OPINION: GOV. OKOWA’S COCKTAIL OF APPOINTMENTS AND THE APC VILIFICATION OF HIS PRINCIPAL SECRETARY


Nigeria, September 17, 2015, (Blank NEWS Online) – by Fejiro Oliver

Gov. Okowa

Gov. Okowa


“Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last. To pluck the mask from the face of the Pharisee, is not to lift an impious hand to the Crown of Thorns.

These things and deeds are diametrically opposed: they are as distinct as is vice from virtue. Men too often confound them: they should not be confounded: appearance should not be mistaken for truth; narrow human doctrines, that only tend to elate and magnify a few, should not be substituted for the world-redeeming creed of Christ. There is – I repeat it – a difference; and it is a good, and not a bad action to mark broadly and clearly the line of separation between them.”

Charlotte Brontë

The best opposition is that which offers alternative to the current government, telling the masses what they would have done if they were in power; and not the one that have a secret altar where they go to pray every morning to their gods or even God for the ruling party to fail so they can say “I told you”.

I do not belong to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) or the All Progressive Congress (APC), even though it’s a global knowledge that I helped in my own little way to campaign for the PDP in Delta State and the APC in Federal. My conscience is not for sale even though I cannot also deny being partisan in some issue, especially when it comes to Delta State. A man or a party who seek a mandate to govern people must be bold to say his mind by himself without fear or favor.

This is the litmus test that the APC in Delta State failed, when they choose to go through a pseudo group called Delta Solidarity Group to place advertorial in a national daily titled ‘An Indiscriminate Cocktail Of Political Appointments In Delta State, Payments To Failed Contractors And Other Allied Matters Leading To Increased Poverty, Apathy And Disillusionment’. Their inability to use their party name to sell the lies automatically give the world a good knowledge that they sat down in their office, drank ogogoro and every man went to dream what they would have done to Delta if elected and they decided to ascribe it to Senator Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa (SIAO) government. Deltans should hold a thanksgiving for not letting their dreams come true when they rejected them on April 11th 2015.

When SIAO announced the debt he met in office; he never did it to undermine his predecessor, knowing that one day he will also leave the office for another. His action was based on the need for Deltans to know the challenge of limited fund available to him to run the government, which even the APC governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode also did. On the issue of DESOPADEC, nothing would have been better than it’s restructuring to be after NDDC. It was long overdue for such, with the power given it by law retained. What the political mourners were expecting was for SIAO to include his Ika LGA among the oil producing areas, and even when pressured by his people to do so; he stood on the side of fairness and morality and refused to buy into such callous idea. This sin that would have made the political mourner crucified him but he rejected is still haunting them, as no one can fault him. By the way, we cannot remember him going to the Delta State House of Assembly who passed the modification into law with AK47 to force them. All members of the house including the opposition unanimously agreed and commendation should be given to them for taking aside party differences to give Deltans a befitting commission.

Agreed that some persons should not have been given appointment by SIAO, just like men who used state fund to build personal website for N87 million and others who squandered billions on less than 1 kilometer mono rail, or even the one who was screen by Olusola Saraki to be a Minister in 1973 to be screened as a Minister in 2015 by his son, Senator Bukola Saraki should not have been appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari. But this is a matter of choice and whom you can work with to deliver. This is a matter of morality for the appointees to be reduced to Special Advisers or Ministers and no one can begrudge them on that. That we do not like their appointment does not make it wrong or illegal. If this stone of Change must be thrown at anybody when it comes to appointment, then 19 of Buhari’s would be ministers should not be allowed to govern in Nigeria.

What most people do not know is that with the wave of appointments in Delta State, SIAO has stripped most of the Commissioners who used to have five to ten Special Assistants in the past to now have two, which has saved cost for the State. The APC in their marijuana smoking brains do not know that ninety percent of these appointees will not be entitled to twenty eight days which used to be millions of Naira in the past for just one person. This again has saved the state from unnecessary spending. The opposition in a hurry to paint the government bad are not aware that majority of these S.As will not be given free cars like what obtained in the past. Yes, like the common Deltans, they will trek their feet out and buy their own car with their salaries. It’s a call to service for them not to come and chop.

