By I.E. Ogheneakpobo
Politics is looked at in a broad sense as the struggle to secure the power of governance, while those who converge to form political parties with manifestos are politicians.
Politicians while in government are expected to deliver on the dividends of democracy to the electorates. However, it is noteworthy to mention that the aspect of delivering on good governance has become a tall order for many Nigerian politicians who have continued to fail the electorates.
The trend has become a cause for concern that has awakened Nigerians, particularly Deltans, to the reality of looking out for persons whose main source of earnings cannot be linked to politics alone. It is believed that this category of persons, if elected into office, will work in the interest of the electorates.
The rationale behind this thinking is that people who became rich before joining politics are seen to have more interest in the care and welfare of Nigerians than politicians without any source of earning, whose sole aim is to acquire wealth through politics.
Also, it is believed that politicians who are businessmen with streams of resources from investments are versed and experienced in wealth creation needed to turn around the economic fortunes of their immediate environment.
In the past, there were wealthy men and women who made their mark as successful industrialists such as Chief Alfred Rewane, Chief Micheal Ibru, Chief James Edewor, Chief E Esiso, Chief T J Sokoh, Chief Governor Uloho, Chief Madam Alice Obahor, Chief Sunny Odogun, Senator David Dafinone, Chief Wilson Odibo, Chief P.B Djeba, Chief Gamaliel Onosde, Chief Harrison Jefia, and even those in the military such as Major Generals David Ejoor, Patrick Aziza, O.E Obada amongst others.
These distinguished individuals of Delta origin focused on the development of their locality as against amassing stupendous wealth for the purpose of establishing businesses overseas or laundering money abroad to be deposited in banks for future generations unborn.
At that time, money was not much and the reliance of the electorates on government for the provision of infrastructure was not the case. This was largely responsible for the slow pace of development in our communities.
The few infrastructures that are available in most communities of Delta today are from the efforts of these past industrialists, before the subsequent intervention by government to improve on them through various schemes.
Among politicians and the industrialists of the present age with the ideologies of these class of reputable individuals are Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi and Chief Austine Oghenejobor (Alias felong) of Samagidi-kokori.
For instance, they have both small and large investments that cut across various sectors of the economy ranging from Agriculture, Construction, to the Hospitality industry.
These industrialists have also been involved in charity work and donated huge sums for developmental programs, cleared bills of patients in the Hospitals, sponsored several medical and surgical programmes, and given palliatives across the state during the lock-down as well as paid the WAEC/NECO enrollment fees for students in their areas.
For one, Kenneth Gbagi influenced the establishment of the Federal University of Petroleum at Ogbomro-Effurun. He also provided a good number of social amenities to most of the Urhobo towns through personal effort.
It is on record that he also kicked against the re-location of the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI) Effurun to Kaduna. He also helped to put pressure on the Federal Government for the completion of the East-West road in Niger Delta.
Also instrumental to the development of Delta State are the giant strides of Chief James Ibori, the incumbent Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa and Senator Ighoyota Amori, whose achievements are numerous. They will forever be remembered and praised for their good works.
As 2023 inches closer, feelers show that Deltans are desirous of a leader that would build on the legacies of the Ibori and Okowa administrations by prioritizing the welfare of the people and taking seriously the aspect of infrastructural development that is critical for employment creation.
Prominently touted is Kenneth Gbagi, who some opponents consider as too strict and prudent, an opinion which largely is responsible for the misappropriation of public funds by some government officials.
Anyone who knows Gbagi well enough can attest that he is not the type who will lavish or extravagantly spend government resources, especially as one who appears contented with what he has.
Evident patterns from the lives of successful people show that they thrive from adhering to principles which foster discipline and prudence in the application of resources at their disposal.
Sadly, in Nigeria today, every prudent, disciplined, strict and corrupt free person is usually tagged with the name “wicked” and “tribalised”. However, no one is a saint or perfect in dealings. Afterall, Jesus Christ cursed the sycamon tree to die because of its inability to produce food for the children of God. He also whipped those who traded at the temple. Can one now say that Jesus Christ is wicked? How then is it wrong to query an indisciplined employee who shows an act that is likely to lead to the collapsed of a business? Can disciplinary action make someone say that the employer is wicked and does not show love?
For as long as indiscipline is encouraged and accepted as a norm in the Nigerian society, government officials will remain incapable of the prudent management of resources to the benefit of the people. In whatever way Kenneth Gbagi may have wronged or stepped on some people’s toes, he should be forgiven, as his vision for Delta State and his ability to realize same far outweighs such petty sentiments.
Ogheneakpobo I. E, a political analyst and PDP Stalwart in Delta State, writes this piece from Warri.