Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and suspended Ovie Ossai

…Pointer Mgt Queried

By Onome Oghenetega

Ovie Success Ossai, Special Assistant To Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State on Special Duties, has been placed on suspension for two months without salary.

He was suspended by Governor Okowa on Monday over a report he posted on his Facebook page last weekend.

Ovie Ossai is the youngest appointee of the Governor Okowa-led administration. He was appointed by the governor in his first term in 2015, and was recently reappointed following on Okowa’s re-election.

The appointee who has been one of the most visible promoters of the PDP-led government in the state on social media was suspended for syndicating a story published by the News Agency of Nigeria which the Governor’s family finds “unfavourable.”

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NAN had reported the donation of $10 million grant to 05 Initiative, a pet-project operated by the wife of the governor and first lady of Delta, Dame (mrs) Edit Okowa by a US-based NGO, the Initiative for Global Development (IGD).

The grant was announced by IGD’s Chief Executive Officer, Leila Ndiaye, at a sickle cell sensitisation forum organised by 05 Initiative in New York.

The grant was to support the governor’s wife achievements in the management of sickle cell disease across Delta State.

WARRI TODAY reliably learnt that the governor’s wife had wanted to break the noise on return from UK tour when some family members of the governor spotted the news on Ovie Ossai’s social media handle.

One of the sources said, “Ovie, seeing the report on News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) took to his social media handle to celebrate the achievements of the governor’s wife, Dame Edith Okowa on the donation. The report didn’t go down well the 05 Initiative team and reported the matter to the governor.

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“The report by NAN took the 05 Initiative team by surprise as the report was filed by NAN reporter in the UK. Ovie was unaware that there was a directive that the report shouldn’t been posted.

“The governor’s wife wanted to celebrate the grant as one of the takeaways of her pet-project sensitisation tour in the UK.”

…Pointer Mgt Queried

It was gathered that the management of the state owned newspaper, The Pointer, was also queried for publishing the report.  

This medium learnt on good authority that the State Commissioner for Information, Mr Charles Aniagwu, the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr Olisa Ifeajika and the management of The Pointer held series of meetings over the report on Monday.

A source at the medium confirmed the development to this reporter, adding that line-editors on duty were queried.

“Since the report was reported by NAN we will thought it had the blessing of Her Excellency so we lifted as NAN report. The report was highlighted on our front page to celebrate the story. Of a true, there is nothing wrong with the report. The management was queried”, a source at Pointer Newspaper told this reporter.

However, frantic efforts by Ovie Ossai to explain himself on the issues were rebuffed as he was verbally queried before being later issued with a suspension letter by the office of the Secretary to State Government (SSG), Mr Chiedu Ebie.

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The governor’s action, according to sources, was to serve as a warning to appointees to be careful on what they post about the government particularly about the wife of the governor.

Effort to speak with the Secretary to the State Government, Ebie proved abortive as he did not pick call to his telephone number was not picked.

Suspended Ovie Ossai could not also be reached on telephone. His number was said to have been switched off when contacted on Wednesday.

Below Is the NAN report:

The Initiative for Global Development (IGD), a U.S.-based nonprofit organisation, has announced the donation of 10 million dollars (N3.5 billion) for the management of sickle cell disease (SCD) in Delta.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the money is coming through 05 Initiative, the pet project of Mrs Edith Okowa, wife of the state Governor.

Leila Ndiaye, the Chief Executive Officer of IGD, made the announcement at a sickle cell sensitisation forum organised by 05 Initiative in New York on Thursday.

The event, held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, was part of the funding and partnership drive of 05 Initiative, a nongovernmental organisation.

Ndiaye said the money was meant for the digitisation of sickle cell centres established by 05 Initiative across the state to provide care for patients.

According to her, the gesture was inspired by Mrs Okowa’s commitment to the fight against the disease, which is widespread in Nigeria.

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The country is said to have one of the highest incidences of the blood disorder in the world, with about 40 million carriers.

Every year, 150,000 babies are born with SCD out of which only 50,000 survive beyond age five, according to Dr Annette Akinsete, Director of the Sickle Foundation of Nigeria.

There are currently 12 sickle cell centres run by 05 Initiative in Delta, providing treatment and counseling to patients, according to Okowa.

The governor’s wife told guests at the occasion that her campaign against SCD was motivated by a first-hand experience with the disease.

“You may be wondering why I am interested in sickle cell anemia and not cancer, heart condition, and so on.

“I had a firsthand experience of sickle cell anemia. I had twins as my first issue and I lost one of them due to sickle cell anemia at age one year five months and since then it has been a journey.

“I told myself since I have gone through this, no woman should do the same.

“That is why I have embarked on educating people, especially couples, to know their genotypes before getting married,” she said.

She said 05 Initiative recently built and donated a multimillion naira Sickle Cell Referral Centre to the state as part of her humanitarian activities.

According to her, the centre located in Asaba, is the second in Nigeria and would serve as the headquarters of the other Sickle Cell Micro Clinics in the state.

In goodwill messages, the First Ladies of Ekiti and Edo, Mrs Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi and Betsy Bene Obaseki, respectively, lauded the efforts of their Delta counterpart.

They said there was need to extend the campaign to the national stage, pledging to use the platform of the Governors’ Wives Association to do that.

The Minister of Women Affairs, Ms Pauline Tallen, also commended Mrs Okowa for the Initiative, saying the ministry would “join hands with her to do more” within and beyond Delta. (NAN)


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