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Delta’s Big Heart Staying Strong

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Delta’s Big Heart Staying Strong

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After the initial hoopla of the Okuama killings of soldiers and later civilians turning into a channel for ethnic strife in Delta State, the people of the state are remarkably coming out united against the savagery in the state.

What started as the savage killing of 17 military officers and personnel penultimate Thursday, has now turned into an outcry of lamentations by many Deltans across the state.

Groups across the state have defied political, cultural, ethnic and other divisions to speak with one voice in protecting the state against the law of the jungle.

Remarkably, political tendencies that ordinarily would also have made partisan inferences to discomfit the Governor Sheriff Oborevwori administration have where they have not kept mum, even come out to rally the citizenry around the common interest of the state.

 What some supposed would turn out as a war between the Ijaw and the Urhobo has to the consternation of their enemies united them against their common traducers.

Matthew Ogagavworia, President Atamu Social Club of Nigeria, Lagos, an Urhobo socio cultural group while appearing on Arise News Television on Saturday, 23 March 2024 said:

“The Ijaw and Urhobo are kith and kin. We are neighbours and also husbands and wives. In fact, it is even said that if you are an Ijaw king and your mother is not from Urhobo that something is wrong with your ancestry. that will tell you that our people have lived together and either we are wives to them or they are fathers to us.”

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His words have found echo in Ijaw groups who have also come out to denounce alleged conspiracies on the part of the different ethnic groups against one another to cause the mayhem.

The Ijaw Youth Network has also faulted extraneous claims as made by a former minister of telecommunications, Gen. Tajudeen Olarenwaju to the award of oil pipeline contracts to non-state actors.

The IYN in a statement by its Coordinator, Frank Ebikabo and Secretary, Federal Ebiaridor, said the general’s statement only reechoed the same misguided and false narrative being peddled by frustrated oil thieves and their cohorts who did not get the pipeline contract of the NNPCL.

Whatever, what is increasingly becoming an issue for many is the assertion that a community of less than 2,000 persons many of whom are poor would not have had the kind of military prowess to have tackled the military delegation and killed the army officers.

That claim is what has given credence to the assertion by Senate President Godswill Akpabio that the probe into the repugnant killing of the military officers should look into the possible involvement of mercenaries.

Akpabio who is the highest elected political official from the South-South had said that he knows his people that they could not have done the horrendous act.

Remarkably, Governor Oborevwori has while not rushing to judgment has pledged cooperation with all stakeholders towards identifying the perpetrators of the act.

His commendable act in leading the initial efforts in resolving what was thought to be a communal crisis between the Urhobo of Ukuama in Ughelli South Local Government Area and the Ijaw of Okoloba in Bomadi Local Government Area, has also validated him. His administration had just five weeks before the horrendous act brought the two communities together to sign a peace agreement.

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Mr Edwin Uzor, Special Adviser to Governor Oborevwori on Peace Building and Conflict Resolution had masterminded the agreement between the two communities towards resolving what had been an enduring border dispute between the two communities.

Present during signing of the peace accord were the members representing Bomadi constituency in the State House of Assembly, Boyo Preyor and his counterpart in Ughelli South, Festus Utuama.

Others present during signing of the peace accord were the Chairmen of both local government areas, representatives of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) and representatives from both communities.

It is noteworthy that at the time the Oborevwori administration was bringing the two parties together that it  was yet a contained conflict and the participation of the army had not been required.

How a dispute that was being contained and settled just five weeks ago ballooned into a firestorm that consumed the lives of the high level officers is what many are calling for a probe given the claims of some like Akpabio of a wider conspiracy.

It is interesting that besides the ethnic leaders of Urhobo and the Ijaw that the political leadership of the state have following the mayhem rallied around the state government.

The Delta State Advisory and Peace Building Council (DSA&PBC), a body comprising some of the state’s most eminent personalities led by Babangida era minister, Prof Sam Oyovbaire expressed uneqivocal condemnation of the killing of the army officers and soldiers.

The Council, at its meeting on Thursday 21st March 2024 at Unity Hall, Government House, Asaba, presided over by its chairman, Professor Oyovbaire, also expressed condolences to the Nigerian Army authority, the Presidency, the families of the dead officers and soldiers, and to the Government of Delta State for the very unnecessary colossal loss of lives.

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In its resolution at the end of the meeting, the DSA & PBC commended the Governor, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori for his timely responses to what it termed the very sad, complex and sorrowful situation.

The remarkable convergence of positions by the various political, ethnic and cultural divisions in the state is one that the Oborevwori administration surely needs today and thereafter in its quest to take the state to greater heights.

As Blessed Ughere, president, Urhobo Progress Union youth wing worldwide said in another interview, “Ijaw nation and Urhobo nation are not at war. Since the spokesman of the military say that they know those who are involved they should go after them and leave our people alone.”

It is a plea that everyone in Delta is pleading for.

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