“The true worth of a man is in the way he treats people who are absolutely in need. If you care about people in need, you are actually making a contribution to the development of the nation. We need to give life back to the people; democracy is important in governance. We need to see how we can use the available resources for everybody; create opportunities for all and care, especially for those who are truly in need. The gap between the rich and the poor should be bridged. Those of us blessed with material resources need to share with others. We must strike a balance with our resources”.
-Chief (Barr) Dumo Lulu-Briggs
Chief (Barr.) Dumo Lulu Briggs is the quintessential leader and gentleman. He is the embodiment of cerebral articulation, the essence of unparalleled philanthropy, the epitome of intellection and breathtaking simplicity, the personification of undiluted humanness, the perfect example of leadership symbolism, the paragon of idealism, the soul of humanity, the heart of warrior, the perfect gentleman.
Indeed, some leaders are born, some achieve leadership, some have leadership thrust upon them, while only very few have all three embedded in them.
DLB is one of those very few good men; a true philanthropist, an accomplished businessman, a perfect gentleman, a man of valour, the bringer of rain.
In the gallery of great leaders and great men, he is without doubt, a rare masterpiece.
On June 13, 2017, Chief (Barr) Dumo Lulu-Briggs celebrated his 53rd birthday and to put the epochal celebration in proper perspective, he attained the midpoint of midlife at the exciting peak and the proper prime of his mercurial powers where, poised like the bronzed champion, glowing flamboyantly in the golden flame of his jubilee decade, prepares himself to capture and conquer arguably, the one ultimate laurel for which his superlative gifts and brilliance clamour to be manifestly celebrated with maximum political aplomb woven into the matrix of an intrepid homogeneous ubiquity.
Tall, elegant and handsome, dark and unblemished in the magisterial lithe and athleticism of folkloric Kings and heroes, soft-spoken, with clear, unfettered, excellent diction and oratory, his brilliant smile like sparkling sun radiating from crystal clear eyes and embellished by the clean-shaven glistening scalp (sometimes covered majestically with the traditional bowler hat) and the rich luxuriant growth of a well groomed beard transforming gloriously into a sagely spread of wizened grey brushes, Dumo Lulu-Briggs cuts the dapper, debonair figure and personality of the complete man he has truly metamorphosed into in the last Fifty Three years.
Down to earth and corporate-smart, from the various experiences of home-bred grooming, ivy league sojourns in first class institutions and the inspirational influence and unparalleled, unquantifiable tutelage from the grand master himself, High Chief (Dr.) Olu Benson Lulu-Briggs, OON, Iniikeiroari V of Kalabari, who is his father and Chairman/Chief Executive, Moni Pulo, an indigenous oil company, Dumo is an accomplished businessman, technocrat, politician and grassroots mobilizer on his own merit.
A man of immense mettle and a completely detribalized human being with a profound depth of character, whose humility, devoid of discrimination, embraces all and sundry, he soars like an eagle and exudes reverence and integrity. A pragmatic leader full of benevolence, he gives hope to the hopeless, Job to the jobless and welfare and succor to the poor and needy. To everyone who crosses his path, he is a light. He is a friend to the youths, a role model to the young, a helper to many and a visionary man bubbling with the ideals of entrenching a united, peaceful, harmonious vision for his community and the world. Honest, Transparent, Dependable, uncomplicated and full of wisdom, Chief Barr Dumo Lulu Briggs can change you effortlessly, with his word.
A distinguished corporate player, outstanding legal luminary and blue chip captain of Industry, Chief (Barr) Dumo Lulu Briggs has served as General Manager, Pioneer Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of Moni Pulo Limited from 1995 to 2002. He has been the Managing Director of DLB Concerns Ltd., since 2002 and also as Vice Chairman of Platform Petroleum Limited. He was in Private Legal Practice from 1988 to 1994 and is a Member Nigeria Bar Association (NBA).
He received LLB (ABU) in 1985 and BL, LLM (London) in 1987 and presently sits atop the board of several companies. He has been chairman of the National Maritime Academy, Oron, Akwa Ibom State, as well as the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, Imo State.
A frontline politician in Rivers State and at the national stage, Chief Dumo Lulu Briggs forayed into the political terrain in 1992, when he joined the Social Democratic Party (SDP). That same year, he emerged as a candidate for the House Of Representatives in Akuku Toru Federal Constituency, in Rivers State. Between 1986 and 1998, he was National Assistant Legal Adviser to the Grass Roots Democratic Party, GDP and in 2003 contested for the governorship of Rivers State against Dr. Peter Odili.
He also contested the 2015 Governorship elections under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, but in April 2017, he caused a major tremor on the political landscape of Rivers State, when he announced that he has left the PDP, for the All Progressives Congress, APC, a move seen by many political watchers and pundits as a critically strategic master-stroke in the calculations and permutations for the 2019 general elections.
Affirming his decision to quit the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and pitch tent with the All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs, in a statement, he personally signed and released to the Press, made the following declaration:
‘Greetings Brothers, Today, April 9, I formally registered as a member of All Progressive Congress, at Ward 4, Akuku Toru LGA, Rivers State. I pray I am able to contribute immensely to the growth of the party in my Ward, LGA and State, and those efforts translate positively nationally. As a major stakeholder, I thank you for accepting. I pledge to always acknowledge your sweat and to keep your confidence.
God keep us.
Sincerely, Dumo Lulu-Briggs (2015 PDP Governorship Aspirant)’
To commemorate his 53rd birthday, Chief (Barr) Dumo Lulu-Briggs in his typical humanitarian and philanthropic fashion by visiting Township school in Port Harcourt where he shared some nostalgic memories with the pupils and teachers, felicitated with them, donated books and learning aids and also cut a wonderful birthday cake, specially prepared for the day. He equally visited the home for the elderly where he showered them with various goodies and received prayers, after which he retired for a quiet time at home with his Maker and later attend a grand but cozy evening birthday reception and entertainment for friends and associates to cap the eventful and historic day.
Chief (Barr.) Dumo Lulu-Briggs is married to his beautiful wife, Dawn and they are blessed with lovely children.
Happy Birthday great leader and noble gentleman.
PHOTOS FROM DLB ARCHIVES
Urhobo is reputed as the fifth largest ethnic nationality in the Nigerian federal structure. The contributions of the Urhobos to development of Nigeria remain unassailable. The indelible marks of this lively and vibrant ethnic group are forever etched in enterprise, politics, law, media, education, economy, culture, agriculture etc.
One man that embodies the salutary impact of the Urhobos is distinguished Senator Ovie OmoAgege. He stands today as the only and original voice of Urhobo at the National Assembly. The official mascot of Urhobo identity, history, traditional norms and values.
This admirable personae is rooted in his pedigree. After graduating with excellent grades in law at Nigeria’s most sought after university, UNIBEN in 1985, he went higher in 2002 to obtain an LLM (masters of law) degree in Tulane university, United States of America, rated among the top 20 universities in the world. A distinguished academic orientation that prepared him for a dignified future.
The ascendancy of OmoAgege is meteoric as the fabled Northern Star. Before his grand arrival to the hallowed chambers of the Senate, OmoAgege had emerged as a political leader of promise in Delta.
It is no surprise that he took a memorable flight from this tutelage into the political hierarchy of Delta state, serving as Executive Assistant and then civil commissioner under the Ibori Administration in 2005. He rose to become secretary to the state government, the youngest ever, setting a trail blazing direction, through service of purpose and vision. In terms of experience in governance, Omo-Agege easily takes the piece of cake. He has the matchless competence, commitment and character to speak for the Urhobos.
His track record at the National Assembly is phenomenal. He never emerged in the scene as a ranking Senator but his achievements so far are as towering as they are humbling.
Buoyed by a desire to ensure sanity in Nigeria’s highly corrupt and morally decadent tertiary institutions, OmoAgege initiated a bill on sexual harassment to check the excesses of randy lecturers.
He moved to ensure that the Federal University of Petroleum Resources located in Ugbomro, Urhobo heartland got the desired legal backing from the Federal government. Having foresight, he knew that without full legal backing, the great institution could be negatively affected in the near future. Today, FUPRE stands as one of the most sought after University in Nigeria with improved infrastructure and sound legal footing. Thanks to the patriotism and selfless dedication of Ovie Omo-Agege.
Concerned about the irregularities that mar most elections in Nigeria, having experience as a victim, OmoAgege co-championed the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC Amendment Bill with Senator Abubakar Kyari from Borno State.
He also raised a forceful voice by introducing three other major bills. These include:
The National Industrial Court amendment bill which seeks to give litigants rights to appeal decisions of the court which hitherto blocked all appellate rights whether they found judgments fair or not.
The Bill for an Act to amend the Court of Appeal Act of 1976. This is sequel to that of the Industrial Court. It opens up opportunity for appellants from the Industrial Court who did not find satisfaction from its judgments. The Court of Appeal, by this bill, can adjudicate on cases from the National Industrial Court.
