Okowa’s Steady Rise To Greatness

By Austin Oyibode

Dr. Arthur Ifeanyi Okowa, the Governor-elect of Delta State, was born on July 8, 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, in the same Owa-Alero, and later attended the famous Edo College, Benin City, between 1970 and 1976. He graduated 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 where he graduated in 1981 with MBBS, at the record age of 22. Upon his completion of the National Youth service corps (NYSC) 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 and later opened another branch at Boji-Boji Owa. He endeared himself to his people through his humanitarian service 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 his supporters, is seen in his success story. Dr. Okowa was Secretary to the Ika Local Government
and then became pioneer Chairman of the Ika North-East Local Government Council between 1991 and 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, later, 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 hard work, loyalty, honesty and dedication, Dr. Okowa one of the few 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 made outstanding results 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 its politics during the campaigns and mounted one of the most focused and issues-oriented campaigns in the state.
After the Ogwashi-Uku gubernatorial primary, where he placed a very remarkable second to Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, Okowa, like the tactful achiever that is, he did not sit back at home to sulk over the turnout 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 the Secretary to the Delta State Government (SSG) by the newly swornin Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan.
Again, while in the service as SSG, he resigned and pursued the Delta North seat in the Senate in 2011 where he won with a landslide victory. He was elected Delta North Senatorial candidate in the January 2011 PDP primary poll with 942 votes, but the result was challenged by party leaders who reportedly favoured Marian Amaka Alli as candidate. He was re-elected in a rerun where he scored 1,446 votes, against 108 votes for Dr. Maryam Alli. In the April 2011 election for the Delta North Senatorial seat, Okowa won 98,140 votes, ahead of runner up Prince Ned Munir Nwoko, of the Democratic People’s Party, who won 67,985 votes.
And when the campaign for the Governor of Delta State came up, he was one of those who aspired to be the Governor of Delta State. At the beginning, it was a tough battle, so much so that some were thinking he should have re-contested for the Senate where he would have still won; but Okowa was not moved. And as the over 20 aspirants were gallivanting every nook and cranny of the state to win the mind of the people and get their votes, he also moved, believing that he was the destined Governor of Delta State. And as the campaigns for the primary election was going on, Okowa’s campaign strategy became visibly exceptional. Having been in government from Council Secretary to Chairman, then Commissioner to Secretary to the State Government and now a serving Senator, everyone knew he is well suited for the race. With all these, he was seen to be more qualified than most others in the governorship tussle.
In the primary of December 8, 2014, Okowa won with a landslide victory. He defeated all the aspirants from Delta North and even those who joined the race from Delta Central and South. He scored over 400 votes, beating Chief David Edevbie from Urhobo to the second position and Engr. Victor Ochei to the third position. That was a big day for Okowa. Jubilation rented the air as he was lifted into the waiting car and the crowd danced along with him to his compound. That was the beginning of victory for the Governor of Delta State. The victory at the primary poll opened a flood gate of more success stories for Okowa.
His campaign promise as he toured all the councils for the April 11 governorship election dwelt on prosperity for all Deltans. It was all-embracing, without discrimination against any one. He moved round the state sending the message of prosperity to all, with a blueprint of developing every part of Delta without prejudice to tribe or political affiliation. Besides Prosperity for All Deltans, he also dwelt on Delta Beyond Tribe, believing that every part of Delta would receive equal attention from his government. That was the peg of his campaign that sold him to all Deltans across the three senatorial districts of the state.
Even the Urhobo who seemed to be in the opposition bought into his programme and joined his campaign train. From Delta North to South, from Oshimili to Aniocha, from Ika to Ndokwa, from the Urhobo to Isoko, from the Ijaw to Itsekiri, all Deltans bought his dream and he became the cynosure of all eyes. His name was in on all lips across the state. The APC and Labour Party and their candidates, somehow, faded into oblivion as his party, the PDP, overshadowed all of them, drowning their voices as the campaign progressed from one council to the other.
And then the election came. When the PDP lost at the federal level to the APC, there were fears that many Deltans might shift their allegiance to the national party. But that was not to be as the results from the April 11 elections proved the contrary. The failure of Okowa to turn up for the pre-poll governorship debate among Okowa’s GreatnessOkowa’s Steady Rise To Greatness