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Okowa’s Legacy in Asaba and Illusions of Nwaoboshi

By Norbert Chiazor,

Senator Dr Ifeanyi Okowa bears an enviable destiny as the first elected Delta governor of Anioma origin.

On the 29th of May 2015, history embraced Okowa with an enchanting governorship. Instantaneously he emerged a symbolic figure connoting the soul and oneness of the multi-ethnic people of Delta.

For Anioma, representing the cultural quadrants of Aniocha, Ndokwa, Oshimili and Ika, the coming of Okowa was the dawning of the brightest day in their political experience, as Delta North celebrated in all-time glory.

Senator Dr Ifeanyi Okowa

It took about 25 years since the creation of Delta in 1991 to cross this incredible journey, so long a laborious odyssey.

It, therefore, becomes easy to understand why the man with the mythic fortune to successfully lead this voyage would have on its shoulders blessing and burden.

While the grand status commends Okowa to greatness, with the expected pomp from all quarters, the elevated office is not without its malevolent drawbacks and distractions.

This is the clearest explanation to a diatribe by Senator Peter Nwaoboshi accusing Governor Okowa of doing less to develop Asaba, the state capital.

At a political gathering in Asaba this week, Nwaoboshi, the senator representing Delta North senatorial district at the National Assembly was quoted thus:

“I am a PDP Senator but I have to tell you the truth. Urhobo and Itsekiri Governors performed credibly well than our own Anioma Governor. What has the Anioma Governor done for the Asaba people to show that he loves Asaba more than the Delta Central people? Don’t allow selfish people to bring division between us and Delta Central people. I challenge anyone to a debate that Uduaghan loves Asaba more than our Anioma Governor anytime and anywhere. His legacy in Asaba speaks volumes. It is the turn of Delta Central to produce the next Governor of Delta State”.

Under democracy, free speech is a norm. Senator Nwaoboshi has the liberty. Just that freedom of expression is not analogous to stuck up slurs embellished with inflammatory fault-finding.

What has Governor Okowa done with power? In Anioma nay Asaba? The answer is not rhetoric’s, unclasps to counter even the most trenchant of rabble-rousers.

At the heart of Asaba, the Delta state capital, the Okowa administration has built the biggest secretariat in the Niger Delta.

Located at Maryam Babangida road, the secretariat is a sprawling spectacle of Olympian architecture rolling up to seven stairs at the peak, kissing the skyline of Asaba in amazing elegance. The dimension from the ground is breathtaking, sitting on 65,000 square meters space.

The multi-billion Naira secretariat complex, dressing up for commissioning, is designed in five clusters to house 27 ministries, departments and agencies of government as well as bank, clinic and crèche.

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The vision of Okowa is that commissioners, permanent secretaries, directors and other civil servants would work under one giant roof to deliver government business in a seamless link. An initiative, unprecedented in history.

There is also the happy optimism that the new secretariat with its one-stop accommodation stand to boost the economic profile of the state by cutting off wastage of huge funds often spent on rent by so many government establishments in the state capital.

The landmark secretariat decorates Asaba in magnificence and urbanization.

A new court of Appeal building was inaugurated on Monday 3rd February 2020 at Asaba, under the administration of Governor Okowa.

Most courts across Nigeria are hellish. Harangued by poor environmental constraints. Inside Asaba Appeal court Chamber, is a cosy expansive exterior wondrous to the human eye. Elevated and furnished to superlative finishing. The infrastructure is one of the finest court buildings in Nigeria.

The court commissioned by then President, Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, now retired is intended to reduce difficulties of long-distance travels to such courts, located outside the state, mitigate the cost of transportation and delays in justice delivery.

In the words of the learned jurist, who obviously knows better, it was a “prompt and result-oriented response by Governor Okowa which saw to the establishment of the Court of Appeal in Asaba.’’

Though the government of Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan started the building as Maryam Babangida centre, Okowa regime remodelled it to a top-notch Appeal court edifice, with the fair spirit that government is a continuous engagement. Today the Appeal court with its scenic beauty stands as one of the pleasant imageries of Asaba.

The road harbouring the Appeal Court, Maryam Babangida way was a sorry pathway buried in mud and erosion when Okowa arrived in Asaba in 2015. Today it is a two-lane expressway reinforced by glittering solid tar, existing now among the busiest roads in the state capital.

Asaba had been at the mercy of lamentable flooding whenever the rain clouds gathered and poured its bowels to earth. Today a massive storm drainage project initiated by the Okowa administration has lessened the negative impact of the flood on the state capital as huge underground gutters installed here and there channel large body of rainwaters to the nearby River Niger.

