergence can aptly be used to boost the confidence of those who are losing faith in God as he is always ready to attribute his electoral victories to God.
The governor having survived several political turbulence has learnt all the verses of the gospel tune, “My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less.” One cannot forget in haste that the governor’s journey to the Senate was a turbulent one. It was almost an impossible task then. One can only but, imagine the daring nature of Dr Okowa, but, having practiced as a Medical Doctor, served as Secretary to local government council, empowered a lot of Deltans as Commissioner for Agriculture and later, Commissioner for Health before becoming the Secretary to the State Government, he was confident that he was more on ground to win the primary election.
The primaries that saw the emergence of Dr Okowa as the flag-bearer of the PDP was held severally all in a bid for the wishes of the people to be truncated but, Dr Okowa who resigned his position as the SSG to vie for the position was not deterred, he ensured that the primaries were beamed live on national television stations to the world. That transparency saved Dr Okowa and with the hurdles cleared at the PDP primaries, it was a smooth sail for him to the Senate.
Going into what transpired during the governorship primaries that saw Senator Okowa emerging as the PDP gubernatorial flag bearer may take a lot of space but, he was least endorsed by political leaders for the position, yet, PDP delegates in an overwhelming voice, voted for him and with the victory at the PDP primaries, it was another smooth sail for him to the Government House, Asaba.
With the above scenario, the governor believes that power only comes from God as it did not take time for members of the PDP, who desired a party that Nigerians can trust to discover Governor Okowa as someone who can carry out his functions, diligently, without fear or favour but, with strong belief that the will of the people should prevail, bearing in mind that the voice of the people, is the voice of God.
The litmus test for the governor came when there were factions in the PDP and against the permutation of pundits, he navigated the ship of the party through a non-elective convention that was acceptable to the party members and applauded by all Nigerians.
As one who delivered during the non-elective convention held in August, 2017, the onus fell on him again to conduct the elective convention of the party in December of that same year and to the glory of God, that elective convention was conducted transparently and credibly to the extent that losers in the elections embraced those that won.
That convention can be described as what saved Nigeria’s democracy from a one-party state as a formidable opposition political party, the PDP was reborn. Officers were elected into various positions of the party and today, PDP speaks as a formidable political party in the country.
Since the successful conduct of the elective convention of the PDP, especially at a time when no other political party in the country has been able to muster the courage to do such, Governor Okowa is seen by most Nigerians as the face of credibility of the PDP.
It was no wonder the leadership of the party called on him again to conduct the gubernatorial primaries of Ekiti State. To conduct the primary elections with Governor Okowa were Chief Henry Ikoh, Chief Samuel Nwanosike, Col. Bala Mande and Dr Baraka Sani who served as Secretary of the committee.
The governor on May 8, 2018, few days ago, was in Ekiti State to conduct the primaries. Ekiti State has always been in the news as the State Governor, Mr Ayo Fayose is, a very vocal member of the PDP. It is on record that three days before Governor Okowa conducted the primaries, attempts by the All Progressive Congress (APC), the main opposition political party in the area to conduct theirs ended in fiasco with most of their members sustaining different degrees of injuries.
As such, there was apprehension when yours sincerely joined the governor on that trip to Ekiti. But, while APC fielded more than 30 aspirants, including a Minister of the Federal Government for the governorship primaries, the PDP had only three aspirants, the current deputy governor of the state, Prof. Kolapo Olusola; former national spokesman of the party, Prince Dayo Adeyeye and serving Senator, Biodun Olujimi.
As a man who knew his onion, Governor Okowa arrived Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, a day before the primary elections and went round the town with members of his committee searching for desirable venue for the primary election. The stadium was visited, but, was ruled out due to fear that rain may disturb the event. After several considerations, the Great Eagle Event Centre, along Ikere/Ekiti Expressway was chosen. The place is serene, spacious to accommodate the about 2, 000 delegated billed for the election. We retired for the night at about mid-night, at a time Governor Okowa was still holding series of meetings to ensure a hitch-free primaries.
As envisaged, we woke up at about 4.30 am with the heavens opening, but, the rain did not deter Senator Okowa with members of his committee as they moved to the election venue at about 6.30 am. The governor moved around without umbrella in the rain determined that primary elections in the state would not dent the image he has carved for himself as a performer at the national level. It was the proverbial case of, having wrestled on top of the palm tree, wrestling on top of palm kernel would not be a challenge. All that one can say, were words of prayers and thanks to God for giving the governor the wisdom and energy to do what he was doing.
