Woman As A Powerful Force For National Development
Grace Ego Omoni
It is no longer news that women are seen as the weaker sex, beasts of no gender and rehabilitation centres whose place is in the kitchen and the other room according to the assertion of a serving African president. To consolidate this belief is the conversation a journalist had with a black man in an excerpt from the Sub-Saharan African Regional Guidance and Counselling Manual on the place of women in the home. Below is the excerpt:
Journalist: Sir, what does your wife do for a living?
Man: She is not working. I am the breadwinner.
Journalist: So what does she do when you are away for work from morning till dusk?
Man: When she wakes up, she cooks breakfast and prepares the children for school.
Journalist: Is that all?
Man: She goes to the farm to do some clearing till about 12:00 p.m., gets some firewood and comes home to prepare lunch for the children.
Man: She serves the children their food and washes the children’s school’s uniforms and my clothes. She also ensures the children do their homework.
Journalist: And then she goes to sleep…?
Man: Not yet, she prepares the supper and cleans up the kitchen and ensures that the kids wash up the dirty dishes; does some ironing before retiring for the night. (to serve in the other room: my own words.)
Journalist: Really, she does all these and you say that she does nothing?
Man: ( Silence)
Dear reader, consider the above dialogue and you will come to understand why women are regarded as beasts of no gender and rehabilitation centres, hewers of wood and fetchers of water but not breadwinners. Women are the fundamental human reservoir of every society as they control most of the non- monetary economy such as subsistence agriculture, domestic labour and bearing children. They are also involved in the monetary economy such as wage labour, employment and training.
Can you qualify the woman as the weaker sex by your analysis from the excerpt above? Get me right, this article is not about Women’s Liberation or male chauvinism but about making people understand that the woman is an agent of transformation in contemporary Nigeria, and can participate fully as a nation- builder and not just the weaker sex as has been so labelled. Women as asserted by a writer are key agents of transformation and therefore crucial to the goal of sustainable development.
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They are operators of the economy and their contributions are beyond subsistence farming and household chores. Unfortunately, most of our women have resigned themselves to the so-called terminology that they are being labelled with as the weaker sex, hence, you see them engaging in activities which make them vulnerable to males’ intimidation, violence, battery in the home, unbridled rape and other forms of societal aberrations.
However, there is a great number of women in the history of the world who have been and are still actively involved in nation-building and development; I mean women with great potential who have impacted the world positively and are still doing so. Such include Mrs Indira Gandhi, one-time India’s Prime Minister, Margaret Hilda Thatcher of Great Britain popularly known as the Iron Lady, the late Prof Dorothy Akunyili, Chairman NAFDAC, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Secretary-General of the World Trade Organization and Prof. Grace Alele Williams a one-time Vice-Chancellor, UNIBEN. The late Mrs Margaret Ekpo, and Mrs Funmilayo Ransome Kuti were women activists during the early days of British administration in Nigeria who kicked against the taxation of women. And most recently, a young woman of Deltan origin, Hetty Ofughara, who became the First Black female Commander of the US Navy Ship.
There is a host of others in leadership positions creating impacts in the development of Nigeria and many more are yet to manifest. Where men have failed, women have excelled in their different leadership positions and creditably well in their administrative functions. Therefore, it is high time men disabused themselves of the notion that women are beasts of no gender or the weaker sex or those whose place is in the kitchen and the other room.
Actually, you notice this assumption in different situations or scenarios. For instance, recently, I read a book titled: “The World’s Great Speeches: Reference Book for Writers, Authors, Journalists…” and was shocked and flabbergasted to note that out of the 40 speeches recorded, only three were from women! This goes to show the kind of mentality men have about women. I want to reiterate that the intention of this piece is not to preach about women’s Lib but to encourage men to partner with women in nation-building and for the women to rise up and assert themselves as potential nation builders.
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They are capable of being involved in the development of the nation. Women must change their mentality and assume responsibilities of transforming the society positively. Mentality determines reality. The belief that you are able to make things happen affects possibilities. In other words, whatever you are going to achieve as a woman is determined by your mindset. A positive mindset helps one to overcome the limitations of being seen as the weaker sex.
