By Mowoe Ererobe
THE survival of a nation depends on the good its leadership can bring to bear on the people of the nation.
No nation is guaranteed continuous existence if its citizens wallow in abject poverty, hardship, pain, anguish and monumental social injustices, particularly if such a nation is identified as having the potential human and mineral resources that guarantee greatness and good living standard. Isoko is made up of about 800,000 in habitants in Delta State of Nigeria.
They are bordered in the east by the Urhobo and in the south by the Ijaw. Isoko is blessed with human and natural resources like palm produce, rubber, lumber rings, cassava, plantain, yams and crude oil. Isoko oilfields remain one of the largest onshore oil producers in Nigeria.
The people started suffering right from 1957 when oil exploration started. In 1959, the first oil well in Delta state was drilled in Uzere in present -day Isoko South local government area. And in 1962, another oil well was drilled in Olomoro, still in Isoko South, before we later had other numerous communities producing about four flow stations.
With these enormous resources and with the contribution to the national coffers, it is on record that Isokoland is the most marginalised in the whole of the federation.Â Isoko people have never been considered for appointment into key position in the petroleum industry by successive governments. Statistics show that the major multi-national companies have no Isoko indigene in their management cadre.
Employments into these companies are skewed in favour of the larger ethnic groups. This is the same with contractors. The Isoko people have never been considered for ministerial or ambassadorial appointments. They have never been deemed fit for the positions of the President or Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; President of Senate or Speaker of the House of Representatives.
They have never been appointed the Group Managing Director ofNigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). The Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) which is being managed by the Northern oligarchy, has never considered any school in Isokoland for development and assistance.
Even when the federal government decided to build a University of Petroleum Resources in the Niger-Delta, Isokoland was consideredÂ a â€œnon-oilâ€ producing local government in Delta state.
Power supply is no longer an issue for public discussion. Steady power supply in Isokoland is equated to asking a resident Deltan astronaut to go to the space. Our roads are death traps; no potable water: no hospitals and other social amenities.
If one goes to the Federal Scholarship Board, one will discover that no Isoko man has been nominated for higher training in coures related to petroleum resources.Â And when they undertake such studies on their own, they are not employed purely because they are from the minorities.
The Federal Government has never considered any of our traditional rulers fit for the position of Chancellor of any of the countryâ€™s universities despite the fact that Isoko monarchs are peaceful and well educated.
In terms of recruitment into the Nigerian Police force, Customs, Immigration, Road Safety, Nigerian Army, NAFDAC and other federal parastatals, the Isoko people are relegated to the background. The same thing is applicable to promotions, entitlements, rights and privileges. If one may ask: Are the Isoko people really members of the unwanted marriage of convenience called Nigeria?
While section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria states that â€œThe composition of the government of the federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the Federal Character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no pre-dominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or in any of its agencies, Sub-section 4 adds that â€œThe composition of the government of a state, a local government council or any of the affairs of the government or council or such agencies shall be carried out in such manner as to recognise the diversity of the people within its area of authority and the need to promote a sense of belonging and loyalty among all the peoples of the federationâ€.
Ironically, in spite, of the foregoing provisions, the experience of the Isoko ethnic nationality is that there has been a deliberate policy and action by successive Federal Governments not to reflect the geo- ethnic structure of Delta State in the distribution of political, public and party offices, as the law demands.
Oil exploration has literally killed the fruitfulness of Isokoland. Our farmers are crying, lamenting their ordeal in the hands of the oil companies in their lands that have refused to pay them meaningful compensations.
Our elders and leaders have intervened by pleading with the youths to thread within the the law and always promote peace, bearing in mind that no meaningful development can take place in an atmosphere of rancour and lawlessness.
Today, due to the militancy in the Niger Delta by some Ijaw youths, the President has proposed N50billion as amnesty package for violent youths of Ijaw nation. Is President Yarâ€™Adua saying that violence is the only language he understands?
â€¢Mr Ererobe, the President-General of Isoko Development Monitoring Group (IDMG), writes from Delta State.