Okowa: A Man Of Destiny, Purpose And Grace –Isichei

BY LUCKY OYIBO
CHIEF Taju Isichei is the immediate past Special Adviser to the former Governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan on Inter-Party Relations. He was a gubernatorial candidate of the Progressives People’s Alliance (PPA) between 2007 and 2011 in Delta State and where he holds sway as the leader of the party in the state till date.
In this exclusive interview with The Pointer Acting Political Editor, Lucky Oyibo, Chief Isichei spoke on the activities of his office, the imprint of the Uduaghan administration as well as expectations of the people off the Okowa administration.
Excerpts:
As the Special Adviser to the Governor of Delta State on Inter-Party Relations, to what extent did you use your office to create peace, unity and co-harmonious relationship among political parties?
Before the 2015 general elections I said the elections in Nigeria and Delta State in particular would be free and fair and that there would be less litigation. That my prophecy has come to pass today. Unlike before in Delta, after every election, you will see rioting, protest and some women going necked because of elections. But this time around it is not so because the election was accepted by the people and that is why you are seeing less litigation this time around.
I have used my position long before the elections to talk to my people; the political parties that we are one and the project we have is Delta State, the project is project Delta. I let them know that we don’t have any other state apart from Delta State. And that whosoever wins the election is still a Deltan and we said we are going to ensure free and fair elections and we did. Before the elections, we created the awareness and educated the people on the essence of peace and harmonious coexistence. In 2011, I said to my God that “please, during my reign let there be peace”. Long before the elections we have had a peaceful political atmosphere in Delta State and that peace reign even up till now.
The political parties have accepted the result. We have about 29 political parties and 27 political parties in a press conference accepted the result and we gave kudos to INEC, the police and everybody. If you have 29 for example and 27 gave pass mark with two overruled the result of the 27, no matter how you gather people, there would always be a Judas. One or two judas is not enough to upturn the result.
You were an insider in the Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan administration! Did that era meet the yearnings and aspirations of Deltans?
Irrespective of people’s perception, Uduaghan has contributed his quota to Delta and he has performed very well during his eight years reign. I gave him a pass mark. For example, before now, our primary and secondary schools in Delta State are just like the lion’s den where people go to smoke india helm and even drive away teachers. The look of our primary and secondary schools today in Delta State are just like polytechnics or university campuses. The schools are equipped with modern facilities that can be equal to any international schools. Look at our Polytechnics and our universities. Delta State runs nothing less than five polytechnics at the same time. We have Delta State Polytechnics, Ogwashi-Uku; Ozoro; Oghara, we have the Marine School of Technology, Burutu and among others in the state. We also have College of Educations at Agbor, Warri, Mosogar and Schools of Nursings and Midwifery and all these are to a very high standard.
Delta State is one of the states in Nigeria that pays the highest salaries to her civil servants. Promotion is being given at the right time to civil servants in the state. When you go to area of health, Delta State Teaching Hospital, Oghara has performed its first kidney transplant successfully. They have done the second one now. Delta State also introduced free maternal health care for every pregnant woman free up to delivering including operations; the same free health care for children from 0 – 5 including our old aged parents are on going.
In the transport sector, Delta Line is one of the best transport networks in Nigeria today. People from Onitsha in Anambra will cross the bridge to Asaba to enter transport. Edo people will cross from Edo side and come to Agbor to enter motor and that is land transportation. There is water transportation for the riverine areas with a lot of speed boats bought by the state government. Is it air transportation? Delta State has two airport running – the Asaba International Airport and Warri Airport. We have conquered the transportation, education and health sectors etc. In areas of infrastructural development in the state, 64 roads including my own road were commissioned in Asaba recently by His Excellency, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan.
Today, we have a Flyover to decongest traffic congestion around Inter-Bau Roundabout. Today, there is no traffic congestion in Inter-Bau Roundabout. We have this same Flyover in Effurun/Warri. We have this same bridge in Abo, Abigborodo, Bomadi and other parts of the state. The state government under the Uduaghan administration also embarks on the dualization of the Asaba – Ughelli project nearing 75 percent completion as well as the ongoing dualization project between Eku and Effurun. We also pray and expect that the government will extend it from Eku to Agbor.
The establishment of the Event Centre by the Uduaghan administration has become a centre of attraction for many Nigerians to organize their events. So, there are infrastructural developments everywhere in the state during the Uduaghan administration. Uduaghan also excelled in the area of security. Without security no person would come to Delta to do business. The Home Video people, the Nollywood people act all their film here in Asaba and it was during the Uduaghan administration that Asaba gradually looked like a state capital. Of course, Uduaghan has done his owe bits and Okowa has come to act.
As the leader of the Progressives People’s Alliance in Delta State, what informed your party’s decisions to adopt Senator Ifeanyi Okowa as its consensus gubernatorial candidate in the 2015 general elections in the state?
Senator Okowa is a known person to me. Remember I contested the gubernatorial election against former Governor Uduaghan in 2007 and I came third in that election; in 2011 again, I contested the election against Uduaghan. People even said to me that in 2015, now that it has been zone to Delta North, it is time for me to contest again. It is only a foolish person that would stand before a moving plane, because you will be crunched. If I contest election against Okowa or my party, PPA contest election against Okowa, we will be defeated, so, why wasting my time. It would be exercise in futility. I am a man of vision and it is better for me to support Okowa.
So, PPA didn’t bother to field any candidate for the governorship election against Okowa, rather, we supported him. Although, we fielded candidates in the State House of assembly and some few National Assembly candidates, but we lost to the strong party in Delta State. Although our party won some elections in other parts of Nigeria like in Abia and some parts of the North as well as Bayelsa. Why I did not contest or my party did not contest was because we know on time that Senator Okowa is unstoppable. And again, because of the developmental achievements of Uduaghan who is a PDP person, contributed to the success story of PDP against the opposing political parties in Delta State.
What are your Expectations for the Senator Okowa administration?
I expect a lot from Senator Okowa because he is man of destiny; a man of purpose and a man of grace that God place in position of authority. Asaba should look like a state capital. Okowa should continue from where Uduaghan stopped. We want to be seeing development from left and right. We want to see the peace Uduaghan introduced to continue. We want the distribution of new transformer to care for every nook and cranny of Delta State and let there be light. The government should continue with the good transport policy in the state provided by the Uduaghan administration.
Our schools need continuous maintenance. The civil service work force should be encouraged through training and retraining for optimal performances; our owe media houses in Delta State should be upgraded to make the job conducive for them. We need more roads in Asaba with special priority to the tarring of the Asaba – Okpanam road, the two sides of the new Flyover bridge in Asaba should be taken care of; Okowa should focus on the ongoing jobs in the state and complete. He should not be a tribalistic governor and he should be ready to carry the other two senatorial districts along, because to a great extent, Uduaghan was not tribalistic.
You have enjoyed government for the past four years. Now, you are out of government. How do you feel?
I feel so good and it is a privilege to have served my state. All my life is about service. I have been serving individual, now, I have it on a higher level to serve the state and the record is there forever and ever.