OmoAgege vibrantly provoked deep thinking with The Dormant Accounts Bill which he championed at the Red Chambers. The Bills seeks to know what happens to funds in dormant accounts and how they can be used to deliver good governance to the common man.
He is also relentlessly working with relevant stakeholders to resuscitate Delta Steel Company which has suffered abject neglect by successive administration’s.
The vibrant and vocal sojourn of Ovie OmoAgege has also stirred the Federal government to undertake a massive rehabilitation of Eku-Sapele road in Delta Central. A high power federal delegation led by the Minister of Works, Babatunde Fashola and Senator Ovie OmoAgege were on ground recently to inspect the progress of work which has reached an advanced stage.
All these and more are the eloquent testimonies of Ovie OmoAgege’s footprints barely one year at the National Assembly.
What drives OmoAgege’s political philosophy is populism. A leader passionately in love with his people. A leader fiercely loved by his people. Lover of widows.
The lawyer son of a Judge has the highest number of legislative aides among the three Senators in Delta State. This is not because he has the money but because of his accommodating spirit which seeks to empower many if not all.
Though Urhobo by origin, Omo-Agege does not have the all too familiar tribal marks of nepotism, sectionalism and self centered clannishness, common with the typical Nigerian politician . He is averse to egocentric mindset.
He is not persuaded by a narrow world view. His contacts and company transcends tribal, religious and political boundaries. He portrays the Urhobos as being tolerant and hospitable. This is evident in the way he relates with people. As a matter of fact, one of his aides is Ibo, not even from Delta.
The adventure of OmoAgege in politics is an epic tale of service and sacrifice. A true model of Nigerian nascent democracy.
Ijeoma Uba writes from Asaba.
by David Diai
I have long been a great admirer of Dr. Reuben Abati and i say this with every sense of sincerity and indeed in recognition of his quite impressive achievements, which i would refrain from itemizing here for the simple reason that i want to spare his blushes.
My admiration for him dates back to our days in the University of Ibadan (Great UI), in the late 1980’s, where he had spent some time in the Theatre Arts Department. In those days when UI was arguably the toast of all Nigerian Universities, Abati arrived with a pedigree that was the stuff of narratives. His legend as a 1st Class Product from the University of Calabar, preceded his arrival and though he was in transit from Ife (OAU), we embraced him with pride and possessed him like one of our own. As a student of English, who had dabbled into the Theatre for the love of performance, I was fortunate to have been around when Abati stopped by and i often gravitated towards the Theatre crowd, after my English lectures, were i got involved with a few commendable performances and also had the opportunity to see Abati at close quarters.
For one, he was just about the same size with some of us and even though we were undergraduates and he was lecturer, this gave us an even greater sense of bonding with him. Secondly, his exceptional brilliance was effortlessly breath-taking and his mastery of subject and environment, in the mythically intimidating ambience and context of UI, coupled with his confident oratory left no one in doubt that he was a cut above the most of his peers. Third, he belonged to the pantheon of emerging young Nigerian intellectuals, especially in the Literary constituency, from the Ibadan/Ife axis, most of whom represented the nucleus of a new radical consciousness in the strategic confrontation of a strange and disturbingly benevolent military dictatorship, and who by the sheer spontaneity of their generational relevance, became the major sources of inspiration to us undergraduates. In fact it was unbelievably incongruent to imagine that Abati had already comfortably snared his Doctorate in the bag at that young age.
After Ibadan, i encountered Abati again in the hugely popular Hints Magazine of that time and to say that his stories and craftsmanship helped shape the decision of most graduates of our day, including me, to get into Journalism, is only stating the obvious. We all wanted to write like him; fluid, lyrical, intoxicating prose that left you breathless and hankering for more…
It was therefore fortuitous that I joined the Guardian in the early 90’s and met Abati again and though my sojourn at the Flagship was brief, i and a small band of followers devoured his column every Tuesday and Sunday with relish as he wove his weekly stylistic web of satirical craftsmanship and stirred our sensibilities with a fervour which was at once passionate and oftentimes elicited angry loquacious engagements with the social and existential miseries and dislocations which society offered the disenchanted youths of that generation. He became one of the very few symbolic voices of an arrested and militarized generation that is only now just finding its place in the space of the evolving Nigerian nation.
Several movements within the Guardian Newspapers establishment saw him rise to become the Chairman of the Editorial Board Chairman and by then he had already garnered several other Academic qualifications into his burgeoning bag of excellent credentials, which Google and other search engines can confirm to any curious Nigerian, who would like to know more about this young, gifted Nigerian.
So should Dr. Reuben Abati, Chairman of the Guardian Newspapers Editorial Board accept the responsibility of becoming President Goodluck Jonathan’s spokesman if he is offered the job? My answer is very simple: Dr. Reuben Abati should have been offered a place in the Nigerian Government a long time ago and the fact that an offer is coming now means that a great injustice which has been done to the Nigerian people since the advent of this democratic dispensation in 1999, is about to be corrected.
I read the article by Mr. Tony Eluemunor on this poser and i tend to agree with him on his assessment of all those who had served as Spokespersons to various Presidents in the past. I will reseve a special mention for Segun Adeniyi, who incidentally was my co-anchor in the very first story i reported for the Guardian on Sunday Newspaper. Those were the days and i was quite proud to recall that referential anecdote to anyone who cared to listen, when he became the spokesperson for the Yar’Adua administration. I cannot of course share the same sentiments on his performance in that office, but like Mr. Eluemunor said, Adeniyi served at a very difficult time for both himself and for Nigeria. In addition, he and all the other Presidential spokespersons served under strong men, who completely dominated the space and essence of their office and by extension, the nation.
Dr. Reuben Abati, on the other hand will definitely not be encumbered by the personal and political considerations which coloured the reign of his predecessors, if he decides to take the job. For one, those who came before him operated with Principals who had huge egos and the only way to be relevant in those administrations was to be obsequious, politically cunning and ultimately primed to adopt the tenets cronyism and opportunistic service, which required the indulgence of personality cults and cabalistic imperiousness as against the demands of social responsibility in the discharge of public service.
Abati was certainly not made of that former ilk and it was even speculated upon at that time that he was actually in the reckoning for a top government job during one of President Obasanjo’s tenure, but perhaps the reason he had been denied or by-passed with such an offer may have been directly connected to the assumption that he had remained commendably apolitical and this was a no brainer in the high wire joustling for political offices in the Presidency.
However, the Jonathan Presidency has exhibited amazing signs that it will be somewhat different from what Nigerians have experienced in the last Ten years before he came on board. He has given the impression that he is a President who likes to decentralize and delegate functions and authority. Such a Presidency needs a Presidential spokesman (or woman), who possesses the aura of intellectual authority and an impressive grasp of existential desires to command the respect of both his peers and Nigerians as he presents and deconstructs the President’s vision, ideology and initiatives to the rest of the world. Dr. Reuben certainly possesses these qualities in fine proportions and he has exhibited an articulate and analytical prowess which will define his responsibilities and guarantee that his acceptance will be assured both nationally and internationally.
To be sure, his three most recognized recent outings, two of which have been in Delta state, speaks volumes for his sterling pedigree. He was in Asaba, the Delta state capital, to help Prof. Dora Akunyili promote her re-branding campaign when she was Minister for Information and Communication. Then he was on hand to lend his credible voice to the ‘Bring Back the Book’ Campaign and the review of President Jonathan’s facebok interactions with Nigerians under the title: ‘My Friends and I’. And only recently, Abati was back in Asaba again to give a cerebral lecture on the Niger Delta as part of the Inauguration programme for Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan’s second term. In all these, he proudly stood his ground and said it like it was, even despite the fact that he was a guest of those who invited him. And can we ever forget his superlative contributions in the heady days of the effervescent Patito’s Gang?
President Goodluck Jonathan has not made any secrets about the fact that he wants to work with some of the best and brightest minds in the country and they do not come any better or brighter than Dr. Reuben Abati in the capacity of serving Nigeria as the Spokesman for Mr. President. Again, Mr. President has both demystified and re-defined the job of his spokesperson to assume a greater importance and relevance above which it had hitherto been regarded.
The new visibility and inherent responsibilities now associated with the position have quite dramatically re-invented the job to assume the very essence and substance of the Presidency. The added significance of this portfolio reconciles itself with the emergent need for whoever assumes the job to connect adequately to grid of the new global social networking media and to at the same time, appropriately interprete the implications and define a responsorial perspective for the recently promulgated Freedom of Information Law and navigate and diffuse the honest and mischievous landmines which will surely be planted by the ever present counter forces in the democratic space. All these are right up Dr. Abati’s alley.
In fact, a man like Dr. Reuben Abati should have been on the list of Ministerial nominees if the selection process had been expanded to accommodate some additional criteria beyond political recompense for display of loyalties at election time. This of course does not foreclose the fact that most of those on the list have not earned their nominations on some kind of merit. However, there are still so many other brilliant Nigerians who can be of immense invaluable service to the country in specific portfolios which not only strengthens the entity of the Presidency but equally fortifies the structure and institution of governance at the very top.
