We need leadership by example

Okowa

Sometime in 1996, David Barry Dein, who was the vice chairman and co-owner of Arsenal Football Club, had reason to address the press. The essential plank of the media chat was to introduce the then little known Mr. Arsene Wenger as the new coach of the North London club. Prior to the event, Mr. David Dein had difficulties convincing other directors on bringing Wenger to the club. The astute administrator spoke with his usual fluency and dignified gesticulation. Many of the journalists were ferocious in their interrogating questions. The apparent indifference the cockneys had for Mr. Dein’s address was because he seemed elated introducing the unpopular Frenchman on his left. Mr. Wenger who was until that appointment plying his trade in the J-League, was perceived as lowly rated to lead the dugout at Highbury.

Few years after, David Dein was celebrated for headhunting Arsene Wenger. In fact, he was awarded Member of the British Empire (MBE) by the British Monarch. The coach among several other feats, led his club to play a whole season in 2003/ 2004 without losing a game in the premiership, which remains unmatched in the premiership   Arsene Wenger also referred to as Le Professor, nurtured the club to become a brand, playing the  ‘beautiful game’  and  moving from Highbury to The Emirates without seeking external funding.  This story transcends the British Isle as it was replicated in Delta State. In this prose, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa plays David Dein while Chiedu Ebie is Arsene Wenger.

Weeks after Governor Okowa assumed office in 2015 as the governor of Delta State, a few of his close aides began to sound out the name of one Chiedu Ebie. The sound bite continued to many ears until one Sunday morning, a bloke from another local government area called to find out if I knew the young man. My response was straight, ‘ I have heard of him but never met him. The guy arrogantly informed me that he was going to be the next commissioner to represent my local government area. I was not rattled as I didn’t take the information serious. Few days after, I found out that the fella was right while I was ignorantly wrong.

Against all permutations, he was posted to the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education. As a lawyer, many felt that was a misplaced posting. Behold, in less than a year, Mr. Ebie, worked his socks off to stabilise the ministry, leading from the front with a command for discipline and dedication to assigned duties and responsibilities. He went further to rejuvenate school sports, using his urbane pedigree to access corporate sponsorships.

When the success story of “Dem go flog me tire” broke on social media, Mr. Ebie was not rattled. He drove to Sapele to assess the real situation with a view to making far reaching decisions. He didn’t look for scapegoats as common with lilly-livered administrators. He took responsibility, accepting to receive the flaks that were mostly politically instigated.

January this year, in the heat of the political campaigns, I walked up to him at Oza-nogogo, Agbor.  I told him the need for him to follow me to Uweifo Primary School, Ewuru. I informed him that the owners of Prince Ebeano Supermarkets have completely rebuilt the public school. In less than an hour, we were there to speak with the agents of the benefactors. He was marvelled with the gesture, promising to ensure that he puts words across to his boss, the Governor. Words, he actually put in. Few months after, the Governor attended the commissioning of the edifice though by proxy as he was represented by Hon Ovie Agas, who was at the time the Secretary to the State Government. He was humble enough to ensure I attended the event.

In the last election, he worked as if he was a candidate. I recall accosting him in the wee hours during the collation of gubernatorial results at INEC office in Agbor. He was on the passenger’s seat of his SUV car. He looked tired and stressed. I saw three pairs of shoes on the car mat and food flask. He lazily looked at my face, saying, Bill, ‘’I have not slept for three days.” I suddenly realised I have no reason to complain that the campaigns and the elections had taken a toll on me.

The elections were won and lost. Energies began on how best to seek the attention of the governor who also doubled as governor elect. Appointments will come. How do you get appointed? Blackmail, mudslinging, cheap lies and brute treachery form the intrigues in Agbor and Abavo, the federating units of Ika South Local Government Area. The various political groupings within the PDP unlocked their armouries, seeking relevance. As the war began to thicken, Okowa walked in with a slim envelop in his chest pocket. The content was laid bare; Ebie, Secretary to Delta State Government. A master stroke of some sort. The war gladiators suddenly tucked in their tails while the venoms turned natural honey. It was an appointment that further consolidated the unity of Ika Nation.

The emergence of Ebie as the Secretary to the State Government has many a plus for our people. As the only son of a one-time Commissioner for Health in the defunct Mid Western Region; then later Medical Director, Neuro Psychiatric Hospital (Aro), Abeokuta and at the time of his death in 1989, Chief Medical Director of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), the junior Ebie is safe to refer to as blue-blooded. This is what should be a source of joy to several young politicians in Ika. Many political leaders in the area are not only selfish but they dispense political patronage to their families and in-laws. Ebie does not belong to this thick crowd of itchy men and women.  In the last four years he served as a commissioner, he did not only exhibit knack for benevolence but leaves no sign of concentrating favours on his immediate family and cronies. He has provided financial assistance as well as facilitated opportunities for many youths. All these, he does without recourse to media frenzy.

Another attraction to this plum appointment is that Ebie has thus far not manifested desperation for seeking elective and appointive position. This will not only stand him in good stead to plough his energies into his job but abhor unnecessary meddling in local politics that employs all forms of drawbacks.

Thank you Governor Okowa for identifying our son, brother and friend, good enough for the appointment. I am confident that Professor John Ebie will be smiling that his son is effortlessly carrying the banner he handed to him.

Congrats Chiedu, a worthy torchbearer.

•Eghebi wrote from Agbor, Delta State.

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