By Basil Okoh
Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa grew up as a thin but brilliant youth. He has always befriended and enamoured of men of muscle and dare-devilry for protection against menacing buddies and rivals who now and then threatened to exploit his frailty.
What he lacked in biceps however, he made up for in brains and bookwork. In those days when brain was more respected than brawn, this ensured that he moved ahead unmolested at the top of the class.
We can count so many fellows who acted as protectors to the young Ifeanyi Okowa growing up. These protectors, many of them knuckleheads, ensured the young Ifeanyi Okowa’s survival in the sometimes hard streets, schools and neighbourhoods.
Until he became a politician and now Governor of Delta State, no one noticed that he carried this survivor predilection to adulthood. His practice of surrounding himself with harebrained street toughs for protection has followed him to Government House and continues to influence his choice of personal friends and confidants.
He is no longer a frail young boy but the recognition that he needs brigands and shamans around him for protection has not left his consciousness.
If anyone bothers to know, Okowa, as Governor, has been careful to make sure that in every community in Delta state, he has appointed brigands and roughnecks who supervise his political interests and enforce his political choices in the community. He is ready, willing and able, if necessary, to unleash violence and mayhem on any community or politician who dare challenge or upend his political pursuits through these enforcers.
He has made so many of his enforcers Personal Assistants, paid monthly by the state government. Many of them are living cushy lives, assured of government protection for any communal disturbance that they instigate or control. All across the state, it has become near impossible to express a different political view from Okowa without a monitoring and menacing presence from his street enforcers. These toughies, it is believed, have deep tentacles in all the occult groups in the state and are sustained by resources of state.
So the choice of Sheriff as prospective governor of the state is no coincidence. It follows in the order of affairs in Okowa’s plan for survival and in his plan for succession. It also follows on the plan for his own protection after leaving office as governor.
Sheriff did not just happen nor did he just appear on the horizon of Dr. Okowa’s government. He has been there being nurtured to become Speaker of the Delta State parliament, the third highest office in the state, and leader of a branch of government. The Speakers position has been a preparatory school and propulsion tube from which he would be shot to the office of Governor of the state.
Many of Okowa’s crowd of hack writers justify the choice of Sheriff on the premise that you need street smart and a strong man to hold the state and impose discipline. You should ask how a man who has lived his life outside the control of a disciplined society now begin to learn as governor to live in discipline or to enforce discipline?
Okowa’s choice of Sheriff is not for any altruistic considerations for the progress of Delta State but to serve his own personal purposes and need for protection after leaving office.
It is regrettable that Okowa does not know that there is no honour among thieves. Sheriff can never offer him protection if his own survival is placed on the line. He does not have the strong will derived from intelligence or sagacity to offer anyone protection.
It is no surprise and no coincidence, considering his life long proclivity to befriend brigands and henchmen for personal survival that Okowa is now hooked up with Sheriff, an old stager and a veteran of the Motor Park System as his choice for governor of Delta state.
And now that Sheriff has become a dangerous fishbone that has latched itself in the throat of the ruling governor on whom he has to shell out two million dollars just to have his questionable credentials passed by a credulous screening panel, we await further entanglements going forward, no doubt.
Okowa can no longer spit Sheriff out, nor can he swallow Sheriff, even with the fattest ball of fufu and ogbono soup.
That Dr. Okowa has chosen a doyen of the Motor Park as prospective governor for the state shows his level of contempt, disrespect and disdain for the people of Delta state. It also reflects self projection, his perception and assessment of his own self worth to want to hand over the office of governor to a man of the wilds.
He shows us by this ahistorical action, the low self esteem he suffers, which justifies, compels and makes plausible to him, the selection of a successor from a notorious gangland in the state and not from the arcane and respected institutions across Nigeria and the world.
It must say something of the appraisal of his own self worth and his evaluation of the worth of his office that such a brilliant man will have to go to the Motor Park to search out an analphabetic as successor just for the sake of lucre and power projection.
Delta state of Nigeria is a veritable home of achievers in every field of human endeavour. Nowhere in Africa – and I have travelled around the continent – do you find such concentration of professionals, keen competitors and achievers in every field as you have in Delta State.
For the sake of good order, this is the home of Bruce Onobrakpeya, Demas Nwoko, two of the famous members of the Zaria School of Arts. This is the home of Michael and the other Ibru’s, Alfred Rewane, Jim Ovia, Tony Elumelu, many outstanding intellectuals, athletes, artists, technocrats and skilled professionals all round.
And so, why do we have to go ransack the dung heap of the Motor Park to rake up a governor and leader for Delta state?
What a shameful, energy draining and socially disruptive imagery for a state with the highest literacy rate in Nigeria.
Now the idea is reinforced in the youth and children of the state that all you need is to fight hard and play hard to become a future governor of Delta State. If our future governor can be a survivor and veteran of the violent motor park system, why shouldn’t the youth in the cult groups and robbery gangs hope to become one in the future? This is a banal iconography for Delta state.
And then after the primaries, disclosures during the governorship screening being only the trailer, the real show begins. The ugly revelations at the PDP screening for South-South governors in Port Harcourt shows without a doubt that Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa has bought us a lemon, a “dagbo” governor, an unfinished patch work which from the next day after he wins the primaries, will sink the entire state into frenzy and apprehension, a debilitating state of flux, from one court to another and back to the original court until the entire citizens of the state are drained of energy and initiative after four years lost to a fatuous wind.
The revelations of certificate name discrepancies at the PDP governorship candidates’ screening will only be the beginning. Opposition research during the election campaigns will reveal many others yet hidden and unrevealed.
We will keep throwing two million dollars at every revelation and encounter until the state is drained of its patrimony. Two million dollars at today’s rate of exchange amounts to over a billion naira. Just think what a billion naira will achieve in the development of a community in the state. That’s what the governor threw in to buy off the conscience of PDP screening committee members in one instance. Just wait for the unceasing blackmail of your governor from 2023.
That Dr. Okowa is knowingly but stubbornly buying a lemon for Delta State will be truly revealed if Sheriff does win the governorship election. MC Oluomo will be invited to assume the role of Chief Adviser to the Delta State Government and chairmen of NURTW will form the entire executive council of the next PDP government.
We await the days of laughter.