BY TONY EKE
Penultimate week, a seeming rumour distilled into news report almost disrupted the relatively sedate atmosphere in Delta State following insinuations that a disagreement between Governor Sheriff Oborevwori and his predecessor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, is inhibiting the eagerness of the former to constitute his cabinet. It was particularly perturbing given its suggestion that not only is Governor Oborevwori under immense pressure to appoint civil commissioners but equally conveyed the erroneous impression of an incipient freeze in relationship between both persons.
Whether it had the minutest semblance of truth or was merely concocted in the spurious imagination of the tale-bearers, the Governor’s timely response and refutation of the issue through his Chief Press Secretary, Sir Festus Ahon, helped to calm frayed nerves and douse tension. It was unexpected of anyone or a group of persons to impute a dispute of that nature between two men who had enjoyed an enviable mutually beneficial relationship in the past six years and even much earlier period.
Accusing the governor of slowness in getting his EXCO in place is needless and uncharitable. After all, his consultation of leaders of his party on the choice of prospective nominees for positions is on course and within the timeframe allowed by the recent amendment of the country’s 1999 constitutional provision of 60 days within which the President and Governors should constitute their cabinets. Save for few states, most of the 28 states which includes Delta where new governors were sworn-in over a month ago are yet to finalise the mandatory ritual of appointment of commissioners.
Its ostensible coloration of a contrivance was evident in the manner it was pushed out to portray both personalities in a bad light. On one hand is the subtle accusation of the Governor as being too slow in the choice of state executive committee members, while, on the other hand, it impliedly cast aspersion on his predecessor’s reputation as a godfather that is patently driven by a sense of entitlement. The sinister initiative is to drive a wedge between the two men, a development that could impact negatively on the smooth course of governance of the state.
Assuming but without conceding to a modicum of reality of the subject matter, the peddlers seemed more obsessed with magnifying a likely storm in a tea cup rather than showing good understanding of conflicts and disagreements as inherent features of politics. The fact that they have worked together and complemented each other as leaders does not prevent them from disagreeing on an issue at any point in time. Their different backgrounds and worldviews cannot be glossed over, in spite of the role played by providence in promoting them as privileged partakers of the political terrain of Delta State.
Luckily for Delta State, it is insulated from the scenario in many states where the quest to assert one’s authority as the sole driver of the state vis-a-vis the perceived fear of losing relevance is at the heart of the emerging crisis between new helmsmen and ex-governors. The calm atmosphere in our state is at the present time bolstered by the consolidation of the People’s Democratic Party as the dominant political party husbanding power in the last 24 years, the humility and attitude of gratitude of Governor Oborevwori and the sagacity of ex-Governor Okowa.
Agreed that disagreements could arise unpredictably in any clime, but our own Delta is unlikely to witness a quarrelsome scene in the foreseeable future as currently seen in Abia, Kano, Zamfara, Benue and other states. My optimism is anchored on the utmost regard of successive incumbents for their predecessors and the absence of a history of the latter’s disruptive interference in the governance process outside of advisory on consultations by the governor.
As much as Oborevwori could consult his predecessor on certain occasions because of Okowa’s incomparable contribution to his emergence, it is imperative to draw a borderline between deference and overindulgence. Allowing the governor a free hand will help him to quickly study the terrain and acclimatise to the rigour and challenges envisaged in the course of presiding over a diverse state like Delta in the next four years. His assemblage of a team of competent Deltans would complement his drive for a successful implementation of his M.O.R.E. agenda and nourish his future dream to seek mandate renewal in 2027, all things being equal.
TONY EKE, a journalist, writes from Asaba, Delta State capital.Share this story to friends