The victory of Senator (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa in the just-concluded gubernatorial polls did not come as a surprise to his deputy, Kingsley Burutu Otuaro, given the sterling performance of the Okowa-led administration, and strategies put in place to win the elections. Otuaro, however, did not expect depth of the bond of unity between the Ijaw and Itsekiri that eventually produced almost 140,000 votes in his local government, Warri South-West–the highest votes by any LGA in Delta State–towards the re-election of Governor Okowa.
Otuaro saw a divine tinge in the depth of inter-ethnic unity on display which portends sustainable peace. The suggestion that the development is a byway of his relentless peace efforts in the Warri area decades ago was reassuring to Otuaro who set out a string of events to show gratitude to God Almighty and the people. As he did, what gave in was not only Otuaro’s grateful nature but his politically inclusive disposition as people of all political persuasions felt his milky heart.
First, Otuaro rode the vehicle of appreciation to the Kiagbodo country home of Elder statesman and Ijaw national leader Pa Chief Edwin Clark where a Thanksgiving Service to God, preceded a grand victory/appreciation party organized by the Mr J. T. Government-led Delta Ijaw Political Assembly (DIPA). Otuaro, who chairs the Board of Trustees of DIPA, thanked God Almighty and the Delta Ijaw nation for the wonderful performance at the polls, recalling as he did, Chief Clark’s dream and strategic role towards Governor Okowa’s re-election. Clark, elated at the advancement of equity in Okowa’s re-election also said Ijaw was on the path of political progress. “We now have Ijaw as Deputy Governor and a House of Assembly member from the Warri-Ijaw axis where producing a councillor was once difficult”.
Otuaro had said “DIPA was formed to enable Delta Ijaw speak with one voice and project the political future of the Delta Ijaw nation”.
“Our celebration today is occasioned by our collective commitment to the DIPA objective we set for ourselves. As Ijaws, we resolved and spoke with one voice as evident in the votes for Okowa in Warri North, Warri South, Warri South-West, Bomadi, Burutu and Patani LGAs”, Otuaro emphasized.
Governor Okowa, who shared in the joy of his victory by DIPA through a representative, Tam Brisibe, Chief of Staff, Government House, promised: “What we did in the Ijaw areas is small compared to what we’ll be doing towards 2023”, stressing: “The Ijaw nation alone contributed over 25% of the votes towards my re-election and cannot be neglected”.
The Deputy Governor’s show of gratitude to the people of Warri South-West which is his own LGA, penultimate Sunday, was understandably unique. The depth of gratitude to the “good people of Warri South-West LGA, who he said made him proud, showed in his mood and dance steps. The enormity of the task that was afoot on the eve of the polls was not lost on Otuaro. He revealed: “There were genuine rumours of threats from opposing political parties. I want to thank the clergy who took out time and prayed. The women took out time to pray. They denied themselves of the niceties of life; they fasted and prayed. The result was that it was the most peaceful elections ever in the history of Warri South-West LGA”. He added: “Our royal fathers, custodians of our culture, were there for peace. Their concern was that the processes should lead to greater interaction, peacebuilding and togetherness of the two ethnic nations, Ijaw and Itsekiri, in Warri South-West; Ijaw and Itsekiri who worked together as one and this is evident in the huge result we turned out for Okowa”.
Following certificates of return in the polls issued to Governor Okowa and himself, Otuaro had the mandate to fete and appreciate the State Executive Council, top government functionaries and party faithfuls on Wednesday 27 March 2019. The show began as the hot sun of noon gradually gave way to the breezy beginning of nightfall. Sumptuous meals were on parade for the taste buds as participants of the banquet danced to variety of music supplied by Christopher Okunbiri of the Dynamic Musical Band.
It was dance, chop, dance. Otuaro had set the banqueting off to a start by declaring: “This is not a moment for speech making but a time for merriment for what God Almighty has done”. Deltans could count on the ultimate speech of the day earlier made upon receipt of Certificate of Return by the Ekwueme (Talk Na Do) Governor, Senator (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa, who assured: “I’ll surpass achievements of my first tenure”.
Bulou Kosin is Senior Special Assistant to the Deputy Governor of Delta State