Nigeria is beckoning on women to rise up and salvage her. The future of this country beckons on women with these tasking questions: whither do we go and what shall be our major endeavour?; to bring freedom and opportunities for an enabling environment to the common man or to join the bandwagon in perpetrating corruption, poverty, criminality, socio-economic disadvantages such as unemployment, drug and human trafficking, internet fraud, yahoo syndrome, election fraud, armed robbery, kidnapping, prostitution, banditry, thuggery, ethnic conflicts, religious violence and terrorism?
The youths want to rebel and cause a fight; the old want to pursue and exercise power as well as amass wealth and pleasure instead of growing a personality for national development where peace, progress and justice reign. No nation can grow without challenges physically, intellectually, economically or educationally. However, the question is: what can the women do to make a difference in the society today? Are they disciplined enough to salvage this under development ravaging Nigeria? Do they have the courage to lead or are they complacent in face of the predicaments of this nation?
J. F Kennedy once said that courage and not complacency is what we need and leadership and not salesmanship. He further claims that the only test of leadership is the ability to lead and to lead vigorously. This I find in women who have succeeded in national development. We need women to be a powerful force and new frontier pioneers in moving the nation forward.
Permit me to say that categories of women exist in our society but we are in search of those who are ready to partner with citizens who desire growth and development.
I categorize them as follows:
1) The gullible and vulnerable;
2) The wealth and pleasure-seekers;
3) The New Frontier women of vision.
The Gullible and Vulnerable:
These women can be easily deceived, duped, convinced and cheated by people. They are victims of fraudulent and shady elements in the society such as free advanced defrauders, 419 guys, money doublers, fake business partners and clerics. They are preys because they seek miracles and easy ways of getting rich or solutions to their problems. There was this story of a girl who was camped, gang-raped, defrauded of her money, clothes and jewelry by these 419 guys. In another story, a university female teacher but gullible was duped for she had to borrow millions of naira for a business that never existed in the first place.
She was swindled by illiterate men who go about deceiving the vulnerable and gullible. Politicians find it easy to recruit these kinds of women as supporters during elections. Promises that never come to the limelight are made to these women and they go ahead following these politicians sheepishly. At the end, they are given one or two cups of rice or at most a piece of inferior textile ( abanenya). This category cannot give anything useful in terms of positive national transformation.
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Wealth and Pleasure Seekers:
This category is a new trend in Nigeria. People have different ways of identifying them- Slay Queens, Men Slayers, Sugar Mommies, Big Girls, ( Bisgals according to a comedian) Night Crawlers and Ojuelegba Girls and “Runs Girls” to name a few. They jump from one rich man to another, one bed to another. Politicians are their attachés as well as Yahoo boys. They do anything to get money. They engage in shady and dangerous businesses to acquire wealth. Many are executive prostitutes and are in the business of organising young girls for men on university campuses.
They sponsor and export girls to foreign countries for advanced prostitution but tell these gullible girls that they want to help them. There was this girl who was sponsored to Dubai for this purpose. Even after counselling the parents not to allow this kind of magnanimity from the big Mama, the girl still “travelled’. The money she earned was collected by the woman for several months. The girl was arrested by the police for prostituting and thrown into prison for months before deportation to Nigeria.
These women are found in nightclubs stripping for men. Some are informants to armed robbers, kidnappers, bandits and terrorists. Among them are highly literate young ladies and Mamas. You can recognize them by their dressing and makeup with bizarre hairdos, thick eyelashes and heavy lipsticks and they do adorn themselves with jewelry worth fortunes. Inappropriate dressing is their trade in stock. They enjoy breaking homes for they easily seduce men both married and unmarried. Some of them are single mothers who have little or no time for their children.
They are morally bankrupt. The fake clerics are their counsellors and partners. They are boastful, live in mansions, drive fast and expensive sport utility vehicles and cars. Often, they fly to and fro foreign countries in first-class compartments exposing their bodies without respect for womanhood. This group of women to me too cannot qualify to be people who can build the nation. They are destroyers and not part of positive societal transformers.
The New Frontier Visionary Women:
These women are self-disciplined, self-reliant, radiant, determined, focused and purpose- driven. They are women of impeccable character, intellectuals, vision promoters, motivators and fighters of justice for the less privileged. Many are mainly literates; some are not but they command authority and respect in the society because of their unchallenged well-groomed personality. They are morally upright and are women of integrity who engage in very profitable ventures. These are women who know what hard work is and the dignity of labour.
