Three inseparable phenomena have built up to great height in Delta politics. There is the marvel associated with the man Great Ogboru; and closely knit to that is the total embrace that his manifesto has been home to in Delta; and then the resultant and always sweeping mandate that the people has for him any day since 2003. It is no surprising that the connivance of skewed hearts who have been usurping power and governance at home with the operators of our electoral and legal systems, and security operatives at the national level (lucre being the strength of that connivance) has been able to do anything about the aforesaid threesome phenomenon.
Great Ogboru is a man of many parts, and only a full-size volume can do justice to that. He has been so attracted to Deltans on all those counts; and introduction of just a few may representatively suffice: His liberation struggles/philanthropic feat that are already issues beyond our shores, and then his business acumen that play itself into international reckoning, with both shooting high on the scoreboard at that level (international level that is). Space constraint cannot prevent us from talking about the man’s humility despite all of that. His undying dream, the sterner stuff he is made up; all of which saw him surviving triumphantly the vicissitudes occasioned by the military junta of Ibrahim Babangida must get little mention. And then the inevitable inroad to politics! We must now briefly put sinews to all that.
That Ogboru has been in the forefront of salvaging what is left of Delta after the cruddiest outing of so-called politicians since 1999 is not really a surprising thing. Great Ogboru has been long in the liberation struggle. Way back 1989, Ogboru at 32 donated N35 million to the Namibia Solidarity Fund (NSF) for the then liberation struggle in that country, a feat that made the international community stand with hands akimbo then, and at home the gaze of awe wherever he went refused to abate. A sum that turned out to be the highest donation by an individual donor worldwide adhered to memories, home and abroad. The man hates oppression. Deltans know just that and which is why, with them, it is Ogboru any day. The oppressors also know this. And with Ogboru they know that there must be a day of reckoning and which is why all these Mephistophelian displays by these who strayed into politics and have been unrestraint in emptying our commonwealth as a result. Though Delta may have been battered by wickedness that passes in our clime as governance these twelve years, and though Delta has a thoroughly messed up name across our shores, the people see a magic wand in Ogboru and his team that can turn all of that around almost overnight. So, it is double wickedness on the part of the spoilers of our state for not only crudely disallowing him from mounting the saddle of government despite giving him the mandate more than once but also to that extent depriving him so far from cleaning up this bad image Ibori-Uduaghan has given this state. Ogboru is full of the sense of his mandate to liberate the State. And that is the strength that keeps him going despite all the silly concerts of usurpers of his mandate.
For this rare breed, it was another trail blazing feat when barely a year after the Namibian wave-making news he pulled another great one. Zik Zulu Okafor’s lens must be on loan here: “The United Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) under the leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev was opening up the communist bloc for business under his vision of glassnot and perestroika. It was … Ogboru that pulled one of the biggest business arrangements with the Soviet government. Under the Sofimar Express Joint Venture, Fiogret Nigeria Limited, Ogboru’s company which had the highest paid up share capital of N57 million, in Nigeria, signed $10 billion US dollars fishery contract with the USSR government, a contract that would earn Fiogret millions of dollars week in, week out. The Sofimar Express deal was a glowing climax, a tribute to vision and the possibilities of the human spirit as personified by Ogboru.”
Talk of a man of his age and below who has brought honor and name to Delta; all index fingers must point at his direction. Indeed, that the people need Ogboru is with many reasons. With him they know governance is business for the benefit of the people: all and sundry.
Humility is a high mark of leadership, and not too many have it. And so we may need to hear Okafor once more: “In spite of the billions in his vault, despite being described as an authentic billionaire, Ogboru maintained his calm and uncommon humility. Those who visited him a first time said he was only a surprise because there was nothing surprising about him, an ordinary man doing extra ordinary things. For while managers in his company drove the latest Mercedes Benz, then the V-Boot, he, the Chief Executive drove a Peugeot 505 and sat in front always with his driver. Many close observers never ceased to ask, ‘what brand of man is this’”.
With the Okar coup Ogboru’s name was allegedly mentioned. And the dictatorial military government then swung into sundry actions and virtually all that Ogboru had was made to pass through the drain. Was he battered and shattered? No. So, Ibori and Uduaghan are too far from causing that! Men made of sterner stuff are not easily made so. But before a ‘maradonic’ military regime that will not listen to views other than hers could play true to type again, Ogboru must live the country. And he did. But the man was left with his dream and name. And a fame that has hitherto surged to the Himalayas now soared to Everest. Nature abhors vacuum. And Ogboru seems to abhor it too. So, while in exile he screwed up himself, and by the time he returned to the country after he was granted amnesty, he already had two master degrees in his kit.
