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Date Published: 07/01/10

Isoko and 2011 Politics: How long shall we continue to play the second fiddle? By Dr. Lewis Akpogena

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Justice and equity are fundamental in a civilized society. It has been said, times without number, that Nigeria’s greatest challenge is devising a pragmatic political formula of sharing power among its hundreds of ethnic groups. It is equally said that political integration has become elusive to us owing mainly to the circumstances, historical and otherwise, of our formation and emergence as a single political entity. “Power must be made to rotate among the various ethnic nationalities...”(Mao Alulo). With focus on 2011, political struggles and maneuvering in Nigeria have begun, earnestly. In the centre of the political controversy at Delta State level is who become Governor of Delta State come 2011.The issue is should Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan be re-elected for second term? Does he deserve it? Shouldn’t other Governorship aspirants from other ethnic groups be elected to govern the State? This piece is a case for a person of character and capacity from Isoko ethnic nationality to be given the opportunity to govern Delta State come 2011. Isoko should no longer play second fiddle.  

Why? Here is why? The issue is not Governor Uduaghan as a person or whether his performance meets the expectations of other ethnic nationalities or not, rather rotating political offices turn by turn will enhance peace, harmony and development much more. If other ethnic groups are allowed to assume leadership of the State as Governor, there will be sense of belonging that will encourage all stakeholders in the entity called Delta State to work in harmony and enhance development to all ethnic group equitably. When political appointments are lopsided and dominated by a few majority ethnic groups; the minority ethnic group will feel marginalized. These will create divisive and unhealthy competition and political maneuvering that lead to breakdown of laws and order. Peace and development will be the casualty. Why I feel that an Isoko person should be given the opportunity to serve as Governor Inspite of Governor Uduaghan’s performance and right to second term constitutionally is this. God hates inequality, marginalization and injustices. Leadership that carries all other ethnic groups along is what God advocate for in the Bible. Concerned Isoko and Ndokwa Professional Network recently in a press statement lament, “What offence the ethnic nationalities may have committed against the Federal and State governments to warrant the gross marginalization and inequality in political appointments” as being experienced by them. 

The group warned that the peace loving nature of the ethnic nationalities should not be taken for cowardice, adding, “since we reward only violence in this part of the country, it is hoped that this absolute neglect is not a clarion call to violence”. They said, “When Chief James Ibori, an urhobo was governor, the secretary to the government was an Itsekiri”. The two ministers appointed from Delta State during Chief James Ibori administration were from Ijaw and Itsekiri ethnic groups respectively. Ray Inije, who was appointed as Ambassador during that time, was Urhobo. The Commissioner who represented Delta State in NDDC during Ibori administration was from Ijaw. The Chairman and Secretary of newly created DESOPADEC are from Ijaw and Urhobo ethnic group among others. Another reason why an Isoko person should be given opportunity to rule Delta State is the contribution of Isoko nation to the development of the Nigeria nation and in particular Delta State deserves such concession. But why wouldn’t Deltans at least feel that it wouldn’t be too much of a concession to make for an Isoko person to contest in 2011? After all, Isoko nation had for so long been playing second fiddle over the years and has been severely marginalized and deprived. 

Who will contribute to the wealth of a nation and not allowed to control or manage it over such long period of time? Isoko contributes over 75 percent of crude oil and gas, yet no infrastructure could be cited in that region. Isoko is only having two local governments with the population of over 2.5 million. This include lsoko scattered all over Bayelsa State and Ndokwa East Local Government and such people have been agitating to join their kith and kin in the two local governments to no avail. Isoko was the second region to discover crude oil in 1959 after the major discovery of oil in Oloibiri. The high rate of unemployment among the Isoko youths has prompted many of our young school leavers to turn to okada riders and motor conductors. Isoko land produces some 14 million barrels of crude oil annually and this represents roughly 15% of the total production of Delta State. Isoko land is also rich in natural gas which abounds in Uzere and Olomoro fields. Inspite of this enormous contribution to the GDP, Isoko land has no industries; electricity supply is grossly inadequate while only a few roads are motorable. The injustice and marginalization suffered by the Isoko people can best be gleaned from exclusion of Isoko from crucial positions in DESOPADEC, OMPADEC/NDDC and other intervention agencies put in place by successive governments to solve the Niger Delta problem. Isoko have also not fared better in State and Federal political appointments. 

