Delta 2023: Letting the Rotational Arrangement Stand

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Patriotic, peaceful, focused and well-minded people in any part of the world who know and value the intricacies of peace and war are usually very careful in their dealings with one another; because they equally know that the boundaries between both are very slender and can thus be broken.

By Ovie Edomi

However When treasured peace is broken; decorum, equilibrium and status quo usually give way and a rarely imagined and unexpected holocaust of banditry, looting, bloodbath, brigandage, butchery, carnage, rampage, lawlessness, violent hostilities, reckless destruction and violation of nearly or all of all that was held dear and toiled for usually occur; leaving the polity inundated with a deluge harvest of evil consequences.

The worst part of such scenarios usually is that parties are usually no longer in charge, and not being in control, until it reaches its fateful destination where, even those whose actions and inactions started it can not predict; but almost always leaving in its trails as the late prophetic iconic legendary and renowned Afro-beat musician – Fela Anikulapo Kuti declared in one of his songs – sorrows, tears and blood.

The truth is that no one who truly knows and understands the meaning and trajectory of war trifles with peace. This is what informs why wise and well meaning parties or people in any clime usually tread very cautiously and do not brazenly or recklessly overstep their boundaries or compromise well-laid cornerstones that define the hedges of collective arrangements and resolutions of any caliber, whether economic, social, political and so forth. To be specific, political quagmires usually result in avoidable subterfuges, chicaneries, skull duggeries, juggleries, indiscriminate arrests, mayhem, displacement of people and many order forms of destruction/violations of law, lives and properties. This is why peace and tranquility must not be taken for granted.

Delta people who have attained some age cannot forget in a hurry how the Warri crisis in the 90s led to stock-piling of weapons and eventually metamorphosed into a full-blown militancy in the region until the Federal Government through its amnesty programme and extensive negotiations brought the situation under control. It is germane to remember that the Urhobos, Ijaws, Aniochias, Itsekiris,Isokos and other tribes in the state have co-existed peacefully and engaged not just meaningfully, but also very mutually and cordially in inter-tribal trades and marriages long before the amalgamation of Nigeria.

To draw useful lessons from the stables of Nigeria’s political history, the Urhobos as the fifth largest ethnic group in Nigeria and largest ethnic group in Delta state, with 22 clans or kingdoms spread around upland, coastal and riverine areas of Delta State immensely contribute not only to the crude oil/gas earnings of the federal government, but equally to the overall growth of Delta state and Nigeria as a whole in different ways as a result of sheer size and valuable human resource potentials.

It is on record that the Urhobos have played landmark roles and made invaluable contributions to the nation’s growth in several important ways. With regards to the struggle for political emancipation in the mid-eighties which led to states’ creation, which carried on to 1990 and to the creation of Delta state in August 1991 by General Ibrahim Babangida, Urhobo through her very distinguished and notable sons and daughters played very cardinal and crucially-determinant roles.

The reason for the eventual shift of the capital to Asaba as the capital of Delta state is still fresh in our treasured memories. When democracy was eventually gained in 1999, the original plan of the Urhobos was to stake a revenge for marginalizing Urhobo by taking the state capital from Urhobo shores as originally planned, to Asaba. The Urhobos’ therefore vowed to use their share numbers to ensure that they would continue to produce the governor of Delta state without breaking. However, Chief James Onanefe Ibori, an illustrious, dynamic and large-hearted son of Urhobo, whilst in office as Governor of Delta State from 1999 to 2007, was persuaded and sought the backing of other prominent Urhobo founding members and leaders of the ruling party to jettison the original resolve to hold on to power exclusively, and eventually agreed on behalf of the Urhobos with other prominent non-Urhobo founding members and leaders of the PDP to a rotational shift of the gubernatorial seat amongst the three senatorial zones in a turn by turn basis.