There is no doubt that Nigeria is now moving in a new direction where the era of strong men is gradually giving way to the skeletal framework of an emerging governance vision, which promises the potentials of a strong institution if nurtured by the right personnel and guided by proper ideological intentions. Dr. Reuben Abati belongs to that crop of Nigerians who understand and possess the capacity to be deployed as change agents to drive this new vision of transformation to build strong institutions, without necessarily being encumbered by the tedious burden of performing as the political statistic of some state or ethnic appendage.
If indeed he is the original choice of President Goodluck Jonathan for the job, as has now been confirmed, then one can only congratulate Mr. President for selecting someone who will not only imbue the Presidency with added credibility to complement the personality of Mr. President, but also someone who embodies some of the finest qualities of what Nigeria hopes to achieve in this tenure of transformation in the country.
David Diai is a Journalist and the Chairman of the Delta State Guild of Indigenous Newspapers Publishers.
Dr. Arthur Ifeanyi Okowa was 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 the Iroro Primary School, Owa-Alero and later attended the famous Edo College, Benin City between 1970 and 1976. He came out tops, 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, BS 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 he went into private practice as Director, Victory Medical Centre, Igbanke in 1986. Believing later that charity should begin at home, Dr. Okowa later set up the Victory Medical Centre, at Boji-Boji, Owa. He endeared himself to his people through his humanitarian disposition as he often rendered free service to the very poor in his community.
Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa is said to display a highly developed craftsmanship in his work and the evidence of his constructive leadership, according to hios supporters, is seen in his growing political profile. He took interest in the public service and between 1991 and 1993 served with great diligence and outstanding success first as Secretary to the Ika Local Government and later Pioneer Chairman, Ika North-East Local Government Council (1991-1993).
In preparation for the return of the country to democratic rule, he pitched his tent with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)in 1998. But before then, he had served as a leader and the Delta North Coordinator of the Grassroots Democratic Movement (GDM) and the Delta North Coordinator of the James Ibori campaign organization in 1998 as well as the Secretary of the Transition Committee, which ushered in the James Ibori administration in 1999. Since then, there has not been any turning back for this medical Doctor turned politician and it was not surprising therefore that in recognition of his reported hard work, loyalty, honesty and dedication, Dr. Okowa became a member of the Special Grade of Commissioners who had eight years of unbroken service as Members of the Governor James Ibori-led Delta State Executive Council.
During the period, he served with diligence and outstanding result in the following positions: Hon. Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources (July 1999 to April 2001); Hon. Commissioner for Water Resources Development (April 2001 – May 2003) and Hon. Commissioner for Health (September 2003 – October 2006). Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa then resigned honourably to contest the 2007 Gubernatorial election in Delta State and it was said that he demonstrated his clinical understanding of Delta State and politics during the campaigns and mounted one of the most focused and issues-oriented campaign in the state.
After the Ogwashi-Uku primaries, where he placed a very remarkable second to Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, after the high wire godfather politics of Chief James Ibori, Okowa, like the tactful achiever that he is, did not sit back at home to sulk over the turn out of events in that primaries. He was immediately appointed as the Director General of the PDP Campaign Organization in Delta State and later the Secretary of the 34- member Transition Committee which prepared the blueprint for the take-off of the Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan administration in Delta State.
As a reward for his loyalty and commitment,Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa was appointed as the Secretary to the Delta State Government by the newly sworn-in Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, but inside sources claim that the relationship between the Governor and Dr. Okowa as SGG was sometimes disquiet as certain rumours made the rounds of Okowa’s ambition to challenge Uduaghan in 2011.
However, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa opted to contest for the Senate, but again his relationship with Governor Uduaghan was severely tested, when it became obvious that the PDP in the State had decided to support Mrs. Mariam Ali, wife of the former PDP National Chairman, who lost out contentiously in 2007. Dr. Okowa had to once again employ his astute brilliance and dogged determination to ensure that he got the ticket by arranging to televise the entire primaries on two occasions on national television. He won both convincingly after some dramatic altercations with both the PDP Delta State Chairman, Peter Nwaoboshi and Dr. Mariam Ali, (Enyi Kpakpando) and in the process was said to have secured the blessings of Governor Uduaghan, who inside sources allege, was already neck deep in his own troubles over the re-run elections of January 6, 2011 and did not want to add the potentially dangerous situation of working against Okowa to his plate of worries.
Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa has since after his victory at the primaries, carried out what has been regarded as a very sophisticated campaign, which has taken him to all the Council headquarters of the Delta North Local Government areas and some key communities in the Anioma region.
Part of what has endeared him to the people of Delta North is legendary genouristy and openness, which many say is what a true representative of the people must possess. His supporters claim that of all the candidates who vyed for the coveted Delta North Senatorial seat Dr. Okowa is the only candidate who can represent the people of Anioma with sincerity, honesty and a real sense of purpose in the upper House of the national Assembly, the Senate. He is said to be a truly detribalized man who possess great humility, generousity and a kind heart which does not discriminate against anybody.
He is also said to have served Delta state over the years with a sense of fairness and equity because he believes that Deltans deserve the best at all times and a school of political thinkers in Delta state and beyond see Dr. Okowa as the paragon of what a true politician should be, because according to them, he understands that service is for everybody and not just a few sectional people. They claim that Okowa is aware that whatever projects he will attract to Delta North as a Senator, will be enjoyed by all who reside in the area whether they are Aniomas or not and that is why he will attract quality projects which will enhance the welfare of the people and ensure improved living standards for his constituents and everybody in the area”
The same group hold that the entrance of Okowa into the Delta North Senatorial race was not just for the sake of being addressed as a Senator, but because he genuinely wanted to impact positively on the lives of the people, adding that what Okowa is bringing to the Senate is an articulate and well informed resume which he intends to apply to his legislative responsibilities as a lawmaker representing Delta North in the National Assembly.
Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa is a Knight of St. Christopher, conferred on him by the Anglican Communion and has also been bestowed with the Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Club International.
He is also a recipient of the Award of Excellence by NANS, Rotaract Club of Asaba and the prestigious Vice-Chancellor Award of the Delta State University. He has equally been decorated by the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) as an outstanding Achiever and recognized as one of the five best Health Commissioners in the Federation, while he was in charge of that Ministry in Delta State. He has was variously acknowledged by the Tell Magazine and Newswatch Magazine for his outstanding leadership in the Health sector which placed the Delta State Ministry of Health, under his management, as among the best ten Health Ministries in Nigeria.
Dr. Okowa is a fantastic orator and has exhibited cerebral excellence in his public speeches and papers. His brilliance was quite evident when he delivered the Annual Lecture in the University of Ibadan Alumni Association, (UIAA Asaba Chapter) Annual Lecture Series, on a topic which revolved around Electoral Reforms and Re-branding in Nigeria.
Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa is a favorite amongst many Deltans and he enjoys the support Izu Anioma, the umbrella body of all Anioma cultural organizations, amongst other cultural groups.
Today he is the Senator representing Delta North Senatorial zone and there is no doubt that the fortunes of the Anioma People will change for the better now that they have a man who truly believes in serving his people with diligence and dedication as the his primary motivation and the creed of his political philosophy.
Congratulations, Dr. Arthur Ifeanyi Okowa.
Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has finally taken his place as the Senator representing Delta North Senatorial zone in the 7th Session of the Senate and National Assembly.
The process of confirming him as Senator for the Delta North district after the April 2011 general elections was formalized, when the INEC National Commissioner in charge of Edo, Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers States, Dr. Ishamael Igbani, presented Dr. Okowa with the Certificate in Asaba, after the Court Injunction by an Abuja High Court, which had prevented INEC from issuing him the Certificate was vacated and the INEC in Delta state duly complied.
Delta watchers will recall that Okowa was not presented with his certificate of return by INEC, during the official presentation to victorious candidates held at Grand Hotel, Asaba, for the reason that an Abuja Federal High Court had issued an injunction to stop INEC from doing so.
Witnesses at that presentation ceremony will recall that Dr. Okowa had lined up with other elected members to collect his INEC Certificate, but was denied by the INEC National Commissioner, who said that a Federal High Court injunction restrained them from doing that in response to a prayer by the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) Candidate, Prince Ned Nwoko who claimed that the elections had been flawed.
A remarkably calm Okowa later told newsmen after the ceremony that although the decision not to present him with the certificate had come as a kind of shock, he will however instruct his legal team to look into the matter, which from the prayers contained in the injunction, was constitutionally a post-election issue meant for the election tribunal and not the civil Court.
Dr. Okowa then missed the induction retreat for newly elected NASS members, while waiting for the matter to be resolved but he has now laughed last when he proudly took his place in the Senate on June 6th 2011 as the Senator representing Delta North Senatorial zone, in the 7th Session of the Senate.
