The Okowa I know ,The Okowa I know ,The Okowa I know
By Norbert Chiazor
It is a running story.
By face to face encounter, you cannot tag him an emotive talker or straight-laced motivational speaker. So formal and frank, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, the Delta State governor, is not effusive or boisterous in gestures. Not exactly taciturn in speech, he speaks but in measured cadence.
Once I met Okowa closely, he struck me like my primary school teacher of the 70s at Idumuje Unor homestead, North of the present Delta State. He does not act to impress or speak to embellish. His words come in effortless coos- polite, prudish, orderly.
Sometime in 2000, as Commissioner for Agriculture at his office located at governor’s street, off Nnebisi Road Asaba. It was a fortuitous appointment to interview Okowa by a TV crew. His office upstairs wore a cultivated look reminiscent of the Victorian age.
His personal effects and work things particularly few files, calendars, photos, tables and chairs, neatly arranged with prim details. His welcome was refined, his attention strict to duty . He appeared too organized
In Okowa, I saw something curiously unusual as most personages one had met in the course of a long itinerant journalism career seemed invariably haphazard in taste.
That was not our first meet. My maiden knowledge of Okowa was at Owa Oyibo, headquarters of Ika North East Local Government Area in 1998, in the wave of Chief James Ibori’s governorship campaign tour, with one serving as integral part of the media team.
Human memory fades like flower. The details of that interface have dimmed with time but I can still recall a brief handshake and fleeting pleasantries with a very slim man of average height later identified simply as Dr. Okowa and key organizer of the Ibori rally.
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What however established a filial bond and undying consciousness with him was the Miss Delta cultural pageant, where I took fancy as franchise holder with my bosom friend, Alex Oyoro.
As Commissioner for Health and later Secretary to the State Government, Okowa was a major benefactor, who emboldened the organizers to transverse public and private educational institutions propagating anti HIV/AIDS awareness programme, the pet project of the crown for many years beginning from 2004 . That was during the reign of Gbubemi Onuwaje as Miss Delta, a dark Itsekiri damsel who grew to become a Nollywood actress under the stage name Lizzy Gold. After he became Senator, Okowa would play the big brother, hosting one and a professional colleague, Kingsley Azu sometime in 2012 at his Asaba residence.
But the ultimate solidarity would evolve in 2014.
Governorship election was imminent. Delta stood in tenterhooks. Ethnic tension was suffocating the land. Whether by divine design or human order, there had been a clearly defined pattern of succession in governorship among the three senatorial districts that marked the balance of power. Chief James Ibori ( Urhobo ) Delta Central served as governor for two terms of eight years, 1999- 2007. Dr. Emmanuel Ewetan Uduaghan ( Itsekiri ) Delta South had two terms, 2007 – 2015. Aniomas exhibiting their pacifist accommodating nature provided matchless goodwill that not only enthroned but also entrenched the governments of Ibori and Uduaghan for 16 years.
The compelling need for self belonging among the Anioma people spurred a concerted action to save Delta from divisive ethnicity. Something needed to be done to call the bluff of tribal hate mongers on the prowl under the guise of cultural protectionism. It was under this political climate that a group – Anioma Media Professionals comprising this writer, Hugo Odiogor, Ken Ogbechie, Bruce Malogo, Emma Amaize, Godwin Ijediogor, Charles Okogene, Sunny Neme, among other frontline journalists of Delta North origin, rose to take the gauntlet. It was a perception reordering media agenda out to amplify Anioma rights to inclusiveness in Delta while also recognizing the liberty of others to survive and thrive.
Its broad-based non-partisan footing ensured that all Anioma born governorship aspirants numbering over 20 across political parties, were given widespread exposure necessary for the public to make informed judgement ahead of the 2015 gubernatorial polls.
When out of the lot, Okowa emerged as the most beautiful masquerade standing, after winning the PDP December 8, 2014 governorship primary at Asaba, the group formed a bulwark around him deploying elevated media advocacy and sundry material support.
Soon Okowa would fulfil his destiny. He became governor.
When the first tenure bloomed to full moon in 2019, it was natural for the Anioma media team to cheer Okowa to a final second term.
Another, if not more challenging platform, was a political movement, “Operation Return Okowa 2019” championed by Anioma born- philanthropist and lawyer, Prince Ned Nwoko, where one served as Director, Media and Strategic Communications. Today we are proud of Okowa. His history excites us. His governorship regaled Delta North with dignity. His political ascendancy at Asaba gave Deltans a sense of oneness and self belonging away from primordial sentiments of tribe, party or creed.
On self-introspection, Okowa has been warm. As governor, he proved a supportive ally of Delta NUJ under my humble saddle as state chairman, helping to build the union’s press centre from the base to roofing level. This followed a foundation laid by the Emmanuel Uduaghan administration.
Okowa’s fortune inspires awe.
As governor Okowa has powers in his muscle. He can transform Delta. He can make the poor, rich. Change someone’s life. Fight most battles and afford his fancies. He can even sign a death warrant or rehabilitate the hopeless.
As a man of influence and ornate intelligence, Okowa flies bright but he is not a butterfly. He does not advertise pride even with his colourful seat.
Like all humans, Okowa is a saint but his ways are tolerable.
There is a certain fact about him that is basically redemptive. The Okowa personae, one can safely say shows self-discipline.
I know Okowa. I am not a media aide. I am a witness to history.
The story just started…..
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