Between A Placeholder And A Substantive Executive Leader: The Sheriff Oborevwori Leadership Template

By Josiah Agoro

My attention has once again been recently drawn to an article titled: “Thinking Aloud: Is Governor Sheriff Oborevwori a Placeholder For Okowa?” written by one Ovasa Ogaga, who describes himself as a journalist and public affairs analyst residing in Ughelli, Delta State.

Of course, it is typical of the likes of Journalist Ovasa Ogaga, in their usual manner of trumping up half-truths and misinformation, to latch on to some populist word or slogan to express their bellicose points, without even understanding the meaning of the word and this time the choice word they have chosen is “Placeholder”.

Ovasa Ogaga in his delusional enclave actually ponders aloud if “Oborevwori is a Placeholder for Okowa” and as hilarious as this may sound, it sadly also exposes the sheer ignorance of some shallow critics masquerading as hack journalists, in the application and usage of such words.

For the avoidance of doubt, a placeholder is “Someone or something used or included temporarily or as a substitute for something that is not known or must remain generic; i.e. that which holds, denotes or reserves a place for someone or something to come later.”

The above definition and meaning of placeholder completely destroy from the onset, whatever conjectures Ovasa Ogaga had alluded to the person and administration of Governor Sheriff Oborevwori, for the very simple reason that on May 29, 2023, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Francis Orohwedor Oborevwori, JP, rightfully swore an oath of office to become the substantive Executive Governor of Delta State. Governor Sheriff Oborevwori is not and cannot be a Placeholder. The inauguration on May 29, 2023, has settled that misnomer completely.

Again, Ovasa Ogaga’s prognosis is that: “There were no clear-cut visions or policies regarding infrastructure development, education, healthcare, security, or the welfare of Deltans. The only visible campaign mantra was “Ukodo Go Reach Everybody,” which is another clear manifestation of ignorance and an unfortunate admission that the so-called Journalist from Ughelli, has not read or is even too lazy to read the very articulate and well-packaged document which clearly itemizes and comprehensively deconstructs the MORE Agenda in its contextual framework and operational implementation under the Meaningful Development, Opportunities For All, Realistic Reforms and Enhanced Peace and Security components.

Also, the severally rehashed innuendos on Governor Sheriff Oborevwori’s performance, which the likes of Ovasa Ogaga have continued to espouse, are now puerile and tiresome refrains from those who have deliberately blinded themselves to the glaring fact that the Governor is not only completing projects which were initiated when he was Speaker of the State House of Assembly but has set the bar as the star Governor for true succession Democracy in its finest model, by also working in harmony with his predecessor, to ensure that Delta State does not experience the level of acrimonious bitterness which is the lot of many States. We must thank God for His small mercies.

Ovasa Ogaga and his ilk have equally forgotten that Governor Sheriff Oborevwori has only just completed one year in his first term of four years, in a Country that is experiencing excruciating national hardship and strangulation as a result of the suffering and suffocation imposed on Nigerians by the APC Government at the centre; a hardship carried over like a toxic plague from the previous APC administration when Ovie Omo-Agege was the Deputy Senate President.

To even claim, as Ovasa Ogaga posited, that: “apart from the overhyped and over-inflated N78 billion Julius Berger flyover project in Effurun, the completion of a few rural and urban roads initiated by the Okowa’s administration, and continued work on sections A and C of the Ughelli-Ozoro-Kwale-Asaba road, Governor Oborevwori has engaged in selective governance”, is also dubiously being economical with the truth.

Those who do not comprehend and appreciate the nature of leadership and administrative governance will erroneously spin the lie that the Government is working only when projects are Commissioned. Yet Governor Sheriff Oborevwori has in the last one year set down a leadership template which has achieved so much in addition to the Infrastructural Development which is robustly going on across the three Senatorial zones in the State.

Salaries of over 50,000 workforce in the civil service are being paid promptly, promotions and regularly; payment to the tune of N5.522bn for civil servants promotion arrears has been addressed, Pensions payment has been guaranteed with a N40bn financial arrangement, Delta State Government, has concluded the payment of the 2022/2023 bursary to over 30,000 students of the State origin in Higher institutions across the country, over 3,000 teachers have been employed, more than 118,000 persons have been empowered through the D-CARES programme, over 5,000 artisans and petty traders have received major financial support through the MORE Grants scheme, the Bureau of Wealth and Jobs creation has been re-energized with the appointment of a dynamic Chief Jobs creation officer, Health facilities have been upgraded and re-equipped and the agro-industrial park at Azagba-Ogwashi has successfully been completed, amongst others.