He celebrated his endorsement as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on Sunday, June12, with a well attended thanks-giving service in his Ika hometown to affirm to all and sundry that he is indeed the Senator representing Delta North Senatorial District in 7th Session of the National Assembly.
However, the contentions of Prince Ned Nwoko and the DPP over of the Delta North Senatorial zone election is now before the Delta State elections petitions tribunal and it is expected that a resolution will be made at that level sooner than later.
But there seems to be even more to the Okowa Certificate saga than meets the eye and the genesis of what transpired at the Certificate giving ceremony may have even dated back to the very early days when the Peter Nwaoboshi led PDP Exco came into office, as presented in this investigative and well researched analysis.
It had all started as a rumour, when news went round that some key figures in the leadership of the Delta state PDP had already endorsed Dr. (Mrs.) Mariam Ali (Enyi Kpakpando) as the preferred candidate for the Delta North senatorial seat.
It will be recalled that Mrs Alli had also been seen as an imposed candidate by the PDP on Delta North through the influence of her husband, former PDP National Chairman, Ahmadu Ali in 2007. She contested and won the PDP primaries in Delta in 2007, against incumbent Senator Patrick Osakwe, who with the support of them Governor Chief James Ibori, crossed over to the Accord Party, which Ibori had allegedly founded and funded for any of his supporters who was denied PDP candidacy. Osakwe won from that party – just like some other members of the present Delta State House of Assembly, and later returned to PDP.
Those who claimed that Mrs Ali had been endorsed by the PDP in Delta hinged their claim on the argument that Party Chairman Peter Nwaboshi, who is generally regarded as having been installed by Mrs. Ali, was under pressure to return his benefactor as the senatorial candidate of the party in the zone, as part of an agreement reached at that time.
Delta political commentators will remember that in the days following the 2007 elections, the battle for the leadership the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Delta state had attained frightening levels in a do or die endgame that pitched the Ibori political machinery led at that time by the out-going chairman, Elder Emmanuel Ogidi against what remained of the Godswill Obielum political structure which was inherited by Mariam Ali.
In Mrs. Ali’s camp were major political stalwarts like Peter Nwaoboshi, Cairo Ojougboh and Ndudi Elumelu amongst others and while they had all seemingly toed the party line and supported the emergence of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, the leadership of the party was another matter entirely, not only because of the infamous PDP slogan, ‘Party is Supreme’, but most importantly in terms of positioning adequately for 2011.
Having lost the Senatorial race as a result of political miscalculation, a wiser Mrs Ali went to Abuja and through the influence of her husband, who was still national party chairman and who had been thoroughly humiliated by her defeat, was allegedly given the mandate to supervise and also compile the delegates list for the State party congress, which she naturally filled with most of her loyalists.
Her calculation was that since she had lost out in the Senate race, this was her golden opportunity to ensure that she secured the post of Party Chairman to her camp. Thus, the atmosphere was already charged with ultra-violet tension when she arrived the party secretariat in Asaba, and things boiled over when she was literally held captive in one of the offices, by the status quo which demanded that she produced the list before conducting the congress.
She refused bluntly and things would have really turned ugly and fatal if not for the timely arrival of Hon. Cairo Ojougboh, with a busload of ‘boys’ and Elder Godsday Orubebe, then Minister of State in the Ministry of Niger Delta, at the scene, both of them, ostensibly called in by Mrs. Ali, before her phone was allegedly seized by the PDP leadership.
It took the mediation of Governor Uduaghan to finally settle the matter in what seemed at that time like an astute piece of brinkmanship. Mrs. Ali got her way and planted Peter Nwaoboshi (Oracle) as Party Chairman with Chief Ighoyota Amori (Odidimadi), representing the Uduaghan-Ibori camp as Vice Chairman. She also got some key positions in the Party Exco and everything appeared to be working smoothly. The unwritten agreement at that time was that Mrs. Ali would get the Delta North Senate seat unopposed, but it all backfired so dramatically in the race for the 2011, Delta North Senatorial seat.
In the midst of all these, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa had quietly but clinically positioned himself as the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), after serving as Director General of the Uduaghan campaign. Recall that Okowa had actually placed second in the Ogwashi-uku governorship primaries, and some knowledgeable insiders had even claimed that he won, so when he took up the offer to manage Dr. Uduaghan’s campaign, many Delta Northerners felt dismayed to say the least and even the position of SSG did not appear to assuage them.
But Okowa soldiered on as SSG and had even been appointed the DG for the Uduaghan 2011 campaign organization in a move which many saw at that time as a ploy by Governor Uduaghan to force his hand to declare for an elective position, following the alleged frosty relationship between the two men and the insinuations that Okowa was actually nursing governorship ambitions of his own, for 2011.
Thus, when Dr. Okowa finally resigned as both SSG and Uduaghan Campaign Co-ordinator and subsequently declared his intention to run for the Delta North Senatorial Zone seat, the temperature of the political environment rose up several levels. The fact that Mrs. Ali had never jettisoned her interest in the Senate and also that the likes of Hon. Cairo Ojougboh, who had moved to Abuja to become a Presidential Liason; Prince Ned Nwoko, the pioneer House of Reps member for Aniocha/Oshimili Federal constituency; Hon. Pascal Adigwe, who took over from Nwoko in the House of Reps and the imminent rumour that incumbent Senator Patrick Osakwe was keen to return to the upper chamber, and indeed the fact that they were all contesting on the platform of the PDP, set the scene nicely for a titanic battle in the primaries.
THE UDUAGHAN FACTOR
Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan actually played a major role in the entire saga of the Okowa INEC certificate debacle. Recall that he was the mediator who brokered the seeming convenient resolution of the Delta State PDP Chairmanship tussle, but what many Delta watchers did not realise at that time was that Uduaghan, faced with the perrenial headache of Chief E.K Clark, needed to put the Delta PDP house in order and quickly too, because Chief Clark and his team, having already complained that Uduaghan was imposed as Governor on Deltans by his cousin, James Ibori, had now gone ahead to form his own parallel faction of the PDP and had even elected a Chairman in the person of a certain retired military man called Onyekweli. This was in addition to the Delta State Leaders and Elders Council which he was heading and which had a number of influential Delta Statesmen in its fold.
Thus, by reconciling the strange bed fellows together in the recognized Delta PDP faction, he not only partially staved off the angry howlings of the Chief Clark faction, but also bought useful time for himself and his administration by stemming the diversion which the internal party crisis had provoked. He also even managed to win the support of Chairman Nwaoboshi through what many party insiders claim was an overdose of generosity in both juicy contracts and party funding, especially in the many trips to the Wadata plaza national secretariat, Abuja and the periodic litigation hearings instituted by the E.K Clark faction.
In all these too, Dr. Okowa was seen as a very active and compliant party man and emissary both as SSG and as a key player in the political space and in the process was cleverly building his own political structure with clinical precision. In fact his political stature grew so fast that some key members of the Uduaghan political team not only raised eyebrows but even questioned his loyalty openly and tried to pressure up his removal. Uduaghan, too was said to be somewhat frightened and although he kept Okowa as SSG after some public showing of support and private assurances of loyalty, he was to play a fast one later by appointing Okowa as DG of his Campaign. But by then, Okowa had already made up his mind to run for Senate.
Again, in the run-up to the 2011 elections, Governor Uduaghan had, in October 2010, commenced a series of meetings with all the PDP contestants and aspirants who had bought nomination forms and had been duly cleared by the party for elections. The objective of the meeting was to address the rising political tension in the state and to warn politicians to stop heating up the polity or face the full weight of the law. The first set he met with were the aspirants from Delta North with all the top names for the Delta North senatorial seat in attendance and in addition to reading the riot act to them, Governor Uduaghan told them categorically that he was not supporting any candidate for any position in the forthcoming elections.
This assertion was necessary because wide spread speculations was making the rounds that the PDP had already written the script and penciled the names of their choice candidates in all elective positions across the state, even before the primaries. In fact many insiders had concluded that this scenario had been perfected and was a done deal until two things happened. First, Delta PDP congresses across the state were canceled and the party ordered to conduct fresh congresses, following an avalanche of complaints by members who felt they had been rigged out.
Second, the administration of Governor Uduaghan was shockingly and dramatically terminated by an Appeal Court sitting in Benin, Edo State and a re-run election ordered by the same court within ninety days. This shocker came just a few days after he had submitted his nomination form to contest as Governor for a second term and was in the groove to commence a triumphant campaign rally across the state.
The mantle of leadership then fell on Rt. Hon Sam Obi, the Speaker of the Delta House of Assembly who, unquestionably, was regarded as Okowa’s main man in Ikaland. In his short reign, Rt. Hon Obi left no one in doubt as to his loyalty to Okowa and used his new authority not only to complete some key projects in Ikaland but also allegedly enhance the financial war chest of his mentor, Okowa, and even impact substantially on PDP affairs in the state by openly admonishing and privately overiding some of the decisions of the party to the embarrassment and chagrin of Chairman Nwaboshi.
