Chido Nwakanma’s birthday tribute examines the noiseless efficiency that made Ifeanyi Okowa a power player in Nigerian politics since 1999.
Once candidates emerged and south-south lost the presidential card in PDP, it nullfied the agreement not to contest. Okowa did not compete for the vice-presidency. Curious how folks who argue for South-South presidency turn to accuse him of treason for accepting vice-presidency offer.
Delta State Governor Dr Ifeanyichukwu Okowa is in the middle of the wag’s test of politics. The wag avers that two unpleasant things could happen to a public figure. One is for people to speak ill of him from misunderstanding. The other is for stakeholders to ignore him.
As PDP vice-presidential candidate, the Okowa name has rung up many decibels in his party and across the land. From the North to the South, politicians and citizens alike discuss Senator Ifeanyi Okowa. Okowa scores highly on search indexes and mentions on all digital measurements.
The noise is not characteristic of this politician who has played significant roles in the Fourth Republic. On the contrary, Okowa has been almost noiseless, even as he had been a powerful player in the evolution of Nigerian politics since 1999. He has held positions of increasing capacity and consequence in the period.
Check his trajectory. 1991 – Served as Secretary to Ika Local Government Area; 1993 – Served as Chairman Ika North-East Local Government Council. He moved up to the State level in 1999, serving first as Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources. In 2001, he was Commissioner for Water Resources Development and from there to Health, his professional area, in 2003.
By 2007, Okowa moved over to core administration and coordination as Secretary to the Delta State Government. In 2011, he went to the national level as Senator representing Delta South Senatorial District. He has served as Governor of Delta State since 2015.
Okowa would mark his birthday on 8 July 2022, serving as Governor and vice-presidential candidate of the PDP. The medic from Owa-Alero in Ika North-East LGA of Delta State went through Edo College, Benin City. e graduated with the second-best result in the Higher School Certificate Examination in the then Bendel State in 1976. He became a doctor at the University of Ibadan. At 22.
Okowa enrolled for and completed the mandatory National Youth Service in 1982. Then 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. He went on to open another branch at Boji-Boji, Owa.
Over the years, Dr Okowa’s humanitarian and philanthropic disposition endeared him to his people. He often rendered free medical services to the poor in his community. Dr Ifeanyi Okowa displays highly developed craftsmanship in his approach to work and challenges. This is evident in his constructive leadership and growing political profile.
That profile showcases a man passionate about serving in rural areas, sharing skills and resources and devoted to good causes. He went into politics from the lowly local government level because of the same passion for serving. He also evinced an astute reading of the political compass of Nigeria.
The noise around his nomination as VP candidate is par for the course. It was worse when he was nominated to vie for Delta State governor. Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, his predecessor, never wanted him and fought him with the most unlikely opponents till the electorate voted. Even James Ibori’s much-vaunted support was somewhat doubtful in some quarters. David Edevbie, known to be Ibori’s financial major-domo, made a strong run against Okowa in the same race too.
Okowa’s critics this time are influential. They include party members who feel entitled to the VP seat and members of the Southern and Middle Belt Congress. The SMBC is angry that he accepted to serve even after collectively resolving to vie for only the top post. People from the South-East also feel “our brother from the South-South” has taken the family heirloom wrongly.
Okowa can resolve this problem. He would need to do so by reaching out in the paradox of meekness and strength. One line of reasoning would be to observe that once the candidates emerged and the South lost the presidential card in PDP, it nullified the agreement not to contest. He did not compete for the vice-presidency. It is curious how the same folks who argue for another South-South governor turn around to accuse Okowa of treason for accepting the offer to be vice-presidential candidate. Is what is good for the gander not applicable to the goose?
The sum is that Dr Ifeanyichukwu Arthur Okowa is a tried and tested political strategist with the capacity to execute and create impact. He has been Project Manager in Delta State. He also has the EQ to take blows while remaining focused on the goal.
Observers, even stakeholders, often underrate the sagacity and skills of Ifeanyi Okowa until they are confounded. Then he convinces them. It would happen again in the PDP as the silently effective Ifeanyi Okowa heals the wounds of his party as a valid physician, medical and political.
Happy 63rd birthday, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa.
Chido Nwakanma: The noiseless efficiency of Ifeanyi Okowa