JULY 12TH, 2022
I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favour to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all. – Ecclesiastes 9:11
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa quietly celebrated his 63rd birthday on Friday, July 8, 2022, in the cool comforting ambiance of his home, with family and close friends and with Thanksgiving, praise, and worship, as he returned all Glory to God Almighty, for the precious gift of life and good health, to see and commemorate this remarkable birth anniversary day.
About three weeks before, on June 16, 2022, Governor Okowa had received a truly marvelous early birthday present, when he was named as the Vice Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and running mate to the Presidential Candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar on the party’s joint ticket for the 2023 Presidential elections.
His confirmation for the position by the Presidential Candidate himself, was widely anticipated, as the political synergy which has existed between both men was throbbing with good positive vibes and radiating the kind of potential energy that left no one in doubt as to the mind of the Presidential Candidate regarding his running mate this time around.
And so it seemed, until some unsavoury political intrigue crept into what was ordinarily meant to be a straightforward ceremonial process, devoid of rancour or acrimony and we were once again reminded of the enduring Bible passage, contained in Lamentations 3:37 NKJV: “Who is he that speaks and it comes to pass, When the Lord has not commanded it?
Of course, politics, as they say, is politics; no permanent friends or enemies, only permanent interests, and we will leave it at that for now and devote our time to the celebration of a quintessential political gladiator in his own right, whose impressive orientation, grooming, and ambit sets him apart in so many distinguished ways.
His impregnable aura is like an invincible inner force, so imperturbably sure, so unerringly confident, so finitely complete, is so unwavering in conviction and if ever there was a generational, homebred politician, so at ease with the mastery of his own astute, strategic sure-footedness, then that man is Ekwueme himself; a man whose word is his bond, who proclaims and verbalizes his actions, a man who, in simple language, says and does as he has said.
At 63 years of age, the attainment of such an exalted position as a potential Vice President of a massive country like Nigeria, is certainly not a bad place to be. Infact, it is an incredibly astonishing achievement for a politician, whose trajectory had been steady, assured, and extraordinarily phenomenal.
His emergence as the PDP Vice Presidential Candidate is the stuff of fairy tales, but for those who believe strongly in manifestations of divine intervention and have absolute faith in the now existentially embraced coinage that: “what God cannot do does not exist”, Ecclesiastes 9:11 continues to serve us well, as the infallible creed and solid pillar of motivation, as we impulsively embrace the spontaneity of life’s vicissitudes and complexities in our unscripted sojourn.
And so it is that at 63, Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa is on the presidential ticket of a major political party, on the cusp of winning the presidential election in a few months time. The unfathomable magnitude of this very realization, draws a nostalgic tear in remembrance of the dearly departed late great sage, community leader, teacher, and mentor, Pa. Chief Arthur Okorie Okowa, who, on October 4th, 2018 had declared, that he would see his son and namesake, become President of Nigeria.
The occasion which provided a veritable tapestry for this prophetic declaration was the official opening ceremony of Owa-Alero Ultra Modern Market in Owa-Alero, in Ika North East Local Government Area of Delta State (Okowa’s hometown) and regaling the excited townsfolks with a sentimental anecdote, Pa Okowa, in his own words, told the gathered kinsmen that his son, Ifeanyi, is destined by God to rule the world and be a divine blessing to his generation.
Sadly, but to the eternal glory of God who is the author and finisher of all life, Pa. Okowa has gone to be with his maker, but his words, on that beautiful October Saturday afternoon in Owa-Alero, resonates even with greater prophetic potency and emphasis, as the passing weeks and days draw the Presidential election nearer and closer.
Born on July 8, 1959 at Owa-Alero, Ika North East Local Government Area in Delta North Senatorial District of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa attended the prestigious Edo College, Benin City, before proceeding to the premier university in Nigeria, the University of Ibadan, where he studied Medicine and Surgery.
In fact we have only recently discovered that Ifeanyi Okowa had the second-best High School result Nationwide in 1976; a prodigious and fantastic feat which only came to the fore, when some mischief makers tried to exploit his missing Certificate declaration for some cheap political gain.
