Delta 2019: Need for a paradigm shift

Delta state Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa

The 2019 election politicking has started in earnest and what are my hearing? Urhobos are being marginalised; it is time to have a governor of Urhobo extraction. Delta Central and Delta South have done their eight years; Delta North must do its eight years; if not Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, then another Anioma person. Since 1999 the governorship position in Delta State has managed to rotate among the three senatorial districts. At the superficial level, it looks like it is not planned, because candidates from the three senatorial districts always vie for the governorship position during party primaries and the main election. But rotation of the governorship in Delta State is deliberate and real. I do not believe in zoning, but that is not my primary headache; my main headache is where this rotation left us?

Look at Lagos, unknown to many, the governorship has also rotated among the three senatorial districts of Lagos. But that is where the similarities with Delta State end. In 1999, when Bola Ahmed Tinubu came to power, the government came up with a blueprint, which, with minor modifications, has guided development of Lagos to this day. Chief James Ibori also became governor in 1999. He was largely inexperienced in the act of governance, but his government constructed roads, built, renovated and equipped schools; the government provided pipe borne water and electricity and opened the hinterland. There are some other projects to the credit of his administration.

His achievements were modest (I neither share the enthusiasm of his supporters that his achievements were monumental, nor the cynicism of his critics that his administration was a colossal failure). He could have done a lot more though with the resources available to his government.

But the Ibori government did not put in place the kind of foundation, vision or blueprint that has facilitated development in Lagos to date. That was a grievous shortcoming and grievously has Delta State, with Deltans, paid for it. The government of his successor, the Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, could have made amends and continued from where his predecessor stopped. The government actually had transformational blueprints: a Three-Point Agenda (human capital development, infrastructural development and peace and security) and later Delta Beyond Oil. Unfortunately, they were mainly on paper. The Uduaghan government was very tall on dreams, but deficient in sincerity and diminutive in accomplishments. The story of the Uduaghan government was a tale told by building castles in the air with well-oiled propaganda machines, which won many awards. In the end, it was full of sound and fury, signifying very little.
Now the Okowa government is on board and we are hearing of awards again. What manner of awards do Delta State governors get that the people cannot feel or see their reasons or impact? What we see is more deterioration. Okowa needs to shut his ears to what his legion of aides, government officials and people around him are saying, disguise and go into the streets, the markets, busy newspaper stands, government offices and other public places to hear from the people firsthand.

At the end of the day, Lagos has changed tremendously since 2007, so has Delta. But while you see development in many parts of Lagos, what you see all over Delta is retrogression. Lagos is by no means a finished product or perfect, but you see a pattern; you see progress. At best, Delta is anemic and amoebic. The dividing line is the presence and absence of vision and sincerity of purpose. Lagos is now moving towards 24-hour electricity supply and a 24-hour economy. Where is Delta State moving to?

Now some people, who want to be governor in 2019, are playing the zoning and ethnic card again. Do we need an expert to tell us that zoning, as practised in Delta State, has failed the people? I have never been an advocate of zoning. Zoning and power rotation are elitist arrangements, clothed in ethnic garb to make them look attractive to the ordinary people. It has nothing to do with the ordinary man in the street. What the ordinary man needs are good and affordable health care facilities, pipe borne water, good and affordable schools for his children, right environment to enable him ply his trade or get paid employment to enable him provide for himself and family the basic needs of food, shelter and clothing. In a well organised environment, a good government does these things. You do not need your town’s man in government to get them.

But if we must rotate and zone the governorship, we need a new paradigm of zoning that produces visionary and transformational leaders from each zone. Zoning in Delta State has arrested our development; now is the time for all Deltans of goodwill to join hands to set free the development of Delta State. The bible says where there is no vision; the people perish (Proverbs 29:18). It is like the writer of Proverbs had Delta State in mind when he wrote that book. The bible also says, “My people perish for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). The thunder of zoning and power rotation has struck Delta State too many times. Let us in unison rise towards installing visionary and transformational leaders. If the dominant parties, APC and PDP, give us such governorship candidates, Deltans will be in for a win/win situation. We need a governor, whose activities Deltans can feel and see, not government by slogans and acronyms with well-oiled propaganda machines.



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