The tables below are self explanatory.

BOARD
NAME OF PERSON
NATIONALITY
1.5%  Presidential Task Force
Chief Lucky Oghene-Omoru

(Commissioner for Finance and Chairman 1.5% Bendel State).

Urhobo
Chief Chris Ghomorai ( Finance Commissioner Bendel and late Delta State(1984 to 1992)
 

Ijaw
OMPADEC
Lt. Col Oko
Urhobo
Chief James Jemide, Board member
Itsekiri
Chief J.O Popo, Board member
Itsekiri
Mr. Justice Rewane (Special Board Member that participated in the winding up of OMPADEC under the Chairmanship of Senator Liyel Imoke
 

Itsekiri
Vice Admiral Preston Omtasola (Board Chairman)
Itsekiri
Chief Anthony Bamuza (Board Member)
Ijaw
NDDC 2001-2003
Engr. Godwin Omene (Managing Director (2001-2003))
Urhobo
NDDC 2001-2004
Professor Victor F. Peretomode 2001-2004 (Member representing Delta State on NDDC Board)
Ijaw
Hon. Chief Emmanuel Aguariavwodo (Managing Director) (2004-2007)
Urhobo
Barr. Valeentine Areyinka Board Member (2005-2009)
Itsekiri
Chief Timi Alaibe- Managing Director NDDC (2007-2009)
Ijaw

A look at the following table will also show how the Isoko have fared in the political scene from 1999 till date. 

 

DESOPADEC
Tribe
President/Vice President
Senate
Gov.
Dep. Gov.
Minister
State Speaker
SSG
Chairman
Commissioner
Isoko
-
1
-
-
-
1
-
1
Urhobo
-
2
Twice
1
1
-
2
2
Ijaw
1/1
Twice
-
-
2
2
-
1
2
Itsekiri
-
-
1
-
1
2
1
2
Aniom
-
Twice
-
1
1
1
1

In DESOPADEC, an intervention agency that utilizes 50% of the 13 percent derivation fund that accrue to Delta State, the Chairman is an Ijaw and the Secretary is Urhobo. Also while other ethnic nationalities have 2 Commissioners each on the DESOPADEC board, Isoko has only 1. To allow other ethnic nationalities to govern Delta State as governor will strengthen democracy. I want to believe that if the institution of democracy is strengthened and we are also said to be practicing democracy, there should be no need to exclude other ethnic nationalities from governing the State. We should not be talking of democracy, if certain people are inhibited from contesting and governing the State. Isoko Nation have over the years since Midwestern Region, Bendel State and now Delta State played second fiddle, helped as a stabilizing force that stand with other ethnic nationalities to promote good governance, peace and development. 

It is not just the turn of an Isoko to be governor. It is just and equitable thing to do to help an Isoko person to become Delta State Governor come 2011. As Dr. Tim LaHaye puts it. “At this crucial time in history, every Christian should do one or the other run for office or help someone else run” The Governorship of a State is not given on basis of sentiment. Isokos must engage other ethnic nationalities, negotiate and offer persons with character and capacity with fear of God and accountable to electorate to contest for elections. Almost all Isoko elected and appointed representatives in government are not accountable to Isoko electorate/IDU leadership nor have they attracted democracy’s dividends to Isoko land. Hence we need people of character and capacity to wrestle leadership from forces and face those who don’t have Isoko interest as their first concern to be elected come 2011. Isoko shall no longer play second fiddle. God will answer our prayers come 2011 elections. If u have question you may call: 08055059656 or write: akpogena@yahoo.com. Stay Blessed. 

 

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