Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa is a Nigerian politician who served as Governor of Delta State for two terms (2015–2023). In Delta State, Nigeria, he was elected senator for the Delta North Senatorial District (2011–2015). On June 16, 2022, he was picked as Atiku Abubakar’s running partner for the People’s Democratic Party’s presidential election in 2023. (PDP).
Early Life and Education
Ifeanyi Okowa was born in Owa-Alero, Delta State’s Ika North-East Local Government Area, on July 8, 1959. He earned an MBBS degree in 1981 after studying medicine and surgery at the University of Ibadan. From 1970 to 1976, he attended Edo State College in Benin City. After leaving the National Youth Service Corps, he served as a medical officer for the Bendel State Hospitals Management Board. As the Director of Victory Medical Centre in Igbanke, he established his own firm in 1986.
Dr. Okowa joined the Bendel State Hospitals Management Board in 1983 and worked at the General Hospital in Uromi and the Government Hospital in Igbanke. He resigned from the administration in 1986 to establish Victory Medical Clinics in Igbanke and Boji Boji, Owa.
He started politics in 1991 as Secretary of the Ika Local Government Council. The following year, he was appointed as the first Executive Chairman of the Ika North East Local Government Area (1991-1993). Dr. Okowa continued his medical practice after the dissolution of the Third Republic in 1993, but returned to politics in 1998, when the Military Government abolished the political prohibition.
Senator Okowa has benefited from positive contacts in Delta State administration since the founding of the Nigerian Fourth Republic in 1999. He was the Commissioner of Agriculture and Natural Resources from 1999 to 2001, Water Resources Development (2001-2003), and Health (2003-20066).
Dr. Okowa resigned in October 2006 to compete for Governor of Delta State on the ticket of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). He finished second in the PDP Gubernatorial Primaries and afterwards served as the campaign’s Director-General. He was Secretary of the Government Transition Committee in April/May 2007, a position he had previously held in 1999.
In June of 2007, he was named Secretary to the State Government (SSG). He resigned from the Senate in July 2010 to contest for the Delta North Senatorial District, which he easily won. After being elected on April 11, 2015, Senator Dr. Okowa was sworn in as Delta State’s fourth Executive Governor on May 29, 2015.
In 2022, Okowa was picked by the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, as his running mate for the 2023 presidential election.
Delta Line Privatisation
During his first term, Okowa’s administration announced the partial privatization of the state-owned Delta Line Bus Company. God is Good Transport Development Company (GTDC) purchased 60% of Delta Line for $160 million at the end of the privatization process, while the Delta State government kept 40% ownership. Chidi Ajaere, the owner of GTDC, had endorsed Okowa’s 2015 campaign, while the Delta State Council of the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporation, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees claimed to have offered 2 billion for the same share.
The 2019 Auditor-General’s Report
In a two-part investigation issued in December 2021, the International Centre for Investigative Reporting identified unexpected spending, disdain for financial regulations, and proof of financial theft in the Delta State Auditor-Annual General’s Report for 2019. In the report’s investigation, several ministries, divisions, and agencies (MDAs), as well as the State House of Assembly, were mentioned as suspects.
Among the notable findings are the Office of the Secretary of State Government’s inability to account for $278.5 million in public funds, members of the Okowa administration illegally ignoring Freedom of Information requests, the State Board of Internal Revenue’s questionable use of 107.74 million in funds, and extra-budgetary expenditures of the ministries of Health and Agriculture, as well as inflated costs for House of Assembly members’ vehicles. Officials mostly ignored requests for comment or sent the matter to Auditor-General Paul Aghanenu, who defended the report but claimed he couldn’t answer any further questions until the State Government Secretary gave his permission.
Dr. Okowa has been married to Her Excellency Dame Edith Okowa for over 30 years, and the couple has three children.
Awards and Nominations
- At the Eko Hotel & Suites in Lagos, he was named Man of the Year 2017 by the Independent Newspaper.
- In 2017, he received the University of Ibadan’s highest award as Alumni of the Year 2016 at the University of Ibadan Alumni Lecture, where he successfully delivered a lecture titled “Good Governance for Wealth Creation and Sustainable Development: Experience and Lessons” at the 2017 edition of the University of Ibadan Alumni Lecture, organised by the University of Ibadan Alumni Association (UIAA).
According to Forbes and Business Insider, Ifeanyi Okowa’s net worth is approximately $1.5 million.