At home, they are dependable housewives and mothers. Their children are well disciplined within and outside the home and noted for good moral home training. Integrity is their priority.
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In their places of work, they put in their best to see to it that the objectives of the organisation are achieved to the maximum. In other words, they perform tasks assigned to them for the optimal benefits of all. Punctuality, regularity and consistency are some of their job qualities. Those of them holding managerial positions efficiently and effectively carry out their job specifications and leadership roles with utmost care for success. They are trainers of trainers, supporters, movers, helpers of the weak and carry others along in the course of their duties wherever they find themselves. They have zero tolerance for failure but promote success. These new frontier women are very good at making and implementing policies. They sacrifice their talents, time and treasures to the benefit of the organization they belong.
The growth, progress, peace and rapid development of the nation economically, educationally, socially, physically, health-wise and the empowerment of the less privileged or the disadvantaged are crucial to them. They are interested in ending injustice in their communities, hence, you see them establishing non-governmental organisations such as gender-based violence and youth centres, welfare for widows and orphanages to put smiles on the weak by sensitizing and empowering them. Many of them voluntarily sponsor seminars and workshops to engage the people on issues that will improve their lot.
They come out boldly to discuss issues in the media concerning governance and provide advocacy for capacity building for the nation. They are also engaged in research and attend conferences within and outside the countries on issues relating to development and national transformation. Rarely do they engage in these programmes for material gain but for the improvement of man and society.
A careful review of these categories will point to the conclusion that the new frontier women are those who the caps fit for development and transformation and not the first two. Society itself knows the first two sets as misfits to national development and condemns their activities.
It is therefore expedient for this country as a matter of urgency to give women the chance to use their God-given talents and skills to promote development in different areas of life. How then do we assist the women in doing this?
Implications for Counselling:
- Education is a priority for the girl-child. Education in the widest sense is how to produce balanced personalities capable of meeting, without undue stress, contingencies and vicissitudes of life. The idea of parents preferring the male for education over the female is no longer obtainable and should be discarded. Refusing to send the girl-child to school is a major cause of early marriage, teenage pregnancy leading to health complications, divorce, prostitution, single parenthood, child labour, vulnerability and gullibility.
- Sensitization programmes should be organised for girls, young and adult women to build up their courage and be able to recognise their worth as partners in national development. They are trained to identify their potential and talents, to live disciplined and dignified self-reliant lives. In such sensitization programmes, activities that will make them abhor immorality and criminality should be emphasized and put in place through films, role plays, lectures, dramas and symposium.
- .Skills acquisition and empowerment programmes should be taken to every nook and cranny of urban and rural locations for maximum outreach. This in a way will help the women to be self-reliant, self-confident and economically independent. Partisan selection of a few to benefit from such programmes should be discouraged.
- Women should be exposed to the rights and responsibilities of the individual in the society. For instance, they should know that they have the right to vote and to be voted for and that it is criminal for one to sell her vote.
- Dignity of labour, regard for hard work and the value of self-integrity should be the focus of the contemporary woman. The craze for wealth and pleasure should be discouraged. Money may answer all things but the love of it is the root of all evil. Women should shun the tendency for habits that tend towards shame, disgrace and mockery from the society. Moderation should be the watchword for women who want to excel in nation-building.
- Leadership training, work effectiveness and efficient way of getting things done must be put in place for new frontier women. So the government, non-governmental organisations and religious bodies must endeavour to engage women in managerial seminars, conferences and workshops at the local, national and international levels.
- Assertive training exercises must be made available for women. This will help them to effectively carry out work assigned to them optimally for the benefit of organizations and the nation at large.
- History must return to the schools. Women who have impacted others locally, nationally and globally should be part of the curriculum content. Mary Slessor, Indira Gandhi, Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Margaret Ekpo, Mrs Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, Prof. Dora Akunyili, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Prof Grace Alele Williams and a host of other notable women who have excelled in administration, academics, politics, economics and have positively changed their environment as well as national development should be introduced to the girls, young and adult women as role models.
