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Warri Ovoke Friday
Warri Ovoke Friday

Politics

Warri Ovoke Friday: My Story, My Vision, My Mission


By Fred Edoreh

(In this no-bolds-barred and very exciting narration, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party for the Chairmanship of Isoko South LGA Council, Hon Warri Ovoke Friday, reveals his deep connection with the people, the land and the locals; a rich bundle of experience through life and business; and an incomparable knowledge and insight on the challenges, prospects and potentials for the development and re-engineering of the socio-economic landscape of Isoko South which equips him far better than any other for the job.)

Growing up in the farm

I was born on April 5, 1984 in Okpolo/Enwhe. I spent a little time with my mother, the late Mrs Eunice Ukoni Iseghine Warri, and in my primary school days, I stayed with my grandmother, the late Madam Sarah Ukane Iseghine.

I was not born with a silver or golden spoon. I grew up in a typical rural setting in which work and discipline were the rule.

During my primary school days, we used to spend our weekends at our farm settlement at Ohoror. We proceed there at the close of school on Fridays, work throughout the weekend and return to town on either Sunday evening or Monday morning to go to school.

The routine was the same even as I entered Enwhe Comprehensive Secondary School, studying from Monday till Friday and proceeding to the farm settlement to work during weekends.

Quest for higher education

At the end of my schooling at Enwhe Comprehensive, the WAEC result of the entire centre was cancelled. As a young person, I did not even know nor understood what happened, but I had to face the harsh reality of life and continued in my quest for education.

This led me to go and stay with my uncle in Sapele. He was a businessman dealing in timber. I was involved in the business and it is from him that I picked the sense of business and learnt business acumen.

While there, I sat for my GCE and NECO and made my papers. I also sat for JAMB but I eventually got admission into Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, through direct entry, to study Production Technology, with option in Electro-Mechanical.

Aluta Things

At the university, I was a core Student Union activist and contributed a fair share of Aluta.

I started as President of the National Association of Isoko Students, UNIZIK Chapter. From there, I became the Coordinator of all Delta State ethnic nationalities in UNIZIK when the NADESSTU EXCO was dissolved. We then took charge of managing student bursary.

In the course of that, there were some issues and we came to protest. In the process, I met a number of other comrades and when it was time for election, I contested as the Senate Clerk of NADESSTU. I won the election and served till the end of the tenure.

National Youth Service

After my graduation, I went for the National Youth Service Camp at Ebonyi State, precisely at McGregor College, Afikpo, which was the permanent orientation camp.

After the three weeks compulsory camp, I relocated to Akwa Ibom State with the intention to serve in EXXONMOBIL but I unfortunately couldn’t get in there. I was posted to CDA Secondary School, Iko-Eket, where I served as Maths and Physics teacher.

Job and Business Life

After my service year, I returned to the state. The then Governor, Dr Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan, offered me a job in the Civil Service but I did not feel like it. So, as a young man, I continued to look for what to do to make ends meet.

Back then at the university, I had a friend called Comrade Ifeanyi Egwuyenga, later Delta State Commissioner for Youth and now Chief Job Creation Officer of Delta State. We rolled together as young men. We stayed in the same apartment until he got married and relocated while I also worked hard to get there too.

In the course of our struggles as young men, we met our boss, Mr Akachukwu Nwankwo. He was SA to the President on Technical Matters, later Secretary of Sure-P. The man taught us a lot of things and most of the things I do today, I got the experience from him.

In the course of working with Mr Akachukwu Nwankwo, we met his bosom friend who, as life will have it, is no more. That is Dr Lawrence Onyekachi Ezinwa, The Father. We call him “The Patron of our Mata.” He was one man who earnestly wanted my growth. Dr, wherever you are, may your soul continue to rest in peace.

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Adventure into Politics and Public Service

In the course of working him, I decided I was returning home to vie for the Councillorship of my ward. The man was so worried, how I would be working in the Presidency and then want to run for Councillor of a local ward, but it was just my quest, because I have a passion to serve my people.

I was not looking at the luxury in Abuja, but how to impact on my people by contributing to development at home, especially my primary constituency. That was how I entered the Councillorship election in 2014.