The Asaba Airport inherited from the Uduaghan administration has since been reworked to international standards by the Okowa government. With the monumental expansion of the runaway to receive bigger planes and concession through public and private sector synergy, the present dispensation has made efforts to position the airport to operate better and yield revenue for the state.

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Far from propaganda and hyperbole, rampant in the Nigerian political space, Governor Okowa is decorated by a popular appellation – Roadmaster. This is earned largely from his impressive road work never seen in the annals of Delta across towns and villages.

The authenticity of this unsolicited title bestowed by the people assumed vivid vision at the sight of Asaba. A casual tour will lead even the most cynical to columns and columns of modern roads constructed in strategic and remote places across the state capital. And Asaba is better for it as the fastest developing capital city that sits daintily between Edo and Anambra states.

Whenever the sun goes down, giant street lights installed in different points by the Okowa government, give the gloomy skies broad smiles to illuminate Asaba, enhancing social life and security among the city dwellers. This is part of a beautification master plan that has changed Asaba, even under a harsh economic climate.

Even with the general insecurity in the country, Asaba has become safer with the establishment of headquarters 63 brigades of the Nigerian army and strengthening of other security outfits since Okowa came to office. The effect is that Asaba is among the safest cities to live in Nigeria under the vigilant eyes of Okowa aided by divine intervention.

What has Okowa done in Asaba? Unprecedented transformation. Curiously, Chief Nwaoboshi is in doubt but his disbelief, real or imaginary may not be forbidden. The senator lives in Abuja!

But for an Anioma man, it becomes inexcusable to pass off his claim as legit. It terribly racks conscience when a highly placed political office holder sworn to honour mocks truth.

If Nwaoboshi was playing politics of distortion, his rash flak that Governor Okowa never built the Asaba stadium is an inconceivable goof. Okowa built the main bowl of Asaba stadium and renamed it Stephen Keshi stadium in memory of Delta soccer legend.

The story of Stephen Keshi Stadium is not even a palatable narrative. It is a shocking tale of denial and decay.

The stadium was conceived by the people of Asaba through self-help in the 60s. But it would suffer stillbirth for 44 years!

Though the then mid-western state government took over the stadium in 1974, what followed was a protracted lull that slipped through the hands of 19 military and civilian leaders from the Midwest, Bendel to Delta.

From the rot and ruins of a long-forgotten treasure rose a monument, amazing insight and glorious in standing, courtesy of Governor Okowa. The sprawling presence of the Stephen Keshi Stadium lives as one of the best landmarks in Asaba, a favourite destination that had hosted countless continental and global sporting events.

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Okowa may not have transformed Asaba into wishful Eldorado and a lot is yet on the ground, given years of endemic underdevelopment. Like all mortals, he lays no claim to Superman or sainthood, but it is safe to say that he has proved responsible and phenomenal in governance.

Senator Nwaoboshi vented that the two civilian governors before Okowa loved Asaba more and indeed out-performed him. Glory! His story pales into insignificance against Okowa’s often repeated acknowledgement of his predecessors’ contributions to the development of the state including the state capital. They ran their races to the best of their abilities . Okowa is on course, standing and succeeding.

He needs no validation. Not even from the senate, a place he once occupied and left a record, matchless in carriage and action. As governor, Deltans who voted him to power are happy with his steady strides and would hopefully remember him for good after 2023.

Was Nwaoboshi’s uninteresting comparison intended to stoke ill-will between Okowa and the two former governors?  Whatever, it fell flat, null and void. Okowa shares a rock-solid liaison with Ibori. His relationship with Uduaghan may not have been rainbow always, but both men sustain a tie-in, tighter than Nwaoboshi’s glib apologia.

For anyone to come at the centre of the troika, fated to govern Delta, such would amount to hollow insincere intrusion. In a room gathered in communion with Ibori, Uduaghan and Okowa, Nwaoboshi would place last. In this regard, the senator’s “feferity” that “it is the turn of Delta Central to produce the next Governor of Delta State”, requires no reply. The only take is that Okowa is at peace with the people of Delta central.

Senator Nwaoboshi seems to have gotten an obsession in recent times, attacking Governor Okowa each time he has the microphone for indistinct reasons. Is it smug pleasure or malignant anxiety?

A governor who achieved iconic height by grit and grace must be a wonder unto many.

The senator can live in vainglory under the vaunting comfort of an office made soft by the widespread goodwill and tenacity of Okowa since the 2015 senatorial election. But two things are clear.

 

One, Okowa has done well for Asaba, nay Delta North.

Two the Governor is more Anioma than Nwaoboshi.

 

Chiazor is a Media Aide to Governor Okowa.

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