Thursday, May 27, 2021

A CLARION CALL FOR AN ISOKO SUMMIT.


ISOKO SUMMIT

In view of the progressive relegation of Isoko politically to the backstage in Delta State and in Nigeria, the need for an Isoko Summit has become very imperative.

LEADERSHIP VACUUM
There is a leadership vacuum in Isoko. Isoko has leaders before in the persons of Late Senator Francis Okpozo, Chief Ekpre Otobo, Gen. Paul Omu, Senator (Mrs.) Stella Omu, Dr. Idodo Umeh, Chief (Dr.) S.O Akpotu, Chief Omonose, Late Elder Peter Erebi, Gen. Alex Ogomudia, etc. while we have lost several of them, the rest seem to have recoiled to their shells. On the political side, we have had leaders like Comrade Ovuozurie Macaulay, Hon. Leo Ogor Okuweh, Solomon Ogba, the Late Tim Owhefere and recently Bashorun Askia Ogeh amongst others. The activities of the political leaders have not moved Isoko to the mainstream of State or National Politics.

CONSEQUENCE OR LOSS OF LEADERSHIP IN ISOKO NATION
As a result of the loss of leadership in Isoko Nation, there have been no persons to articulate our needs and aspirations to the relevant authorities. The Political class in Isoko now dictate the pace of development of the Isoko Nation and because most of them owe their allegiance to other authorities other than the Isoko people, there is a near zero development of the Isoko Nation. There is today no industry in Isoko. The state of Isoko roads remains deplorable. Isoko has no pipe borne water and electricity is epileptic. From 1999 till date, the Isoko Nation has not produced a Minister, no Ambassador and no Special Adviser at the Federal level. The hitherto arable land and aquatic culture have been devastated by long years of oil exploration and exploitations by SPDC and NAOC.

ISOKO CONTRIBUTION TO THE NATIONAL ECONOMY
Isoko Nation has two Local Government Areas; both North and South with a combined population of 371,867 by the 2006 census figures. Several years after the last population count, the figure is expected to have hit 500,000. Besides, there is a large Isoko population trapped in Ndokwa East and Bayelsa State who are clamouring to join their kith and kin in Isoko Land. Isokos in Ndokwa East can be found in Umuolu, Asaba Ase, Igbuku, Ashaka, Ibrede, Awa, Anyama/Okoroafor, Iyede-Ame, Lagos Iyede, Onogbokor, Umuti, Iyowo, Afiankwu, Ugbome, Adiai, Udhedhe. The total population of Isokos in Ndokwa East is not less than 80,000 and can conveniently form a new Local Government.


The Isoko Nation comprises 17 clans namely:
1. Oyede 10 Uzere
2. Okpe-Isoko 11 Irri
3 Ofagbe 12 Oleh
4 Ellu 13 Emede
5 Ozoro 14 Igbide
6 Owhe 15 Olomoro
7 Emevor 16 Okpolo (Enwhe)
8 Iyede 17 Umeh/Erowha
9 Aviara

Isoko Nation accounts for about 16% of crude oil produced in Nigeria. Isoko has five flow stations, three compressor stations and 220 oil wells. Yet, there has been no commensurate development of the area that has over the years contributed to the development of the Nation. Isoko Nation is also blessed with a huge human resource capital that is lurked everywhere due to the underdevelopment of their homeland that canno absorb them. The Isoko people are highly resourceful and their main occupation is fishery, cassava cultivation, oil palm, plantain and general trading. As a matter of fact the vast economic life of Ughelli main town is controlled by the Isoko people.

POLITICAL MIGHT OF THE ISOKO NATION
The Isoko people over the years are known to vote in a monolithic fashion being very dependable people. In the Governorship election of April 14, 2007 for example, the Isoko’s voted en bloc and massively for Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, the former Governor of Delta State. While Dr. Uduaghan recorded 57,529 votes out of the 66,297 votes cast (85%) in Isoko North, 109,405 votes or 95% was recorded for Isoko South. This pattern was followed in 2015 and 2019 elections where the Isokos gave Dr. Okowa more votes than the Itsekiris and the Ijaws. Yet these political supports have not been translated into any meaningful development for the Isoko Nation. The Isoko people are peace loving and although its youths are very politically conscious and active; they have refrained from joining militancy groups even though the capacity to do so is there. That the Isoko people are resilient in the face of marginalization should therefore not be misconstrued to mean that the Isokos are a docile people.

