HARD TALK: Between Cairo And Okowa


I often note Dr. Cairo Ojougboh for his lanky presence. He has sharp but sunken eyes. A rocky face which is almost expressionless. Born American, he would have been a sensational actor or basketball star. He struts like film guy, Chuck Norris.

A Nigerian however. Cairo is a player in local politics coloured by mud and intrigue.

Call him an iconoclast. Not an unfair label. Never conventional. Cairo courts controversy. He loves to knock at the door of trouble. So it seems.

He was Senator Modu Sheriff ‘s alter ego in factional PDP where both of them almost gave mainstream leaders of the party heart attack. A Supreme Court judgement would annul the Sheriff/Cairo Leadership and embolden the Markafi group.

Cairo has taken up a new fight. He accuses the governor of Delta of running the state recklessly without a budget. He tags the dispensation a government of “family and friends”.

But senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa’s men have dismissed Cairo as a loose cannon notorious for “lies and propaganda” garnished with empty bad words.

Nonetheless there is a certain discomforting absurdity here.

Cairo versus Okowa. Sons of the same house. Ika descent both. Beyond such affinity, history ought to have restrained Cairo.

Okowa governorship! It can never be personified. Never the fortune of one man. Not an Ika struggle. Not even the much touted Anioma agenda. It is all about dignity. The dignity of a people. TO RESTORE THE DIGNITY OF MAN! The motto of UNN best locate the motivation.

The 2014 Delta gubernatorial race was ensnared in divisiveness, the worst ever in the acrimonious history of the state.

Provoked largely by Joe Omene – led UPU, he decreed that only an urhobo would occupy the 2015 governorship seat at Asaba! Clannishness had never been so pronounced.

Anioma congress, seeking equity in the affairs of plural Delta would move to counter balance the hard stance. Anioma media professionals among others rose to amplify the sense of fairness in a laudable perception reordering initiative. It was a movement unstoppable with the solidarity of other forces across all parts of Delta who saw the position of the Omene group as hegemonic agenda taken too far.

The result is obvious, an all time lesson that any one can rule Delta no matter where you come from-Itsekiri, Urhobo, Ijaw, Anioma or Isoko.

I find Okowa ‘s destiny exciting.

Given the irreversible reality of Okowa governorship, it is now safe to say that Delta is our common patrimony.

With the jinx breaker coming from Ika land, as the first Anioma governor of Delta, Okowa’s “mata” becomes our “mata” not just as a people in Delta North but for us all as Deltans.

Is Cairo criticizing Okowa for entrenched personal interest? Is he on a messianic mission for the good of Deltans? This is debatable. The average Nigerian politician is not that altruistic or patriotic. But the exact answer lies in the womb of time.

Good sense demands that he should however engage the governor better, behind closed doors. There is an Ibo saying that you don’t kill a man you would naturally mourn.

Okowa as governor is not known to answer his attackers. A cultured instinct. He must continue to dignify his office with silence and concentrate on the huge task on his table.

Followers on both sides, real and fake should exercise considerable restraint.

This face off will fizzle out soon. It is politics. Nigerian politics!

By Norbert Chiazor, former chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists, (NUJ), Delta State Council.


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