Gov Sheriff, Hon Esewezie Making a Difference – Frank Ofili153 views
There are two politicians in my home state of Delta whose approach to governance is after my heart.
Governor Sheriff (some say it is short for Oghenesheriffi, a coinage derived from Urhobo and English names) Oborevwori secured his PDP governorship ticket under controversial circumstances bordering on his name and secondary school certificate. But soon it was dispensed with, and the former Speaker of Delta State House of Assembly went on to win the governorship.
On assumption office as governor, one of the first things Sheriff did was to make good one of his campaign promises – to give Warri a facelift. Pursuant to this, he awarded a multi-billion Naira contract for the revitalization of major infrastructure in Warri, Effurun and environ. And who did he award it to? Julius Berger, a company we all know very well for quality and durable work. The surfeit of flyover bridges in the mega city of Lagos attests to this.
But while we await Julius Berger’s deployment to site, Sheriff has gone on to other things sure to endear him even more to Deltans. One of such is the unusual unscheduled visit he paid to ailing Frank Ovie Kokori at an undisclosed hospital in Warri on Thursday 9th November. To underline the import of this visit, it is necessary to remember that Kokori is an opposition APC chieftain in Delta State while Sheriff is PDP governor of the state.
Few days ago Kokori, elder statesman and former Secretary General of NUPENG who gave maximum ruler General Sani Abacha’s military junta nightmares, cried out from his sickbed in a Warri hospital where he was admitted for kidney-related ailment, that he had been “abandoned and dying”.
Not a man to seek for alms or manna or pity from government, Kokori reached out to the general public to intimate them of his state of health. On hearing the news, and without any hesitation, Sheriff flew into Warri and pronto, he was beside Kokori on his sickbed. The Governor did not stop there. He took over Kokori’s medical bills and promised to continue footing the bills until the former fiery Labour leader gets well. The governor also paid the medical bills of two other patients; Nnadi Silas and Adenusi Michael, who were also on admission at the hospital.
At a time APC (Kokori’s own party) governor in Imo State is sending his thugs to brutalize another Labour leader – NLC President, Comrade Joe Ajaero – Governor Sheriff’s gesture can only be more appreciated. But the governor would explain thusly, “I know people will think that because he is an APC chieftain I won’t be here, Deltans voted for me as Governor. It is not a party matter now because we have finished election and all of us are one. Whether he is APC or not, I’m the governor for all Deltans. So, I’m here as the governor for all, not for any political party”.
With this, Sheriff proves to be an unusual (Nigerian) politician. I say bravo sir! Another politician like a Wike would have left Kokori to his fate.
But Sheriff is not alone in this new approach to governance. Igbuzor-born Innocent Ezewezie is another fellow who has impressed me by his actions as Executive Chairman of Oshimili North Local Government Area of Delta State – my own local government, by the way. By this, I do not mince words, neither am I in any way attempting to put Hon Innocent beside Governor Sheriff.
When he assumed office two years ago, I found it inappropriate that Innocent’s very first action in office was to award a contract for the construction of the local government liaison office in his hometown, Igbuzor. I thought that was impolitic, and queried whether he was planning to abandon the council secretariat at Akwukwu-Igbo.
But the young man has since proved me wrong with other heart-warming projects in other communities in the local government. Among the harvest are the rehabilitation and expansion of Illah community (Eke) market which had been abandoned for decades (the market now wears a modern look), construction of modern executive complex for the local government at Akwukwu-Igbo, rehabilitation and furnishing of the local government Legislative Complex, renovation of Council Secretariat, Construction of Ugbolu International market, Atuma-Iga community water project, and pprovision of new electricity transformer for Okpanam community.
Other projects completed are renovation of Oshimili North Model school at Igbuzor, registration of commercial motorcycle (a.k.a okada) operators in the local government, thus enabling okada riders in the local government to be easily identified, setting up of community security outfits/committees in collaboration with the Nigerian Police to checkmate criminal activities and establishment of local government security Council.
In-between all these, and working hand-in-hand with the local government legislative arm led by Hon Adim Ofuase, Hon Esewezie has also provided regular medical outreach in addition to mediating peace in communities in the local government. But by far his most far-reaching initiative is the recently enacted Oshimili North Local Government Public and Private Properties Bye-law 2023. The bye-law aims to prohibit forceful entry into, and illegal acquisition of public, private, community and ancestral landed properties. It also aims to prohibit violent and fraudulent conduct related to public and private landed properties. Before now, land-grabbing and illegal sale of community and family lands had become prevalent. This bye-law, hopefully, will check these nefarious activities.
In Governor Sheriff and Hon Esewezie, both PDP (a party I am not so fond of) I find two politicians making a difference. At least for now. I urge both to continue to walk this honourable path. Still, I will not end this piece without a soft reminder to Esewezie to look favourably in the direction of Otu Illah waterside market. That market is a potential revenue earner for the local government.
May the good Lord strengthen your efforts.