The Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa’s political empire in Delta North senatorial district is crumbling right before our eyes and there’s quite little he or anybody else can do to rebuild it before the 2023 election.
He put so much money to rebuild PDP in his name and image but the effort has crumbled the entire party in Delta state.
He worked hard at building his personal dynasty into PDP in our new found democracy. And this has not worked, in spite of the huge public money thrown into the project.
Okowa did all he could to select and appoint persons who owe personal allegiance to him into political positions in government. It was all for the purpose of strengthening his grip on political power for the future.
But the choices he made became his undoing. They say when you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. Okowa waved tons of peanuts and a swarm of monkeys and brigands invaded his stable.
He avoided brilliant persons who could have helped create success milestones to endear his legacy. He chose to pitch his tent with boneheads and brigands that he would use to cause political disruptions across the state.
A good example is his controversial governorship choice, Sherriff Oborevwori, whose kinky academic credentials are leading the state in and out of every court in Nigeria with public money poured on jaded dunderheads at the temples of justice.
Okowa may have been a brilliant chap in school and perhaps a good doctor but he was a thinly knowledgeable but highly ambitious political climber who stretched luck and goodwill to their possible limits, bluffing to be a political grandmaster without a track record or even the gift of a political vision.
No one can guarantee personal loyalty in politics except he has control of forces of coercion to enforce it. Loyalty to a political leader is given on assurance of capacity of the politician to constantly satisfy needs and interests of followers. Loyalty to an idea is always for free.
The ideals of freedom, liberty and fraternity has always held an attraction and won the love of humanity at all times. Public attraction to a political cause is always anchored on the cry for freedom from economic strangulation, liberty from oppressive rule and the promise of human fraternity with others of like aspirations across the country.
Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa funded his purchase of loyalty from the public till, appointing SA’s, SSA’s, EA’s who were paid monthly by government to do nothing but be loyal to him.
Nearly 5000 of them are idling about the state, constituting nuisance to communities. He borrowed without care or regard for the public good, egged on by a pliant legislature.
Ifeanyi Okowa did not invest in the idealisms of human freedom and liberty but was pouring public money on control and personal loyalties. When I passed a throng of PDP members in a rally and their leader shouted “PDP!!!” and members responded with a thundering shout of “Okowa!!!”, I knew Okowa had missed an opportunity to become a man of lasting political destiny.
When the governor started the spat with David Edevbie and Kenneth Gbagi, Delta North PDP elders made clear to him that Delta North will not have any quarrel with the Urhobo or with the DC 23 group, that they will remain loyal to the political leadership of James Ibori and that they were not ready to make enemies of other ethnicities because of him. Instead of listening to wise counsel, he promptly ostracized some PDP elders in Ika South.
The election into party positions across the state two years ago provided Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa his long awaited chance to rebuild the hierarchy of PDP in his own image and stamp his authority and total control on the structure of the party.
There was no election, not even a pretense to one. Okowa personally handpicked his loyalists to take positions in every ward and in every Local Government Area of the state.
Some party bigwigs in Delta North protested but Okowa doubled down on his impunity and mischief and protests fizzled. He directed state party chairman Mr. Kingsley Esiso to compile party EXCO lists in every ward and LGA with names of his loyalists he personally provided.
He later conciliated to allow a few ward executives to be nominated by some bigwigs but made sure that all the Local Government party chairmen in Delta State and all the delegates to primaries were his personal nominees and owed allegiance to him.
The same thing happened again during the Local Government Council elections. Every Local Government Chairman and most councilors in Delta State presently are not elected but appointees of Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa.
The result is that Ifeanyi Okowa through abuse of power and desperation for political control, appointed all PDP party chairmen and all Local Government Chairmen in Delta state. He went further to nominate all ad hoc delegates to all the primaries. These mischievous undertakings guaranteed him invincibility in all contested primaries in the state.
There was no political dexterity to his actions. It was all abuse of power which his opponents could have challenged in court but did not. He became too successful in mischief for his own good. And this is the reason Okowa is on the verge of losing Delta state, particularly Delta North.