When the re-run election was announced for January 6, 2011, Okowa and Obi virtually took over the rallies and vigourously campaigned for Governor Uduaghan’s return. They practically and visibly relegated the influence of the Party Chairman to the margins especially in Delta North and Okowa’s political profile attained its zenith, both within the PDP and in the public eye at this point.
Governor Uduaghan won the re-run election, but was shocked to discover that he was not as well loved as his advisers had made him believe and had lost a lot of loyalty even from within his own cabinet, as most of those who worked for him had actually believed that Great Ogboru, who had simply overwhelmed the political space and was enjoying an unprecedented outpouring of popular support and acclaim, would triumph in the elections.
Thus, with his victory secured and his powers restored, Uduaghan suddenly realized that he needed all the friends he could get, and his position became even more precarious when the High Court in Asaba made it clear that he will not get a tenure extention. So, with the party primaries just a few days away and Chief Clark breathing down his neck without mercy, Uduaghan moved to recover lost ground and went straight to the party and Chairman Nwaoboshi. He also needed Okowa to protect the Ika flank of Delta North so he kept his former SSG close and by so doing, gave Okowa the authority and audacity to drive his own campaign all the way.
THE ‘COUP D’ETAT’ PRIMARY
The party primaries was arguably the last plot that finally pitched Okowa against his PDP leadership in the state. The rumour that both the party and Governor Uduaghan had already endorsed Mrs. Ali as the Delta North Senatorial candidate and indeed some particular aspirants in the other positions, was stronger than ever and banking on the slogan ‘Party is Supreme’, Chairman Nwaoboshi moved to formally seal the deal.
However, many delegates, especially those in Delta North, had insisted that all the candidates in all the positions should go for primaries to ensure a free and fair, one man, one vote election and this desire had divided the party right down the middle. The party leadership had then brought out guidelines which, according to reports, indicated that all the primaries would hold. According to sources inside the Delta PDP, the decision of the party was that the Governorship primaries and the Delta North Senatorial primaries would hold simultaneously.
Prior to this however, the already embattled Governor Uduaghan had enough troubles on his plate and opted to stay out of the Delta North Senatorial controversy in the belief that Chairman Nwaoboshi had perfected whatever plan was afoot for the primaries, including the allegation that Result sheets had already been given to the preferred candidates and some huge financial leverage had been provided from the top to ensure that Delegates were properly reached and accommodated.
And so on primary election day, while Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan was consolidating his position at the Cenotaph, Asaba, word had it that the Senatorial primaries was going on simultaneously in Ogwashi-uku, the Senatorial Headquarters of Delta North, but this could not be confirmed. At the end of the primaries, Dr. Uduaghan won in Asaba, while word went round that Mrs Ali had won in Ogwashi-uku, but again this could not be corroborated.
Not deterred by this news, the other candidates for the Delta North Senatorial seat promptly commenced their own primaries immediately after the governorship primaries. They even got a major national television network to beam it live to the world. In the end Dr. Okowa won with 942 votes, Dr. Cairo Ojougbo had 286 votes, Ned Nwoko had 78 votes, Dr. Mrs Mariam Nneamaka Ali (Kpakando) had 18 votes and Nduka Nwoye got 2 votes. But Chairman Nwaoboshi was not impressed with this show which he dismissed as a ‘charade’.
In fact, prior to the Primary, Mrs Ali had allegedly fallen out with some of the members of her supposed political family, during the screening of aspirants. She was reported to have disrupted the screening of Delta North Senatorial candidates in Asaba, when she arrived the party secretariat for screening and learnt that Cairo Ojougboh was being screened by the five-man panel headed by Emma Atse.
An eyewitness recounted that Mrs Ali allegedly demanded from Ojougboh why he submitted himself for screening after they had agreed that he would step down for her, but Ojougboh maintained categorically that he had no intention to step down for anyone. Confusion reigned in the room as supporters of both aspirants threatened to get into the fray and this was said to have prompted the other aspirants, led by Hon. Pascal Adigwe, to quickly issue a press statement warning that they will resist the imposition of Mrs Ali on them by the state PDP, as the candidate of Delta North Senatorial zone.
To further spice up the matter, the electoral panel set up by the National Executive Committee of the PDP to conduct the party primaries election had surprisingly released its provisional result at Hotel Benezia, Asaba at a hurriedly arranged press conference, amidst palpable tension and speedily beat a fast retreat all the way to Abuja. The results were announced by secretary to the committee, Dr Lawrence Ezenwa immediately after which he and his team practically rushed to the door, without entertaining any questions from newsmen, and zoomed out of town, apparently in fear that some very dangerous people were after them.
According to Dr. Ezenwa, the PDP Delta state party hierarchy wanted the five-man electoral panel sent from Abuja to conduct the primaries in the state to do its bidding but the panel refused and went ahead to conduct the primary which produced Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa as a clear winner of the Delta North senatorial ticket, amongst others.
‘We were stampeded out of the Government Lodge by the activities of the State party Exco to the extent that we were invaded and we had to be forced out; sincerely it is because of the result of this panel. Every single effort was made to frustrate us, but out of our own personal conviction we stood our ground to make sure that we get this thing done properly no matter whose ox is gored’.
However, in a very swift reaction, the state chairman of PDP, Barrister Peter Nwaoboshi quickly classified the results as announced by the Dr. Lawrence Ezenwa committee as unconstitutional on the grounds that the Party had not yet verified the results of the primaries. Nwaoboshi described the primaries as flawed and claimed that it did not emanate from the Delta State PDP and that those results, not declared by the party is of no effect.
A statement personally signed by Nwoboshi stated that, ‘I wish to draw the attention of the National Chairman of the PDP, the National Executive Committee, the National Working Committee, the entire PDP family in Delta State and the general public at large to the largely flawed primaries without the use of the authentic delegates list in most of the constituencies in Delta State. ‘Most importantly, the purported Delta North senatorial primaries held at the Delta State Cenotaph, Asaba in the night hours of 11th January, 2011 is illegal, null and void’.
According to Nwaoboshi, ‘the said caricature primaries was concocted, cooked and crafted by disgruntled elements who have engaged in the illegal primaries to save face, having failed to secure victory in the just concluded primaries and have chosen instead to deceive party members and loyalists with the charade. ‘The purported primaries is illegal, ultravires and unconstitutional as the same is held without the consent, authority and mandate of the hierarchy of the party in Delta state.’
However, after some concerted protests, the PDP was compelled to re-shedule a re-run of the primaries and at the end of that exercise, which witnessed the withdrawal of Pascal Adigwe and Cairo Ojougboh and the decamping of Ned Nwoko who had already been endorsed as the Candidate of the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP), featured only Dr. Okowa and Mrs Ali. Okowa was declared the winner by the returning officer, Benedict Tawu, who announced that Okowa polled a total of 1,446 votes to beat Dr. Marian Ali, who scored 108 votes.
But during the primaries, thugs believed to be separate loyalists of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chairman in Delta State, Mr. Peter Nwaoboshi, invaded the Cenotaph venue of the re-run primaries and engaged in bloody clash with supposed loyalists of Okowa. In fact the primaries had gone half-way with Okowa coasting home to victory before Nwaoboshi and Mrs.Ali stormed the scene with some persons suspected to be thugs and questioned the methods adopted by the panel for the conduct of the intra-party election.
In the melee that ensued many party faithful, including delegates, other leaders of the party, especially the members of the panel from the PDP national secretariat in Abuja led by Mr. Benedict Taiwo, as well as journalists who had come to cover the event, scampered into safety and suffered varying degrees of injuries as they rushed headlong into the near by bushes to take cover and run for dear life, as the mayhem unfolded and sporadic gunshots rend the air. Sanity was only restored by riot policemen deployed in the area by the Commissioner of Police, State Command, Mr. Yakubu Alkhali.
Nwaoboshi returned a few hours later with Mrs. Ali and displayed a copy of what he said was the authentic candidates list, but party officials patiently listened to him, politely thanked him for the clarification and subsequently continued with the primary after he had gone. The outcome of the election amidst tight security confirmed that Okowa polled 1,446 votes to defeat Alli, who scored 108 votes.
But again, the state chairman of PDP Peter Nwaoboshi, who had tried unsuccessfully to stop the primaries, dismissed the list used to produce Okowa as ‘fake’ and stated categorically that he cannot authentic the result because the electoral panel denied him access to the delegates’ list used for the primaries. According to Nwaoboshi, “I didn’t see the list they used in conducting the election. I demanded for it to compare with what we had here during the congress we held in 2008, but they (electoral panel) refused to bring out the list. In fact the intention of the electoral had been to come and cause confusion and destabilise the Party in Delta state”, he said.
