Okowa At 58: Prosperity on the Seat of the Delta
The Story of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State is the story of courage and resilience. He is a man of great faith, enviable impacts and of flawless reputation. As Senator in the 7th Assembly, he was ranked among the best Senators for sponsoring ten (10) bills- including the National Health Bill, a feat many acknowledged as ingenious, legendary and laudable despite his short stint in the red chambers. His steady progress did not just start today as a lot of people, who knew him a long time ago, would not easily forget how he rode on the back of humility-through all his professional and political career, even to his present status as Governor of Delta State.
Born on the 8th of July, 1959 at Owa-Alero in the present Ika North-East Local Government Area of Delta State, he had his early education at Iroro Primary School, Owa-Alero and later attended the famous Edo College, Benin City. He graduated with the second best result in the Higher School Certificate Examination in the then Bendel State in 1976.
Thereafter, he proceeded to the University of Ibadan to study Medicine and Surgery. Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa graduated in 1981 with MBBS, at the record age of 22. Upon his completion of the National Youth Service Corps in 1982; he worked briefly with the defunct Bendel State Hospitals Management Board as a Medical Officer before venturing into private practice as Director, Victory Medical Centre, Igbanke, in 1986. He later expanded his outfit with another branch at Boji-Boji, Owa. He endeared himself to his people through his humanitarian disposition as he often rendered free services to the very poor in those locations.
He remains a man of strong will and gentle speech, of imposing purpose and simple sentiments. His character and politics have continued to please the people. He is genial, witty, unassuming, and endowed with a charm that atones for his errors. Simple and unpretentious in appearance and attire, he has steadily established a reputation for political sanctity and love for our country, Nigeria and its people.
Ekwueme! (One who does what he says he will do) is his traditional title, rising from the ashes, like the phoenix of the Greek mythology and with an unprecedented political geometry clinched the position of the Governor of Delta State. The incredulity, amazement, tears of joy and jubilation galore that greeted his emergence across the state reinforced the belief that the exceptional heroes are God-sent.
In steering the state-ship, Okowa’s major account for success is his recognition, ab initio, of the weight of expectations that come with leadership, especially executive power entrusted on a governor in a state like Delta. But most importantly is his realisation, like all great leaders in history, that leadership essentially means taking people where they should be, not necessary where they want to be.
With this clear vision on the expectations and where he wants to see the state under his stewardship, Okowa set out to prioritise and articulate this vision into the SMART Agenda which means; Strategic Wealth creation projects and provision of jobs for all Deltans; Meaningful peace building platforms aimed at political and social harmony; Agricultural reforms and accelerated industrialization; Relevant Health and Education policies; Transformed environment through urban renewal.
Perhaps one most important decision made by the Okowa administration from inception is tackling rising unemployment through job creation. The wisest decision, for any leader in this age is to have a holistic and wide-ranging investment in human capital development through education and skill acquisition programmes. Here is the Okowa model, a model of societal upliftment through the viable investment in its human capital. In other to achieve this laudable initiative, Governor Okowa created the Delta State Technical and Vocational Education Board and rehabilitated all 6 Technical Colleges in the state with an assurance that starter packs will be given to Deltans who enrol for skill acquisition programmes.
By making skill acquisition the fulcrum of his administration’s job creation efforts, Okowa has put Delta once again, on the pathway to greatness. Under his Wealth creation programmes, the Governor has kept faith with YAGEP, STEP, GEEP, and CBN Anchor Borrowers Programmes as over 4,300 youths have so far been trained in our various agricultural and skill acquisition programmes with over 28,000 direct and indirect jobs created in the last two years."
The huge attention being received by job creation in Delta under Okowa, justified as it is, does not mean that other critical and important sectors are neglected. Road infrastructure, Education, Agriculture and healthcare delivery have equally benefitted from Okowa’s methodical and strategic interventions. In the past two years on the saddle over 98 roads spanning 612 km with over 300 km drainage system have been awarded out of which over 40 of them covering more than 324 kilometres completed across the state."
Even by this pigeon-holed look into the stewardship of Delta state by Governor Okowa, it is evident that this true leader of his people is indeed serving the people diligently towards creating a new vista for Delta State.
At 58, Okowa is unarguably one of Nigeria’s most enterprising politician. His ever-smiling disposition brings forward a happy mien that is intricately infectious. With his track-record in politics and in the leadership of Delta state sure sets him apart as a selfless and passionate leader who burns to put his state on the world developmental map.
He detests waste because he is confronted daily by the lack that dots the socio-economic landscape. That is why in the anniversary of his birthday in 2015 and 2016, he requested that friends and well wishers should not place goodwill advertorials in the media. He rather urged them to convert such resources to assisting the needy. As he marks yet another anniversary of his birthday, his wish is that Deltans should pray for him and the state in order that what he has lined up in his wish-list for the state comes to fruition.
Okowa is happily married to his beloved wife, Dame Edith Okowa, whose inner feminine qualities play an archetypal role in the Ekwueme's sub-conscious. The marriage is blessed with four lovely children.
● Aniagwu is the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Okowa