- Molding of character starts from the home. Proper parenting should be given to our children. Here they learn about the core values cherished by the society. The best parenting style is the authoritative type sometimes called the democratic child rearing practice. In Christendom, it is called godly parenting
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The men are encouraged to desist from seeing women as the weaker sex. It is subjective and a strategy for women’s exploitation creating the avenue of making the woman gullible, vulnerable or rebellious. Know that when women are trampled upon, they agitate for what they are being deprived of. Women should be given opportunities in the nation’s governance. For instance, no woman in this present government is a state governor, just one or two are deputies, very few are ministers and commissioners; yet the males are total failures as senators, governors and ministers hence the country is in a state of catastrophe and moral decadence.
Men should provide an enabling environment for women to use their potential to transform the world. It is recommended that there should be changes in all sectors to promote gender equality by the inclusion of women in leadership activities, economic opportunities, political appointments and policy-making exercises.
Conclusively, there is no gainsaying the fact that many women like Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Margaret Ekpo, Margaret Thatcher and Indira Gandhi have impacted the development and transformation of the world and their nations academically, managerially economically and in governance. Contemporary Nigeria women also stand the chance of contributing their quota too by identifying their talents and potential to bring about national development and have their names in the annals of the history of this great nation. Women are not the weaker sex, nor beasts of no gender neither are they rehabilitation centres in the other room or baby machines, Slay Queens or societal nonentities. Women have great potential, intellect, wisdom, patience, moral, communication skills for harnessing cordial relationships among people and purpose-driven visions for transforming the nation.
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Rigged Elections And The Moral Burden Of Illegitimacy
By Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha
Adamu: A man who rigs his way to power carries a moral burden!
Orezime: A moral what?
Adamu: You heard me, didn’t you?
Orezime: I’m not sure I heard you right. Moral what you said?
Adamu: A moral burden, I said!
Orezime: Hahahahahahaha! You make me laugh! Are you from the moon?
Gani: Or Mars?
Emeka: In which country? In Nigeria? That principle does not apply in Nigeria! There is no moral burden on anybody in this country! The election which produced Bubu in 2015 was rigged. Where are the two million voters from Kano State who voted in 2015? Was an INEC official not burnt alive after that election? The one which brought Obj to power was also rigged by the forces which wanted him to ease the tension of the Abiola tragedy on the Yoruba people. Yet those men had the temerity to preach against corruption!
Orezime: The international community winked at the whole exercise.
Gani: Yes! That’s why those two could only preach; they couldn’t really act decisively. A moral burden? They spoke from both sides of their mouths on the issue of corruption. The late President Yar Adua confessed that the election which produced him was compromised. An honest man, he didn’t live long enough to right the wrong of the period!
Orezime: That’s why I laughed when Adamu talked about a moral burden arising from rigged elections.
Bankole: In the ideal world, any power that is stolen and acquired through a dubious means imposes a moral burden on the power holder. No matter what the person does, that power remains stained.
Orezime: What does that amount to in our country? Even the brigands who shot their way to power in the notorious days of military misadventure in Nigeria soon became legitimate.
Emeka: You are going too far in our history. See what happened in Lagos State in the governorship elections of March 18. Ethnic jingoists went about preaching hatred against Igbo people and warned them against coming out to exercise their constitutional rights. Security officials looked the other way when ballot boxes were snatched in broad daylight in places where the opposition was leading.
Gani: A serving state governor personally went about snatching ballot boxes and threatened to shoot whoever got in his way. The same governor declared somebody wanted without recourse to the Inspector General of Police! He worked against the party on which platform he won the seat to spite the party hierarchy!
Adamu: And to think that this is the President-elect’s state. He kept mute through the horrendous attacks on Igbo people in Lagos State just the way the incumbent president has looked the other way when herdsmen went on the loose!
Bankole: Rigged elections are so familiar yet notorious in our land. It was the main trigger to the crisis in the Western Region in the First Republic because the people reacted when they saw a rape of their rights and wishes! It soon snowballed into a conflagration that consumed the nation in the late 1960s. Already, the youths are talking about a protest in the ENDSARSNOW# manner. I hope it doesn’t result in disaster. We have lost too many lives already!