In response, Okowa had this to say after the primaries. Hear him: “By virtue of the result of the January 11 primaries, INEC sent a nomination form to me on Tuesday, which I had completed and I was on my way to Abuja to submit same on Thursday when l was called that a rerun of the primaries had been ordered by the party.”
Speaking further, Okowa thanked God and the people of Delta North for the victory and called on the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to respect the choice of the Anioma people in deciding who represents them at the Senate and recalled that in 2007 senatorial election. According to him, “Dr Marian Ali had been foisted on the people of Delta North by her husband, ex-PDP chair, Dr Ahmadu Alli but they voted against her as the PDP scored less than 10 percent of the votes. We have put the PDP on notice; we have put the leadership of the party on notice, we have put Mr. President on notice that the people of Delta North love PDP but they must be allowed freely to make their choice on who stands for them.”
ALLEGATIONS OF ‘ANTI PARTY’ ACTIVITIES
Delta watchers will recall that the Delta North Senatorial race, had principally been between two major candidates; Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, (PDP) and Hon. (Prince) Ned Nwoko,(DPP). At the end of the elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Returning Officer for Delta North Senatorial District, Professor Mrs. Ebele Egwuiyanga released the official results of parliamentary election in the zone and Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), scored 98, 140 votes to beat the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) candidate, Hon. Ned Nwoko who scored 67, 985 votes.
But in the course of the elections some PDP insiders had claimed that Dr. Okowa had lost the support of the leadership of the party and was on his own, following the embarassing events at the Cenotaph during the primaries.
It was also alleged that Okowa had engaged in anti-party activities by purportedly sposoring Uche Ugbomah, a prominent PDP stalwart, who has been regarded for long as his right hand man, to contest the House of Reps election on the platform of the Accord Party, against the PDP candidate and incumbent Reps member, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, who himself had belonged to the same political camp with Mrs. Ali, Cairo Ojougboh and Chairman Peter Nwaoboshi in the Obielum days. The emergence of Nwaoboshi had strengthened the bond and they had all thrown their weight behind Governor Uduaghan and the harmonised PDP and it was only politically logical to expect that all party members would fall behind any candidate endorsed by the party.
But a major clash of interests emerged when Mrs. Ali and Dr. Okowa entered the Delta North Senate race and Elumelu, who himself was a contestant and needed the support of his party was naturally on the side of the Chairman, who in turn was bent on ensuring that Mrs. Ali emerged as the Senator for Delta North, in 2011. Thus, by allegedly sponsoring and supporting a candidate from another party, Okowa was deemed to have been guilty of anti-party activities.
Again in the Ika Federal Constituency, Okowa was alleged to have moved against the party by sponsoring Victor Nwokolo, regarded in many quarters as one of his top loyalists, against the incumbent Reps member. Hon Doris Uboh. In fact, just like the case of Mariam Alli, Hon. Uboh had been regarded as the unquestionable choice of the PDP and there was even the added spice that she had been endorsed by the Presidency in line with the gender initiative of the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan. However, the people of Ika seemingly had a different opinion on the matter and after the first highly controversial PDP primary, which was reportedly won by Festus Chukwunyem (Chukky Dandy) but which was given to Doris Uboh, Okowa allegedly instructed his man, Victor Nwokolo to cross over to the Accord Party, just like the scenario with Uche Ugbomah in Aniocha/Oshimili, while Chukky Dandy crossed over to the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP). At the end of the elections, Victor Nwokolo was declared winner of the Ika Federal Constituency, but the controversy that rocked the elections was the primary reason for the initial injunction that stopped the presentation of INEC Certificate to Okowa and has been the bane of the petition filed against Okowa at the election tribunal.
In addition, Okowa was also purportedly accused of allegedly compiling his own delegates list, with which he conducted the Primaries of both the Delta North Senatorial and the Ika Federal Constituency elections.
The Delta PDP, according to reliable insiders, did not take these matters of alleged ‘anti party’ activities by Okowa kindly. Indeed word had it that the PDP leadership in the state had purportedly instructed its members to vote against Okowa in certain areas and a particular PDP chieftain and former Commissioner in the Uduaghan cabinet, said to be loyal to Okowa, amongst others, was suspended in the aftermath of the elections for disobeying that instruction.
The fact that Dr. Okowa in particular and Victor Nwokolo won their elections had, according to impeccably sources within the PDP, become a further humiliation and monumental embarrassment to the party leadership and the need to affirm the slogan ‘Party is supreme’ had become an imperative that must be achieved, even if it means losing the Delta North Senatorial seat, like it did in 2007, when Senator Patrick Osakwe decamped to the Accord party and won, only for him to return to the PDP fold a couple of years later. This argument was re-inforced by the reminder from the sources, that the main contender to Okowa in the 2011 poll had actually contested the initial PDP primaries before decamping to DPP.
However, the circumstances that threw up both Uche Ugbomah and Victor Nwokolo, needs to be put in some kind of perspective, which Okowa may not have been directly involved with.
Delta Watchers will recall that Hon Ndudi Elumelu was embroiled (still is) in a litigation process with the EFCC, over his actions actions in the Power Probe Committee in collaboration with some other lawmakers in the 6th Session of the National Assembly, which had threatened to disqualify him from contesting the April 2011 elections. But the Delta PDP was bent on fielding him and chances were that if he got axed by the EFCC, the PDP would have no candidate for the Aniocha/Oshimili Federal Constituency election. So enter Uche Ugbomah, a staunch PDP stalwart but coming out under the ever ready Accord Party. However, some smart politicking by Elumelu had ensured that he was not disqualified after all, but by then the Ugbomah Candidacy had already been established and a lot of bad water had flowed under the Delta North Senatorial contest bridge which meant that any support for Ugbomah, who was regarded as Okowa’s right hand man, was always going to be interpreted as ‘anti party’ activity by the party leadership.
The Victor Nwokolo case was a bit different for the simple reason that Ika people had reportedly kicked against the purported imposition of Hon. Doris Uboh on them by both the Delta PDP and the Presidency. The party primaries which she won was mired in controversy which led both Victor Nwokolo and Festus Chukwunyem (‘Chukky Dandy’) to decamp to the Accord and DPP parties respectively. Nwokolo was said to regarded as the more level headed candidate and this may have contributed to his victory, but the mere fact that he was seen as an Okowa loyalist, who defeated a PDP sitting Reps member was sufficient to raise the ‘anti party’ allegation.
POST ELECTION BLUES
The dramatic twist to the Delta North Polls, provided by the returning officer for Ika Federal Constituency, Dr. Godwin Aviero, has remained the main contentious point in the election.
Dr Aviero had earlier announced the results and declared the Accord Party candidate, Mr. Victor Nwaokolo, winner with 17, 235 votes to defeat incumbent member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Doris Uboh of the PDP who scored 15,129 votes while the DPP candidate Mr Festus Chukwunyem (Chukky Dandy) scored 9,433. But he suddenly did a volte face and claimed that he was kidnaped and later released.
In a broadcast which was beamed nationwide and reported extensively, Dr. Aviero also alleged that the election was flawed with widespread electoral malpractices and added that indigenes of Ika North East were used to replace youth corps members ad-hoc INEC staff assigned to duty in the area.
To further cast doubts and a frightening dimension on the Delta North Polls, Nigeria’s former High Commissioner to Sierra-Leone, Ambassador Godson Echiejile narrowly escaped death and was lucky to have his head still attached to his neck, when he was attacked and badly matcheted by suspected thugs allegedly loyal to a particular political party candidate in the Delta North senatorial race as he tried to stop some election malpractice in the Ika Federal Constituency. He was said to have been saved only by the Grace of God, when men of the Delta State Police Command on duty in the area miraculously intervened took him to the hospital.
The INEC Headquarters in Asaba, the Delta State capital was subsequently besieged for several days following the April 9, National Assembly elections and prominent among the leaders of the protesters were Prince Ned Nwoko, Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) Delta North Senatorial candidate, Chief Great Ogboru, DPP Delta State Governorship candidate, Hon. Doris Uboh, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) House of Representative candidate and even Ambassador Godson Echiejile who came all bandaged up to lend weight to the protests.
Justifying the reason for the protests Hon Ned Nwoko accused the PDP and Dr. Okowa of manipulation and alleged that Okowa also forged the result in Ika south and Ika north districts.
According to Nwoko, “When the imprisoned INEC Officer was released he went to the police and exposed every malpractice done by the PDP and Okowa. We want INEC to listen to all the petitions before any announcement is made.”
In his response, Dr. Okowa simply laughed off the allegations and advised those making them to employ the proper channel and follow due process by taking there grievances to the Elections Tribunal. According to him “ These accusations are laughable. I am just a candidate in the elections and i duly presented myself as a contestant as stipulated by the law. I do not know how i could have influenced the results when i was only a candidate like other contestants”
However, Ned Nwoko, still not satisfied with the manner the matter was handled in Asaba, proceeded to Abuja and allegedly armed with the statements of the Ika Federal Constituency returning officer, Dr. Aviero and other ‘very implicating’ evidence, succeded in getting an injunction from an Abuja Federal High Court to stop the presentation of certificate to Dr. Okowa by INEC. The rest as they say is now history.
