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BATTLE FOR DENNIS OSADEBAY HOUSE
Ken Pela, an economist and investment banker, will make a huge difference, reckons Onyeka Dike
In Delta State, the glasses are no longer clinking; at least, not in the camp of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Since 1999, the state has experienced the misfortune of being governed by the party who dispersed the state’s resources with reckless abandon. Pensioners have not been paid since 2015, insecurity in the state is alarming, the roads are terrible, no jobs for the youth except the cosmetic ‘empowerment programmes’ that are usually heavily advertised on major TV channels without any corresponding economic benefit to the state. For a state that earns more federal allocation than Rivers State, Akwa Ibom and all other oil-producing states, Delta is too backward in terms of development compared to these other states.
Voting PDP back into Dennis Osadebay House will spell doom for Delta State. Similarly, anyone who has followed the APC governorship candidate, Ovie Omo-Agege’s political trajectory must have noticed a desperation for power beyond what can be considered normal. This is the reason why we must look elsewhere for the kind of leadership Delta State needs.
Any close observer of the political trajectory in Delta State would have easily concluded around this time last year that the governorship election was going to be a two-horse race between Oborevwori and Omo-Agege. But the Peter Obi phenomenon is sweeping across Delta State, just like in many other states across the federation. For the first time since 1999, an opposition party won the presidential election in the state by a wide margin. Political figures have since started aligning with the Obidient Movement, trying to gain electoral goodwill by association. Sadly, none of them has the character, competence and capacity of Peter Obi; only political desperadoes who have come to agree that their cheese has been moved.
A graduate of Economics and Statistics from the University of Benin, Kennedy Kawarhiebie Pela was born to the family of Mr and Mrs. Solomon Pela in Oginibo, Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State. His father, Solomon Pela, was the first person in the entire Ughelli South region to go to the university, and ended up attending reputable schools in the United States, sponsored by the Baptist Mission. When he returned to Nigeria, he was key to the establishment of different Baptist High Schools in the old Bendel region, and was a very popular principal in Aghalokpe and Benin. He later became the Secretary of the old Bendel State and was elected to the Midwest House of Assembly. His first son, who happens to be Ken’s elder brother, was elected as a member of the Bendel House of Assembly, a clear demonstration that politics was running in the family.
In 2002, Ken contested for the local government chairman of Ughelli South under PDP and won the ticket, but the ticket was eventually handed over to someone else. Afterwards, he decided to focus on building his career and businesses. Before starting his companies in the 90s, he had risen in his career as an investment banker at New Nigerian Bank and Federal Interstate Bank. In the public service, he served as Chairman of the Board, Delta Trust Mortgage Bank Limited between 2007 and 2009; member, Governing Council of Delta School of Marine Technology between 2011 and 2014; and member, Integrated Institute for Professional Managers. A Real Estate Developer and Wealth Creator, he is the Chairman/CEO, Etoken Ventures Worldwide Ltd; the Managing Director/CEO of ACRC Ltd; Chairman/CEO of Exusia Energy Ltd; and Vice Chairman/CEO of Citiprops Ltd. Ken is an ordained Deacon, and is looking to entrench righteousness, prosperity, and harmony in Delta State.
If there is one thing Ken desires to see, it is a Delta that works for all, with Deltans fully enjoying the benefits of being an oil-producing state. He plans to pay off outstanding pensions within his first 100 days, while also ensuring that civil servants earn a living wage, which he has benchmarked at N100,000. This will attract a young and productive workforce in the state. In addition, he is determined to build ten new smart cities in the different federal constituencies of the State. I saw the proof of concept for the ten new cities, and I was completely blown away. For someone who has seen and experienced the level of development in other parts of the globe, it is safe to say that Ken’s plan is to make Delta State the Qatar of Nigeria, driven by public and private partnerships. And indeed, who says we cannot achieve that, seeing that the city was also built with the same oil money that we have? Ken plans to make these new cities affordable and accessible to Deltans by providing them mortgages which they can repay over time, just like what obtains in civilized countries. Some of the corollary benefits of the smart cities include tourism, attraction of investments to the state, job creation, an improved life for all Deltans and so many other possibilities.
One last thing that cannot be ignored is Ken’s belief in affirmative action (AA) for women, and a deliberate inclusion of women in his plans. Since 1999, he is the first governorship candidate in Delta State to choose a woman, Professor Julie Nwabogo Umukoro, as his running mate. A professor of Semiotics at the University of Port Harcourt, Professor Umukoro is the current President of the Association of Ndokwa Professionals in Academia, and the President of the Fulbright Association of Nigeria, Rivers State Chapter, having been a visiting Fulbright fellow herself. One of the leading lights of the Ndokwa people, she hails from Ase in Ndokwa East Local Government Area of Delta State Nigeria and has been married for the last 42 years to Professor Matthew Umukoro, a retired Professor of Media and Communication Studies.
Dike writes from Ottawa, Canada. He can be reached via email@example.com