Orezime: What I fear is the rise of ethnic profiling in a supposedly democratic society. To be sure, Governor Sanwo-Olu and the party hierarchy did not single out any ethnic group for verbal attacks. They even courted them. Yet they didn’t caution their followers to stop the degeneration into ethnic hatred. It is a dangerous curve what is happening in Lagos. I don’t subscribe to the Lagos is no man’s land nonsense which some misguided fellows are spewing, but threatening anybody not to vote their candidate is a new low! Can a Sanwo-Olu victory be said to be legitimate if a significant percentage of the electorate is disenfranchised?
Emeka: Good question. They did not stop there. They rolled out the culturally dreaded Oro rituals on election night. Come on! Who is fooling who? The Oro festival was designed to drive fear into non-Yoruba in Lagos. In the 21st Century?
Gani: I am sure the reports from election observers will be damning.
Bankole: I don’t care about those biased observers.
Adamu: Where are we headed in this country?
Orezime: We are on the road to Kigali!
Bankole: May we not travel that route!
Orezime: It’s a good prayer. But what are we doing to avoid the descent into anarchy? Nothing. Those monkeys are simply interested in acquiring power.
Gani: The Obedient Movement seems to have lost steam once it was misbranded as an ethnic agenda to grab power at the national level. Peter Obi needs to tread carefully so he doesn’t become another June 12! Some people are egging him on to challenge INEC through protests.
Orezime: If he decides to lead a protest, it would be within his constitutional right to do so, especially as INEC is stalling on the issue of inspecting elections materials despite an order from the courts. Peaceful protests are guaranteed by the Constitution.
Adamu: No one can be sure whether a peaceful protest will remain peaceful after it starts. That’s the experience the ENDSARS people had.
Gani: It’s not enough to stop people from taking to the streets. Protests are fundamental to democracy.
Adamu: We do not want dead heroes! Mark my words.
Bankole: That’s ominous!
Emeka: It means nothing. Nigeria must change. We cannot go on like this forever! Things are just going down. No cash. No fuel. No power supply. No security. No nothing. Peter Obi gave a glimmer of hope. Now that has been dashed to the ground.
Adamu: Rigging will remain a moral burden each time our President-elect travels outside the country, each time he meets foreign observers, especially those ones who have a dossier on him. History will also judge him and assess how he came to power. This applies to all the states as well where some politicians have turned themselves into demigods and have compromised poor INEC officials with mouthwatering sums. This is not how to build a democracy. The votes must be counted and must count. Seventeen people have their lives during the governorship and House of Assembly elections. We are supposed to count ballot papers, not bodies. Sad!
Bankole: The moral burden of rigged elections is on all of us. Without our connivance there would be no rigging. We can only hope that this will end some day!
Emeka: Tough luck!
Professors On INEC’s Will (2)
By Tony Afejuku
On Thursday, 2 March, 2023, the Financial Times based in London, England published a blistering editorial on the February 25, 2023 Presidential election which up to now is the talk of everywhere beyond our shores. The said Financial Times editorial was entitled “Nigerians badly flawed election fails to set an example.” Indeed, it was a positively blistering presentation as any positively blistering presentation can be. Professor Olu Obafemi FNAL; NNOM drew the attention of the literati to the editorial that argued succinctly that “If Tinubu’s victory is challenged the courts should take a hard` look.” In his summation of the editorial Professor Olu Obafemi, who headed the debating literati, said he had nothing to add to the efficacious editorial but he would be happy – by my inference – to have the viewpoints of others. Thereafter the debate began. The arguments and counter-arguments began. Whose will was INEC propagating: Was it its will or the will of the cabal in the presidency or the will of the Nigerian people?
By the way, be it noted here and now that the Financial Times, though headquartered in London as already indicated, is owned by Japanese, by Nikkei, a Japanese holding company with “core editorial offices across Britain, the United States and continental Europe.” Why this point is necessary here will reveal itself in the debate I hereby tender to fit my creative and journalistic purpose. But you will notice that there is a shift in focus from the substance of the editorial to the question of anti-black or anti-African Western propaganda.
