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Ifeanyi Okowa
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa

The Arena

THE ARENA: Okowa And The Vice Presidency

•••Arise Tv’s Naive Profiling.

The Movement for Stronger Delta, MSD wants to state categorically that we are extremely disappointed with the very simplistic and naive profiling of the qualities and characteristics of Nigeria’s interested in the Vice Presidency position, by Arise Television, especially as it relates to the excellent personality and impeccable political reputation of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State.

But while we will not dwell much on this seemingly peevish and mischievously provocative profiling, not just of Governor Okowa, but indeed of those mentioned in consideration for the VP position in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP by Arise TV. Let us state, without prejudice, that with the exception of Dr. Reuben Abati, whose rich repository of Nigeria’s political history is arguably unparalleled, we feel that the researchers of Arise TV who came up with that jaundiced profiling, didn’t quite cover themselves in glory.

We are however pleased to note that the Delta State Information Commissioner, Mr. Charles Aniagwu did ample justice to robustly and cerebrally address the misleading profiling and other associated innuendos, snidely and surreptitiously implied, which we want to assume are some of the professional tricks and dark arts of their trade.

Let us, therefore, crave the patience of our readers, to define the role of the VP and even indulge in a necessary recourse down memory lane of how the Vice Presidents in this present democratic installment emerged, to set the proper tone for our conclusions.

The Role Of A Vice President

Traditionally, a Vice-President in the strict political nomenclature of his/her relevance, is supposed to be a thoroughly grounded, brilliantly articulate, focused and composed, well respected, and formidable political leader, both within the party and in his own immediate constituency, with a proven track record of robust involvement, participation in local and national politics and serial electoral success in his political trajectory.

His selection is to balance a presidential ticket positively, with a confirmed potential to rally votes and electoral fortunes from recognized electorate blocks, be they gender, ethnic, religious, cultural, regional, and even class and demographic groups, for the presidential candidate and the party.

The Movement for Stronger Delta, wants to state unequivocally, without any bias or prejudice, that amongst all those touted for the position of Vice President and running mate to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the clear leader, and front runner is none other than Senator, Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa. The reasons are obvious and in tandem with the expected role and personality of a proper Vice President. In fact, he shares amazing political similarities with Atiku Abubakar, both on the home front of Delta State politics and the National stage of PDP engagements.

Who Is Ifeanyi Okowa

For starters, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa began his political journey from the very grassroots as a Local Government Secretary and later Local Government Council Chairman, in what is now his Ika North East Local Government Area. He has been a 3-time Delta State Commissioner, Commissioner for Water Resources, Agriculture, and Health, where he left indelible footprints, and his achievements are still recounted and unprecedented.

He has been the Secretary to the State Government, SSG; an appointment which followed his dynamic, well-marshaled strategic acumen as the Director-General of a hugely successful Governorship Campaign Council.

His only single term as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, representing the Delta North Senatorial zone, was record-breaking when as a first-time Senator, he was not only appointed the Chairman of, the Senate Committee on Health, which was a radical departure from the established pattern on Committee appointments, he also invoked the excellent legislative traditions of lobbying his colleagues to support the monumental and widely celebrated Universal Health Insurance Bill into law, which has now become a key component in the national health policy and a major lifeline to Nigerians.

Assessing Okowa’s Importance to the Joint Ticket

As a two terms Governor, which was secured with landslide electoral victories in both instances, it must be said that, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has not only exhibited that he is arguably the dominant political leader in the State, by virtue of his position as Governor, but complemented by his status as the Chairman of South-South PDP Governors Forum, but has also displayed astute administrative and navigational leadership excellence and brinkmanship, in piloting the affairs of a State which is multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, distinctly diverse in cultural and political orientation and sometimes diametrically opposed ways and means of seeking specific beneficial interests. Delta is a metaphoric microcosm of Nigeria and Okowa has held all the components firmly together in harmony and peaceful co-existence.

His initiatives and landmark legacy infrastructural projects, the commissioning of some, which have attracted the cream of National political leaders even across party lines, to Delta State, have already firmly established the Delta State Governor as one of the most sought after and highly revered new generation post-modern National leaders, who have stoutly stepped into the large shoes left behind by the likes of Nnamdi Azikiwe and Denis Osadebey in the Southern part of the Country.

