By Godwin Egba, Port-Harcourt
Every visionary leader is armed with his or her agenda and mission for the people he wants to lead in governance. Barrister Philip Okparaji – Current people’s Democratic Party [PDP] chairman and 2019 chairmanship aspirant Eleme Local Government Area Rivers State says he is a choice for his people come 2019 general elections.
The Barrister in his mid-40’s hails from Aleto Community in Eleme and from his leadership antecedents is liken to a child of destiny who enjoys his masters reward as fall-outs of his unalloyed loyalty to them. These are his political leaders and fathers in the persons of Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, Chief Felix Obua, Rivers State PDP chairman, Chief Ejor Ngowa, former chairman Eleme Local Government Area, and an Eleme PDP chieftain, chief Olaka Nwogu as wel as other PDP chieftains, members and supporters in Eleme.
As a sitting Eleme PDP chairman as well served one term as Eleme Care-Taker-Committee [CTC] chairman under Governor Wike, he is now desirous to not only deliver PDP in Eleme to the governor in the 2019 coming election but also to take the mantle of leadership as the Area Council Chairman.
In the just concluded PDP chairmanship primaries across the state, Okparaji won the endorsement of his party leadership including Governor Wike who saw that other Co-aspirants from Eleme stepped down for him. From available records, he has proven to be a tested political figure that can deliver the governor in his domain as over 100,000 voters across the Eleme ten communities or wards are already rooting for him and the governor.
Apart from his loyalty in all ramifications, he is a well baked academician with envious credentials from prestigious institutions in the country. A peep into his academic journey has revealed that the young politician is a holder of MSC in International Relations, Masters in Public Administration, a post Graduate Diploma(PGD) in Journalism; and he is rounding up his PHD in International law/Juris Prudence and Human Right at the Rivers State University.
The unassuming Barrister while responding to an interview with this medium said with all the above qualifications his nature has not swallowed him to become puffy and proud because his successful journey in life is guided by unquestionable loyalty to both his public and private figures.
In his further reaction to his humble and obedient nature, the barrister defended himself thus, “There is no doubt about my loyalty to my masters and leaders alike in the course of my political career and service to humanity. Even a wife and husband are loyal to each other because it is a pre-requisite to success of individuals in life”.
A cross-section of political analyst’s in Eleme are of the opinion that the chairmanship position Okparaji is gunning for should have been an opportunity for another Eleme PDP members from other communities other than Aleto. Their argument is that the Barrister has enjoyed CTC chairmanship once and still the current PDP chairman in Eleme Area Council.
However, what is paying out for the astute politician is destiny endorsed by God Himself otherwise the PDP leaders in the state could have in a stroke of pen told him to drop the ambition for equity, Fairness and justice to hold sway for other eligible contestants.
However, the chairmanship-hopeful who says he is not losing sleep over his critics opinion said, “my aim and objective as the chairman of the party is to make sure by 2019, Eleme should be able to deliver PDP for his Excellency, the governor of Rivers State unlike what happened in 2015 when PDP was defeated in Eleme. We are still carrying the shame but I want to say by 2019, we will deliver Eleme for PDP, so there is no rancor or division”.
He continued, “I am in the race and have supporters in all the ten Eleme communities and my trust is in the Lord because leadership comes from God. More so I’m determined to address the challenges confronting the Eleme ethnic-nationality and restore the dignity of Eleme people, I will not disappoint them”.
“I repeat, power comes from God and I have what it takes. I’m confident in my emergence, because I have an agenda, a vision for the Eleme people. Not just Eleme people but also to none indigenes doing one business especially the teaming investors”.
The Barrister echoed that he has his uncompromised agenda to protect lives, investments and to deliver robust governance to Eleme people, stressing that the Eleme-industrial-rich land should be security zero tolerance, where security of lives and property is sacrosanct.
A cross section of the community who commended Okparaji for his articulation and preparedness to tackle insecurity if he succeeds in his chairmanship race recalled in lamentation that the state of mysterious assassinations in Eleme in recent times across the communities by unknown assailants had heightened unabated.
A couple of dastard killings still fresh in Alode community is that of late Barrister Mary Obe and her senior brother, late Eleme Council Youth President Isaac Obe who were murdered in their cold blood by their killers. Also in March 2018, one Late Wuwu Ejire, 43, a carpenter by trade and father of four children was shot in Alode around 6.45pm by yet-to be identified gunmen.
Several other innocent persons had gone down in communities like Ebubu, Alesa, Aleto among others-dastard killing that had posed a challenge to the past council chairmen and Divisional Police officers and other security operatives demands a holistic measure by Okparaji.
The chief of Ewuu in Aleto Community, Chief Emere Joseph Oluji who also spoke with our correspondent on Okparaji’s chairmanship aspiration said the candidature of Okparaji was not foisted on Eleme electorates but his antecedents as a one-time CTC chairman endeared him to both old and the young especially the youth bodies across the Eleme ten wards.
Oluji enumerated or attributed Okparaji’s acceptance to honesty, God-fearing, cult-free, loyal and magnanimous, pointing out that when he was in office as CTC chairman, he was frugal with all financial allocations coming to the Local Government by ensuring prompt payment of salaries and wages to workers, payment of allowances to all ex-chairmen and councilors of the local government until he left without a record of embezzlement or misappropriation of funds to himself and affiliates or cronies.
The Ewuu chief attested further that, the chairmanship aspirant’s loyalty to the PDP chieftains, members and supporters in Eleme coupled with his sound Political Office management, Governor Wike believed in him as an Aleto- Eleme choice to deliver the PDP in 2019 elections.
“as an in-coming Executive chairman, cultism in Eleme could be brought to Zero level or minimized because when he, Okparaji was on seat as CTC chairman, activities of cultism were brought to a low level because he was touching their lives psychologically through empowerment to repent back to moral human life, and these are many more reasons why he has won the people’s support”, Oluji said.