By Fidelix Umukoro
As the 2023 Delta state guber election gathers momentum, a lot of politicians from the Delta Central Senatorial district have indicated interest to contest the election. If the truth must be told, it is the turn of the Urhobo nation to produce the next governor of the state after the expiration of the incumbent governor’s tenure, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa in 2023.
Whether you like it or otherwise, some of the 2023 Delta guber aspirants are political neophytes, featherweight and have nothing to offer to Deltans. Even if they (some of the guber aspirants) contest for an election among their family members, they can’t win. Do you know the reason? It is because they are doomed to fail.
The questions are, will Deltans allow a nonentity to govern them in 2023? Can a politician who has nothing to offer become the next Delta governor? Should Deltans allow a godfather to anoint his godson so as to become governor in 2023? Can we entrust Delta’s treasury to a thief that will loot the state blind? Should we elect a governor without a good reputation, untainted pedigree and lack of developmental compass to rule Delta in 2023?
Let us face the fact. The above questions are begging for answers. Deltans must shine their eyes in 2023, otherwise, it is a voyage of no return. We all know that Delta is a big heart and it must be governed by a grassroots politician who knows and understands the yearnings, expectations, pains and numerous challenges confronting Deltans.
What are the problems facing the people? Do we have very standard hospitals in the state? How many industries did the government establish to provide jobs for Deltans? What about regular power supply and other basic amenities needed by the people? This writer believes that Okowa is trying his best to deliver his campaign promises to the people and he will finish strong in 2023.
After Okowa’s tenure in 2023, who should govern the state and leverage or surpass the achievements of Okowa? Who should we elect in 2023? Who is the astute, foresight, charismatic, visionary, cerebral, highly connected and result-oriented politician that Deltans should elect in 2023?
The answers to the aforestated questions are very simple. In fact, Deltans won’t have any regret at all, if he is elected as the state governor in 2023 because he has the key to ultimately unlock the untapped potentials of the state beyond our imagination. When you talk about the financial wherewithal, international contacts, robust agenda, solid grassroots support, political prowess, the wealth of experience, and the potency to transform Delta to Dubai or Paris in 2023, he has all of them.
In fact, his resume speaks volumes. The politician is Olorogun Kenneth O. Okpara the former commissioner for finance, and economic planning in Delta.Okpara is the Izomo of Agbon Kingdom, Okpagha of Umiaghwa- Abraka Kingdom and Urukpe of Eku . Okpara is an illustrious son of the Urhobo nation and he has paid his dues in Delta politics. Deltans love Okpara so dearly in their hearts. Okpara is very accessible, humble, God-fearing, transparent, brainy and everything in his mind and dictionary is positivity.
If you go and feel the pulse or sample the minds of Deltans now about the guber bid of Okpara, you will receive catalogues of overwhelming positive reactions that will shock you to your bone marrow.
I want to categorically emphasize in this article that Okpara is the best choice for Deltans in 2023 and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) must do the needful to ensuring that Okpara emerges as the party’s flagbearer. Okpara symbolises hope, light, development, redemption and Deltans are in dire need of this action-driven, accomplished, matchless, well refined, consummate, articulate, progress minded, indomitable athlete and a politician of inestimable value who is famously known as K.O is Ok.
The above abbreviation K.O is Ok simply connotes that Kenneth Okpara is okay for the entire Deltans and this beautiful coinage has suddenly become a daily chorus on the mouth of the people in the state now. It will interest you to know that most of the people who have endorsed the candidature of Okpara for the 2023 Delta governorship poll have their Permanent Voter’s Card (PVCs) and they are ever prepared to vote for Okpara. The issue now is that the PDP must stop at nothing to field Okpara as its guber candidate.
As I write this piece, some of the governorship aspirants don’t have any agenda let alone a blueprint for Deltans in 2023. They know themselves and Deltans equally know them. Let us leave them to their conscience because Deltans are not fools.
For the avoidance of doubt, Okpara’s agenda is stated below :
(A) Transformative agriculture to engineer resource-based industrialization.
(B) Economic prosperity.
(D) Human development safety and security.
(E) Collaborative and accountable leadership.
When you critically x-ray the agenda of Okpara, you will realize that it will take Deltans to the pinnacle of socio-economic growth, political development and abundant wealth creation if he is elected as the governor of Delta in 2023. This is another sampler, Delta Development Agenda (DDA 2023), a better life for the people. Can’t you see that Okpara has better plans for the people in 2023 than some of the guber aspirants?
