IS Okowa Born To Lead Ojugboh? 2019 Will Tell
Ask Charles Okogene,ONNLive, who in this piece tried to x-ray the foray of the two men into politics and concludes that right from the beginning, there was Okowa and there was Ojugboh but Okowa had always led while Ojugboh trudges behind.
IN the beginning of Nigeria’s present democratic journey in 1999, there was Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, the present governor of Delta State. There was Dr. Cairo Ojugboh, who is now one of the chieftains of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Delta State. Both are respectable sons of Ika Nation, though from different towns that make up that great ethnicity that is proudly Anioma. Both are also medical doctors.
While Okowa is leveled headed, generous and peace loving, the other, Ojugboh, is peaceful too but fearless and sometimes loquacious especially when it comes to critiquing the policy and progammes of the former.
Okowa set out early in the day on his political journey when he abandoned his medical callings in 1986 as Medical Director, Victory Medical Centre, Igbanke, in Edo State to become the secretary of Ika Local Government Area. That was the starting block of what can today be called his journey into politics. However, not satisfied with the challenges of a secretary to the local government, he presented himself for election as the pioneer chairman of Ika North East Local Government on its creation more than 20 years ago. While he did all that, Ojugboh remained largely unheard off in the political terrain of the area at that time; it was not until 1999 when the military retreated to the barracks and handed over the baton of governance to civilians that the name began to creep into the political arena of the state. After the formation of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), both took refuge under its then huge umbrella. Though, before then, Okowa had played some significant roles in the formation of the Grassroots Democratic Movement (GDM).
While Okowa joined the Chief James Ibori camp in PDP and emerged as one of the commissioners from Anioma nation. Ojugboh on his part was contended with his post as Special Assistant to Chief Tony Anenih, the former Minister of Works, who was known and called Mr. Fix It in Nigeria’s political lexicon. It was under Mr. Fix It feet that he horn his political skill. When Ibori was re-elected for a second term as the governor of Delta State, Okowa was one of the few he found worthy to continue in office for another four years making it eight years in different ministries including that of agriculture and health. Ojugboh, on his part also inched a mile forward as he replaced Nduka Irabor as the representative of Ika Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives which today remains the highest elective office by the masses he has ever occupied.
At the end of that experiment, Ojugboh became an assistant to the late President Musa Yar’Adua while Okowa emerged as the secretary to the government of Delta State in the administration of the immediate past governor of the state, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan. But for Ojugboh, the assistant role to Yar’Adua was cut short by the death of Yar’Adua, necessitating his election into the office of the national vice chairman of the PDP, South South, a position he also held till the ouster of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff as the national chairman of the party.
Meanwhile, as all these played out, Okowa resigned as the secretary to the state government to have a shot at his senatorial ambition and in the process, defeated the likes of Ojugboh, Mariam Alli, Ned Nwoko, and other pretenders, to clinch the party’s ticket and contested election into the senate to represent the people of Delta North Senatorial District.
Just four years at the senate, Okowa resigned and threw his hat into the governorship ring in the state. Again he floored his fellow Agbor man, Ojugboh and other heavyweights to fly the flag of PDP in the 2015 election and won.
That singular achievement brought out the criticism character in Ojugboh as he spared no opportunity in critiquing Okowa. The political animosity which they had all along incubated became a festering sore that all Deltans who care can now notice. In all the elections Okowa had contested, Ojugboh became the biggest opposition both in the media and on the soapbox; always ready to play the spoiler by splitting the votes of Agbor nation’s electorate. He was there when Okowa sought to represent the entire Delta North at the Senate but lost at the party level. In 2015, (together with other Ika indigenes like Sir Tony Obuh, Dr. Festus Okubor both of whom are now serving in Okowa’s government) he constituted a roadblock on Okowa’s way at securing the party’s flag to contest the 2015 election but God said no. Okowa ‘jumped and passed’ the barricade.
As we approach 2019 and as Okowa is at the verge of completing his first term and has been endorsed by all the ethnic nations in the state to seek a second term as the first Anioma Nation’s son to occupy the office of the governor of the state, Ojugboh is still criticizing and portraying the government and the governor in bad lights. But the big question is, will he ever catch up with Okowa who has always led while Ojugboh struggles behind; racing against time to catch up. Will 2019 be his year of victory. Will Okowa retire Ojugboh permanently from politics? Only time will tell.
Okogene, is a journalist based in Lagos.
EDITO’S NOTE: This is strictly the opinion of the writer and not in any that of the paper and its management or the governor or his aides.