Thisarrangement has been sustained since then. Consequently, the Urhobos produced Chief Ibori (1999 – 2007), then Delta south which comprises of Ijaw, Isoko and Itsekiri had their turn with the Governorship of Emmanuel Ewetan Uduaghan (2007 – 2015) and then Delta North which comprises Aniochia, Kwale etc., commenced their turn with the election of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa in 2015 and in 2019 for a second tenure.
It is therefore very surprising to the good people of Delta State who have enjoyed love, peace and tranquility in Delta state thus far as a result of this noble and necessary senatorial zones rotational accord, that suddenly, an Ijaw movement headed by a highly esteemed Ijaw chief is claiming that Ijaw people gave maximum support to Delta central, Delta south and Delta north senatorial zones in oiling the wheels and facilitating implementation of the zonal senatorial rotational agreement; and for that reason are demanding and insisting that it is now the turn of the ijaws to pilot the state’s governance come 2023.

The first issue/question that arises is; where was the Ijaw nation when the existing mutual political arrangement for zoning of the rotational gubernatorial power of the state was hatched, formalized and ratified? The second pertinent issue/question is; when were the Ijaw people separated from the Delta south senatorial zone, as well as by who and how?

A third crucial issue/question is; were the good people of Ijaw in Delta State either unaware or hypnotized, when Emmanuel Uduaghan of Itsekiri descent presented himself and received the ticket of the Delta south senatorial zone, (where they officially belong senatorially), campaigned, won and ruled the state for a tenure of eight years?
The truth is that the entire ethnic groups in Delta State have equal rights to agitate crudely, stubbornly or rebelliously for the governorship position of Delta state. But the simple truth again is that after 20 years of peaceful implementation and transition of the state’s governorship ticket between the three senatorial zones, it becomes a mere exhibition of a deliberate desire to retard and truncate the political progress the state has recorded over the past 20 years, for any single tribe to attempt to reject and resist an arrangement that has brought real development and fostered peace between the three senatorial zones in the state.
The only way such action can be interpreted is that it is a display of power.

It needs be stressed therefore that nobody has a monopoly of raw power, and the more transcending fact is that we are in the 21st century. No tribe should therefore arrogantly thrust us back to the dark days of Africa were wars were the order of the day for determining/resolving matters which dialogue, compromise, accords and treaties are mutually/peacefully applied today. Nigeria just like the entire world is a small space and what comes around; goes around. People may get away with abominable and shameful things in the immediate, but the negative reputation and nemesis would transcend generations of their posterity. So I feel as a journalist and a Prophet by inclination
For crying out loud and towards allowing sleeping dogs to lie in peace, if the rotation process began with the Urhobos and it has gone round the 3 senatorial zones; both in respect to political philosophy and in order to ensure peaceful co-existence and tranquility, the rotational arrangement should begin again with the Urhobos.

The Nigeria state is already overwhelmed with issues of anarchy, lawlessness and insecurity; not to mention unemployment, poverty, hunger and anger. To begin to assert or insist that the Ijaws must produce the next governor in 2023 is to load a Revolver and take it to the market place and say until the Ijaws have their way, Delta will not remain one sovereign entity and will know no peace.

When one fires a gun into a market shared by one’s own stakeholders, they may be the unfortunate one’s to be hit. Furthermore, in this age where no tribe has monopoly of power, in our bid to covet the number one seat in Delta state, let us not create a hopeless situation where life becomes a living hell for all Deltans. Evidently God will not forgive the callous misdeeds of such selfish and arrogant rabble rousers.

Let’s honourably, sacrificially and painstakingly sustain the turn by turn arrangement and by that let the Urhobos take their turn. Anything short of that is indeed trying to make the state restless for Governor Ifeanyi Okowa. I believe that is certainly not the plan of the Ijaws for their beloved Delta State, or
is it?

Ovie Edomi is the Publisher & Editor–in–Chief of South-South International as well as the Acting Rector of Goddowell Polytechnic, Ekpan, Effurun, Delta state

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