Born on October 12, 1960, Dr. Festus Goziem Okubor, an indigene of Ute-Erumu, Ika North-East Local Government Area of Delta State and the Chief of Staff to Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, is a trail blazer, with remarkable achievements in various facets of life.
Strongly guided by the objective “to join hands with all who believe in applying themselves diligently towards the enhancement of humanity and realisation of Nigeria’s destined greatness”, Okubor’s immense contributions to national growth and development cannot be over emphasised.
As a medical doctor, Okubor recorded ground breaking achievements in his professional field before venturing into politics. He was the first Nigerian to practice the health insurance scheme; his presentation on health care financing at the first National Health Summit resulted in the adoption of health insurance as the preferred national policy for healthcare financing.
As an expression of his passion on driving rural development in Nigeria, he established the first private hospital in Biu, Borno State in 1986.
Prior to his appointment as the Chief of Staff to Delta State Governor in June 2011, Okubor was exposed to grassroots politics in various capacities between 1996 and 2003.
His wealth of experience at the state level sprawled from serving as the Director General, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) campaign council between 2010 and 2011, Commissioner for Health from January 2007 – May 2007, and the Commissioner for Information between March and December 2006. Okubor was the Commissioner for Special Duties from January 2006 – March 2006, and the State Director of Protocol from 2003 – 2005.
Okubor holds an MBBS degree from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka,which he obtained in 1983. He attended Edo College Benin City, 1972 – 1976 and St. James Primary School Agbor between 1966 and 1971. Married to Christine and blessed with four children, Okubor is a holder of the Paul Harris Fellow medallion of Rotary International. In this interview, Okubor discusses his views on politics, his political aspiration and noble intentions for the people of Delta State. Excerpts:
What motivated you to go into politics?
I would say that the annulment of the 1993 election which Chief M.K.O Abiola clearly won under the SDP platform spurred me into politics. I thought the annulment of that election result was unjustifiable and I was deeply motivated to join other progressive thinkers in the fight against that injustice.
I noticed a lot of abnormalities and wrongs in the system, and I knew the only way I could avail myself to be of service, and to right the wrongs, was to get actively involved and express my views. That was the beginning of my journey into active politics.
So far, will you say you are satisfied with your political journey on the PDP platform?
I am very satisfied with my political journey on the PDP platform. The PDP is a winning party. It is only normal for me to be fulfilled because the party offers a large platform for progressive thinking. Specifically, PDP has offered me the platform to serve my people for which I am very grateful. I don’t regret my political journey with the PDP.
On a scale of 1 – 100, how do you rate the out-going government’s performance in Delta State?
I would give this administration 97%, that, is an ‘A’ grade performance. Reasons being that the government has recorded significant achievements. The rapid urbanization in the state capital as well as other cities speaks for the government. In the education sector, schools have been refurbished and upgraded with up-to-date facilities to enhance learning.
Road construction and maintenance are currently on-going to improve the transportation network and create easy accessibility to towns across the state. This has given Delta a new look. I am very sure that even if the indigenous Asaba ancestors were to come visiting today, they will not recognize Asaba based on the level of urbanization.
It is the same for other towns in the state. Delta has also recorded tremendous peace during this administration. Overall, I will say that the PDP earned a high score in its performance in the state since the 2011 elections.
There have been no challenges. However, it is normal for minor divisions to occur when governing people of diverse ethnic backgrounds. Nevertheless, this has not posed a challenge to the government.
What is the PDP’s stand on rotation of power to Delta North Senatorial District come 2015?
Rotation of power was clearly enshrined in article 7.2 (c) of the PDP constitution, which states: “In pursuance of the principle of equity, justice and fairness, the party shall adhere to the policy of rotation and zoning of party and public elective offices and it shall be enforced by the appropriate executive committee at all levels”.
The PDP as a custodian of the constitution in Delta State upholds this. In a multi-ethnic society like Delta, power rotation ensures that all ethnic groups are duly represented in government, more so that all parties get to have their turn in governance, so no group feels marginalized. It is constitutional and the PDP in Delta fully recognizes this.
What is your view on the recent court order that all PDP decampees should resign their political appointments?
The issue of decamping started in 1951, when a politician from the West was able to influence his kinsmen to decamp from the political party on whose platform they won elections. The result of that action was not good; if we allow the trend to continue, the outcome will not be good for the future of politics in Nigeria.
Consequently, I am very much in support of the court order of perpetual injunction issued by Justice Ademola, restraining decampees from altering or attempting to change the leadership of the House of Representatives. Politicians should understand that politics is not always a win-win situation.
We need to be able to take the heat in politics. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. In any case, we should stick to our original ideology rather than decamping to other parties at the slightest disagreement.
Are you interested in running for governorship in 2015 Delta State?
Yes I am, if God wills it. I am only a servant in His hands; if it is His will that I join in the campaign to lead the state, I will not object to it.
Why do you want to become the next governor of Delta State, if God wills?
I have served in various appointments in the past. It is in this same stewardship spirit that I aspire to serve the great people of Delta State. I am only a vessel in the hands of God and His will alone will be done. I have always depended on the will of God to prevail over my personal ambitions.
What are the cardinal points of your election manifesto, and how do you intend to achieve them?
The key points of my manifesto are to revolutionalize employment generation in Delta State, embark on societal development, growth, ensure peace and justice. To achieve this, there is the need to, first and foremost, embark on industrialization across the state; and ensure that these industries are located in the areas where raw materials are produced.
For example, an industry that produces chocolate will be located in the same area where cocoa is massively grown; the same applies to other products. Another step will be to create an environment for peace and security in the state, in order to sustain development.