That Okowa has kept this amazing information under the wraps for over 45 years, is not only a reflection of his disarming humility and simplicity, it leaves one wondering what some other type of politician would have used this information to achieve, in a country where political figures with above-average qualifications, are always pasting and plastering their academic credentials, anywhere and everywhere they find small space.
But Okowa is not boastful, merely supreme in honing the finesse of his tactical maneuvres and strategems to clinical preeminence and distinction, just as he did by simply dropping the information of his superlative academic prowess like an imploding bomb, to bring a deafening silence and decisive closure to the disturbing mosquito noise of contracted rabble-rousers. The man is simply exceptional.
After completing his NYSC, Okowa got employment with the defunct Bendel State Hospitals Management Board (HMB) as a Medical Officer, until he resigned from the civil service in 1986, and began private practice as the Medical Director, Victory Medical Centre, Igbanke, Edo State.
His political career commenced when he served as Councillor and subsequently as LGA Chairman of Ika North-East Local Government Area, in the early 90s. His growing political influence was recognized and he became the Delta North Senatorial district coordinator of the defunct Grassroots Democratic Movement (GDM), where he worked closely with the likes of Festus Okubor (National Publicity Secretary) and James Ibori, who was another member of the GDM.
Ifeanyi Okowa was a founding member of the PDP in 1998 and played a pivotal role in the victory of James Ibori in the governorship election of 1999. His critical importance and indispensability in the nascent democratic experience was so astounding that he became the Commissioner for three Ministries; Agriculture and Natural Resources; Water Resources and Health in a space of five years, spanning the two tenures of the Ibori administration, between April 2001 to October 2006.
His landmark accomplishments in these Ministries, especially his administrative innovations and initiatives, contributed tremendously in standardizing practices and consolidating the platforms for smooth operational mechanisms on which these fledgling Ministries would stand firmly and grow in the coming years.
He resigned in 2006 to seek nomination as the PDP governorship candidate, but lost the primary contest narrowly to Governor Ibori’s anointed candidate and nephew, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, in controversial circumstances that are still being referenced till today in Delta’s political narrative.
But his admirable personal philosophy to always let peace reign in all situations, came to the fore and he embraced the winner wholeheartedly. This led to his appointment as the Director General (DG) of the Governorship Campaign Council, due to his overall popularity, especially at the grassroots and strategic organizational brilliance and he successfully delivered Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan as Delta Governor in 2007.
Dr. Okowa was appointed as Secretary to the Delta State Government in June 2007, by the newly inaugurated Dr. Uduaghan administration and served with exemplary diligence, commitment, and innovative acumen, all of which transformed the office of the SSG into a buzzing administrative hub and a vibrant nerve centre for the demystification of hitherto cumbersome and tedious bureaucracy of the entire civil service and the improved relationship between the Executive and the other arms of the administration.
He resigned as SSG in 2010, after serving meritoriously for three robust and eventful years, to vie for the position of the Senator representing Delta North Senatorial District in 2011. He won the election in a gritty confrontation which pitched him against the wife of the National Chairman of the PDP and the underhand shenanigans of the then State Chairman of the party, in a nationally televised primary election, to underscore the free and fair nature of the contest.
Senator Ifeanyi Okowa served only one term as Senator, during which he was appointed as the Chairman of, Senate Committee on Health; a remarkable feat for a freshman Senator, but opted out of contesting for a mandatory Second Term in the Senate and instead took another shot at the Governorship seat for 2015, having waited out the stipulated two terms of Dr. Uduaghan
Conventional power rotation in the PDP tipped heavily in favour of Delta North and the turn of the Anioma nation to produce the next Governor of the State. Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa went into that contest against tremendous odds from the incumbent Governor, who preferred another candidate in the same party and a particular ethnic nationality which made it quite clear that they did not believe in power rotation and called for an all-inclusive exercise as they were not ready to step aside for anybody, in an all-comers primary.
Okowa thus won an intriguing and pulsating 2014 primary election in which he contested against formidable forces, comprehensively and proceeded to win the Delta State Governorship election in a landslide in 2015.