And most importantly is the fact that at this precarious time in our Nation, when the next political leadership will be confronted with the mind-boggling, humongous failures of an administration which has practically run the Country ragged and eroded the remaining vestiges of our National essence into pathetic doldrums, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, as a seasoned politician and business mogul understands the dire need to engage and empower youths and women to become gainfully engaged as entrepreneurs and employers of labour themselves, from the get-go.

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With the colossal failure of the present Government’s poverty alleviation intervention programmes like the N-Power and Trader-Moni initiatives, which have become conduit pipes for sleaze and fleecing of our National wealth and are nothing short of throwing money, and peanuts for that matter, at the youths and market women, instead of devising and applying SMART, practical initiatives to address the problem, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa already has the YAGEP, STEP, PPSP, and Micro-Credit job creation and entrepreneurial schemes working.

These schemes have not only yielded visible and fantastic results and testimonies from graduates and beneficiaries, but they can also be quickly deployed and implemented with the Delta blueprint, to ensure that the administration of His Excellency, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, with Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as his Vice President, hits the ground running without much ado, with already tried, tested and hugely successful youth, women and traders empowerment and entrepreneurial programmes, once they come on board. This is indeed a huge advantage which no other person on the list is offering or bringing to the table.

In the National political arena, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar will not forget and has not forgotten the firm, determined and decisive role Governor Okowa played in ensuring that the 2019 PDP Presidential convention in Port Harcourt, was conducted in a free, fair, credible, and transparent manner which eventually resulted in the emergence of the Wazirin Adamawa as the party’s flagbearer. That on its own is a singular, most instructive lesson in loyalty and faithfulness to the party.

This is of course in addition to the several multiple definitive roles and contributions which Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has offered to rebuild, strengthen and consolidate the party, both in the South-South region, where he is the Governors Forum Chairman, and indeed across the Country, where he has embarked on sensitive troubleshooting and conflict resolution missions, in the collective effort to reposition PDP to take over and rescue Nigeria in 2023.

Governor Okowa is also a huge advocate for peace and unity, which has been comprehensively exemplified in Delta State, and as Vice President, his famous and now legendary non-adversarial approach to leadership, will impact significantly and positively accelerate the now desperately desired and urgently required National healing and collective sense of belonging, across the socio-political, socio-economic, ethnoreligious divides, relations and engagements in the Country.

Why Okowa Will Be A Good VP

Much has of course been made and said about loyalty, but suffice it to say that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is a much bigger, older, seasoned, and distinguished personality, who has excelled and ‘made it’ in life nationally, long before 1998 when Okowa, who even started his politics earlier, and his political contemporaries, became prominent on their own local political turfs.

Atiku Abubakar does not demand respect, he commands it and Okowa saw this clearly and offered the deserved respect, even at the expense of his own political relationships, when he midwifed the Port Harcourt PDP Presidential convention, from which Atiku emerged as flag bearer and for which he has received undiluted praise and generous commendations even from those who lost out, for his firmness, Integrity, and loyalty to the objectives of the party.

It is on record that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has exhibited the same respect, loyalty, and accessibility to all the leaders of the PDP in Delta State in abundance, especially where the overall interest and success of the party, have been of utmost importance and major consideration over even his own or any other individual interests. Delta State PDP leaders, both National and domestic, are only too aware that Governor Okowa as Vice President will be a greater asset of tremendous advantage and overall benefit to the party and the leaders themselves, than any other person.

Okowa’s Great Sacrifice

It is important to drum it into the heads and ears of the rumour mongers and agents of misleading prognosis, that if Governor Okowa had seriously considered running for Senate, to at least complete his two conventionally accepted terms, nobody would have stopped him, especially in a free and fair primary conducted on a level playing field.

Today, however, the Movement for Stronger Delta is proud to say that a proper son of Aniomaland, a courageous Political Lion of Delta North and the star Prince from Idumuje Ugboko in Aniocha North LGA, is poised to reclaim his Senatorial mandate and continue the good works of bringing democracy dividends to Delta North, from where Senator Okowa stopped, in 2015, instead of hoodwinking the people and exploiting their collective goodwill and patrimony, which has been the case in the better part of the last seven years.

It is even sad and unfortunate that the Delta North Senatorial seat has been put in the custody of a strange and hostile platform unknown to the zone since 2019 and to say that the Senatorial zone is now in exile and company of strange bedfellows, is an understatement of monumental proportions.

How can they now sing the Lord’s song in a strange land, according to the famous song by Boney M. The coveted seat must return to its rightful traditional homestead in 2023.

