Thursday, 19 January 2023

Rejoinder: Ovie Sherriff : Character And Competence Should Rule Delta State ( Opinion)



There has been the view that character and competence should be the basis for knowing who can best deliver on good governance in this year’s governorship election in Delta state, especially between the two leading candidates – the Rt. Hon. Sherriff Oborevwori and DSP Ovie Omo-Agege. A view as this is welcome; it is an admissible one indeed.  


There is no denying the fact that a person’s antecedent constitutes how he is valued. It can influence what a person does, particularly if given the opportunity to hold a position of power. 

Let it be noted here that no one can give what he does not have. It is true that Omo-Agege is the son of a former Chief Judge of Delta state. It is also true that he trained as a lawyer. 


It is generally believed by opinion seekers and even opinion producers that lawyers are usually persons of integrity and honour. But many lawyers have acted in ways that negate this perception. 

To be clear, not all lawyers have integrity and honour. There are vile ones. 

There are lawyers with utterly foul characters. 

Those who grew up with Ovie in their days at St. Gregory’s College, Obinomba, and at the University of Benin have some very disturbing views about his character, since his young days. 

Their view suggests that he is not one to be entrusted with the highest political power of Delta state. 

Let’s admit that people change over time. 

Therefore, it would not be such a fair thing to pry into the distant past of Sherriff and Ovie, so as to ascertain which of them can govern Delta state well. 

While Ovie has an elitist and narcissistic background, Sherriff grew up in an average and entrepreneurial space. 

While growing up, Sherriff connected with the people he grew up with and blended with his environment. This accounts for why he is warm, pleasant, empathetic, and compassionate. 


The narcissistic background Ovie had has made him brutish, haughty, cold, insensitive, and callous. 

A comparison of the life of both men since their exposure to political power would provide a clear proof of the point made thus far. 


Delta Central Senatorial district, which Ovie represents at the National Assembly, has 8 Local Government Areas. His stewardship since he started representing the Senatorial district is an indication of the kind of government he would run, should he become governor of the state. 

Ovie is from Orhomurun in Orogun Kingdom in Ughelli North Local Government Area. Most of the federal projects he has influenced have been channeled to his town. Why? Because Ovie thinks that his birthplace is the only place good enough to enjoy public projects. There are other bigger and viable towns in Ughelli North, but in Ovie’s conviction, only Orhomurun deserves the five federal projects he has attracted to Delta Central Senatorial district. 

What other areas within the district deserve are mere solar-powered street lights. By this singular act, one could understand the mentality of Ovie. No one in the other 7 local government areas should feel secured entrusting his fate to this kind of man.


But Sherriff is a man marked for public office. He is the Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly. Since his assumption of office, he has shown a high level of fairness in the appointment of aides. The projects that he has successfully influenced have been distributed across the length and breadth of the state. 

While Sherriff’s Chief of Staff is Okorodudu from Ughelli South, Ovie’s is Otive Igbuzor who comes from the next village after Orhomurun in  Orogun kingdom. 


Before Ovie became a senator, he fortuitously served as Secretary to the Delta State Government at the twilight of James Ibori’s administration. As Secretary, Ovie’s flagrant abuse of power surpasses several secretaries before and after him. His records on cronyism and misappropriation of public funds were and continue to be unrivaled. Meanwhile, Sherriff was Special Adviser to Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan on Security. When he held this position, he gave a good account of himself. Different communities in the state praised his forthrightness and poise for the welfare of all Deltans. 


In terms of education, the records of both of them speak for themselves. Ovie had Secondary School Education at St Gregory College Obinomba. He then went to the University of Benin to study law. Sherriff got his secondary school education at Aladja Grammar School. Then, he proceeded to Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, and earned a bachelors degree. For further studies, he went to the Delta State University, Abraka, and secured a Masters degree in Political Science. 


In terms of knowledge, Sherriff is deeper and more circumspect.  Sherriff is more educated than Ovie who only has a Bachelor of Law. Sherriff is a Masters holder, which gives him an edge academically. The argument presented that because Sherriff did not get educated as at the time his peers got educated and therefore his intellectual standing is a doubt is deeply flawed and should be dismissed as trash. 

There are many people who did not attend school as at when their mates went to school. The learned silk Chief Afe Babalola never attended any formal institution, yet he is arguably the most intelligent Senior Advocate this country has ever known. Odia Ofeimun, the Iruekpen-born distinguished scholar of note never went to any secondary school we know of, until much later in his adult life. In fact, most of the knowledge he exhibited were largely self-taught. Yet, he was Obafemi Awolowo’s Private Secretary and one of Nigeria’s most prolific writers.  Therefore, in terms of the capacity to produce knowledge, it is outlandish to say that Ovie is more grounded than Sherriff, because the former had the privilege of attending university at a young age in his life. 


We should not forget that the education one has acquired does not necessarily make one urbane, savvy, and innovative. Ideally, this ought to be the case.  

Ovie’s record of violence and witch-hunting belie his presumed academic prowess. Many have always used the education of Ovie as a means of conferring civility and sagacity on him. But this shouldn’t be. 

Many who have worked closely with him have their sad tales to tell. 

Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru can testify of his perfidious character. Ogboru can testify that Ovie is not fit to govern the state.  


But very early in life, Sherriff distinguished himself as someone endowed with rare managerial and entrepreneurial skills. He has demonstrated this variously in the successful businesses he has set up and managed for several years. Most of the businesses were not established with cheap money derived from public office. 

We dare Ovie to show us any business outfit he has set up and managed, before Chief Ibori appointed him into his government. 


History will not forget that Ovie returned from the U.S. as a struggling young man before James Ibori rehabilitated him economically and empowered him politically.  


So, if we are given a choice between one who has a good record in managing private businesses before holding public office and one who used proceeds of government to establish himself, I think the choice should not be a difficult one.  Sherriff has an excellent record in frugal management of his private businesses. 

His record in public finance and human resource management is equally sterling. 


Ovie likes to talk and likes to show – he is a typical showman, if he is not worse than this. But what we know about good leadership and governance is that it is more than pedagogy and sophistry – which are the strength of Ovie – it is commitment, conscience, and Compassion – call it the 3Cs of the next governor Deltans should crave for – you might not be wrong.


 David Oghenerhuerome Akata, is Public Affairs Analyst


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