By Mike AKPATI
Immediately Governor Ifeanyi Okowa announced his teams first eleven for the concluding part of his second term and there was no Ndokwa man, I knew that the curtains of the love/hate for my people has finally been drawn. The selection of the necessary officers who made the kitchen cabinet has been concluded. There is no jara.
For your information, the core day to day policy and operational team of the government are: the SSG, Chief of Staff, Head of Service, Chief Economic Adviser and Political Advise finally the Permanent Secretary Government House! These people see and talk with the governor daily and are so privileged that Commissioners seek their approval to see the governor on any issue.
In 2015, when some concerned Ndokwa leaders met to lobby the governor to consider Ndokwa for the SSG, his response was that they came late and that he would make amend next time.
Fast forward to 2021, he dissolved his cabinet and raised our hope. Our political watchers believed that he would atone for his LOVE/HATE for us. Alas, he only confirmed our worse fear, told us to the face that we should go to hell and remain comfortable there!
Okowa upgraded three institutions to University status. He justified why none is in Ndokwa land even when other ethnic groups had more than their fair share.
After establishing the institutions, why did he also consider us unfit for the privileged positions of Vice Chancellor, Registrar Librarian or Burser?
The appointment of commissioners is but an obvious necessary right to meet and balance political expectations. It is not a privilege.
I was not disappointed to say the least when an Ndokwa man did not make it to becoming any of these choice officers, the reason is that such positions are permanent reserve for people who are close to the heart of the chief executive. The implication therefore is that no Ndokwa man has warmed his heart close enough for Gov. Okowa’s trust or there was outright deceit in the political arrangements.
But before these current appointments there were sufficient signs to confirm these obvious expectations.
Down the line and in the course of his leadership, we saw the Carrots and Sticks approach in tempting Ndokwa people through bogus projects without clinical follow ups and he remained silent despite several reminders on funding and bringing these projects to logical finishing. Three examples will suffice: the “Benekuku Bridge, the Kwale Industrial park and 2020 flood mismanagement” Beside these which other project was ever visited on Ndokwa except some halfhearted renovations. The “Ego Aria”slogan was only meant for people like us! Now the chips are down and we are in pain! Yet we remain those who will shout and sing “Okowa the road master”. Not anymore!
The other day, I wrote that the only institution worthy of mention at Owa Alero as at 1975, and until the arrival of Okowa is the Anglican Church there. I knew this because I started journeying to that small village as far back as 1976 when an Umejei was the Reverend in the Church and I had things to do with the family. That, today is in the past and truly very far past! Owa Alero of this day, is a cynosure of modern development with the current infrastructures there and more yearning for space. Few things have become common place in Owa Alero – first and foremost, all Network providers are already there. Increased job opportunities first for the Ika people where ever they are on earth as they head to many of the institutions and are determinants of employment opportunities; increase in the income of even the private and locals of the new town as allied small businesses naturally tied to the big organisations are generally springing up daily. There is population explosion as the town has suddenly become Mecca of sort for all manner of professionals in the building, academic, marketing, general commerce and other industries. So new exotic buildings and increase in rent has ensured that natives are not left out in the winning bargain! Thanks to the Okowa magic.
At the state executive level, the governor has been able to twist the hands of the legislative arm – State Assembly members to secure approvals for needed funds to accelerated development of his town despite *Ego Aria.* Needless to say that so much water usually pass under the bridge before the sudden passage of either bills for the establishment of the facilities as well as funding of their immediate take off in quick succession. In all these we stand and watch in awe even with our legislatures!
Leadership is trust. It is therefore expected that naturally, people in public office should exhibit sufficient sense of balance in the distribution of infrastructures and developmental opportunities in the state. It has suddenly become customary and tilting towards tradition for people in office to exhibit the *”Me First”* attitude and make it look normal. Nooooo. This is one of the failures of our current political class. The brutal use of executive position to favour an individual no matter whose ox is goard is a shame to say the least. This is one of the major reasons elections and or (selections) have been increasingly associated with all manner of killings, maiming and other messy activities! Why wouldn’t it be?
Dating back to the days of late Brigadier Samuel Ogbemudia, development in then Midwest state was something to behold. Today’s widened Ring Road in Benin city was his creation and it remains the widest roundabout in Africa (I stand to be corrected) he doled out roads: Benin-Auchi; Agbor- Uromi;Abraka-Emu, Abraka – Benin; Benin- Iguobazuwa etc. Model primary and secondary schools including the Sport Centre at Afuze, farms and small scale machine, equipment production and training centers. All these dotted the state and were evenly distributed. He established the Auchi Polytechnic which for a long time had its main campus at Benin city and with masterstroke he introduced the University of Benin Ekenwan campus. Governors from other states were having to be involved in interstate visits to see the magic of the man who had the wand and they were many indeed. The military coup sent him packing.
Enter Professor Ambrose Alli after military incursion. How did the governor share legasses of office? Before he established the Ekpoma University, he thought it wise to first, simultaneously establish the Colleges of Education at Warri, Agbor, Ekiadolor and Iyaro in Benin City. He didnt stop there, he set up the school of nursing at Agbor, Warri and Sapele as well as up grading of the General Hospital Sapele to Specialist status! Our own late Dr. Odugwu Egbune of Amai was the Chairman Hospital Management Board then and my personal friend late Dr. Peter Owolabi was the first Chief Medical Officer. Ekpoma, the quiet unnoticed village along Auchi road came into prominence at the mention of Bendel State University. At its suggestion, even at the refusal of late Chief Demas Akporue then the Deputy Governor, did not hold waters. Rt. Hon Benson Alegbe the then speaker of the state House of Assembly justified its location and approval with the fact that every zone had had their educational institution!Ekpoma got large chunk of the state fund to setup and run the university, but other communities bore no grudge because of the seeming even distribution of developmental opportunities in the sector.
