On July 8, 2016, Governor Ifeanyi Arthor Okowa turned 57 years. The governor disappointed those who expected him to shut down the state for elaborate banquet. Okowa instead elected a subdued, altruistic celebration that was consistent with his philosophy of life and politics.
Rather than roll out the drums, he temporally handed over state powers to his deputy, Barrister Kingsely Otuaro and quietly traveled abroad for a three week vacation.
No doubt, the break afforded him the opportunity of having deep thoughts and reflection over his achievements and the challenges ahead as the Executive Governor of Delta State. The holiday, it’s believed, also gave him the opportunity of staying very close to his immediate family members, away from the rigours and burden of leadership.
The celebration of the birthday of such a highly placed personality, as the Executive Governor of Delta State, would have called for pomps and pageantry, most especially having emerged victorious in a highly contested election, on a tidier wave of popular vote in the state.
But Governor Okowa , not unmindful of the economic realities of the time, exemplified humility, personal moral, meekness, selflessness, kindness and capacity recognize the pains of the people, elected for a low key celebration outside the comforts of government house to mark his 57 birthday.
A year ago, he exhibited the same selfless spirit when he turned 56. He told his associates and friends not to waste funds placing congratulatory messages in the media for his birthday anniversary, he rather instructed that such monies should be sent to the less privileged homes to care for those who are in need.
As he marks yet another birthday, he has asked Deltans to pray for him and the state to get God’s favour and guidance in the journey of governance rather than waste valuable and scarce resources for lavished birthday parties.
By these actions, Governor Okowa has reaped goodwill from the people, network of devoted friends, admirers and allies in return for putting the people first.
By this act of humility, he has reaped the divine bounty of a good family, and excellent health, he has reaped the love of his people, spiritual resilience, uncommon energy and wisdom.
On the political front, Governor Okowa has sowed services, compassion, excellent leadership, conscientious governance and a commitment to the dividend of democracy to the people of Delta.
While other governors were busy pumping champagne and organizing state banquets to mark one year in office, Governor Okowa crisscrossed the length and breadth of three senatorial districts in the state, commissioning projects.
Governor Okowa’s score card within one year in office has both breadth and depth: the major ones are the resurfacing of Asaba Airport run way, dualisation of Warri/Sapele from Amukpe roundabout, dualisation of Ughelli /Asaba road sector A, construction of the following roads; Ejinere-Orodje Orereopke, Onomigbo street Orerekpe, Dederu street Warri, Akemu street Warri, Okere-Urhobo road, Warri, Uduophori road (phase 1), Patani, Jeddo-Ughoton road , Okpe, Oznogogo-Alisimie road, Ika South, Dr. White street, Agbor, Idumu-Ugboh street, Ikokogbe- Idumu- Izomor road, Owa Oybu, Ika North East.
Other projects executed by Governor Okowa with one year in office include; the construction of faculty of law complex of Delta State University, Orerokpe ultra modern market, construction of Olympic size statdium at Ozoro polytechnic, construction of Cable point road, Asaba, construction of Okpanam road/ drainages, distribution of tractors to 64 cooperative societies while another set of 106 cooperative societies got melon sheller, 18 other cooperative societies received outboard engines and fishing gears support packages.
In the area of wealth creation Governor Okowa has created 17,000 jobs, N556 million has been disbursed via micro credit scheme to 3,110 beneficiaries, various starter parks have been distributed to trainees under the job and wealth creation scheme.
The glowing glory of Governor Okowa’s stewardship in the last one year is that he has systematically rebranded Delta State by making it investors friendly. So profound is this revolution that the finger of God has suddenly become destination for international and local investors. Just after North China Construction Company expressed its readiness to invest $30million (about N6billion) in infrastructural development in the state, two other companies are ready to pump another $35(about N7billion) into the proposed Delta Commercial city.
Governor Okowa is not called ‘Ekwueme’ for nothing. His politics is about empowering the people. He has since identified human being as the permanent variable in politics, hence the burning desire to transform the entire landscape of Delta state into an enviable land flowing with milk and honey.
He was inaugurated as Governor on 29 May 2015 after winning the state elections conducted in April 2015. Before his Governorship, he was elected Senator for Delta North, in Delta State, Nigeria, in the April 2011 national elections. He ran on the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) platform. He is an Ika from Owa-Alero, in Delta State. He is also the first person from Anioma to clinch the governorship position of Delta State.
Okowa was born at Owa-Alero in Ika North-East Local Government Area of Delta State. He attended Edo College, Benin City (1970–1976), then went on to the University of Ibadan where he studied Medicine and Surgery, graduating in 1981 with an MBBS degree. After leaving the National Youth Service Corps, he worked with the Bendel State Hospitals Management Board as a Medical Officer. He entered private practice as Director, Victory Medical Centre, Igbanke in 1986.
Okowa became Secretary to the Ika Local Government and then Chairman of the Ika North-East Local Government Council (1991–1993). He was Delta North Coordinator of the Grassroots Democratic Movement (GDM). He joined the PDP in 1998, and assisted in Governor James Ibori’s campaign in 1998/1999. He served as a Commissioner in the Delta State government for Agriculture and Natural Resources (July 1999 – April 2001), Water Resources Development (April 2001 – May 2003) and Health (September 2003 – October 2006).
Okowa resigned to contest in the 2007 PDP primaries for Governor of Delta State, but did not succeed. In June 2007, Ifeanyi was appointed Secretary to the Delta state Government.
Governor Okowa was elected Delta North Senatorial candidate in the January 2011 PDP primaries with 942 votes, but the result was challenged by party leaders who favoured Marian Amaka Alli as candidate. He was re-elected in a rerun where he scored 1,446 votes, against 108 votes for Dr. Maryam Alli. In the April 2011 election for the Delta North Senatorial seat, Governor Okowa won 98,140 votes, ahead of runner up Prince Ned Munir Nwoko of the Democratic People’s Party, who won 67,985 votes. It was reported that there was still tension regarding the election in January 2013. Governor Okowa finally clinched the ticket for the gubernatorial election in 2015 under the PDP with 406 votes on 8 December 2014. He won the Delta State Gubernatorial elections 2015 in April 2015 with 724,680 votes. He was inaugurated as Governor on 29 May 2015 and has since then resumed active duties.
Ekwueme , as you progress in the flight of life and business of governance, I wish you a happy birthday, good health and God’s guidance.
– Prince Victor Efeizomor is Governor Okowa’s Print Media Assistant