Thursday, June 6, 2019 9:39 pm
By Nehru Odeh
On Wednesday 29 May, 2019, when Governor Ifeanyi Okowa was sworn in for a second term in office, I wrote an article entitled Ifeanyi Okowa and the Political Dynamics in Delta State. That piece was published in TbeNEWS the following day. The dynamics I pointed out in that article include the need for mutual coexistence, merit, sacrifice and fair play that has ensured not just the survival of the state but also its growth and development since its creation. I concluded my analysis by saying that the intricacy of the dynamics is something politicians and the federal government could make political capital from.
The following Monday 3 June, 2019,Okowa, while swearing in ChieduIbie as the Secretary to the State Government confirmed the issues raised in that news analysis when he promised to accommodate the youths in his administration, shun nepotism and tribalism and favour geographical spread and merit while appointing members of his cabinet. “Sectionalism and nepotism must not have a place in the thoughts, choices and actions of those who will work with me… I want to assure all Deltans that this administration will continue to run an all-inclusive government, whether in terms of appointments or projects distribution. We have only just started; Deltans should trust us to do the right thing.I wish to emphasize that appointments into this administration will be based on merit and geographical spread, not on emotions, sentiments or for the sole purpose of political patronage,” he averred.
That the governor’s speech confirms those issues I had earlier raised in that article showsIhave been following the governor’s train of thought and am conversation with politics in the state in which I was born and bred.Those issues the governor raised, while swearing in the SSG, constitute the dynamics that has driven politics in the state, and has been the unwritten code of governance since the beginning of the fourth republic. I also said, like what obtains in most political systems across the globe, that dynamics originates from the need for mutual coexistence, peace and developments of the various units that constitute a political system. Delta State, though peculiar and unique, is by no means different from other political systems that have survived to this day by way of reinventing themselves.
The peculiar way in which the state was created by the Ibrahim Babangida’s administration and the hoopla it generated when the capital was sited in Asaba made the need for mutual coexistence of the various ethnic groups imperative. And over the years the state has reinvented itself by successive governments initiating policies that engendered consensus, fair play, meritocracy and justice.There is no gainsaying the fact that the first governor of the state since the inception of this fourth republic, James OnanafeIbori laid the grundnorm or as it were, the foundation for the dynamics that has driven the state for the past twenty years. It is that dynamics that produced Emmanuel Uduaghan, who was governor for eight years and IfeanyiOkowa, who is currently in the second lap of his eight years in office.That same dynamics will definitely play out in 2023 in determining Okowa’s successor.
So it was not surprising when Okowa made that speech and revealed his intentions while swearing In the Secretary to the State Government. That he has promised to ensure merit, geographical spread while shunning nepotism and tribalism as criteria for choosing the members of his cabinet is a step in the right direction. That has been the dynamics that has driven the state since inception .That has been the reason the reason the state has survived to this day. That has also been the reason the various units that constitute the state have coexisted without rancour, bitterness and strife over the years. And that is the only way he can ensure good governance.
It was also that dynamics that propelled Governor Okowa’s victory in the last gubernatorial elections. While his main opposition candidate was relying on perhaps federal might, sectionalism and other parochial sentiments, for his electoral fortunes, Okowa spread his tentacles across the state, irrespective of tribe or geographical location. He embarked on a massive campaign, enumerating his achievements, especially his road projects and sold himself to the people of the state. Okowa wasn’t a man of his own Anioma people alone, he was a man of thepeople of Delta State. This is a virtue other politicians who intend to rule the state should imbibe, for that is only what can ensure their electoral victory at the polls and their political survival.
As I pointed out in that article, politicians, who want to be taken seriously, should come out of their cocoon, shun nepotism and tribalism and embrace the state in totality. No single ethnic group can survive alone in the state not to talk of determining who gets what, how and when in the state, as Harold Lasswell, the American political scientist, defines politics. For the past twenty years the engine of that dynamics has been fueled by the need for mutual coexistence, fair play, merit and justice. And will continue to be so for decades to come.
While using his opportunity to congratulate Governor Okowa on second coming, I also want tocall on him to walk his talk and make sure his word is his bond. Since he has promised to shun nepotism and tribalism and ensure merit, fair play and geographical spread while choosing members of his cabinet, he should make sure he adheres strictly to it. He should also ensure that women have a fair representation in his government. For those issues constitute the dynamics that has driven the state since its creation. Those are the issues that made his emergence as governor in the first place possible.
He should also make sure that the youths are carried along and appointed as members of his cabinet and administration, as he has promised, for it is they who have the vibrancy, the dynamism, the enthusiasm, the push and the ideas to move governance to its logical conclusion. But unfortunately, in our society, as the English poet Thomas Gray put it in his Immortal poem, Elegy Written In A Country Churchyard, Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,/And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
Nehru Odeh, journalist, writer and media consultant is the author of The Patience Of An Embattled Storyteller. He can be reached on 08136137920