THE ISOKOS, OVERDUE FOR A THIRD LOCAL GOVERNMENT
While the Itsekiris and the Ijaws have three Local Government Areas each, Isoko is still grappling with only two Local Government Areas. It is true from our earlier analysis that there are a lot of Isoko people lurked in Ndokwa East, Bayelsa State and along the coastal regions of the Niger Delta. These ‘Diaspora’ Isoko people are enough to form a new Local Government Area.

STRIFE AMONGST ISOKO LEADERS/TOWNS
Isoko South used to be the hotbed of Isoko Politics occasioned by strife and inter-personal disagreements but today, Isoko North is gradually assuming the unenviable position of headquarters for Political intrigues, backbiting and backstabbing. The struggle for supremacy and leadership has been impacted negatively in the developments of Isoko in general and Isoko North in particular. Rather than fashion out ideas on how to move Isoko forward, the leaders are engaging in supremacy struggle. Recently also, as if by coincidence, there has been a rash of deaths in the Political class in Isoko.

The last bye-election in Isoko North Constituency to fill the vacancy created by the death of the former Majority Leader, Hon. Tim Owhefere has exposed the underbelly of the Isoko North Politicians as a bunch of disunited persons who care more about themselves than their constituency. There has been this strange spirit of wanting to undo or outdo one another even to the extent of wanting to kill one another.

Apart from individual strife, it has also snowballed into seemingly intractable communal strife. The strife between Emede and Igbide has been raging on unabated for years. Ozoro and Oleh are also embroiled in communal crises.

POLITICAL MARGINALIZATION OF THE ISOKO NATION
From 1999 till date, Isoko remains marginalized politically. Isoko Nation has not produced a Governor or Deputy Governor since the current political dispensation started. Apart from the brief stint of Senator Stella Omu who occupied the Senate seat from 1999 to 2003 by representing the Delta South Senatorial District, the Ijaws through James Manager has held on to the Senate seat for 20years while the Itsekiris held on to the Governorship for 8years (2007 – 2015). It becomes imperative for the Isokos to place a demand for the Governorship in 2023 as it is the only way this feeling of marginalization can be assuaged.  

ZONING OR POWER SHIFT AS IT AFFECTS THE ISOKO NATION
In 1999 when the Delta Central which predominantly houses the Urhobo people assumed the governorship through Chief James Ibori the Urhobos were well positioned in government both at the State level and the Federal level. By the time James Ibori exited the Governorship seat in 2007, many Urhobo sons and daughters had been sufficiently empowered. From 2007 to 2015 when Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan mounted the saddle as Governor of Delta State, many people assumed that he was taking the turn of Delta South. Yet, the truth is that he only took the turn of the Itsekiris. The Delta South Senatorial district is made up of three distinct tribes:- the Isokos, the Ijaws and the Itsekiris. These three tribes have different languages and culture just as their geographical boundaries crosses the Delta Central and the Delta North. A drive from Koko to Bomadi will explain this better as one has to travel through the three Senatorial districts to get to destination. From 2015 till date when Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa became Governor, he has been fairer to Isoko than his predecessors. Yet, the question to be asked is what happens to Isoko when Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa exits the Governorship? The Urhobos of Delta Central are saying it is their turn to produce the Governor in 2023. What happens to Isoko and Ijaw, two ethnic Nationalities that has not produced a Governor since 1999 and Isoko especially that has not even produced a Deputy Governor.

Herein lies the prodigious inequity that the Isoko Nation has been subjected to Politically. Professor Oyovbaire, one of the foremost leaders of the Urhobos and a key member of the DC-23 has said that rotation or power shift is on the basis of senatorial districts and not tribe. Professor Oyovbaire is only saying that because it suits the Urhobos of Delta Central at the moment. The zoning or power shit principle has turned out to be a deceitful, bogus and meaningless statement that can be manipulated at every turn to suit a particular purpose. The truth is that the Isoko Nation more than any other deserve the Governorship in 2023, and now is the time for the Isoko people to brace up to the challenge and take what rightfully belongs to them.


 PRINCE OBARO UNUAFE

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