By Jesutega Onokpasa
I PITY those after Delta State Governor, Senator Arthur Ifeanyi Okowa’s job. Their rather conceited boast in their factually baseless ability to render him a one-term Governor, aside, Okowa on his part, seems ever capable of making them look puny with neither bluster nor even noise from his end.
While he delivers project after project that directly impact on the generality of Deltans, they prance about trying to market their unmarketable platform to an electorate fearful of hunger, dreadful of killer herdsmen and spiteful of an All Progressives Congress, APC, that promised them change only to deliver an increasingly polarised country, indeed one increasingly framed in sorrow, tears and blood. Yet as if their woes were not already more than enough, Okowa has been catapulted to the very zenith of the opposition in Nigeria as the quintessential democrat who can be relied on to deliver what their party seems miserably incapable of.
Interestingly, even a mere working knowledge of Okowa’s background would actually reveal why his exploits, while doubtlessly impressive, are not really surprising at all. The medical doctor was a local government chairman, commissioner, secretary to the state government, and senator before becoming Governor and should easily know what democracy and good governance is properly all about.
Yet, for me, more crucial is the fact that in the build up to the 2015 polls, he emerged the gubernatorial candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, vide what is undoubtedly the most hard fought and rigorously democratic governorship primaries in the entire history of Delta State.
What is more, and as every true politician in Delta willing to say the truth would readily admit, Okowa emerged PDP candidate with the odds stacked more against than for him, and that is putting it very delicately indeed! With his spanking achievement at the last PDP Convention in Abuja and now, his superlative performance with the Ekiti primary, Okowa is effortlessly claiming fans across Delta and beyond while his detractors continue to shout themselves hoarse before an irritated audience of hungry, terrified and brutalised citizens their lying party has serially failed since 2015!
It should be quite tempting to dismiss the authenticity of the reformation of the PDP. After all, is this not Nigeria where hardly anything ever changes to the extent that across the length and breadth of the land, the clarion call is for the “change to be changed”? Yet, the taste of the pudding is in the eating and with the PDP incrementally succeeding in besting the APC with its superior internal democratic credentials, it will become ever more difficult to fault the actuality of the former’s reform more so as the APC keeps draping its internal processes in the entire gamut of what was wrong with the PDP that justified its call for change in the first place!
My projection is that as the inevitable unraveling of the APC unfolds in the months, if not weeks, ahead, it will become ever more concretely impressed on the electorate that it was essentially a scam all along and that the entirety of its pretentions to being an alternative to the PDP was just a shamefully underhanded subterfuge for the conning of an unsuspecting electorate. Indeed, going forward, Nigerians will increasingly buy into the position that the APC is essentially the very worst of the PDP and that a reformed and rebranded PDP is by far a better alternative to an APC that has all but completely decomposed into precisely what the PDP has just reformed and rebranded from.
Professor Kolapo Olusola’s emergence as PDP’s flag bearer in Ekiti is especially welcome given that while being Governor Ayodele Fayose’s preferred successor, he has become candidate vide an impeccable process which further confers added legitimacy, boost and momentum to his candidature.
Gentleman Olusola is a humble yet confident, Christian minister, ever proud to confess his spiritual persuasion. With his background as a consummate intellectual and current Deputy Governor, Ekiti should be in safe hands going forward. Nevertheless, even though Olusola is undoubtedly the candidate to beat, all hands must be on deck to deliver him as Governor come July especially with the vultures circling in, determined with maniacal greed and frenzied desperation to appropriate Ekiti at all costs.
On his part, Governor Fayose, who never hid his support for his deputy, must be feeling especially vindicated that the first leg of his desire has been fulfilled through a process his detractors would be pitiably hard put to fault. Being a man of faith, himself, Fayose must be seeing the faithful hands of God in these momentous developments, and to be fair to him, rightly so. Rather than seek to manipulate the process through intimidation and sundry untoward devices as his imperious counterpart in Imo has been trying to do in what is fast becoming typical APC fashion, Fayose submitted himself and his candidate to fair play with sterling results for the rebranded image of the PDP.
Where Governor’s Fayose of Ekiti and Nyesom Wike of Rivers, continue to deliver for their constituents while also deepening democracy in their roles as fiery prophets of the opposition, Governor Okowa on his part, would be the subtle and sublime theologian, delivering quality work for his state and his nation as the gentle Sunday school teacher tending the delicate vineyard of our fledgling democracy. And, that is as it should be for if the opposition was furnished with only fiery leaders without the compliment of soft-spoken performers, tacticians and strategists, it would be handicapped, as it would also be, vice versa. The APC may be building up a neo-Gobbelian propaganda team of garrulous vituperators but on the battlefield of the 2019 polls, it is hard to see how the likes of Oshiomole, Keyamo, Adesina, Garba and Lai, for all their verve, will not end up capitulating before habitual election winners like Okowa, Fayose, Wike and Secondus, with the reassuring compliment of the Fani-Kayodes and Ologbodiyans of the fearless and credible Nigerian opposition. At the end of the day, nothing is decidedly more difficult than successfully defending the indefensible and defending its abysmal record is a miracle not even the spin masters of the APC will be able to perform this time around. There is hope for Nigeria: the PDP has not only rebranded but actually reformed and nothing proves that more refreshingly than Governor Okowa’s Ekiti masterstroke.
Jesutega Onokpasa, , a lawyer, wrote from Warri, Delta State.