Interestingly, Okpara is an international financial expert and a chartered accountant with strong leadership and analytical skills. He is a highly accomplished professional with a proven successful track record of performance and results in diverse and multicultural environment.
It is a fact that Okpara achieves results by continuously focusing on the big picture and applying lessons learnt from failures and successes. Okpara is currently managing and leading the inter consult’s financial and management consulting practice.
Okpara in a statement made available to The Urhobo Voice said that: “Prior to the current assignment, I was leading the ministry of finance and the economic planning in Delta State, Nigeria as the Honourable Commissioner (HC). The ministry of finance is responsible for the formulation of financial government policies, revenue generation, management of government receipts, payment and accounting, management of banking relationships, management of the state’s investments, loans and advances, public debt management and supervision of the office of the Accountant General and the Board of Internal Revenue”.
“While the ministry of economic planning drives the state’s economic development agenda, co-ordinates economic policies, plans and budget preparation process, reviews and give clearances to new investments proposals and handles overseas development assistance”.
“The ministry of economic planning also carries out the implementation tracking to ensure adequate and timely implementation of budgeted activities and achievements of desired results. It is also responsible for the implementation of some public financial management, governance and capacity building projects”.
The statement noted that prior to the above assignment, Okpara was a senior financial management specialist of the World Bank responsible for the financial management implementation support and supervision of the World Bank-funded and multi-donor trust fund investment projects in Afghanistan, South Asia region, adding that: “It is to ensure that they meet the fiduciary requirements and have adequate financial management arrangements for the implementation of the projects”.
He added: “Also, I perform financial management assessment of new projects’ funding proposals and give advice for the World Bank’s board consideration on the adequacy of the arrangements to meet the funding requirements”.
His words: “I support the client (government) to build and strengthen the financial management capacity and governance system to ensure transparency and accountability. I equally task team leader and led donor partners (USAID, DFID, ADB, among others), co-ordination for a diagnostic study on Afghanistan Report on Observance of Standards and Codes (ROSC), accounting and auditing, a project for the development of the accounting and auditing profession in the country. I worked as co- task team leader/ manager for Public Financial Management (PFM) projects that were funded by the World Bank and multi-donor trust funds”.
According to the statement, Okpara’s executive summary includes the following:
(A) Manage both the ministry of finance and the ministry of economic planning in Delta State.
(B) Achieved a milestone within the first 100 days in office as commissioners for economic planning in Delta State, Nigeria by leading the team that got the 2012 state’s budget prepared, submitted to the Delta State House of Assembly (DTHA) and approved by the DTHA before 2011 year-end and this was the first in about 20 years history of Delta State.
(C) EMBA from Judge Business School, Cambridge University, London (April 2011).
(D) Eleven years of international development banking experience in fiduciary controls and operations.
(E) Directly managed both lines and project teams varying in size from five to twenty. In each of the two ministries I headed as commissioner, there were over one thousand staff under my supervision. I equally directed teams outside of my management influence.
(F) Facilitated a number of training and development courses varying from three hours to full two days sessions between ten and two hundred people for the World Bank projects.
(G) Have successfully led the financial management of Afghanistan World Bank and multi-donor trust fund investment projects over four years with a total value of US$ 5 billion.
(I) Led the World Bank’s Afghanistan financial management team to achieve timely receipts of all the 42 investment projects audit reports for the year ended March 20, 2010. This was a milestone achievement because it was the first time this was happening after eight years of World Bank’s re-engagement in Afghanistan. It was also the only country office that achieved this feat in the South Asian offices of the World Bank.
(J) Achieved remarkable improvement in the investment projects audit results, 90 per cent of the audit reports were unqualified (clean) in March 2010 compared to 66 per cent in 2009,79 per cent in 2008 and 23 per cent in 2007 which was a year after I resumed and started leading the Afghanistan team.
(K) Achieved tremendous reduction in the number of ineligible expenditures claimed by the investment projects. The amount of ineligible expenditures reported in March 2010 was US$ 120,134 compared to US$ 5,611,650 in 2009,US$ 7,684,480 in 2008 and US$ 27,345,716 in 2007.
Okpara attended Harvard University, JFK School of Government, Executive Education (Certificate- Cutting Edge of Development Thinking Programme), May 2013, MBA, Cambridge University London, Judge Business School, April 2011, B.Sc (Hons) University of Maiduguri, Nigeria, 1987, Associate Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), 1990, Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), 2001, Fellow of Chartered Institute of Taxation, Nigeria, 1998, Microsoft Certified Professional + Internet (MCP+I), 2000 and Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE), 2000.