The 2015 governorship election was the defining platform that revealed Okowa’s political sagacity and savvy as he was able to forge enduring alliances with key elders, leaders and Senatorial zones, stakeholders, and auxiliary groups, all of which culminated in his historic emergence as the first Anioma/Delta North Senatorial zone’s Governor in Delta State.
To underscore his preparedness for leadership and Governance, Senator Okowa grounded the pillars of his administration on the very articulate, functional, and brilliantly formulated SMART Agenda; a Five point governance blueprint which stands for: Strategic Wealth creation (with the delivery of projects and provision of jobs for all Deltans); Meaningful peace building platforms (aimed at political and social harmony); Agricultural reforms and accelerated industrialization; Relevant Health and Education policies; Transformed environment through urban renewal”.
The SMART Agenda of his tenure was a runaway success and it was little wonder that with the excellent foundations laid by the comprehensive achievements of the progressively visionary Agenda, his second term was already secured and the decision of the PDP to make him their sole candidate going into the 2018 guber Primaries, was a resounding testimony to his total acceptance and endorsement by the collective PDP family, even though Okowa still insisted on due process, by insisting that the party conducts a proper primary election to confirm his election as its chosen Candidate for the 2019 guber election.
Governor Okowa’s landslide victory in the Delta 2019 Governorship election set the platform to consolidate on the SMART Agenda by redirecting strategic and administrative governance focus towards building a #Stronger Delta, with the continued delivery of expanded jobs/wealth creation processes; transformational social/welfare initiatives in areas like education, health, sports, the civil service, and transportation; legacy infrastructural projects in form of quality roads, interconnecting bridges of hope, and state-of-the-art storm drainages, as well as other critical dividends of Democracy across the three Senatorial zones of the State.
And remarkably, less than one year to the end of his administration, he has become the Vice Presidential Candidate of the PDP on the joint presidential ticket to the flagbearers of the party in the 2023 general elections. But, despite this elevation, it is Delta first for Ekwueme, as the pace of construction work on all ongoing projects sites have been accelerated to meet deadline on schedule, while the administrative wheels have become even more efficient with the relocation of all MDAs to the newly constructed and commissioned ultra-modern Prof. Chike Edozien State Secretariat.
One of the unique selling points of Governor Okowa is that he is very much at home with the reality of the people and the affairs on the ground, which explains why he is much beloved and has been able to attract comprehensive goodwill across the State and establish sustainable peace, security and harmonious coexistence between and amongst the multi-ethnic nationalities comprising oil-producing and oil impacted upland and riverine communities.
Much has also been said about Okowa’s gentle, calm, peaceful mien, but what has really shaped and defined his existential journey are his sound educational background and the fact that he has garnered comprehensive experiences in his public and private adult life as a public servant, entrepreneur, a thoroughbred politician from the grassroots as local councilman and moving up steadily through the ranks to get to where he is today.
Over the years, and in all his positions of responsibility, both in public and private capacities, Governor Okowa has displayed exemplary commitment and dedication, astute administrative acumen, focused, articulate, cerebral
strategic leadership, determined and encompassing quality service delivery, exceptional organizational management, undaunted in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges in all spheres, visionary and accommodating in decision making, and gracious with fairness and profound humility in embracing one and all, both at home and on the national space.
Governor Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa is a devout Christian, a detribalized Nigerian, a solid husband, an amazing father, and a proud and happy grandfather.
Happy 63rd birthday, Your Excellency, and as you celebrate this important birth anniversary which heralds so much anticipated promise and exciting expectations, the Movement for Stronger Delta, MSD, prays the good Lord to continue to bless and strengthen you, guide and direct your footsteps in all endeavours, enable you with profound wisdom to handle the present and future challenges, bolden and ennoble you, as you march into charted and uncharted territories and give you peace, joy, laughter, good health and rest on all sides in this your new age and always. Amen
We are proud of you, Ekwueme, and this, as we usually declare, is our SIMPLE Agenda for you on your birthday.
Congratulations Your Excellency.
MOVEMENT FOR STRONGER DELTA, MSD.