This is how Professor Ademola Da Sylva, FNAL puts it:
“The Western media are so powerful that they have their ways of turning non-Western genuine patriots and revolutionaries to look like some nameless demons all because they failed to toe servile line as underdogs! Idi Amin, for example, might not get it right in his choice of modus operandi, but he knew what he wanted for his Uganda people. His successful ejection of the British Asians was one of his policies that did not go down well with the hegemons because it devastated the British economy. So the Western media descended on him and painted him as a blood-sucking Dracula! Of course, there were Uganda compradors and cronies of multinationals from within who tried to undermine Amin’s revolution, too. Dedan Kimathi was also considered a “terrorist and a bandit” by the British imperialists; they got him arrested and hanged him, but we know he wasn’t a demon they tried to make us believe he was! Furthermore, no matter what we may think of Mugabe, the immediate past Zimbabwe President, he meant well for his country, he revoked the licences of large parcels of fertile lands, and also a large chunk of the lands from the White occupants and re-distributed the lands among the black peasants. That was ordinarily unthinkable in Africa by an African leader who wanted justice and equity for his people, but he did it and called the bluff of the West. Again, the Western media took over from there, painted a devil of him, and many Africans uncritically swallowed the gambit, too! The first accusation of the West against these patriotic leaders has always been that they were antidemocrats! Democracy is anti-African governance principles. It is the primary reasons why we never get it right, but it has always paid the West because it keeps Africa underdeveloped to the advantage of the West. The truth is: Why would you want to change a leadership that is up and doing, responsible and responsive, and doing very well, why? That principle foregrounds our sense of monarchy. A king remains on the throne for as long as his reign brings progress and security. Where a king fails, as in the cases of the indigenous Yoruba Obas, he is made to commit a voluntary suicide, and another Oba replaces him. Anyway, let me pause here.”
Professor Ibrahim Bello-Kano’s stroke goes thus: “My view is that if humans have (or bear) an original sin, according to Christian eschatology, and if humans need to pray and carry out religious duties to be worthy of divine grace, and if secular education requires progressive edification of humans, and if humans are brutes unless they are inserted into a humane culture complete in all its sides (as Matthew Arnold has argued), and if the classical calculators looked forward not to human nature, with its brutal immersion in self-interest and wars and strife, and if humans have repeatedly to struggle to rise above their petty narrowness, then how can their voting behaviour or action be perfect, pristine or excellent? Those who expect a perfect electoral behaviour or outcome in a country brutalized by a savage economic policy and an insensitive and thieving cast of state officials, and the electors riven by religious and ethnic divisions are expecting a miracle. Yet at the local level, the electors did succeed in electing a new set of people to represent them. The problem with macro analysis is that it is positivism at its worst. At the micro level, the elections were expressive of the will of the people. In Kano State, for example, the newly formed NNPP swept the board with more than 18 out of the available 22 seats for the House of Reps and 2 out of the 3 Senate seats. Thousands turned out to vote. Finally, why should we believe anything the Western press says about us? Look at their reporting of the war in Ukraine. They keep saying, against the evidence and the facts, that Ukraine is winning the war with Russia, despite the former being slaughtered on the battlefield and having lost a staggering number of soldiers.
“Humour comes from the ridiculous and the ridiculous from the comical. Here is an example of a statement that is hilarious because it is ridiculous and ridiculous because it is comical: “Ladies and gentlemen, meet the newly elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Reverend Mullah Professor Mr. Mallam IBK of Madagascar!”
Do I have any doubt that our readers will find it hard and uneasy to follow the mind patterns and strokes of the debaters who are trying in their peculiar ways to say something tangibly tangible about our will as voters and INEC’s will as electoral umpire? Not at all!
To be continued.
Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.
Stomping For Sheriff Oborevwori
By Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha
The political, social, cultural and perhaps spiritual forces which have produced Hon Sheriff Oborevwori as 2023 governorship candidate for the PDP are a watershed in the political history of Delta State. For as a humble, friendly, and perhaps unlikely candidate different from past candidates, his emergence took some in the party by surprise and indeed shock. It has brought joy to the Okpe people, the largest of the Urhobo clans who have rightly argued that the governorship of the state ought to come to their zone.