It was very tough then. Five of us bought the form and the election then was not secret ballot system, it was Option A4, queue behind your candidate.

As God will have it, I won, but even after winning, more battle started until, God bless Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan who, as Governor and leader, called up Chief Solomon Ogba, as our leader at home, to ensure that the true winners of the election were upheld. That was how I got into the council.

At the expiration of our tenure, the question again became what next to do, how next to go about life. I did not want to work for anybody, so I started doing my own thing, seeking contracts both in the government and private sector and executing them with utmost integrity. That has been my major source of livelihood.

Now, with my nomination as the candidate of the PDP for the Chairmanship of the Council, I have the opportunity again to serve my people as I have always wanted to.

I tried it before in 2021 but, unfortunately, fortune did not smile on me, and I said, okay, let me try again this time, and as God will have it, He has given me the grace.

It is not as if I am the smartest person, neither am I the wealthiest. It is just that God has deemed it fit that it is my time to govern Isoko South, to take Isoko South to the next level.

First Experience at the Council

Talking about taking Isoko South to the next level, I have been in the council before as a Councillor and I have gathered a lot of knowledge and hands-on experience on the workings of the council from then.

When I got into the council in 2014, it was really tough. Tough in the sense that when we were going in, we had a lot of hope. As a young man then, when I saw the salary structure, that I would be receiving N413,000 every month into my bank account, I was so happy. Little did I know that the council did not have money.

As it is in the public service, we were to work for three months before receiving salary but at the end of the three months, we were paid half salary.

On of the major problems was that the wage bill of Isoko South Council was enormous, emanating mostly from the number of primary schools and teachers.

Under the circumstance, we decided to re-examine the situation and the Chairman then, Sir Itiako Ikpokpo with whom I had and still maintain a very cordial relationship, set up a kind of Screening Committee which fell under my portfolio as Chairman of the House Committee on Finance and Appropriation.

In the process, we discovered that, I will not really say ghost workers, but there were many people who, due to Japa syndrome, had left he council, some in the UK, the US, but their salary was still running, while the council was having a hard time taking care of those back at home and earnestly working.

Another issue we discovered was the tendency for age falsification. Persons who were 75 years were still listed as having even 20, 25 years more years left in the service even when they were no longer working.

Through the exercise, we were able to hem the wage bill to a manageable level.

A Brighter Future

That was then. Today, the council is not as it used to be. The situation is a little bit better now and if we could manage the situation then, we will certainly drive it into greater progress at this time.

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The task only requires an understanding of the challenges and a good sense of strategy to raise and release funds to pursue real development.

Focus and Strategy

As a local government council chairman, what first comes to your mind is, as the name signifies, Local Government. It is the third tier of government and it is government right at the door post of the people. You are therefore taking responsibility for the social and economic life of the locals.

It requires us to reasonably aggregate the aspirations, needs and challenges of the people, and our potentials and opportunities for upliftment, development and growth, and take deliberate and strategic actions to actualise our vision.

First, in whatever we are going to do, we shall pay premium attention to youth and women empowerment, in addition to supporting micro, small and medium scale businesses across various sectors – agriculture, commerce, service, technical sectors -, while also continuously building an efficient, mobilised and well motivated local council workforce. These are the bullwark, the pillars of the local socio-economy.

I will also operate an open door policy. There is not going to be the issue of “Chairman say…” My office will be open 24 hours. My line will be open. I don’t want to be that kind of public servant or politician that will contrain or restrict communication with the people by government bureaucracy, like you have to fill some form before you can see me. No. You can call me on phone and if it is something we can resolve right there, we will resolve it with you immediately. You don’t necessarily need to first transport from your village to the council.

We shall hold routine town hall meetings from time to time to enable us get feedback from the people through direct and open engagements across the eleven wards of Isoko South.

The idea is to regularly ascertain, hearing directly from the people, how our programmes have impacted their lives and communities, from when we came into office and at different points in our administration, and to also know their further challenges and expectations.

Shared Responsibility for Food Sufficiency and Security

Government is interwoven between the governors and the governed, so while the government plays it’s part, the governed must equally be ready to play their part.

For instance, as at today, the cost of food is at the peak. So, we will go to our villages and collectively strategize on necessary actions to achieve food sufficiency and security.

