Mixed Reactions, Jubilation Trail The Appointment Of DESOPADEC MD, Chief Ochonogor


Jun 16, 2023

By Our Reporter

Ndokwa ethnic nation, made up of Ndokwa West, Ndokwa East and Ukwuani Local Government Areas, of Delta State, has been agog with jubilations following the recent appointment of Chief Festus Ochonogor, former commissioner for works and Housing, Delta State, as the new Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission DESOPADEC.

The appointment of DESOPADEC board was one of the last minute appointments made by the immediate past Governor of Delta State, Senator (DR) Ifeanyi Okowa, before he handed over power to his successor Rt. Hon, Sherriff Oborevwori, as Governor of the State, on 29th May, 2023.  The appointment of Chief Festus Ochonogor has elicited mixed reactions among his Kinsmen in Ndokwa nation. 

While some public affairs observers are of the opinion that Ochonogor is a deep rooted party man of the original PDP Family, who will dance to the tune of his political god fathers other believe that the man will take the opportunities of the office to better the lot of his people, of Ndokwa ethnic group in Delta State. Ndokwa ethnic nation is known to be the most politically marginalized group in Delta State, despite the fact that it’s the second largest group in the state, next only to the Urhobo nation which occupy the apex majority position.

The appointment of Chief Ochonogor, an Ndokwa man from Etua Etiti in Utagba Uno in Ndokwa West Local Government Area, is also in good order considering the fact that Ndokwa is one of the major oil and gas producing areas in the nation’s federation.

Ex-governor Okowa’s DESOPADEC board appointment, which saw Chief Festus Ochonogor emerge as it’s Managing Director and Chief Executive, appears to be Okowa’s way of begging Ndokwa people to forgive him for using the quality eight (8) years of his two terms in office as Delta State Governor to further the age-long marginalization of the people and land.

Viewing the political scene of the 4th republic of Nigeria’s civil democratic rule, it’s easy to see how badly Ndokwa has been treated politically and socially in the state since Chief James Ibori’s administration in 1999 to the recent end of Okowa’s tenure on May 29th, 2023.

As at the last count, Delta State has 5 universities, 3 Polytechnics, one College of Education and one University teaching Hospital while the Federal Government has 3 Universities, one College of Education and one Polytechnic in the state.

These have seen all the ethnic nationalities in the state, except Ndokwa nation, housing the educational institutions.

However, a cheering news of a new Federal Polytechinc is waiting to be actualized in Utagba-Ogbe, Kwale, the headquarter of Ndokwa – West Local Government Council, as recently announced by the immediate past Deputy Senate President Barrister Ovie Omo-Agege, the Governorship Candidate of the All Progressives Congress APC in the last Governorship election.

In every material standard, the headship of the DESOPADEC Board, in the position of its Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer MD/CEO, is a worthwhile appointment of any ethnic group in the oil rich Delta State.

To say the least therefore, the appointment is more to the development trajectory of the ethnic group where the appointee comes from, rather than a mere political settlement to the individual office holder. The billion naira question therefore is; does the appointee, Chief Festus Ochonogor, know and accept the full import of this obvious reality? Chief Festus Ochonogor, our new DESCOPADEC MD/CEO is on record to have properly utilized his high political contacts and earlier appointive positions to better the lot of quite a good number of Ndokwa indigenes, especially in the area of senior and junior employment positions, thereby contributing meaningfully to soci-economic empowerment of Ndokwa people.

Ochonogor is a centre stage political player who is more visible in the People Democratic Party (PDP) insider politics in the state, rather than playing electoral game of the Delta politics.  

After Governor James Ibori assumed office as the state Governor in 1999, Ochonogor clinched the 2nd member position of the Delta State SPEB, where he facilitated the appointment of Engr. Felic Omosor and Engr. Macbeth Ajieh, among others in the board.

He is known to be one of the political operators under Late Senator Patrick Osakwe and Hon. Emeke Ukpe, then the Executive Chairman of Ndokwa West Local Government Area of Delta State.

At the end of Governor Ibori’s administration, Chief Ochonogor went a little under – the – news stage during Uduaghan’s administration only to re-emerge as a special Adviser on political matters to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa after the 2015 governorship election. Governor Okowa, obviously his principal political benefactor subsequently appointed him the commissioner of works and Housing in his second term in office as Governor of Delta State. It was from there that Okowa chose him to head the DESOPADEC as its Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer.

Some Ndokwa Political watchers are however of the view that Chief Ochonogor, being an establishment man, may not be disposed to using his new position to better the lot of his people of Ndokwa extraction, because he has quite a number of political I.O.U’s to settle to his political godfather and that as a top PDP insider and player of Delta politics he has failed to leverage on his position to contribute his quota in the reversal of Ndokwa marginalization.

Scooping the reactions of more persons, Chief Sunny Neme noted that the appointment was a welcome development as he advised Chief Ochonogor to carry every part of the State along and ensure Ndokwa is not left behind.

He further said that the Managing Director should use the office to develop Ndokwa Area and ensure all inclusive Government where all the stàkeholders are involved in the administration of the Commission.

Chief Sunny further maintained that Ochonogor should not behave like the past President of Nigeria, Good luck Ebele Jonathan who could not use his position to develop the South South region.

Some sections of Deltans therefore called on Chief Ochonogor to use his new position to right every wrong in Ndokwa Extraction and ensure that his leadership impact is felt in the whole of the state.

However, the reality or otherwise of this position can only be ascertained as the watchdog of the society been their touch light on his activities to ensure there are tremendous improvement.

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