What did he end up doing with all that power so viciously abused? He purchased the nomination of a man at the PDP primaries who has no basic qualification to contest for the governorship of the state and is now forced to wasting public money to buy the courts to legitimize the brazen illegality in false belief that Delta state is so minded to vote for PDP no matter who is on the ballot.
After the council elections, many leaders and big supporters of PDP in Delta North withdrew their support for Okowa and his government and abandoned PDP for Okowa. Some, for fear of losing patronage, swallowed the insults and pain, bidding their time and waiting for a chance to pay back in kind.
We know that the nominated PDP senatorial candidate for Delta North, Nedum Nwoko had a major quarrel with Okowa over Okowa’s betrayal of his nominee to the Council from his ward in Aniocha North. Okowa also had a major spat with a major petroleum dealer in the same Aniocha North for treachery on the commitment made to cede the ward councilor to him. All these bigwigs were not on talking terms with Okowa until very close to the primaries.
Long before these, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, representing Delta North in the current senate and first General Secretary of PDP in Delta State, from Igbuzor in Oshimili North, had a crunching and unending quarrel with Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, resulting in his defection to the rival party APC. It must however be said that Senator Nwaoboshi was also seeking protection from the law by joining APC.
Okowa dissolved the state Cabinet to spite his Chief of Staff, David Edevbie and the Secretary to State Government, Chiedu Ebie and their throng of supporters to undercut and subvert David Edevbie’s bid for the governorship of Delta State. He followed up by sacking Mr. Fred Ofume, an SSA to his government from Ika South, Mr. John Alleh, another SSA, (one of his oldest political allies), from Ika Northeast, for their support of David Edevbie’s governorship bid.
Tony Nwaka, one time Commissioner and Local Government Council Chairman of Aniocha South LGA was axed by Okowa for working for David Edevbie and further suspended from the PDP. Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa believes that as governor, anybody who does not support his political choices must be removed from the PDP in Delta state and stopped from enjoying any benefits from government.
Even in his home community Owa, there’s a groundswell of opposition to Okowa’s rule. While the entire world accuses him of clannishness, Okowa has further planted division in his own clan of Owa, leading to the build up of opposition and a burgeoning growth of the opposition party APC and now an irreversibly strong “Obidient” movement of the Labour Party. The formally US based politician Dada Ijeh has been the spearhead of opposition to Okowa’s brand of politics and the APC group has grown to be formidable.
Ika South has been the playground of Ifeanyi Okowa’s wrecking ball and the target of planned underdevelopment. As was said, he sacked his Senior Special Assistant from Ika South, Mr. Fred Ofume who was the erstwhile Chairman of the Local Government, just because he was offering service and his support to the governorship aspirations of David Edevbie against his own interest of making Sherriff Oborevwori governor of the state, even without basic qualifying documents.
In the same Ika South Local Government, he sacked Mr. Chuks Okoh, ex-officio executive officer of ward six, Mrs. Patience Obuseh, Woman Leader of ward six, Mrs. Patience Ezeh, ex-officio executive officer of ward five, Mr. James Okoro, Secretary of Ward five and Mrs. Philomena Agholor, Woman Leader of Ward five.
Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa’s wrecking ball has moved down to Delta Central. It has targeted the once stabilizing personality in his government, Professor Patrick Muoboghare and removed him as Commissioner for higher education.
Anyone who has read the story of Shaka the Zulu king or even of the recent Donald Trump, should know that when a leader goes berserk, he begins head hunting his own people and sees witches and snakes everywhere, he is no longer worthy to be trusted with leadership. When leadership becomes insecure and losing, it lashes out at everyone and destroys the polity.
The result of all the treachery and betrayal of members high and low is that the PDP is hollowed out in Delta North and is now without mutual trust and cohesion even as it boasts a presidential running mate.
Delta North voters waits impatiently for a better organized and focused political party infused with a vision to serve God and the people, not man and mammon. Delta North waits for a viable political party with a resonating story and a creative vision for progress.