Delta 2023: On rotational arrangement we stand
Sir: No one who truly knows and understands the meaning and trajectory of war trifles with peace. The Urhobos, Ijaws, Aniochias, Itsekiris, Isokos and other tribes in Delta state have co-existed peacefully and engaged mutually and cordially in inter-tribal trades and marriages long before the amalgamation of Nigeria.
The Urhobos have played landmark roles and made invaluable contributions to the nation’s growth in several important ways. When democracy was gained in 1999, the Urhobos vowed to use their sheer numbers to ensure that they would continue to produce the governor of Delta state without breaking.
However, Chief James Onanefe Ibori, an illustrious son of Urhobo, whilst in office as Governor of Delta State from 1999 to 2007, sought the backing of other prominent Urhobo founding members and leaders of the ruling party 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. This arrangement 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, surprising 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.
Where was the Ijaw nation when the existing mutual political arrangement for zoning of the rotational gubernatorial power of the state was hatched and ratified? When were the Ijaw people separated from the Delta south senatorial zone, as well as by who and how? Thirdly; were the good people of Ijaw in Delta State unaware 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 entire ethnic groups in Delta State have equal rights to agitate for the governorship position of Delta state. But 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 for any single tribe to reject an arrangement that has brought real development and fostered peace between the three senatorial zones in the state.
Let us not create a hopeless situation where life becomes a living hell for all Deltans. Let’s honourably 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.
• By Ovie Edomi, Publisher and Editor–in–Chief of South-South International