Like Village A, what do you produce at comparative advantage? Let us say cassava. Fine. We will then support the people with what we can afford for them to achieve higher productivity.

Others may be plantain, maize, pepper, groundnut etc. There are also individuals in poultry, piggery, fish farming and so on.

The idea is for us to support them in various ways to achieve sufficiency and surplus in food production, first for the consumption of the people and then to sell and generate income for other needs. That way, half the problem has been solved.

We must be committed to that so that we can ameliorate the suffering of our people in the present circumstance of our national economy, because a hungry man is an angry man, and it is when the stomach is filled that you can be talking about clothing and other things.

Symbol of the Youth and the Unity, Peace and Progress of Isoko South

When you talk about my general acceptability and the fact that my candidacy has elicited unity across Isoko South communities and among our leaders in the PDP, it is because, one, I, Warri Ovoke Friday, has never for once been exclusively associated with any particular political camp. I take everybody as my brothers, my sisters, my mothers, my fathers, my elders and my leaders. I relate with everyone equally.

Like you made mention of Barrister Duncan Afahokor who contested with me in the PDP primary, he is my bosom friend. We have known ourselves for years. We were together on a mission for Umeh Need Road. All of us were advocates for that road, and we achieved it.

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Then we started another advocacy. My ward, Okpolo/Enwhe Ward 09, and his ward, Erowha/Umeh Ward 08, have not once had the privilege to head Isoko South Local Government Council, either by appointment or nomination or election or any way. So, we decided together to advocate for a sense of justice.

In doing so and working together, we were aware that if we succeeded in convincing our brothers and leaders in the other communities and wards to look our way, the mantle can only go to one of our two wards. So, when both of us went into the primary contest, we were still talking. We shared ideas together. We asked ourselves how our consultation was going.

For us, it is a win-win thing. We eat together, we go to parties together, we drink together. Both of us agreed that if it is me, he will support me wholeheartedly, and if it is him, I will do the same. So, seeing him in my house when the nomination was concluded was a promise kept.

But, it did not stop at that. I was even scared when he was nominated as the DG of the Campaign Council, that maybe he will refuse, knowing how busy he is, but he gladly accepted the responsibility and has been working tirelessly to see that we succeed and I emerge as Chairman of the council, so that our generation will be at the helm of affairs in the governance of the local government.

It is said that the youth are the leaders of tomorrow and, by my nomination, that tomorrow has now come to us, leadership has come to our hand. But if we the youth decide to fight ourselves, I believe we can lose our place, and posterity, even our unborn children, will never forgive us, because we would have also destroyed their chances.

Warri Ovoke Friday is a symbol of unity. I will never segregate. I will always see everybody as myself, both the downtrodden and the privileged. I treat everybody equally. The regards I give to Mr A is the same regard that I give to Mr B.

Acceptability is God’s Grace

On my acceptability, I will say it is just God’s grace, just God’s gift. My acceptance cuts across the length and breadth of Isoko South, the entire Isoko Nation and extends to the whole Delta South, Delta Central, Delta North, even across the globe, because I have received and keep receiving calls from many persons outside the shores of this country, not only pledging their support for my election but also their contributions to the success and high performance and achievement of my administration of the council.

It is just the grace of God, my kind of person, but I will not praise myself. As time goes on, people will come to know who Warri Ovoke Friday really is.

It is my earnest prayer that, by the grace of God, I emerge as the Chairman of the council, I will never disappoint God, and the only way not to disappoint God is not to disappoint man.

Appeal and Pledge to Isoko South Electorate

I plead with my brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, elders and leaders, women, youth and comrades in Isoko South to please support me, vote for me, vote for the PDP and rely on me, Warri Ovoke Friday, to take care of their worries.

In taking care of your worries, there are some issues we can resolve without money, and we will deploy the right judgment and strategies to resolve them, while there are others that we will need money to actualise.

The ones that need money to actualise, we will actualise them based on available resources per time, but rest assured that the government will be far better than before.

I have been to the council before, I know most of the challenges and I will tackle them one after the other.

So, I am pleading with you, my people, to support me, Warri Ovoke Friday, for Chairman and together we shall achieve greater development and progress in Isoko South and Isoko Nation as a whole.


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