Precisely on May 29, 2017, marked two years of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s Government which was sworn in for a four-year term. Governor Okowa, flying the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) flag rode into political power on the crest of their usual suger-coated campaign promises wrapped around the punchy sentence of “Prosperity For Deltans!” Two years after the said Okowa’s Government of ‘prosperity for all Deltans’, was inaugurated amidst “bag full of promises and assurances” that things will finally turn around for good for Deltans, Okowa and his Government have struggled to keep to their words or live to the hype that brought them into Government.
Now, if you are given the opportunity as a Deltan and a concerned Nigerian to mark their mid-term performance report, how would you score the Delta State Government of Okowa on the scale of 1-100 using the subject matters of Power, Education, Health, Standard of living of Deltans, Infrastructure, Security, Law & Order, Employment Opportunities, Good Governance, Accountability & Transparency, etc.? In as much as everyone is entitled to their own opinions and views about the Delta State Government of the day, but if we are to tell ourselves the sincere truth; devoid of any bias, prejudice, ethnic or political affiliations, we would score the Delta State Government below 25 in their mid-term performance – judging them with their campaign promises and theme of “Prosperity For All Deltans.”
Okowa made a promise that every Democracy Day (May 29th) in Delta State will be tagged “Praise Day”, a promise that he has fulfilled since he came on board in 2015. Okowa has not repaired the many existing bad roads in urban cities of the State and he goes about praising God on May 29th, without doing the right thing and failing to fulfill his campaign promises. He has fulfilled his promise of praising God, but the question is, has he fulfilled his electoral promises to Deltans? Has he created job opportunities for Deltans? Has Deltans become prosperous under his government or stricken further with poverty and lack? Has he paid civil servants salaries/areas as well as pensioners? Has he constructed enough roads and schools and other basic infrastructures and public amenities? Has he been accountable and transparent to Deltans in the management of the State’s wealth and resources? Has he addressed the decay in the State’s public health sector in the General and Teaching Hospitals? Has he been able to guarantee Deltans and prospective Investors of assured Security of lives and property in the State? Has he lived up to “expectations of Deltans” in the last two years of his reign in Government? If election were to take place today, will he still win like he supposedly won in the last gubernatorial elections? Will Deltans come out in mass to elect and support him based on his performance in the last two years? Will Okowa win a gubernatorial election if the people’s votes should really count?
If we are sincere with ourselves, we would realize that the answers to these questions are in the negative and not encouraging to say of any government. And with ‘elections year close at hand’, many like us are not hopeful or expecting anything significant to happen in the last two years of Okowa, to change the fortunes of Deltans. Many might disagree with us in this, some might even say the Okowa Government has tried and they still have two years to turn things around for better. But no matter how bitter ‘The Truth’ is, we have to say it without fear or favour and regardless of who or what are concerned. Two years is more than enough to know the direction, body language and vision of a government and the “future prospects” of its people concerned. So, the first two years of the Okowa Government has yielded more fears than assurances, and more questions than answers. As expected, those who are part of the Okowa Government and those who are obviously benefitting from the current administration in Delta State, have started and continued singing praises of Okowa’s two years in office.
From our general observation, the Okowa Government is primarily aimed at achieving not only an agenda that benefits more of the PDP cabal and its cronies, but also an ‘Anioma agenda that has left the rest Deltans wondering where we are heading. For instance, the way and manner the Asaba Development Agency bill by Governor Okowa was passed by the Delta State House of Assembly without any debate, was just another avenue to drain the State treasury just like what ex-governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan did with DESOPADEC. From what many can deduce, is that since DESOPADEC was for the Delta South and Central people, Okowa had decided to create a similar thing in Delta North where funds can be fleeted into their private pockets to offset some of their debts incurred during their elections and the debt left behind by Okowa’s predecessor – Uduaghan.
It is no news that Governor Okowa has been dancing to the tunes of his predecessors (particularly James Ibori) that put in him office. Considering the fact that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, can best be described as an ‘offshoot’ and more of a ‘continuation’ of the immediate past two governments of Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan and James Ibori, many stakeholders like us are not expecting much (or any) sustainable change at all with regards to the development of Delta State. This fear started playing out immediately Governor Okowa came on board. We can see this when we look at every action, statement and body language of the Delta State Governor since he came into power two years ago. For instance, the same set of persons (whose pedigree and questionable integrity are of great concern), most of whom were in the deplorable past governments of Uduaghan and Ibori, were still absorbed by the Okowa administration. From his list of Commissioners, to his so called Board members, Special Advisers and down to his Senior Special Assistants of one thing or the other, which are nothing but “jobs for the boys.”
Looking at Governor Okowa’s two years in Office, there are so many actions (too numerous to mentions here) of the current Delta State Government that suggest his ‘visionless’ state. And where there is ‘no vision’ – the people will continue to perish and suffer.