The reception that awaited him remains historic, and always memorable. And with politics badly played nationally and worse still in his home state of Delta Ogboru choose to play politics at the state level. With his international exposure and acclaim, heart for the liberation of men, business acumen, undying spirit and humility already well known to Deltans, his decision to come to Delta to flush off the garbage called governance in the state was most welcomed! And something worked out quickly and naturally too: There and then a social contract was reached, unwittingly and tacitly. When Ogboru further handed down his manifesto, the now very popular ‘Sunshine Deal for Deltans’, to Deltans; because it has already been absorbed even whilst still in making, its coming only carried the added power of a stamp or seal. The man permeated every heart, just as the spoilers of society became visibly jittering: Even before his manifesto came succinctly and pointedly. Since then the man, his manifesto and mandate has remained inseparable! And this has since been the main issue in Delta politics.
Governance is a contract between governors and the governed. It is a social deal; of what a governor promises to offer if the people surrender their total power and deposit it in the hands of a representative to so use on their behalf, which is called mandate. To give out this mandate the people must know the stuff this potential governor figure (the one to get this mandate) is made off and his capacity to deliver (which explains why the electorate dig into history in civilized climes; and which is why the absence of this element of representative governance, i.e. digging into the pasts of candidates is the bane of politics in Nigeria; and the cause of the sorry state we found ourselves in Delta State since 1999).
With the benefit of hindsight (given the rigging and sidelining of a rare breed and technocrat in the person of Moses Kragha after the 1999 gubernatorial election in Delta) Deltans seemed to have built hope upon hope, looking out for one who could tackle the savagery and brutish tendencies t
hat instantly started building up in Asaba and then through the state. It appears they were eager and indeed were all thoroughness to get a candidate with antecedents and profile that cannot be denied. And because this was just when Great Ogboru stepped into the political scene, his entry was even more colossal from day one. It took Deltans no time to know the deal they were into with Ogboru. By the time you marry the man and his manifesto you saw a clear example of a round peg in a round hole. The result was the undeniably total mandate they gave him in 2003. But Ibori and PDP did what the dictionary of democracy and election really has no word for. Rigging is not the word. It was abysmally abysmal outing that thoroughly besmirch democracy. Yet, to scare Ogboru they went further out looking for him with state police. Yours sincerely had the honor of being an important part of the press release Ogboru gave to the press in Lagos. And the police returned to sanity on this score. But the electoral fraud (actually more than fraud) still needed to be fought because for the democrat that Ogboru is, the courts must be the only place to challenge this travesty and sham and seek redress.
Three years it took our judiciary to handle a simple and clear case; and at the end of the day ‘finance won’ the case. But not to leave out the very ugly ex-convict case that came on so red and hot: It remains debatable whether Ogboru drove this case from inception or was invited somewhere along the line by friends who knew Ibori’s past more than he did. Well, of how the courts were properly rubbished by the matter of ‘one James Onanefe Ibori’ in this ex-convict case is already in extant records. But how this saga rubbished the state and the country, and especially the judiciary (to the point that rumor rented the air that ghana-must-go exchanged hands at the apex court) is don’t-tell story.
Then came 2007, and you are bored really telling a story of a repeat performance of democratic bastardization. Ibori simply brought in his cousin and disregarded the country, its 150 million people, the country’s constitution and all our electoral laws: He appointed Uduaghan the governor of Delta state! Ogboru the democrat had to go to court again. Again, it took the judiciary more than three years to handle that case. The intention perhaps was to use finance to frustrate and extend the life of the case till after four years, but an unexplainable wind of change blew across the judiciary very lately that saw sanity displacing the power of mammon. And Ogboru won as rerun was ordered. I captured the outcome this rerun elsewhere thus: “Knowing they were in for complete whitewash, the Ibori boys exercised themselves in what they know best: Crudity. If there is anything unexplainable, this is it. So paranormal you can only live it to Attahiru Jega and Emmanuel Uduaghan, the key conjure men, to explain! And that is what we expect them to do in court. The onus is theirs to explain magic in mortal tongues and to mortal men. And they, of course, may have huge dose of parascience to do that, a discipline alien to Nigerian jurisprudence, and any jurisprudence for that matter”. And the matter is still in the court as I write; but may have been decided before this gets to the readers.
As Deltans go again to the polls to cast their votes in the April 2011 gubernatorial elections they, as usual, are stepping out to vote for the sunshine deal. They are yearning for value-orientation in a society that Ibori-Uduaghan has drained of it: And Ogboru has promised to “make Delta State the reference point of excellence on all frontiers in Nigeria”, and to restore our State to its traditional values of: honesty and integrity, hard work, mutual respect and respect for elders, merit-based reward system, love for one another and each other; with yet a promise to end the prevailing alien culture of: mediocrity and favoritism, excessive materialism and celebration of unexplainable wealth, ostentatious lifestyle and profligacy by public office holders; militancy and violence, ethnic discrimination. And they know Ogboru will deliver on these. They are already quite abreast with his credentials, character and comportment.