But that injunction was short lived as it was summarily vacated under seventy two hours and Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa is now the confirmed Senator for Delta North Senatorial District. But the history is still unfolding as the matter is now before the Delta State elections petitions tribunal and Delta Northerners are waiting with bated breath to see how the matter is resolved. Indeed the people of Anioma may yet tarry awhile because the matter may yet go all the way to the Court of Appeal if either of both parties feel sufficiently dissatisfied with any preliminary ruling on the matter.
But one thing that has been eatablished is that the victory of Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, especially during the PDP primaries in the state, is a clear testimony of his huge popularity with the membership of the party and indeed the people of Delta North, who see him both as a vibrant and dynamic symbol of the radical new reforms in the PDP and a solid advocate for the ‘One Man, One Vote’ revolution, championed by President Goodluck Jonathan and which was so central to the widely acclaimed success of April 2011 election.
Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa has taken his rightful place as the Senator representing Delta North in the 7th session of the Senate and with that singular action, the initial fears that the Anioma interest may not be represented in the Senate has been finally laid to rest once and for all.
Comrade Macaulay as he is popularly know and called attended Iluelogbo Gammar School, Illuelogbo were he obtained the West African School Certificate – 1979, National Institute for Public Information, Kaduna were he obtained a Certificate in Information in 1982, Institute of Management & Technology, Enugu(UNAIR)1981-1983 and Enugu State University of Science & Technology(Mass Communication) (Ongoing). Others academic qualifications he has obtained includes Ordinary National Diploma in Mass Communication.
Before his appointment as a commissioner in Delta State, he worked as Public Enlightenment Assistant with the Federal Department of Information, Junior Editor/Reporter with the defunct Bendel Broadcasting Service, Benin 1983 and Controller, New & Current Affairs, Delta Broadcasting Service, Asaba. He was a labour activist and held many offices in labour union amongs which are Chairmanship of Bendel Television Chapel, Nigerian Union of Journalist, Chairmanship of Bendel Broadcasting Service Chapel, Secretary, Nigerian Union of Journalist, Bendel State, Member NUJ Constitution Conference, Pioneer Chairman, Nigerian Union of Journalist, Delta State, Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress Delta State Council(1993 – 2003) and Caucus Member, National Executive Council, Nigeria Laour Congress. He was also State Member, Re-Organisation of Political Parties (SDP) 1992-1993.
He was Member, Delta State Manpower Development Committee 1996-2003; Member WAI-C Advisory Committee, Delta State 1994 – 1995; Member Poverty Alleviation Committee, Delta State 2000-2003; Director, Lacom Bank Ltd. Lagos 1999 -2003; Led a six man delegation of Nigeria Trade Unionists to study the democratic struggle and role of labour in South Africa, Secretary, General Ibori Vanguard, Co-Ordinator, Delta Manna Foundation Hospital Project, Co-ordinator NLC/Niger-Delta solidarity rallies for Resource Control 2002 – 2003; Member, Committee on alternative political platform which led to the formation of Party for Social Democracy (PSD) 2001-2003; Member, Audit Panel on Delta State Oil Palm Company Ltd (OPC) 1994; Member, Staff Audit Panel SPEB 1995; Founder & Sponsor, Isoko Grassroot Movement (a Political Organisation) 2002; as well as other Isoko Development groups.
Macaulay has also had specialized security training in several highbrow institutions in top countries like Israel and the United Kingdom, amongst others. He was the immediate past Commissioner for Power and Energy, Delta state, before his appointment as SSG.
Comrade Ovuozourie Macaulay needs no introduction as a Deltan. His bonding with Delta State is akin to the umbilical relationship between a child and the mother right from conception and all through the lifetime. His antecedents and achievements in Delta State speaks volumes. In fact, it has been said in many knowledgeable quarters that the unity, harmony and togetherness which Delta state enjoys today and which has continued to hold the state together as one indivisible, peaceful unit is due greatly to the very huge and unparalleled efforts and contributions of Comrade Macaulay, sometimes at the very risk of his own life, in the turbulent days of crises is some parts of the state.
The fact that he was able, by sheer courage, fearlessness and strategic brilliance, to bring peace to the state, remains one of the major legacies of this generation of Deltans to future generations. In fact, if there was a Nigerian version of the Nobel Prize for Peace, then Comrade Ovuozourie Macaulay would have been decorated long ago with the distinguished recognition.
He was the first Chairman of the Delta State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ). He is arguably the first indigenous Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Delta State. He has been Special Adviser and Commissioner for Special Duties in some of the most challenging portfolios and his sterling and outstanding contributions to the progressive development of Delta state, since creation in 1991, has been a study in the display of selfless service, heroic commitment and courageous conviction, amazing competence and unquestionable dedication and loyalty to his Principal and principles in the face of what has sometimes manifested as unwarranted and selfish opposition.
He celebrated his milestone 50th birthday not too long ago and those who knew him from the early days confess that he still carries on with the vigour and dexterity of his activist days and is even now more energetic and exudes an admirable finesse of strategic articulation and visionary acumen which he has brought to bear on his ever demanding schedule of assignments and responsibilities. He is a goal getter and perfectionist, qualities which he will surely bring to bear on this new and very central position.
His appointment as the Delta State Secretary to the State Government (SSG), may have come to some as a surprise, in the face of all the rumours that had been flying around. But those who know Comrade Macaulay, will accept the fact if ever ther was one man in Delta State, who richly deserves the position of SSG, then that man is Ovuozuorie Macaulay.
The truth of the matter is that Macaulay would just have been as happy to serve Delta State and his governor anywhere he had been delegated to and it is a mark and testimony of his great humility and commitment that he has just as promptly assumed duties as the SSG and even laid down a marker for the staff of the SSG office to be hardworking and focused.
Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, who was the Special Guest at the Swearing-in ceremony of the new SSG described Macaulay appropriately. Referring to an advice given to him by a Chinese acquaintance, Comrade Oshiomhole said: “The best man to give a sensitive job is one who is both loyal and competent. A loyal staff, who is not competent can be trained to become competent, but a competent staff who is disloyal is dangerous and can even use his competence to work against your interest because disloyalty runs in his blood and is already a part of him.
“Comrade Macaulay is a loyal and competent man. I know because I have worked closely with him in the NLC. He was one of the very few Labour leaders who stood by me and believed in our principles of ensuring true democracy in Nigeria in the days when we were regarded as enemies of the military government of the day.
“I thank my brother Governor Uduaghan for his wisdom in appointing a man who has these qualities as his new SSG. He will not disappoint you”.
Comrade Ovuozourie Macaulay is happily married to his lovely wife, Stella, herself a well respected Comrade in the NUJ, Delta State Council, where she has served as Secretary in the past, and they are blessed with lovely children. He likes Reading, Travelling and Music.
Ndudi Godwin Elumelu: Ndudi Godwin Elumelu, was born on the 23rd of February, 1965. He hails from Onicha-Ukwu in the Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State. He had his education at the popular Yaba Tech (Yaba College of Technology), Yaba, Lagos where he obtained a National Diploma in Business Administration in 1989. He later bagged a Bachelor of Science (Hons.) in Accounting & Finance in 1993 before his Masters Degree in Business Administration (MBA) with specialization in finance in 2001. Mr. Elumelu has attended many courses both locally and overseas, some of which are credit analysis course by H. Pierson Associates Ltd., Finance Africa summit in South Africa organized by Philip Consulting, 2nd Nigeria International Insurance Summit and other courses in Europe. He is a member of the board of directors in many companies, some of which are Tenoil Petroleum and Gas Company Limited, Structural Trust Fund Limited, Exchange Trade Limited, MunGen Consults Limited, Transglobal Communications Limited, Pet – Jibson & Company Limited, Peton Engineering Limited, and Pet – N Chemicals amongst many others. He is also a member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers.
As a result of his knack for excellence, he left to set up Transglobal Investment Ltd., an outfit which consists of eminent Nigerians and seasoned businessmen of proven integrity. The firm handles all classes of insurance business amongst other services. Before engineering the incorporation of Transglobal Investments Ltd., he was a staff of Gulf Bank where he was saddled with the responsibility of management of credit, marketing, treasury and other services. On leaving Gulf Bank Ltd., he joined Inter Capital Ltd., an investment outfit where he was the Head of Credit.