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Let us equally state that if Governor Okowa had even toed the line, like some of his colleagues, to contest for the Presidency, he would also have given an excellent account of himself amongst the delegates. As a matter of fact many of those talking nonsense over Governor Okowa’s well deserved and merited consideration as a Vice Presidential material to the ebullient Atiku Abubakar, easily forget that Okowa himself hosted a couple of meetings where the decision to zone the Presidency to the South was taken.

But when it became obvious that such a generational ground-shifting political decision had the capacity to irrevocably polarize us along party lines, ethnic, zonal colourations, and individual egos, the dire need to save the PDP and position it strongly to compete favorably with all its advantages intact, with the main objective of achieving the rescue mission which Nigerians had been yearning for eagerly in last seven years, became a paramount task that must be accomplished, no matter how unpleasant it may appear to some.

Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and many other discerning and senior PDP leaders understood this critical crusade and the need to make personal sacrifices in the interest of the party, and today, the main opposition which must be dislodged as a matter of great National urgency and importance in 2023, is already panicky and confused since the PDP concluded its presidential convention, and whoever emerges from their own convention will be a reflection of their frantic but futile attempt to cling on to power at all cost.

How Former Vice Presidents Emerged

Nigeria has had four Vice Presidents since the inception of this particular democratic installment; Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, Arc. Namadi Sambo and Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and apart from Atiku Abubakar, whose very robust and comprehensively encompassing personal and national pedigree before his selection, shall be discussed in some detail later in this article, the rest have had their peculiar individual pre-appointment political trajectories.

Goodluck Jonathan

Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, elevated to substantive Governor from his original and comfortable Deputy Governor position, following the impeachment of DSP Alamieyesigha, by the Bayelsa House of Assembly for money laundering charges, had just been declared as the 2007 PDP Bayelsa guber flag-bearer, when the top guns in PDP zeroed in on him as the perfect foil to serve as Vice President nominee, to the ailing PDP Presidential Candidate, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.

His loyalty, gallantly professed during the heady days of Chief Alamieyesigha’s impeachment saga, derived largely from his simple ‘I had no shoes when I was growing up’ rustic grooming and through his quite sedentary, mellow lifestyle in the academia as scholar and lecturer, and his stint in public service, was his unique selling point. He had little political experience and scant participation in the topsy-turvy world of robust partisan politics, beyond the limited offerings in his Bayelsa State, before becoming Vice-President.

Namadi Sambo

Arc. Namadi Sambo, before he became Vice President, had been a hugely successful Architect and businessman before he was hand-picked by former Governor Ahmed Makarfi, as his chosen successor in 2007. His tenure as Governor ended in May 2010, even before he had completed his first term, when the Doctrine of Necessity made Goodluck Jonathan the substantive President of Nigeria and the same PDP top guns sourced Namadi Sambo to become his Vice President.

Sambo was not a rooted politician and had no national political presence or appeal before he became governor of Kaduna and three years later, he was also handpicked, just like Jonathan before him, to become VP. In fact, Jonathan and Sambo shared obvious similarities in their political track records, before they became Vice Presidents.

Both men spent a very little period as governors and it was not surprising that they did not have sufficient time to build independent political structures at home before relocating to Abuja.

Thus, both men were unable to call the shots in the party structures at home, even with their powerful positions in Abuja.

Yemi Osinbajo

Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, incumbent Nigerian Vice President, even has a less exciting and opaque apolitical trajectory. His appointment as Vice Presidential Candidate to Mohammadu Buhari, was quite fortuitous, as the APC, which didn’t want to present a Muslim-Muslim ticket with Buhari and Tinubu, had to also settle for a core Christian, who was not as fiery as Tunde Bakare, which would have rankled the sensibilities of the North.

He left Government in 2007 and returned to law practice and lecturing along with preaching in the Redeemed Christian Church of God, after serving in Tinubu’s two terms as Governor and was thus engaged up until 2013 when APC was formed and his legal expertise was required once more.

Tinubu allegedly did not forget Osinbajo’s defining political legacy in his administration, which was that he successfully led the legal defence that extricated Jagaban Borgu from the scandalous Toronto certificate brouhaha, which almost cost him his Governorship, as well as coordinating the legal/forensic efforts that secured critical victories against the PDP in the pre-APC years, thus his nomination to the VP position was a calculation of political master class.

