In 2010, he bounced into the political waters of Ika nation causing violent political ripples by declaring his quest for the Green Chamber, the political premier league of Nigeria.
Ordinarily, Green Chambers is for the big boys, whose political ribs are strong with super political outreach and stupendous wealth. The young man was in his 30s. He was not known to be overtly rich or had he long history of political fellowship. He was not associated with any group or known to be undergoing any political tutelage under any political heavyweight in the locality. He was not daunted by the political credentials of his opponents. He was actively mobile. He was almost everywhere, every time in Ika land then. He moved, pushed and pulled anything and everything within sight, marketing himself to the people, all in an attempt to make his people see the potentials of good representativeness in him.
He had the youths at his trail. His quest was seriously frustrated by the conservative learning of the people. He was perceived as being too young to legislate or lead. The young and old of our land were conservative by nature. His political taste offended their political sensitivity. How could a small boy with no history of long political fellowship and servitude be allowed to destabilize the political arrangements?
How could he, a political orphan! That he was the senior adviser to the Deputy Senate President, Ekweremadu was inconsequential. Neither did the youths see him as their budding ambassador who is to be the harbinger of good political tidings for them. They did not realize that the political success of the young man would usher in an era of youth’s political enthronement.
He tried flying into the Green Chambers but his political kite was brought down. The young man is Hon. Festus Okoh; popularly called Chukky Dandy. He advised himself and decided to begin from his immediate domain.
Unlike many others who have attempted and failed or even given political appointments, he remained in Ika refusing to go back to Lagos where his major business was cited.
In 2014, he indicated interest for the House of Assembly. At the PDP primaries of that year, he was edged out. He reasoned that he was skimmed out and that majority of the people in Ika South were routing for his representation, he sought the ticket from an unknown party, Accord Party. Lo and behold, he won the election, rubbishing every political prophesies and permutations.
The great PDP was floored in a PDP stronghold. It was an inexplicable political incident. In a local government where party supremacy supersedes every other interest. It was a political miracle.
I belonged to the conservative class with conservative mentality, who believed that Hon. Festus Okoh was too young and inexperienced to represent my local government. I did not only oppose his candidature, I worked against him. I worked for a different person with enviable credentials who was in a different party. I did anti-party for this brother with intimidating resume.
Today, this young man’s representation has positively impacted on the lives of majority of the people of Ika South. I am not going to belabour you with his legislative input or his numerous legislative oversight or his scholarship schemes and the projects he painstakingly attracted to Ika South. I am not also going to elaborate on his numerous empowerment programmes of providing finances to countless market women or his legendary philanthropic gestures to widows and elders. It is for his aides to do their work.
An attempt to outline his achievements within this short space of time, one will be branded a political saboteur or a crumb picker. Whichever, we are all entitled to our own opinion that explains the entrenchment of freedom of speech in the constitution, so long as our opinion is not falsified to deliberately hurt another.
Wait a minute! Before you call me unprintable names, be reminded that I was passionately opposed to his representation. The incontestable fact is that he has far exceeded all expectations. As it is with this writer, so it is with many others.
Hon. Festus Okoh is almost a perfect study of what effective representation represents. His brief representation at the House of Assembly makes one want to bring back the hand of the clock to right the wrongs of the representation of late Hon. Sonny Akpenyi and most painfully, the monumental errors of the representation of Hon. Martin Okonta.
Hon. Chukky Dandy as he is fondly called is everywhere for everybody. He is seen at ‘Mama Put’ eating jointly with his people. At the palmwine joints, Chukky is seen drinking and fellowshipping with his people. At most burial and marriage ceremonies, Chukky is almost always conspicuous, mourning with the bereaved or rejoicing with those celebrating.
Most Saturday mornings, the honourable member is seen playing football with the youths. At the field, he is tackled and bruised. They fall on him and he falls on them. His house is a beehive of activities of different social and political meetings of different associations and organizations of women and youths. These constant contacts breed interactions and great understanding. He learns from them and gets to appreciate fully their fears and allays them. This short time, he has known his people and they have come to know him.
The few who did not vote for him have been disarmed by his performances and his politics without bitterness. He never begrudged those that worked against him. His forgiving disposition is awesomely captivating and arresting. I know this because I worked against him and he never held it against me. Our friendship was never affected by my opposition to his political quest. He took his time; he remained focused and proved me and many others wrong.
Whatever excesses attributable to him, he has overtime, shown that he is an untiring, unifier, a peace seeker, a bridge builder, a boundary breaker and a fearless warrior as time and circumstances dictate.
He has convincingly demystified our cynicism and skepticism informed by our negative conservatism. In his second trip to the House of Assembly, many who wanted him politically crucified will be singing political hosanna to him. I, Danphidel Akpenyi will be one of the many that will do so………………God willing.