He was elected into the Federal House of Representatives in 2007 to represent the Aniocha/Oshimili Federal Costituency. However, prior to his election, Hon Elumelu had tried his luck first in 2003, but some high wire politcal intrigues had not only pitched him against the then Governor of Delta state, Chief James Ibori but had equally caused him to lose to Hon. Pascal Adigwe. He returned in 2007, much wiser and more determined, but met with the same old forces, which not only pitched him against his own blood brother, Peter Elumelu, but also tried to deny him the opportunity to represent his people, on the alleged grounds that he had snubbed a lucrative offer from the godfather himself, Chief Ibori, to serve in the Delta State cabinet. Part of his problems with the then establishment had also allegedly emanated from the fact that he was seen as an Abuja politician and had equally been regarded as a major fixture of the then Godswill Obielum political structure, which gave the Ibori machinery a real scare in 2007. After the defeat of Obielum at the Ogwashi Uku governorship primaries, the structure was allegedly taken over by Mrs Mariam Ali, wife of the former PDP national Chairman Ahmadu Ali, who was herself humiliated at the Senatorial elections by the Ibori machinery which returned incumbent Senator, Patrick Osakwe on the platform of the Accord Party.
Hon. Elumelu suddenly found himself alone and had to proceed to the Court where triumphed as INEC declared him the winner of the April 2007 Aniocha/Oshimili Federal Constituency seat. However, all that is in the past now, as Hon. Elumelu enjoys a very cordial relationship with the present administration in Delta state as indeed he does with all and sundry and even Godswill Obielum himself has already settled his old scores with Governor Uduaghan and is now one of the strongest campaigners of a second tern for the governor in Delta North.
Sice his election, he has been a member of several high brow committees in the House including: Committee Membership: Diaspora, Drugs, Narcotics & Financial Crimes, Interior Affairs, National Security & Intelligence, and the House Committee on Power, where he served as Chairman).
His anti-corruption stance to expose the ill perpetrated in governance, which is the cog in the wheel of development of our great country is in line with the sermon of zero tolerance on corruption by the present administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.
He was seen by many as a role model, a catalyst for change and a likely whistle blower on malpractices and injustice in the system at the initial stages of his Power Committee activities. He and his team appeared to be passionate and resolute to ensure that through their probe of over $16 billion expended on electricity projects between 1999 and 2007 without tangible outcome, will bring about positive solutions in addressing our problems. Hon Elumelu had stood upright in his performance as Chairman of the Committee on Power where he demonstrated a high level of patriotism, and brought his managerial acumen and intellectual prowess to bear on the assignment.
This was evident in the manner he moderated the probe on the power sector, where he deposited logical and tasking questions and occasionally guided those in the box from derailing in their presentations. He accommodated the contributions of others with high sense of humility, integrity and sincerity to ensure that they were on track and focused in making a positive difference to correct the mistakes of the past.
He was well admired in those days that he was even nicknamed by admirers as “Mr. Due-Process and Transparency”, but it was also reported that he also received several death threats to his life as a result of his progressive actions, but this did not deter him from carrying out his legislative duties and freely relating with all and sundry with equanimity, which depicts his moral upbringing.
However, it was this same Power Committe assignment that was to cause Hon Ndudi Elumelu a lot of nightmares as he was suddenly accussed from both within the House of Representative and outside of connivance, fraud and high handedness amongst others.
Hon Elumelu, Senator Nicolas Yahaya Ugbane and Hon. Jibo Mohammed, amongst 9 others were originally arraigned on Friday October 30, 2009 by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a 130 count charge over an alleged N5.2billion Rural Electrification Scam The charges were separated thus: The three lawmakers among them were originally and jointly facing a 62 count charge while the other six accused are jointly facing a 68 count charge.
The three lawmakers are: Hon. Godwin Ndidi Elumelu, Senator Nicholas Yahaya Ugbane and Hon. Jibo Mohammed. The other accused are Engr. Samuel Ibi Gekpe, Dr. Abdullahi Aliyu, Simon Kirdi Nanle, Engr. Lawrence Kayode Orekoya, Abdulsamad Garba Jahun and Barrister Kayode Oyedeji.
In 2010, The EFCC, presisely on Thursday October 14th, 2010, re-arraigned former Senate Committee Chairman on Power, Senator Nicholas Ugbane, his House of Representatives counterpart, Hon. Godwin Elumelu, and Hon Jibo Mohammed at the Federal Capital Territory, FCT High Court, Abuja, before Justice Abimbola Banjoko on a fresh 65 count charge bordering on defrauding the government in the Rural Electrification Agency project. They were reprtedly granted bail and the case is said to still be on-going but that has not deterred Hon. Elumelu from seeking for re-election in the April 2011 polls, despite reports in some quarters that the EFCC is poised to scuttle the political ambitions of those still under investigation or in litigation with the Commission.
Infact because of his great interests in youth and women empowerment, and the Energy sector in particular and nation building in general, he has been propelled to remain courageously vital in legislative activities in the hallowed chambers which has distinguished him as a leader with the interest of the downtrodden at heart.
To be sure, the Hon. Godwin Ndudi Elumelu campaign has been hinged on four themes, which have featured prominently in his electioneering campaign prior to his election into the House of Representatives in April 2007 and this time around. The themes according to Elumelu’s manifesto listed Economic Empowerment of Underprivileged Women, Youths and Farmers; Moral Probity Through Respect For Traditional Institutions; Determination to Improve Living standards of the People; as well as Infrastructural Transformation of Aniocha/Oshimili Federal Constituency.
Amongst all these, the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) projects is the one that has visibly spread across many parts of his constituency and gulped a large chunk of the constituency project funds. The others are not far behind.
Elumelu in his stewardship publication tagged: ‘The Elumelu Stewardship” is said to have influenced the following constituency projects in the federal budget.
The projects as listed include: “Water irrigation and distribution schemes at Onu-boh, Obior, Adonie and Ogbole-Ogume; Irrigation project at Ewulu; Irrigation project at Illah/Ebu; Rehabilitation of underground water schemes at Onitcha-Olona, Alisime, Ogwashi-Ukwu, Ilah, Ibusa, etc; Erosion control project at Idumuje-Unor; Solar-base Rural Electrification project at Nsukwa clan; Solar-PV power supply and Rural Energy pilot projects; Construction of 33KV ITC and 1 NO 2.5MVA injection sub-station at Utagba-Uno/Itua/Nsukwa junction; Rehabilitation of 35KM, 33KV at Asaba/Obior line; Injection of 2.15MVA, 33/11KV at Industrial Estate Asaba; Asaba main transmission 2.15MVA; and 33KVA/ITC, 1 NO.2.5MVA injection sub-station, 11KVA ITC Network at N44, 100,000.00.”
Others listed include the “construction of a Town Hall at Onicha-Uku; and a bore hole project at Idumuje-Unor all in Aniocha North Local Government Area.” In Aniocha South local government area, Elumelu listed the “construction of a Town Hall at Ogwashi-Uku; and bore hole at Aba-Unor. In Oshimili North council area there is a “Town Hall in Akukwu-Igbo and a bore hole at Ibusa; Town Hall and bore hole at Oko ”
There are also: “one block of computer laboratory with accessories at Issele-Uku (Aniocha North), Ogwashi-Uku (Aniocha South), Akukwu-Igbo (Oshimili North) and Oko (Oshimili North); Primary Health Care Clinics at Idumuje-Unor (Aniocha North), Aba-Unor (Aniocha South), Illah, Oko (Oshimili North) and Motorised bore hole with overhead tank at Onicha-Uku (Aniocha North) ”
Honourable Elumelu also disclosed in his stewardship that he collaborated with the NDDC in the implementation of the following projects: “Renovation of some secondary schools in the federal constituency, fencing of some secondary schools in the federal constituency, construction of Ohordua/Ugbodu/Onicha-Uku/issele-Uku road, construction of Oko-Ogbele/Oko-Anala road and construction of Egbudu-Akah/Ubulu-Uku road.”
It is indeed rare to see a politician who will come out to list his constituency projects and even add costs to them as Hon. Elumelu has done with his own projects and for this, he is well endeared by the people of Aniocha/Oshimili Federal Constituency, even though there is an important school of thought which still believe that some of his project costs were highly inflated.
In fact his popularity amongst his constituents led recently to his being confered with the prestigious title of Odozi Ani (meaning ‘the one who makes things better’) of Oko, in Oshimili North LGA of Delat State, in recognition of the good works he has reportedly done for the people of Oko. This is in addition to the titles he has received from Idumuje-Ugboko, Okpanam and other communites in the Aniocha/Oshimili Federal Constituency.
Incidentally, his main challenger for the position, Alanza Uche Ugbomah, himself a staunch PDP stalwarth, now contesting under the platform of the Accord Party and a strong ally of the PDP, Delta state chairman Chief Peter Nwaoboshi, is from Oko. Many analysts have opined that the entrant of Mr. Ugbomah into the race may not be unconnected with the expectation that the EFCC may spring a suprise on the outcome of the election, but with the seeming decision of the anti-graft Commission to remain silent on the fate of those in Court and under investigation, especially at this election period, it remains to be seen how far the gamble to challenge Hon. Ndudi Elumelu will go, because he is by far the most favored candidate to win the Aniocha/Oshimili Federal Constituency again.