Chief Felix Ibru was the next civilian governor of the state after a keenly contested election between him and our own Prof Eric Opia. His tenure was short lived courtesy of another military incursion. But he did not take governance to Agbaro-otor. He only popularised the already existing Radio Warri to Radio Bendel.
Chief James Ibori was not known anywhere in Delta politics and was not a preferred candidate when he was finally and grudgingly, granted passage to the exalted office of governor of the state as a result of serious scheming. At his rise to office, there was an understanding that Ndokwa would produce the next governor after him. This was a preserved position by core Urhobo group that anointed Ibori. The reason give then, which is still valid today, was that Ndokwa, with its voting population and relationship is a preferred alley than others! So how did we bungle the chance? Ibori sold out, jettisoned the agreement and elected to take his cousin Dr Emmanuel Uduarhan who was introduced to him by some persons. Before the eyes of those who offered him olive branch, it was too late to make amend because then, he had the carrot! His promise to correct the wrongs after Dr.Emmanuel Udharhan while under observation also failed. Udhuarhan was inexperienced and directionless he couldn’t build the Koko Industrial Park he proposed with lots of funfair, hence when he was asked in an NTA One-on-One interview what his greatest achievements were in his eight years as governor, he said he saved women in labour!
After Dr. Emmanuel Uduarhan, it was again the turn of Ndokwa but behind the scene, Ibori again in an internal bargain decided to promote an unknown Okowa who was coming from the senate. This did not receive the blessing of the Urhobos (who preferred Ndokwa) in the first instance. But Chief Godwin Obielum had already lost his ticket earlier due to the regular pull him down (PHD) syndrome that has not left us to date! The calculation was in our favour. The promotion was for an Ndokwa candidate but none was in sight! In the loop, Chief Ibori, against Urhobos backed Okowa. Feeling spited, the core Urhobos put together with some Ndokwa personalities, Hon Charles Emetulu who was though generally accepted but arrived the scene late when even our people were being balkanised promoting Okowa and other candidates. He was a good hand, knowledgeable and trusted but his follower ship was few as his people had been bought over by the team supported by Ibori against the choice of Urhobo political house! What happened? In their quest not to loose all, they introduced an EDEBVIE in the last minute not really to win, but to jolt and reduce the vote of Okowa. They all went to the primaries and the results we all know! Our man Emetulu lost but was lucky to pick the House of Assembly slot already waiting for him.
Ladies and gentlemen, have you seen where the hate game started? While you are still shouting Okowa the roadmaster, the man knew that he unjustly occupied our slot and is saying – these people did not want me to be governor. They do not know me. They attempted to drown my dream ok l will show them!
Someone chronicled Okowa’s achievements at Owa Alero the other day and they are truly mind bugging. Are they all lies? We have our sons and daughters who get close to Okowa in our mist what do they tell him about Ndokwa when they meet and discuss?
When did the new NNU consider it necessary to visit the Governor with the political leaders of our land and announce to him that we have arrived with our new leadership? This would have started showing the governor that the people have woken up from slumber, but alas we are still waiting. Who then will speak for us?
Governance is negotiated and if you are not on the table at the right time *ego oji aghai! Nothing for you.
The game for the next occupant of Osadebe house is certainly on. But are we going to battle this time without training and nothing in our arsenal too? That process has always failed us. Must we be at the receiving end all the time? Where is our war chest? Where are our elders? Who are those speaking for us? Why are they mute? Why can’t we have a candidate and rally others around him? Instead of us rallying around strangers? Who said that this is not the time for Ndokwa/to produce the Governor with or without money? Who said that we do not have support base?
My take in all these is that all political gladiators from outside should drop their arsenals and leave Ndokwa alone for now. We need some breathing space so we concentrate and take worthwhile decisions. We are coming with our agenda and will meet everyone on the negotiating table where we shall determine what goes to who, where, when and how. Unless we choose these options now, we shall be following every wind of doctrine and will gather no moose.
Finally Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has proved that he hates Ndokwa people but we also helped him shame us. Where were our political leaders when all issues were taking place? They were interested in personal gains! The chips are down and the blame game has started who are the losers? WE! Everyone will be paid in their own coin soon.
Ndokwa must, as a matter of extreme urgency put our house in order ensuring that we have a standing ELDERS FORUM who we can fall back to in times of need like now. Let us stand tall and shame all contenders with our voting right. We have the population and must stand and insist that our votes count. Some of our concerned citizens have already expressed great worries and have taken the fight to the street of Ndokwa land to enlighten our people on the need to register and vote. We must support them. We nor go give any yeye person our vote again. I do not speak for or against APC or PDP! I careless what become of them. WHY CANT WE PICK OUR CANDIDATES WITH A DIFFERENT PARTY ENTIRELY? BOTH APC & PDP have failed us! If we choose to be in different party, we become their bride and everyone will do our bidding to have our support!
We can no longer allow ourselves to be used as give away and dumped. Okowa is coming again. But we should be able to pay him in his own coin too. This is one of the cardinal reasons we insist on the new normal- NDOKWA FIRST! We must come to terms with today’s realities and the reality is, UNITY IS STRENGTH
I have volunteered already to fight the good fight and I am waiting for others to join in the coming NDOKWA SUMMIT. We must tell ourselves the truth. It hurts, but yes we will.
Ka ani Ndokwa Ma Nma
Mike AKPATI, 08036757067