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Okowa Rebranding Delta Through Sports ~ Truth Reporters




By FIDELIS EGUGBO

IN life, it is important that one understands that for every situation, there is a reason for such; that is what the Holy Bible summed up by saying that in every situation, we should give Him thanks because, He knew you before you were formed in the womb and obviously knew what you will be in life.

Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, became the Governor of Delta State when the state’s economy was not in good shape in 2015.  He met a difficult situation on ground  that he had to cry out almost like  Alhaji Shehu Shagari who emerged as the President of the country and raised alarm that he met an empty treasury.

The governor was in a tight situation but, as a man who knew that there was a divine reason for him to emerge as the governor at that critical period in the history of the state and that of the nation which was at that time, “technically on recession,” he took up the challenge of steering the ship of the state out of economic murky waters and once again, the state bounced back to economic buoyancy.

Today, the nation is out of the woods financially and Delta State has taken the lead as number one in oil production, which translates to more money for the development of the state.  Many will like to know the magic wand used by the governor.  All that he did was to seek the face of God and go after the goose that lays the golden egg and made it happy.

Yes!  Nigeria's economy went into comatose because there was crises in the Niger Delta and the Niger Delta Avengers reduced the inflow of income to the nation through the destruction of major oil exporting pipelines.   As a measure to arrest the situation then, the governor dispatched his Deputy, Barr. Kingsley Otuaro to the creeks, where he spent several  months, before reaching a truce with the Niger Delta militants.  The governor has never lost sight of the importance of the goose that lays the golden egg and as such, he is never engaged in blame game, neither is he waiting for the Federal Government or its interventionist agencies to do the needful by developing the area where the nation's wealth comes from.   Governor Okowa has made the people in the oil-producing areas to have a sense of belonging in the scheme of things and the result of that is the prevailing peace in the region.

That peace, which has been achieved in the creeks pervades all over the state because, peace remains the panacea for development.  So, the governor constructed several kilometres of roads in the area.  If the governor constructed roads in the creeks described as difficult terrain, imagine what he did in the upland.

But, if you believe that saving the economy of the nation from total collapse was his greatest achievement, one cannot forget in haste the fact that two years ago, Nigeria almost entered the black book of sports enthusiasts when, at the last minute, Lagos State government chickened out from hosting the 21st Africa Senior Athletics Competition for 2018.

Organisers of the tournament, through the President of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick reached out to Governor Okowa to bail the nation out as failure to host that tournament portended danger for sports development in the nation.  Either another country that did not bid for hosting right would have been given the opportunity to host or the tournament would not have held as scheduled due to non-availability of a host as Lagos declined at the last minute.

As a former Senator, a passionate Nigerian, who can be described as a nationalist, Okowa against all odds, agreed to host the championship in the state.  That decision led to the round-the-clock work at the Stephen Keshi Stadium. 

Of course, that more than 50 African Countries were in Asaba, where they had memorable stay is no longer news; the tournament was successfully held and in all the events, large turnout of spectators was witnessed at the stadium.

Your sincerely once forecasted that Delta was in the threshold of hosting the football  World Cup in a material titled, “Okowa, Working For Successful Asaba 2018”.

“Asaba will not only host the ASAC successfully, but, such can be described as a test-run for the hosting of such tournaments like the World Cup.  Yes, Delta State can comfortably host the World Cup with the world-class standard stadia in Asaba, Ozoro, and Warri and if need be, the ones in Kwale, Ogwashi-Uku named after Jay Jay Okocha, Oghara, Agbor and Issele-Uku can be upgraded for multiple venues to be provided if world football body, Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) demands for such.  All that is required is to give the oil and gas-rich state, few months notice and the state will be ready to host the world.” (Page 10, The Pointer Newspaper of 29/07/2018).

So, the coming of FIFA officials to inspect Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba as possible venue for the U-20 Women’s World Cup in 2020 did not come as a surprise.  The only surprise element is that Delta may co-host the tournament with Lagos, Edo and Akwa-Ibom States.  It is a fact that Stephen Keshi Stadium within a period of one year has played host to several national and international championships, including Super Eagles’ matches with Seychelles and Egypt.
So, precisely on Wednesday, August 7, 2019 when the FIFA officials paid a courtesy visit on Governor Okowa after inspecting sports facilities in the state, it was with confidence about walking on a familiar turf that the governor said, “I am glad that you (FIFA officials) are here to inspect sporting facilities in our state.  As a government, we have continued to do the best we can to develop sporting facilities and we have done very well in that area.  It is good that you are happy with the facilities we have on ground and the compliments from you will help us to continue to do the best that we can.

Asaba and our state generally is peaceful and I want to reassure you that we will do what we have to do if there are areas we need to improve on.   `Asaba is the place to be for this kind of championship.  We have the crowd to cheer the teams, receptive people and friendly environment and as a state government, we will do everything that we can within our reach, to ensure that we have a successful event.”

It would be recalled that in December last year, team Delta bagged 163 gold medals to emerge winner at the 19th edition of the National Sports Festival held in Abuja.  Rivers got a distant 69 gold medals to get the second position while Edo got 47 gold medals to emerge as 3rd runners up.

Delta is blessed with sporting talents and it is a fact that Nigeria is reputed for its prowess in football because of the contributions of Deltans.  In short, female football in the country can trace its origin to Delta State.

So, hosting the U-20 Women's World Cup in the state will be greatly appreciated by the people and the wonderful sports lovers from Onitsha, Nnewi and others from neighbouring Anambra, Imo, Rivers and Bayelsa States no matter the cost of the gate fee.

Again, as the choice destination, it is ideal because, people can fly into the town from any part of the world through the Asaba International Airport.  The town also boasts of hotels of international standards and to say that it is a historic town will be an understatement.   The Lander Brothers Anchorage, the famous River Niger, among others are areas visitors to the town can never have a dull moment.  The town, too, is well secured, friendly people, local cuisines that keeps one asking for more, and a bustling night life with internationally acclaimed night clubs.

The multiplier benefits of Asaba hosting the world in the economy of the people can only be imagined and as usual, I am confident that, with Okowa as the Governor of Delta State,  Asaba will also, host the National Sports Festival in the near future.

All that is needed from Deltans is positive thinking, positive actions from the people and prayers for the government.

God bless Delta State.

(As published on page 10 of today's (Sunday, August 11, 2019) edition of The Pointer Newspaper)

3 comments:

  1. Well my comment is that if the government of delta state can do that we can support him upward.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Let the state Governor remember the whole road in Ndokwa East, it's too bad to note that there is know single development in the local government.

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