Why Guber Opponents Should Support Okowa

By FIDELIS EGUGBO
THE 2015 general elections are over but, the ripples theys generated are still reverberating in Delta State. While President Muhammad Buhari has settled down for the act of governance, following the former President Goodluck Jonathan’s conceding defeat immediately the results were declared, there is uncertainty in Delta State as some of those who contested against Governor Ifeanyi Okowa have gone to court to challenge his election victorys.
The electoral laws provide that those who felt shortchanged in the elections can seek redress in court. But, the people are asking, in whose interest are the candidates going to court? For how long will the court cases last? Won’t it amount to distracting the governor from doing what he is supposed to do? There are many other questions.
Since 2003, Delta State gubernatorial elections have been bedevilled with series of electoral challenges which consume millions, if not billions, of naira from those involved. Of course, to say the least, such legal processes have in a lot of ways affected the delivery of democratic dividends to the people.
What will it remove from individuals to accept defeat in an election? In the case of Delta State, is the winner a Deltan? Yes! Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa is a Deltan and as such, eminently qualified to hold such a position.
Delta is a peculiar state and it is a fact that, after all the rigours that went into the elections, a Deltan in the person of Senator (Dr.) Okowa has emerged governor. His emergence did not come from a section of the state but the electorate, in one voice, agreed that he should be the governor. He got winning votes in all the senatorial districts thereby, making it obvious that the masses believe in equity and fair play in the democratic process. It is a fact that Delta Central and South had had two terms each as governors of the state in the persons of former Governors James Ibori (1999-2007) and Emmanuel Uduaghan (2007-2015). Senator Okowa is from Delta North Senatorial District and the first to hold such a position.
Governor Uduaghan’s electoral cases dragged for so long that there was a re-election. In short, he had more than 60 electoral cases within his eight years of being in office and to say that such distracted him would be an understatement.
Now that Governor Okowa’s opponents are before the tribunal challenging his victory, Deltans are asking, what is the way forward? Will Governor Okowa entreat them to, in the interest of the state, abandon challenging his victory in the tribunal or prominent Deltans do such? Are they challenging the victory based on personal reasons or because democracy provided for such process? And again, are their actions morally justifiable?
Governor Okowa has said he will run an all-inclusive government without discrimination. To him, the whole of Delta State is his constituency and he will carry out his functions transparently, accountably and fair to all.
As a democrat who believes that his emergence was through the collective will of the people, Governor Okowa is running a participatory government where the leaders are involved in running the affairs of the state, especially in the area of political appointments.
Last Sunday at Otu-Jeremi, during the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Delta Central Senatorial District Thanksgiving Service and reception, the governor said, “I want to appeal to our leaders that you must create space for our women because, I am making appointments from a list given to me from the party in the various local government areas; so, please, leaders include women for we do not intend to leave anybody behind.”
From his statement, it was obvious that leaders are involved in the nomination of people for appointive positions. His appeal is for such leaders to make provisions for women, and again to nominate persons who are well qualified and suitable and have the interest of the people at heart.
In the interest of peaceful co-existence which democracy has provided, in the interest of Deltans, it means that a way of negotiating with those in court should be devised. In Delta State, there is an alternative to dispute resolution which can be explored by Governor Okowa. If the governor is not interested in such, concerned Deltans should intervene because, the tension and distractions that will emanate from it among Deltans because of such cases do more harm to the state than good.