From Okowa’s approval of the construction of a so called Modern Market at Orerokpe (which is not a priority need of the people), instead of completing the abandoned expansion of Osubi Airstrip to an International Airport; to Okowa’s “fruitless appeal” to Shell (SPDC) to re-establish their office in the State, which we described as “medicine after death”, when the said appeal was not backed by ‘concrete incentives’ to attract Shell (SPDC) to re-invest in Delta State in the first place. For it is not enough for Okowa to appeal to Shell (SPDC) to come back to Warri, Delta State, when the Delta State Government has not done or is doing anything to attract them back. The Governor has to show some element of seriousness, by addressing pressing insecurity issues in the State like kidnapping, armed robbery, community youths restiveness and demands (e.g “deve”), decayed and non-existing basic amenities and infrastructure, etc. Governor Okowa should not expect Shell (SPDC) and all the other oil companies like Pan Ocean that have left the State, to return back when he has not done anything to attract them back.
Even the launched five Entrepreneurship programmes under the State’s Job and Wealth Creation Scheme known as ‘Okowa Plus’, has not yielded any result as anticipated because of the way and manner the programmes were and still being handled. With all the hype, noise made and publicity stunts of the said “job and Wealth Creation Scheme, which includes Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurs Programme (YAGEP), Skills Training and Entrepreneurship Programme (STEP), Production and Processing Support Programme (PPSP), Development of Agro-Industries and Extension of Micro-credit, one would have thought that by now, many of our jobless youths would have been properly engaged. Even the way the Application Forms meant to kick-start these schemes were disbursed and carried out by the State Government, we seriously doubt if anything worthwhile that will benefit the people at the end of the day, will come out of these so called “Job and Wealth Creation Scheme.”
While States like Imo are celebrating their reign in government by recently empowering 305 of its youths with N1million each; and Acting President Yemi Osinbajo recently commissioned worthy completed projects in Cross Rivers State; and Lagos State recorded outstanding internally generated revenues and great feats in security assurance for Logasians, but in Delta State, there appears to be little or nothing worth celebrating about or praising the Okowa Government for – other than more hardship and sufferings for Deltans.
When the roll call of performing Governors is called, truth is Okowa will not be among the best twenty as reported by media houses. Whatever indices and parameters they use in judging it will never make Okowa count among them. Sadly enough, it is not because he is not ‘performing’, but his refusal to make the people see what he has done – and that is because he has not really done much to transform the fortunes of majority of Deltans. His stingy nature caused by his new ear deafening song of “Ego Aria” meaning “No Money” is finally becoming his albatross. He forgets that the judgment of a State in Nigeria is not always seen from within but from outside the State. Two years in office, no one has heard any tangible project carried out by this administration, even though he is succeeding in turning the state into a construction site without completion of any notable project. Just his aides and his “Internet rodents” that can testify to his supposed performance. But only if they get it from the facebook profile of the Personal Assistant on Special Duties, Ossai Ovie Success, who naturally should be S.A on Social Media. Remove Ossai and the Chief Press Secretary, Charles Ehiedu who is always preaching the SMART agenda of the principal from the picture, and the Governor will be daily taunted on the pages of newspapers, News Websites and Blog for “non-performance.”
Two years in office, Asaba the Delta State capital may just be contesting for the position of fast developing cities in Nigeria as major roads are being constructed but there are great fears that all these roads may not stand the test of time. The “Ego Aria” government of Okowa seems to be patronizing “made in Agbor contractors” that are well paid to do standard jobs but merely doing ‘shadow jobs’. Even in Agbor where the governor comes from, the roads are already washing away and emergency patches carried out on it so that the governor does not see it. Sadly enough, those behind this economic sabotage of waste of funds daily smile with the governor in office. The contractor-in-chief follows him everywhere like a twin brother, while smiling to the bank with money meant for quality jobs but delivering on sub-standard work; after all it is government money.
It will be foolhardy to say that Delta State has never had it good like they do under Ifeanyi Okowa. We have always had it good as citizens but “bad in terms of leadership”. We cannot call Ibori and Uduaghan the biggest thieves that Delta State ever produced as governors until Okowa completes his tenure in office. In this administration, we have seen files manipulated and contracts done by DESOPADEC are re-awarded, and not one single person has been fired or prosecuted. Truth is that the governor might not be aware of this, because if he knows, he would not have gotten the jobs done published in the State magazine. In this very administration, we have seen paupers become millionaires and comfortable men become multi-millionaires to the detriment of Deltans who stood under the sun and in the rain to supposedly vote for them.
We can continue to say a lot of things that are wrong with this current Delta State Government but we will leave Deltans and the Nigerian public to do the rest analysis of Okowa’s performance after two years. But let it be known that Deltans have passed their verdicts and it is not in the favour of Governor Okowa and his reported ambition in 2019. Okowa’s Town Hall meeting usually filled with only party faithful and filthy sycophants is not the solution, as the real masses are never in the hall when he enumerates his supposed achievements which they do not see on news medium. Some of the greedy politicians will kill just to bring him back in 2019 so their well of wealth will not dry up.
If we must move ahead as Deltans, then this culture of widespread “celebration of mediocrity”, supporting or singing praise of a dysfunctional government (no matter how long it has been with us), have to be uprooted and done away with; both from the political leaders and the followers. We must first acknowledge the fact that we have a ‘big problem as Deltans’ in this regard, and then we can take the necessary steps in addressing them. Deltans, especially those “political traders”, should stop all the praise-singing and sycophancy for things to change for the good of all. Until we begin to tell our political leaders and ourselves the “hard truth” as Deltans, mediocrity would continue to be enthroned as lord over all of us in Delta State.