SITUATING THE WISDOM BEHIND GOV. OBOREVWORI’S REAPPOINTMENT OF FESTUS OKUBOR AS CHIEF STRATEGIST
By; Jerome-Mario Utomi
In the words of Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli, Italian diplomat, author, philosopher and historian who lived during the Renaissance and best known for his political treatise The Prince, written around 1513 but not published until 1532, five years after his death, the first opinion that is formed of a leader’s intelligence, is based on the quality of men he has around him. When they are competent and loyal, he can always be considered wise, because he has been able to recognize their competence and to keep them loyal. But when they are otherwise, the ruler is always open to adverse criticism because his first mistake has been in the choice of his ministers.
Essentially, when the above time-honoured quote is juxtaposed with the character of appointment that His Excellency, Rt Hon. (Elder) Sheriff Oborevwori, the Executive Governor of Delta state, has made in recent time, it becomes evident that the state governor is not only laced with public leadership intelligence but fortified with ability for choosing the right people which of course is the first responsibility of a great leader.
Further presenting the state governor as a public officer who recognizes the fact that finding the right people and giving them their rightful positions is the key to success of every administration was the recent reappointment of Ute Erumu, Ika North East Local Government Area-born Dr. (Hon.) Festus Okubor as his Chief strategist.
Aside from the awareness that the success of every administration depends to a large extent on the quality of the people in charge, there are sterling ingrained attributes that render Festus Okubor’s reappointment as not just impressive but deserving.
Beginning with experience, Dr. Festus Okubor, for those that have been following successive administrations in Delta State, could be likened to the Biblical Daniel the Prophet who during his lifetime served under four kings, by name, and in chronological order; Nebuchadnezzar Belshazzar, Darius, and Cyrus.
Comparatively, In 2002, Dr. Festus Okubor was chairman of the transition Committee to Ika North LGA. In 2003, he was appointed as the first ever state Director of Protocol, Government House Asaba. In 2005 he was appointed Hon commissioner for information. And Hon commissioner for health in 2006.
By 2007, Uduaghan appointed him as chairman of Hospital management board HMB.
In 2011, he was appointed chief of staff government house Asaba. In 2015, he was appointed chairman of council of the Delta state Polytechnic Ogwashi and subsequently Delta state Polytechnic Ozoro. The immediate past Governor of the state, Senator (Dr.) Ifeanyi Ekwueme Okowa, during his second term in office appointed Okunor his Chief Strategist.
Looking at the above offices and positions occupied in the past, it is obvious that any administration in that state that is desirous of attracting significant and sustainable development must engage a personality with such wealth of experience.
Adding context to the discourse, as the Chief of Staff in the state, Hon. Festus Okubor ensured that the administration’s vision was excellent in form, essence and implementation; that all its elements were comprehensive, far sighted and straightforward because clarity will make it easier to implement. Like every other Chief of Staff that appreciates his position, he encouraged colleagues to ensure that all the projects were positively impactful to deltans. He stirred the resolve, creativity and initiative in people and revived their determination that assisted the administration achieve excellence. He excellently and effortlessly managed the Governor’s itinerary.
In the same vein, Dr. Festus Okubor as the Chief Strategist and a true leader in the state reportedly provided answers to these important questions, such as: What is the state’s vision? What is the interest of its society in the given vision? Who will benefit from it and how? In what way will it promote development and enhance the achievements that have already resulted from previous visions? Is the vision based upon specific plans or is it going to be implemented randomly, without any link between its different phases?
Is it realistic and feasible or is it a wild vision that no amount of financial and human resources is capable of realizing? What is the ideal time to propose the vision? What is the best way to implement it? How will the implementation of the visions be financed? How will we convince investors to finance the project?
Away from sustainably manifesting leadership traits that qualifies as people-focused and demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that he loves his people, also working in his favour and of course another reason why his latest appointment is considered the right step taken in the right direction on the part of Governor Sheriff, is the awareness that he is among the public office holders in the country that could be trusted with funds. It is factually backed that throughout his occupation of these positions, there were no case(s) of manipulation, opaque, shady or shoddy deals. There were no reported or perceived traces of financial misappropriation or irregularities.
Also worthy of mention as it will act as a morale booster to the youths in the state is the information that Dr. Festus Okubor is transformation-personified; a trained medical doctor turned politician. A politician turned strategist; a strategist turned student and a student turned musician.
Take as an illustration, some months ago, precisely on Saturday April 29, 3023, Family members, Friends and political associates of Dr Festus Okubor, converged at the convocation ground of the Delta state University, Abraka, Delta State, to felicitate with him as he bagged First Class Degree Hons in Music and among the 58 first class graduands that were honoured at the institution’s 15th Convocation ceremony.
Making the feat remarkable and worthy of emulation particularly by the youths is the awareness that his choice of registering for Joint Admission and Matriculation Examination (JAMB), to Delta State University (DELSU), Abraka to study music came after several other accomplishments and 40yrs after graduating as a medical doctor from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
For a better understanding of the piece, Okubor is married and blessed with children. He schooled in Agbor at Nigerian Baptist Convention and Igumbor Otiku respectively. From there, he went to Edo College in 1972. He studied medicine at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and graduated in 1983 and did his housemanship at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) before enlisting for the compulsory National Youth Service Programme which he participated in, in Borno State, precisely in Biu.
He worked in a couple of hospitals, including Royal Hospital in Agbor. He went back to Biu and started his first practice. At some point, Dr. Festus Okubor decided to relocate to Lagos. After joining the first insurance programme in Nigeria, he had the singular honour of presenting the paper on healthcare financing at the first National Health Summit where health insurance was fully adopted as the way forward for healthcare financing.
As you therefore resume, creatively generating breakthrough leadership ideas that will see to the computerization of activities of governance in the state should be the best way to start. This is important as the state is faced with a bleak future if this is not achieved.
In making this call, it is obvious that there is nothing more ‘difficult to handle, more doubtful of success, and more dangerous to carry through than initiating such changes as the innovator will make more enemies of all those who prospered under old order’. But any leader who does come out powerful, secure, respected and happy.
Very key, I hold the opinion that you devise policies that will make us stronger as a state by ensuring that decisions will be tested, studied, reviewed and examined through the processes of government that are designed to improve policy.
This is an opportunity you must not miss!
Jerome-Mario Utomi is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy) at Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org/08032725374.