FEATURE ARTICLE

Innocent OjefiaThursday, May 25, 2017
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Asaba, Nigeria

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GOVERNOR OKOWA AND GOOD GOVERNANCE

n American politician, Benjamin Franklin, once remarked: “Human felicity is produced not as much by great pieces of good fortune that seldom happen as by little advantages that occur every day.” One noteworthy reality is that politics is about the economy and economy is about the people. It is about prioritization and allocation of values. Put succinctly, politics is about the people.

One major factor that has influenced my support for Governor Ifeanyi Okowa is his discipline towards time lines. For once, contracts are awarded and completed within the given time.

I have always lived in and out of the State until 1989 and I noticed that up till Chief Felix Ibru’s brief stint in office as Governor, no new roads were tarred, neither were old ones repaired. After Ibru, the military administrators posted to the State continued with the old pattern, they were not bothered about infrastructure. So, by the time Chief Ibori mounted the saddle, almost all the roads in the State had become so impassable that it was not out of place to ask if there had ever been a government in place in the State.

As good governance would have it, the narrative took a turn for the better with Chief Ibori’s assumption of office. As at last count, government has constructed not less than 4000km of roads and bridges that traversed all the nooks and crannies of the State. Under Chief Ibori, people of Edo and Anambra States envied Delta State. But somehow, in the ensuing years we lost steam in not being able to complete the construction of newly awarded roads and inability to maintain existing ones.

But today the mantra is not just about awarding multiple road contracts without focus towards finishing. After studying the experiences of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, it has been discovered that the major secret towards their development lies in being disciplined towards time lines. Without being disciplined towards time lines, you can’t make good progress. What is the purpose of awarding new contracts when you are yet to complete existing ones. Despite the recession and the attendant fall in revenue receipts, Governor Okowa has shown right from the beginning, that he is a stickler to time lines and that has endeared him to me. It is just unfortunate that at present, the economy is in bad shape.

Why did he choose to become a story of courage to the State, especially at this time? But Max Weber’s option of courage amidst the tragedy and the savagery of primordial sentiments has again brought to the fore, the way we are as a State and as a people. A few questions will suffice. Why is this visionary, being tagged a ‘debtor-governor’ because of local government salaries, when, indeed, in the universal space called salary palaver, Delta is just a sample space for other States in Nigeria? The dilemma arising from the challenges associated with local government workers’ salary is something that needs greater attention and discussion of the entire nation.

The whole issue of salary at the local government level is a policy matter. What comes to the local governments even in two months from Abuja cannot pay their one month salary and that of primary school teachers whose faith is inextricably tied local government workers. In more ways than one, local government workers salaries are not strictly speaking, the direct responsibility of any governor. But ill-informed opponents Governor Okowa will always capitalize on this to misinform the unwary public. And this is most regrettable and unfortunate.

Again, why are they equating his vision for Delta State with a mission of not caring for human beings. I imagine that the Governor has consistently wondered why trying to put good infrastructure in place should be misconstrued for not caring?

Democracy has become so acceptable in this part of the world that we now regard service as an established fact. It is important that lovers of good governance use the opportunity that has been provided by posterity to support and give Governor Ifeanyi Okowa the chance.

Spectatorship and uninformed opposition are not options in an event that is designed to shape the future of our State as well as define the destiny of its people.

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