By Oluwayemi Davidsin, Warri
The traditional ruler of Gbaramatu Kingdom in the Warri South Local Government Area of Niger Delta Region, His Royal Majesty, Oboro Gbaraun II, Aketekpe, Agadagba, has tasked the various State Governors in the Region to checkmate the reckless influx of bandits who are heightening insecurity in the Region.
The monarch made the call over the weekend as thousands of Ijaw people from all over Delta, Bayelsa, Edo and Ondo States converged on Oporoza town, the ancestral headquarters of Gbaramatu Kingdom to celebrate the climax of a week-long ‘spiritual cleansing’ of the various communities in the Region.
The celebration aptly tagged “Gbaraun-Egbesu, Ibolomibo-Ere and Amaseikumor Annual festival” was presided over by the Chief Priests from the various Niger Delta communities led by High Chief Government Ekpemukpolo a.k.a. Tompolo. the spiritual custodian of the Egbesu shrine in Oporoza, Gbaramatu Kingdom.
Tompolo is the renowned Ijaw freedom fighter and former General Officer Commanding (GOC) the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).
Addressing the celebrants, the chief host and traditional ruler of Gbaramatu explained that “the Amaseikumor Festival of Gbaramatu Kingdom is a series of spiritual cleansing activities meant to purify the Kingdom and the entire Ijaw nation of evil, detrimental to the development of her people”.
“This is a festival celebrated to entrench the nature of peaceful coexistence and foster unity among members of the Kingdom, Ijaw nation and her neighbours within the Nigerian polity. This explainscthe huge attendance of the festival annually by people from cross various tribes”, he said.
The Ijaw monarch bemoaned the increasing wave of insecurity in the Region which he said was becoming worrisome.
He said, “As Chief Security Officers of your various States, Governors should ensure that their States borders and territories are secured and inaccessible to agents of destruction and mayhem who enter the States in various guises. Your Excellencies should engage sincerely, high level information and intelligence gathering mechanisms to stop this menacing insecurity which is adversely affecting our national economy already. To ensure peace, unity and security, everybody however must be involved. I therefore call on all of us to do our bit in this regard”.
While noting that the Ijaws of Gbaramatu Kingdom are peaceful and enterprising people who are desirous of development, the traditional ruler however declared that Ijaws “detest and will always detest oppression, slavery and injustice” stressing chat “where there is truth and justice, peace will always prevail”.
The Ijaw monarch declared “It is pertinent to state that development is a panacea to insecurity and a catalyst of peace in any environment, if properly managed. The Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko is one establishment that will provide massive job opportunities, enhance the development of small and medium scale businesses, attract government attention, provide the much-needed manpower for the maritime industry and a lot more.
“Almost all of these great benefits derivable from this institution are currently stifled because of the unusually very slow process of the passage of the Nigeria Maritime University, Okerenkoko bill into law. Consequently, the school is not funded and the necessary infrastructural development at the permanent site stopped”.
In the light of this, the monarch unveiled a formal request of the Ijaws to the Federal Government comprising the demand for speedy passage and assent of the Nigeria Maritime University, Okerenkoko bill into law; relocation of the NIMASA Drydock/ship building yard from Lagos to its original location at Okerenkoko where job has already commenced and payment of the judgement debt sum of N100billion in Suit No.FHC/ASA/CS/139/2009 Chief Nelson Ogekegbanwei & 52 Ors. Vs. Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The Ijaw monarch assured of sustained peace in the Niger Delta Region if the Government can keep its own side of the obligations stressing that “peace and unity in one kingdom is the foundation block for peace in the entire country”.
He said, “Nigeria is presently in dire need of security, peace and unity. While we are doing our bit in Gbaramatu Kingdom to ensure peace and unity, we implore governments at all levels to employ proactive and productive measures timely to curb the escalating spate of insecurity across the country. The security threats are real Abd should not be politicized but addressed appropriately. There cannot be peace and unity in a state of crisis and insecurity, just as there cannot be any meaningul development in any form in the absence of peace and unity”.
A cross section of the celebrants including Hon. McDonald Igbafiwei, the traditional Prime Minister of Gbaraun and member of the Bayelsa House of Assembly representing Southern Ijaw Constituency lamented “the continued marginalization'” of the Niger Delta Region urging the Federal Government of Nigeria to review the ugly trend without further delay.
According to them, “subsequent Governments in the country have continued to neglect the Niger Delta Region despite the huge economic resources being derived from the Region”.
They called on the authorities, particularly the Federal Government to “take notice of the peculiar problems of the Ijaws of the Niger Delta and create enduring peace for the people so that development can come to the Region”.