Ovasa Ogaga should also know that in addition to the Emevor-Orogun road phase 1 and the High Court Complex Asaba (which was commissioned by former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan), there is also rapid progress in the construction of internal roads in Warri metropolis; advancement in the construction of the flyover at PTI junction, Effurun, Delta State by Julius Berger, Provision of over 60 transformers in various parts of the State through the Ministry of Energy, swift progress in the construction of the Isoko Ring Road, the Beneku bridge which is almost ready, as well as the newly completed Okpanam-Ibusa bypass in Oshimili North Local Government Area of the State which would be ready for inauguration sooner than later and many other infrastructural projects presently ongoing across the State.

In the area of Enhanced Peace and Security, especially in relation to the oil and gas sector, Ovasa Ogaga and his sponsors will not only agree but also confirm the fact that youth restiveness has been curbed in the State and Delta State has witnessed zero protests/disputes, or engineered Shut Downs across the upstream, mid and downstream oil and gas subsectors, Employment opportunities have increased in the oil and gas sector, Host Communities have witnessed appreciable peace and development with the execution of Corporate Social Responsibility projects by the oil companies and new Dispute Resolution Mechanisms have been initiated which has achieved tremendous results including the swift aversion of intended shutdown of Otumara Flow Station in OML 43, operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company Ltd in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State over Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) fallout, which would have cost Delta State 20,000/bpd, but has instead, ensured that production of oil and gas resources are stabilized to boost production capacities and in turn engender a stable and improved economy.

In the last one year, the Delta State government under the astute, focused and strategic leadership of Governor Sheriff Oborevwori has successfully resolved the over ten years ownership tussle and claim to Well 9-Owhe Field in OML 30, operated by Heritage Operational Services Ltd. between Otor-Owhe and Olomoro communities in Isoko South and Isoko North Local Government Areas of the State, ensured the Swift resolution of a near crisis situation between Uzere Community in Isoko South LGA and Heritage Energy Operational Services Ltd. over the Independent Power Plant project; successfully brokered a free gas supply arrangement by Heritage Energy Operational Services to the plant for the next two years on completion; ensured stability in the petroleum products supply chain in Delta State with the swift resolution of a dispute within the Petroleum Tanker Drivers Union, and was also instrumental to the peaceful composition of the PTD (NUPENG) leadership in Delta State.

It is little wonder therefore that in this first year of the Rt. Hon. Sheriff Francis Oborevwori – led administration, Delta State won the Ms. Nafisa Aliyu Haruna Award for the “Safest & Most Peaceful State for Oil and Gas Investments in Nigeria in 2024” at a very credible award ceremony sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Abuja.

How therefore, an administration that has embarked on these massive developmental strides and initiatives and achieved so much in such a short time, can be accused of engaging in selective governance that beats the imagination of discerning, right-thinking people, which the likes of Ovasa Ogaga does not belong to.

And finally, most Deltans can easily attest to the kindnesses, benevolence and warm-heartedness of Governor Sheriff Oborevwori which has not waned even with his ascendancy to the exalted position of the Governor of Delta State.

It is indeed a display and manifestation of sheer wickedness and a hardened heart of evil and darkness for anyone like Ovasa Ogaga to accuse Governor Oborevwori of showing empathy and identifying with the family of Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi or Comrade Frank Kokori or the Asagba of Asaba, as well as rejoicing and celebrating with the families of close associates and peers like Olorogun Kingsley Esiso when he gave his daughter out in marriage. May God not allow us to have a leadership that will be praised for failing to relate with humanity and extend humane kindness to its citizens. Amen.

Like Ovasa Ogaga rightly admitted in his write-up, Governor Sheriff Oborevwori clearly told Deltans during his very robust and comprehensive campaigns that: “I Will Do More for Deltans” and those who have followed the trajectory of his administration objectively and dispassionately will agree that he has already done very well in the last one year and Deltans are seeing and feeling the impact of the MORE Agenda in action in their lives. A placeholder would not have achieved the tremendous accomplishments Governor Sheriff Oborevwori has attained in only one year and there’s no doubt that the “Ukodo go reach everybody”, as he continues to give Delta and Deltans quality leadership in the years ahead.

■ Josiah Agoro is a public affairs commentator and analyst.

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