To be sure, it has led to a falling out, a disagreement among erstwhile comrades sworn to the preservation of PDP hegemony in the state. But the party machinery which was controlled by incumbent governor Senator Ifeanyi Okowa was able to pull through his candidacy even though he was pitted against some other candidates who had powerful forces behind them and who also paraded academic certificates that could intimidate the fainthearted. And so Oborevwori’s paper qualifications, his antecedent as a ‘street boy’, and his association with the incumbent governor have become campaign issues meant to denigrate the authenticity of his candidacy! But the courts, even the highest courts in the land, have validated his paper qualifications. David, the shepherd boy has emerged as the anointed of the Lord; so be it! It is also important to state that a man who was a street boy, gained admission into a university, took a first degree and a subsequently a second degree must be given credit. How many ex-street boys have lifted themselves to the level which Oborevwori has done?
A close interaction with Sheriff Oborevwori would reveal the deep stuff that has made it ensured his successful tenure as Speaker of the State’s House of Assembly for seven odd years. He is calm, patient, a great listener and a team player. Those who cry foul about his antecedents should also give him credit for staying a steady course as Speaker. He may not be Harvard educated but he definitely has matured on the job. Interacting with him shows how much he has learnt in the last seven years. It is sad that he is being castigated for the loans which the House passed after requests from the executive arm of government. The truth is that hardly any House of Assembly refuses requests from the state governors. This applies to the National Assembly and the President of the Federal Republic. When accounts are rendered, it should be for the Executive arm to account for how the funds were expended.
Sheriff has assured all those who have listened during interactions that he will shock the state in two years when he implements the infrastructure development programme which has been conceived and put into a blueprint. Sapele, Warri, Ughelli, Patani, Obiaruku, Orerokpe, Aboh, Ozoro, Ogwashi Uku will receive profound attention in terms of urban renewal. The youths will receive attention in terms of employment and empowerment. Our own Silicon Valley will help to redirect the minds of our youths to the positive aspects of the internet. There should be an end to Yahoo Yahoo because they would focus on development of different apps. Delta will be transformed to a construction site. That is a powerful thing to say. The team of highly-educated political gurus and technocrats around Sheriff will drive the development agenda. It is not going to be business as usual in development strides. The people must see the worth of their money. As a man who is widely in consultation with the grassroots, his agenda will be people-friendly, driven by inputs from the user’s end. In other words, he is not going to sit in Asaba and dictate what the people of Isoko need in the budget.
Those who criticize Sheriff’s association with the incumbent administration should remember that it is the executive arm that drives development programmes. Policy initiatives come from the governor. No matter the brilliant ideas which a legislator has, they won’t come to fruition without the blessing of the governor. As governor, Sheriff will introduce programmes that are close to his heart. To be sure, he has seen the weaknesses in all the administrations in the state and will plug loopholes to ensure service delivery. As a beneficiary of the incumbent governor’s benevolence, he will not turn against him. But areas that need better attention will be dealt with. For example, payment of pensions and gratuities will be vigorously pursued. Ditto for DESOPADEC. That organization will be better positioned to deliver on its mandate especially for oil producing communities. The goose which lays the golden egg must benefit from the wealth of the egg. Indeed, the MORE slogan of the Sheriff campaign means that he plans to do more and build deeply on the achievements of the outgoing administration.
The performance of LP in the February 25th presidential election showed a strong outing for Peter Obi, closely followed by PDP. This is comforting to the PDP. This is a clear sign that things are not as they used to be. Once Sheriff wins the ballot, he must ensure that development-focus is people-oriented. The mass disenchantment with the two establishment parties – PDP and APC- will need to be addressed radically through policy initiatives and implementation. Those who erroneously believe that APC will be different in Delta State should look at the abysmal performance of the party at the national level and forget the idea of an APC government in Delta State. Sheriff is a man on the ground who will not disappoint the people of Delt State.
Sheriff Oborevwori has matured with time and exposure. He served as Chair Conference of Speakers of Nigeria and the presence of some of these speakers at his campaign outings show his ability to build and sustain bridges. He has the good health, composure, and humility to widely consult stakeholders in order to keep the state together after victory come March 18. He also will keep intellectuals very close to the corridors of government. In other words, his government will not suffer intellectual deficit. He has the capacity to listen to profound ideas and distil the same into policy framework.
Finally, we should allow the ballot box speak for the people in the governorship elections and with the spirit of God’s favour with him, in counter disposition to mammy water spirit, Sheriff Oborevwori should be the next governor of Delta State. Grace speaks, principalities take a bow!
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