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The horse trading for the 2023 governorship election in Delta State is gaining momentum; nationalities, and partisan coalitions are deploying their political arsenal to lobby and mobilize support for aspirants competing for party tickets to succeed Governor Ifeanyi Okowa. Leaders of the Ijaw nation are spearheading negotiations with other stakeholders for the emergence of the state governor from Ijaw land in 2023.
The Deputy Governor of Delta State, Barrister Kingsley Burutu Otuaro, is among the three aspirants sponsored by Ijaw leaders for the 2023 governorship ticket of the hegemonic Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Others include Senator James Manager, representing Delta South in the National Assembly, and a former Commissioner, Dr. Braduce Angozi.
The dominant debate in the state for the 2023 PDP governorship ticket is on rotation of power between the three senatorial districts in Delta State – Delta Central, dominated by the Urhobo nation, represented by James Onanefe Ibori from 1999 to 2007; Delta North, the Anioma nation, currently represented by Governor Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa 2015 to 2023; and Delta South, dominated by Itsekiri and Ijaw nations, represented by Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan from 2007 to 2015.
Delta Central is competing for the 2023 governor with Delta South, while Delta North provides balance of power.
The Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege, and the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo SAN, are battling for the control of All Progressives Congress, APC, in Delta State.
Other PDP governorship aspirants outside the Ijaw nation include a former Minister of Education, Kenneth Gbagi; Chief of Staff to Governor Okowa and former Commissioner for Finance, David Edevbie; Attorney-General of Delta State and Commissioner for Justice, Peter Mrakpor; Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori; and Commissioner for Works, James Augoye.
Deputy Governor Kingsley Burutu Otuaro has become a significant decimal in the political calculus of the race for the 2023 governorship election. The significance of Deputy Governor Otuaro can be explored from his antecedents and the configuration of the negotiations for the 2023 PDP governorship ticket towards promoting equity and fairness in the governance of the state.
Otuaro: The Problem Solver, The Peace Builder
Barrister Otuaro deploys his innate potentials to conflict mediation, arbitration, and resolution. The Deputy Governor has a penchant for ethics, morality, and strong Christian belief, in addition to prudence, transparency, and accountability in leadership. He integrates these traits into his philosophy of power for the service of mankind.
Deputy Governor Otuaro, on the request of Acting President Yemi Osinbajo in 2016, intervened in the violence outburst in the Niger Delta by the Niger Delta Avengers.
While in London, Deputy Governor Otuaro was invited by the Presidency under Prof. Osinbajo, as President Muhammadu Buhari was on medical vacation in London, United Kingdom, UK. Deacon Otuaro sought and got the consent of Governor Okowa to adjust his schedules and proceed to Abuja.
Arriving at the State House, Abuja, Acting President Osinbajo and other principal officers in the presidency requested Otuaro to assist in resolving the renewed oil war in the Niger Delta.
Otuaro approached the Niger Delta Avengers and other stakeholders in the province on ending the renewed militants’ hostilities in 2016; and it was achieved.
Advocacy Committee Against Vandalism of Oil and Gas Facilities
Governor Okowa, subsequently, inaugurated the Delta State Advocacy Committee Against Vandalism of Oil and Gas Facilities, and appointed Deacon Otuaro chairman.
After wide consultations with various stakeholders in the region, the deputy governor collated the demands of the Niger Delta youths in the committee’s recommendations to the Federal Government. The recommendations included: award of oil pipeline contract to indigenes of oil producing communities, employment of youths from the host communities as Oil Pipeline Surveillance Guards, also expansion of the Amnesty Programme in the Niger Delta.
The Federal Government approved the recommendations and requested the co-option of the Federal Government delegation to the Niger Delta into the Delta State Advocacy Committee Against Vandalism of Oil and Gas Facilities.
The Committee further collaborated with the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) in articulating the remarkable 16-point advocacy on restructuring which included true federalism, resource control, ownership of oil blocks, immediate commencement of academic activities at the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, etc., presented to the Federal Government on November 1, 2016.
Intervention in Ondo, Ogun, Lagos
Again, on request, Deputy Governor Otuaro intervened in the militant’s uprising in Ondo, Ogun, and Lagos states between 2011 and 2015.
Armed youths in the riverine communities on May 25, 2017, kidnapped six final year students at a Model College at Igbonla, Epe, Lagos State, during the Ambode administration.
Deputy Governor Otuaro mediated in the kidnapping saga and succeeded in the release of the six students after about two months in captivity.
Otuaro, securing the release of the students, recommended to the federal government to include the armed youths in the presidential amnesty. The militant youths in Ondo, Ogun, and Lagos states, accordingly, handed over their weapons through the Ondo State Government to the Federal Government in acceptance of the presidential amnesty.
Community Interventions and Peace Building
Deputy Governor Otuaro has been a prominent actor in the struggle and advocacy for justice, equity, and liberty. He participated in the communal struggle against Chevron Nigeria Limited, whose deep-sea wells, and operations polluted fishing waters and rendered many parents jobless.
The constructive struggle resulted in job slots and contract opportunities for youths in the community.
The Governing Council of his community, on several occasions, invited Barrister Otuaro, then a university student, to some of its meetings, though not a member.
Subsequently, the Community appointed Otuaro Chairman of the Governing Council for six consecutive years.
Major conflict resolution and peace building interventions by Deputy Governor Otuaro in Delta State under the Okowa administration include: chairmanship conflicts in Ojobo Community in Burutu Local Government Area; Alagbabiri leadership crisis in Ewu Kingdom, Ughelli South Local Government Area; land and boundary conflict between Ozoro and Oleh communities, Isoko South and Isoko North Local Government Areas; Ofagbe crisis, Emuebu and Obiaruku conflict, Nsukwa Patriotic Union and Obi of Nsukwa dispute in Aniocha South Local Government Area.
Deputy Governor Otuaro has worked with Governor Okowa with humility, trust, and commitment in the governance of Delta State in about the past six years; both are currently in their second tenure in office.
The Deputy Governor has been an Apostle of Peace in the Okowa administration, providing the environment conducive to good governance and development in the state.
The humility of Deputy Governor Otuaro resulted in confidence building and trust in his relationship with Governor Okowa, making him reliable and dependable.
The Deputy Governor has remained a committed disciple in the propagation and implementation of the S.M.A.R.T. blueprint of Governor Okowa, which contains strategic wealth creation projects, provision of employment for all Deltans, rapid infrastructure development, etc. The S.M.A.R.T., YAGEP, STEP, RYSA blueprints of Governor Okowa are focused on development of infrastructure, better welfare of citizens, human capital development, as well as peace building in the state.
Recommends Pastor Chris Oyakhilome book – Power of Your Mind – in Polytechnics
Deacon Otuaro is of the belief that while in political office, the work of God must be sustained.
Deacon Otuaro recommended the adoption of a book by Pastor Chris Oyakhilome of the Christ Embassy, “Power of Your Mind”, in the curriculum of polytechnics to socialize youths in the state.
Governor Okowa, at different times, testified that the commitment of Otuaro to peace building in the Niger Delta has brought peace to the entire country. The Governor also celebrated Deacon Otuaro as a “dependable ally”.
Deputy Governor Otuaro has shown unique and outstanding leadership antecedence suitable for the Delta 2023 Mandate.
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