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National Assembly#RoadTo2023 Spotlight: Profile of Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa | Presidential Series

#RoadTo2023 Spotlight: Profile of Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa | Presidential Series

 

OrderPaperToday – In furtherance of the directive on submission of their list of candidates for the 2023 elections, the country’s main opposition party recently announced Governor Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa as its Vice Presidential Candidate.

The deadline set by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for political parties to submit the list elapsed on June 17, and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) appeared to be the only major party in the country to have announced its Vice Presidential candidate.

The governing All Progressives Congress (APC), emerging Northern giants, New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), and the youth-driven Labour Party were all reported to have submitted names of temporary Vice Presidential candidates (placeholders) in order to meet the deadline by the election management body.

The issue of ‘placeholders’ in the eyes of the law and even morality, has been a subject of debate altogether, but the focus of this piece will be on the PDP Vice Presidential Candidate.

That Senator Okowa beat two of his colleague-governors; Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State and the ebullient Nyesom Wike from Rivers State to emerge as the preferred choice of the party’s Presidential candidate made it most interesting. Although, he is said to have emerged after comprehensive consultations with various organs of the party.

He has been a second-term governor in Nigeria’s South-South State of Delta, and a former lawmaker in the 7th National Assembly (2011 – 2015); where he represented Delta North Senatorial District. Beyond this, however, not many people can lay claim to knowledge of Dr. Okowa’s foundation in politics, major achievements, and controversies.

OrderPaper
therefore, in continuation of our Presidential Series of the ‘Road to 2023 Spotlight,’ x-rays the political career of the medical doctor-turned politician who will be the running mate to 6-time Presidential hopeful, Atiku Abubakar.

With the period for campaigns for the 2023 Presidential elections fast approaching, it is our belief that a spotlight on the political resume of some of these candidates (serving and former lawmakers) will help the electorate to make informed choices.

READ ALSO: ANALYSIS: A tale of three ‘governors’ and their daughters | The Delta Case Study

Legislative Profile

  • Lawmaker representing Delta North Senatorial District (2011 – 2015)
    Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP)
  •  Chairman, Senate Committee on Health (2011 – 2015)
    7th National Assembly

ACHIEVEMENTS

  • Okowa sponsored ten (10) bills – including the National Health Bill.
  • Reputed to be one of the first-time Senators to have been appointed as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health.
  • Praised for lobbying his colleagues to support the widely-celebrated Universal Health Insurance Bill into law, a key component of the National Health Policy.

     Executive Profile

      • Secretary to the Local Government Council (1991)
        Ika North-East Government Area, Delta State
      • Pioneer Executive Chairman (1993)
        Ika North-East Local Government Council
      • Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources  (1999 – 2001)
        Delta State Executive Council
      • Commissioner for Water Resources Development (April 2001 –  2003)
        Delta State Executive Council
      • Commissioner for Health (2003 – 2006)
        Delta State Executive Council
      • Secretary to the State Government (2007)
        Delta State Executive Council
      • Executive Governor (2015 to date)
        Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP)
      • Chairman, South-South Governors Forum

        Political Career

  • Delta North Coordinator
    Grassroots Democratic Movement (GDM)
  • Delta North Co-ordinator, The James Ibori Campaign (1998 – 1999)  
    Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP)
  • Secretary, Governorship Transition Committee  (1999)  
    Delta State
  • Governorship Aspirant, (2006)  
    Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP)
  • Director-General, Governorship Campaign Organisation (2007)
    Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP)
  • Secretary, Governorship Transition Committee  (2007)  
    Delta State
  • Vice Presidential Candidate (2022)  
    Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP)

    ACHIEVEMENTS (POLITICAL CAREER)
  • Praised for his great understanding of Delta State and politics during the 2007  campaigns, as well as his issues-oriented campaign.

Major Achievements (Executive)

  • One of the Special Grade Commissioners who had eight years of unbroken service as members of the Governor James Ibori-led Delta State Executive Council.
  • Delta State Ministry of Health under his leadership was described among the best ten Health Ministries in Nigeria.

    Governorship

  • Described as the ‘Road Master,’ the Okowa administration is praised for efforts in road construction and rehabilitation.
  • The administration is said to have constructed over 883 road projects, covering over 1,814.85 kilometers and 109179.66 meters of drainage channels across Delta State. 
  • Upgraded the Asaba Airport from a Category 3 to Category 6 airport.
  • Completed the Stephen Keshi Stadium — 16 years after the foundation was laid by the previous administration.
  • Built the multi-billion naira Prof. Chike Edozien Secretariat Complex, Asaba.
  • Ensured full accreditation of 7 health training institutions in the state.
  • Renovated and upgraded a total of 209 Primary Healthcare Centres and 65 hospitals between 2015 and 2021.
  • One of the first states in the country to commence Universal Health Coverage with the establishment of the Delta State Contributory Health Commission.
  • The Okowa-led administration is praised for its diverse empowerment schemes and programmes.
  • Created the Delta State Ministry of Technical Education to institutionalise technical and vocational education.
  • Established 79 additional schools in the state — 16 Primary Schools, 43 Secondary schools, 8 Vocational schools, 9 Technical Schools, and 3 Tertiary Institutions.
  • The Okowa administration established three universities; the University of Delta (Agbor), the University of Science and Technology (Ozoro), and Dennis Osadebey University (Anwai). 

MAJOR CONTROVERSIES

  • Accused of selling Delta Line, the state-owned transport company, to God is Good Transport Development Company Limited (GTDC), despite a superior bid by the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreation Services Employees (AUPCTRE).
  • Okowa was recently criticised for obtaining a 12 billion naira loan  “of no relevance” in a most opaque manner.
  • The International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) said it discovered unusual spending, contempt for financial norms, and evidence of financial theft in a two-part investigation on Delta State released in December 2021.
  • Criticised for focusing most developments in his home Senatorial District of Delta North; to the detriment of other parts of the state. 
Temidayo Taiwo-Sidiq
Temidayo Taiwo-Sidiq
Temidayo Taiwo-Sidiq is an ace political analyst and content editor with major interest in Nigerian Politics and Governance
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