Deltans are craving for human capital and economic development. Ogboru craves alike. So, the minds of the electorate and of the man Ogboru are tangential here again. A strong chord is tied here as Ogboru has reached a deal with them accordingly. Deltans know that they have a date with educational package that guarantees free, qualitative education up to secondary school; modernization of academic institutions and facilities; full support for tertiary institution students; and robust and motivated academic workforce in all schools. From Delta’s rich patios is this one: talk-na-do i.e. one that is doing the talk. They see in Ogboru talk-na-do! They know this is not silly politics of Ibori-Uduaghan.
The health sector in Delta is sick, and seriously sick. Ogboru knew the heartache and has reached a deal that should make Deltans take accessibility by the common man to standard and yet affordable health service for granted just as he has promised free, qualitative healthcare for children, pregnant women and the aged (without playing politics with it); accessible healthcare for all; improvement of healthcare facilities; reactivation of community health inspection scheme; and attraction and retention of best human resources for our hospitals. And it is a deal; and the result has been the many mandates Ogboru has been given, but thwarted by those who don’t want to end the spoilage that has been on since 1999.
Ogboru has handed down his blueprint for the economic growth of Delta, and who else should have it; and more importantly, who else can drive it? Ogboru is on every lip. So, the people have since been giving the mandate with great anticipation to see increased capacity utilization of Koko, Sapele and Warri ports; to see creation of enabling environment for BIG BUSINESSES and INDUSTRIES; to see Delta becoming the IT hub of Nigeria; to see increased productivity and rapid employment generation; to see Delta’s tourism potential optimally harnessed; and to see the creation of cottage industries across the state; all of which Ogboru has promised. And they are going to the polls this time around also with this in mind.
Delta is a home of infrastructural decay despite all the noise about infrastructural development since 1999, and despite all the monies said to be spent in this regard since 1999. Well, not to bother: There is an unshaken deal between Ogboru and Deltans to give a sweeping approach to infrastructural development, and it is a deal his scuttled mandate by Ibori-Uduaghan and their myrmidons has not allowed him to execute. The people are unbending, unyielding and are poised to give Ogboru the mandate again to deliver on infrastructural development as well. And since crudity cannot reign forever the people will be sending Ogboru to Asaba to modernize and regenerate, as it were, our cities and communities; to provide quality housing and to develop the environment; to take on massive and qualitative road rehabilitation work and development; and to improve road, water and air transportation, make them pleasurable, accessible and affordable; and that is besides putting up all pressure on obvious quarters to see rail transportation becoming reality in Delta .
Like with almost all of the above, lawlessness and disorder is worst in Delta. Crime is become the norm in Delta. Yet, security is one of Uduaghan’ so-called three-point agenda. And the hearts of the people bleed! The disorder at governmental level, lawless expenditures and fragrant emptying of our treasury since 1999; and the unchecked lawlessness at the general, larger or state level (unchecked because of want of moral credentials on the part of so-called governors to do so since 1999) are really monstrous. The deal to undo all that and that has yet further hitched the pe
ople’s general (as Ogboru is fondly called in Delta) to the people’s mandate reads something like this: Zero tolerance on crime, corruption and sincere solutions to militancy and its consequences. The sum: Delta will be known for law and order. For Deltans, nothing could be more soothing!
Agricultural development has been a disturbing song for many years, because of no action. All that has really mattered since 1999 is how to “share the money”, the oil money. But no, Ogboru wants to change the face of Delta; and that is by changing the face of agriculture. Agricultural resources development will now wear its real meaning. The people have also been so endeared to Ogboru because they believe that Ogboru can deliver on the new farms and agric settlements development for increased food production and modern agro-allied industries development for food processing & marketing, which he has promised; and they know that with that they can begin to spin their lives; that is, drive their lives fast and well.
But perhaps the most selling part of the deal may well be the Equal Opportunities Development Initiative (EODI), a deal which promises to address developmental imbalances by voting equal monthly financial allocations to LGAs for specific developmental projects; and which guarantees even and accelerated development of the State.
That is the deal, and most enthralling and riveting it has been. Since 2003 there has been no separating the man, his manifesto and the peoples’ mandate. More than once all three have gone together. Crude politics has never been able to separate them. A hitherto compromised judiciary has not been able either. But because the judiciary has apparently put on new garments we see crudity crashing in this April gubernatorial election in Delta with no skewed hope on the part of mandate usurpers of bending the courts.