BARRY AGBANIGBI – ASABA
Delta State has never been effectively run as it is today under Governor Ifeanyi Okowa‘s watch. Besides his ability to recreate the state, Dr. Okowa through magnanimity has been able to unite the People’s Democratic Party in the state.
The Delta State governor, Senator lfeanyi Okowa is a bundle of humility. Indeed, it is one of those qualities that marked him out from orders. He is also down-to-earth and magnanimous in hit simplicity that he treats the people even more importantly than himself, said Chief Askia Ogieh, Managing Director of Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC). As a medical doctor-turned politician, it is possible that Okowa is very much in tune with his medical ethics that place much premium on the human life than sheer distinctions.
Governor Okowa is a man of peace. He maintains his calm nature despite persistent pressures. As a Christian, he believes that vengeance is of the Lord. And he goes about promoting peace as an act of state policy. This attribute of his started manifesting when he was appointed Secretary to the State Government (SSG) during the first tenure of former Gov. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan.
Governor Okowa accommodates all shades of opinion despite provocations by those who see politics as a do-or-die affair, even as some of the hard-line politicians mount strident attacks on him, he has never openly admitted that anybody is against him.
This deliberate policy of promoting peace and advancement of state integration and cohesion could be seen in the spread of his political appointments across ethnic and party leanings. It also goes without ado that Delta State remains one of the few states in Nigeria without reported cases of political strife, witch- hunting by the powers that be; this is brought about by Governor Okowa’s high level of tolerance as man of peace.
Another trait observed in the people’s governor is diligence. Of course, this is a trait common to all medical doctors. But in Governor Okowa, this attribute has found a permanent habitat. He is so hard-working and dedicated to his duty that you may think he does not have time for his family but he also does. The testimonies of his wife and children about his role as husband and father are astounding.
This leads to the concept of his abiding faith “and confidence in himself. One’s self-concept precedes and predicts one’s level of effectiveness in every area of life. Here, Senator Okowa is a master in this process and functioning of the human mind. He believes so much in his capacity to do everything and to achieve beyond human imagination. One other attribute of Governor Okowa is organizational ability.
This includes the ability to organize both human and material resources. This is borne out of his enormous ability to think and get focused at any point in time.
Delta State has never been run in a well-organized and result-oriented manner as presently being done under the watch of Senator Okowa. This is arguably reflected in the way state assets and liabilities are managed. His ability to manage people and exuding tolerance has brought the different factions in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the state together.
It is against this backdrop that people now see him as a unifying factor. This attribute is both a quality and a leadership style. For Okowa, the governor of Delta State, the style is undoubtedly the man.
His leadership style is dynamic and special. People who mistake his implacable kindness and simplicity for weakness miss the point. Gov Okowa, could be quiet but sharp. He combines the two motivational theories of stick and carrot simultaneously.
Some people are known to abandon their duty in search of empty pleasure, the governor applies the stick. But, His Excellency, being a man of compassion applies the carrot more than he applies the stick.
He is a modem democrat always planning, calculating and rewarding as the late legendary sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
Another leadership style Gov Okowa applies is sagacity. As the saying goes “example is better than precept Dr. Okowa sees himself as the chief steward of Delta State and explores this maxim with maximum effect. Whenever he is in the state, he is always the first to report to work and the last to leave the office, except when he is on a routine appointment. With this, most civil servants have imbibed the punctuality principle.
In spite of his simple mien, Dr Okowa is a very modest but strict politician who does not suffer fools gladly. He believes in the power and ability of mankind to use principles and ideas to change his situation. Many people including his peers and erstwhile superiors now learn from him.
Gov Okowa has variously been described as an enigma; the man they couldn’t cage or put out of circulation having beaten his opponents thrice in quick succession. He won the 2011 senatorial election against all odds. Dr Okowa also in the 2015 and 2019 general elections defeated other opponents despite their avalanche of hate and bitterness against him by his detractors.
Okowa’s emergence as Senator was widely welcomed by the rank and file of the party in Delta State, but as common occurrence in every democratic dispensation, a few party members including the unsuccessful aspirants protested the candidature of Dr. Okowa, describing it as “flawed and programmed to favour him. It was also rumoured that the PDP national leadership in Abuja had dropped and substituted his name with a non-existent consensus candidate. While the rumours and misinformation lasted, there was no indication that the national secretariat had made any change in the Delta PDP official primary results. So it was in this atmosphere of rumours, intrigues, uncertainty and anxiety that Delta PDP supporters and members thronged the venues to see who would receive the flag for the Delta North senatorial seat. When the flag was eventually given to him, there was spontaneous jubilation by the party supporters. The feeling of relief after a long period of uncertainty was palpable. The loud ovation that followed was an indication of his acceptance.
For the senator, it was the remarkable end of an epic struggle to win the party’s senatorial ticket. It was easily the most hard-fought of all the PDP senatorial elections. Personal integrity, antecedent, and track record were considered by the electorate in making their electoral choice. Undoubtedly, Dr Okowa had a towering advantage over the other aspirants.
A detribalized Deltan, he polled support from across the ethic divides and this proved a useful weapon in ‘the governorship race, said Chief Askia Ogieh, a strong supporter of the governor. Armed with his intimidating credentials, Governor Okowa (Then senator) opponents applied every tactic and strategy to undermine his chances at the governorship election.
His pedigree, vision and realist agenda were his strong points. Dr. Okowa’s admirers now call him “an icon of the new Delta State” who will keep the state in the league of the first eleven amongst Nigerian’s 36 states and Abuja, the FCT.
His story is that of a man who rose from humble background to assume the position of a king through dint of bard- work, courage and integrity, and yet has not dumped the class, from which he sprang which constitutes the mass of the population.
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