Prof. Yemi Osinbajo became Vice President, with absolutely no evidence of robust political participation, no national political presence, and no electoral support system whatsoever, except the behemoth structures of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. He is from Ikene Remo in Ogun State, but having been completely subsumed and swallowed by the Jagaban political family in Lagos, it is even doubtful if he commands any considerable influence in Ogun State politics, beyond the dictates and directives of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

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Atiku Abubakar

Alhaji Atiku Abubakar was the first Vice President of this present democratic journey which started on May 29, 1999, with President Olusegun Obasanjo as its pioneer Head of Government and just like those who succeeded him, Atiku Abubakar was also handpicked to become President Obasanjo’s Vice, after he had joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 1998, and subsequently secured the nomination for Governor of Adamawa State, winning the December 1998 governorship polls.

But unlike the others, Atiku Abubakar came into the Vice Presidency with a very rich, robust, and intimidatingly impressive resume, both in his political pedigree and his business profile, which was even more recognized nationally than that of Obasanjo himself.

It is on record that Atiku Abubakar was already a top customs officer and was also considerably wealthy and considered as one of the leading business moguls in the country, when he first forayed into partisan politics in the early 1980s.

He was said to have met the phenomenal General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua (rtd), who had retired from the Army as Chief of Staff Supreme Headquarters, into farming and trading, as well as General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (IBB) who was the incumbent Head of State, and both of whom he used his top position in Customs to assist with customs related engagements.

From 1989, when Atiku was elected the National Vice-Chairman of the Peoples Front of Nigeria in the build-up to the Third Nigerian Republic and also won a seat to represent his constituency at the 1989 Constituent Assembly, the Wazirin Adamawa became quite visible as one of the young, leading lights of the Northern political block, especially in IBB’s two-party system, which created the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the National Republican Convention (NRC).

He then went on from September 1989 and over the next ten years, to contest and win the guber primaries for the defunct Gongola State and the newly created Adamawa state under the IBB and Late Sani Abacha transition programmes, which were truncated before fruition.

He also contested on the 1 September 1990, Atiku Abubakar announced his Gongola State gubernatorial bid, but this was short-lived as Gongola State was broken up into two; Adamawa and Taraba States, by the IBB Government, before the elections could hold, and Atiku found himself in the new Adamawa State.

He equally contested the 1993 SDP  Presidential primaries and came third behind Babagana Kingibe and Chief MKO Abiola who subsequently went on to win the annulled June 12 election and had just won the Adamawa State governorship election under PDP in 1998, when Obasanjo emerged as Presidential candidate of the PDP.

The great Shehu Musa Yar’Adua remembered and fulfilled an old promise he made in 1993, after Abiola won the June 12 election, by now recommending Atiku as Vice President to the Ota General. Obasanjo himself, freshly out from Sani Abacha’s gulag, was not a politician of any standing, even in his hometown Abeokuta, despite his being a former military Head of State and so needed the political clout, savvy, and sure-footedness of a seasoned and trusted disciple and ally like Atiku on the ticket.

This was necessary to balance the presidential combo and also harness Atiku’s vast business experience, connections, extensive developmental and administrative initiatives, and management skills, into the mix. That is how Alhaji Atiku Abubakar became Vice President and the rest as they say, is history.

Today, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is the Presidential flag bearer of the PDP for the 2023 presidential election and it bears pointing out that having contested for the Presidency five times, the Wazirin Adamawa is back on the ballot once again for the sixth time, in the party where he was its first Vice President and where, by the law of natural progression, is the appropriate place to fulfill his ascendancy, one more notch, to the Presidency which is the pinnacle of all political ambitions.

Consolidating PDP For Victory

Let us conclude by making it very clear, that the most important consideration for the PDP right now, even beyond the appointment of a running mate and Vice Presidential Candidate, is the singular objective to win the 2023 presidential elections. Of course, Delta State is already in the bag for PDP as a result of Governor Okowa’s unwavering hold on the political structures of the party in the State, which he will deliver in a landslide to the national votes.

Those who are therefore engaged in the worthless and diversionary business of raising and posting all manner of delusional fantasies from their own warped and limited understanding of political maneuvers, will only be so shocked, when they see a number of South-South Governors joining Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, our own “Ekwueme”, in the hallowed chambers of the State House, Aso Rock, for Federal Executive Council meetings in Abuja, come 2023 “when PDP don dey rule again…”

That, without doubt, is and has always been the SIMPLE Agenda!

MOVEMENT FOR STRONGER DELTA, (MSD)

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