Wearing a pair of jeans, a flowered long-sleeve shirt, fez cap and a matching footwear, loafers, Governor Okowa literally arranged the halls where the voting took place and that used for accreditation. From that 6.30 am, the governor only sat down to sign some documents, he was on the move, from entrance of the halls to where the accreditations were taking place to the venue where the voting took place, all to ensure that it was hitch-free. It is worth mentioning that delegates were accredited at the Dove Event Centre, few metres from where the voting took place. The delegates were taken in a bus to the voting centre with heavy presence of security operatives.
Governor Okowa personally, did head counts of all the delegates before they cast their votes, followed it up by supervising the sorting of votes and counting. Immediately voting was concluded, the Governor asked the aspirants if they were satisfied with the process before the results would be announced and they said, it was so credible and transparent.
According to Prince Adeyeye, “I’m very much satisfied with the process and by the grace of God whoever wins, we are going to support whoever emerges. The process is transparent and credible.”
Prof. Olusola on his part said, “I thank God for this excellent job, entire process peaceful, fair and credible, this shows that our able leaders are projecting PDP as a party worthy of emulation. Whoever emerges, I’m going to join hands with him to move the state forward.”
The Governor personally counted the votes and at the end, declared Prof. Olusola winner as he polled 1, 190 votes against Prince Adeyeye who got 771 votes. Senator Olujimi shortly before voting commenced, withdrew from the race citing her commitment to moving the party forward.
Governor of Ekiti State, Mr Ayo Fayose in a brief speech after the declaration of winner at the congress, said, “we will keep Okowa here till Friday to help APC, if not they will not have any candidate. They will still continue to beat themselves. They can’t conduct congresses, they do not represent the minds of the masses.”
Governor Okowa who thanked the press and all those who contributed to the successful organization of the primary elections, rejected the offer to conduct the APC primaries saying he was not a member of the APC and was eager to return to Delta State where his people want him.
But, if you think his credibility is admired only by Nigerians outside his state, you have missed the point. In Delta State, he is known as the Ekwueme, the man who does not waver on his words. His words are his bonds and that has seen him, to be committed to developing all parts of the state that my Warri brothers would chorus at every opportunity, “Okowa Dey Work, We Dey See Am,” and elsewhere in the state, he is nicknamed, the Road Master.
Chairman, Governing Council, Delta State School of Health Technology, Ofuoma-Ughelli, Dr (Pharmacist) Nelson Ejakpovi stated, “the peaceful conduct of the governorship primaries of the PDP in Ekiti State has rekindled the hope of Nigerians that with PDP, there is future for our country. It was a clear evidence that with godly men in positions of authority, things can be done right in the country. We are proud to be associated with Governor Okowa, we are happy that he has strengthened our party at the state and at the national levels.
With Governor Okowa becoming the face of transparent and credible elections in Nigeria, the world, especially, Nigerians are now aware that the only democratic party, the only political party where people have freedom to express themselves, is, the PDP. I congratulate the Deputy Governor of Ekiti State, Prof. Kolapo Olusola for his victory but, obviously, the winner in that primaries is the PDP, because, at a time other political parties could not organise their congresses, PDP has shown unity of purpose in the struggle to entrench democratic tenets in Nigeria. I congratulate Prince. Dayo Adeyeye and Senator Biodun Olujimi for believing in our party and their commitment to retain the winning streak of the party as exemplified by Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State.”
Politically, Governor Okowa is bound to break the record as the first Executive Governor of the state who will contest for second term in office unopposed in the party’s primaries. Of course, with the way he emerged as the PDP flag-bearer in 2014 ahead of the 2015 governorship elections, which he has backed with successful delivery of democratic dividends that are acceptable by the people, one may not be surprised if he is adopted as the sole candidate of all the political parties for the 2019 gubernatorial elections. This is because, many Deltans sees the completion of his 8-year tenure as a done-deal based on his achievements as a governor and the fact that his predecessors, Chief James Ibori and Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan completed two tenures each for their Senatorial Districts, Delta Central and Delta South Senatorial Districts respectively.
With the successful conduct of the primary elections of Ekiti State, there is clear indication that PDP support base will continue to increase.