As soon as I was sent the write up for publication, I knew that one of those that will be hit is the Governor’s Principal Secretary, but because they are in a hurry to pass judgment, they could not ask for his full name but merely wrote Hillary. I won’t help them out; after all, they all woke up from dream when they decided to pen down their evil thoughts. Whoever wants to talk on Okowa quickly call Hillary this, Hillary that, as if he administer the State. The post of the Principal Secretary exist in the next door neighbour’s government House, Edo State and even at the Federal level, which the current Commissioner for Finance, David Edevbie once held while President Musa Yaradua was in power. So why the hue and cry on it if Delta State decides to have one? The Principal Secretary is like the governor’s secretary; forget the word ‘principal’ added to it. He rings a bell and Hillary runs there doing all the errand of a Secretary, while the SSG rings his own bell and his own secretary runs to him.

As usual, the song will be that Fejiro is rising to the defense of his friend and paymaster and while I will not join issue on what they say on it, I dare to say with a clear conscience that the current Delta State Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Festus Agas has the biggest political power in Delta State apart from the governor, deputy and the elected members of NASS and State lawmakers. The anger of the APC is that Agas is not a super looter who will steal the state treasury to build hotels and mansions like the SSGs they mentioned. They expected SIAO to have the type of SSG who will look mean and pursue people from his office when they are visiting, but because his door is always open for Deltans just like the governor’s own are open; they cry blue murder. The era where government and its officials are mystified and made to look like God has been swept away hence they see the SSG position as being weak.

The last time I remember, Hillary occupies one cubicle in government house, which is not even fit for a Principal Secretary and not a palatial office. Only two persons can occupy his office space for discussion, without the grandiose of a top official displayed. Even in that cubicle, visitors come and are not driven out. He has done his work diligently to his direct boss who is the governor and not interfered with the SSG’s work. Agas has always come to the government house with the pomp and pageantry attached to his office to see the governor at will. Agas is not crazy for wealth acquisition; for if he was, he would have mansion all over the country during his days in the State House of Assembly as Deputy Speaker. He does not derive joy in moving with retinue of escorts as obtained in his past, to prove the power he wield, rather he’s keen towards helping SIAO to deliver on the SMART prosperity agenda. In all of this, Hillary is still very loyal to him as the SSG.

The Delta State Speaker, Monday Igbuya is having a swell time in office, presiding over the legislative house without interference from the governor. They wanted Change and the governor has done so by demystifying government as having a human face. They yearned for a new method of governance and SIAO has decided to channel money into developing the state and not give it to contractors who will pocket the money and abandon the project. They demanded for another style of government, and SIAO decided to renovate technical schools in the three Senatorial Districts so that our youths will have the technical skills to be self employed, and when we punctured the lies that the contract was not awarded to Lawrence Oshiegbu who’s the governor’s friend; they come up with stories that it’s shady. So much cry from the certified political mourners.

“Dr Okowa is scaring potential investors from Delta state as investors are unable to see an investment friendly climate. For instance, Sarner Limited’s private sector driven tourism projects at Oleri and Ogwashi-Uku have been practically abandoned by Dr Okowa”, they write. But the question is; “Were these tourist projects ever in place in Delta State”. The answer is NO. I do not wish to bring up documents on what happened with the project during the last administration where SIAO was in the Senate and oblivious of what transpired, for reasons best known to me. That SIAO will make the project a reality is not in doubt but to force an abandoned project which he knows nothing of on him and his government is a moral crime which only God can judge.

SIAO is not perfect; neither is he the messiah we seek, especially not with the dwindling economy. But like I once wrote “We can only show him love by supporting every of his move. And yes; these moves are positive. We can show him our gratitude by lending a helping voice to kill negative criticisms against him. This burden in him is also in me because as a man who hates corruption; I ‘ve seen a man who is not moved by the gains of office, a man not influenced by the glamour of power but one who will give his own little money for the benefit of Deltans.

I know this because I have followed his intents and acts; his past and present. And while the burden to put Deltan on the map of Nigeria most developed State raged in his mind; he’s not deterred neither weighed down by it.
He will certainly perform and out class the current set of governors. In the Senate; he was the knight in shining armour among them despite being a first time Senator. The governorship class of 2015 can’t be different. He’s not in a hurry to impress Deltans by declaring operation no pot holes when he knows that the rain will soon wash it away and the potholes will be back. He wants to do an excellent job as he always does.

He does not want an early applause for a later curse but a patient people that will look back at where they came from and when he’s gone from the surface of the earth, the entire state will gather and agree that we have a yearly remembrance called the ‘EKWUEME DAY’.

If Rome was built in a day, Delta will be too but it was built with patience and encouragement of her citizenry and Deltans can and will have it to give to Okowa”.

These little things matter…

Fejiro Oliver, an Investigative Journalist, Media Consultant and Human Rights Activist is also the Co-Convener of Coalition of Human Rights Defender (CHORD)

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