By Jemi Ekunkunbor
The oil city of Warri came alive on the night of December 31, 2009 as scores of youths gathered at the Okere square to participate in a mini carnival and fire works put together to usher the people of Warri into the new year.
Organised by Income Electrix Limited, a leading power company in the state, the event according to the organisers is part of efforts to support the peace initiative of the governor.
Communications officer, Dere Ogan says: â€œas a responsible corporate entity, we need to do something for the environment in which we operate and to highlight the efforts of the Delta state government.
If we donâ€™t have peace here, we canâ€™t function. And you know with Xmas comes forgiveness so we see it as an opportunity for people to come together and unite and the truth is that regardless of our problems, the people of warri knows how to party and give peace a chance. So we are hoping that this little seed will grow into something that people can look forward to every yearâ€
And to prove that peace truly reigns in Warri, the peace carnival took place at the Okere junction, a place once known for fighting, violence and robbery. As you drive into Warri, the efforts of the governor at giving the city a face lift is visible. Gracing the city entrance is this huge, goldenÂ Christmas tree with beautifully lit figurines of the nativity. Every round about had its own peculiar decorations. Like moth to fire, the lightings attracted tourists who flocked to the different square to have their pictures taken and to admire the beautiful work that dotted the landscape.
The carnival train made of five floats, each had a life band playing while young girls dressed in branded red and white t shirts danced to the music being dished out by the band. Some of the T-shirts bore inscriptions such â€œTotal peace in Warriâ€ â€œWarri/Uvwhie carnivalâ€.
The procession moved from the city entrance at Effurun, through Jakpa junction, airport road, Enerhen and all the way to Okere round about. A brief stop was made at the governorâ€™s home. As the carnival train rode through the popular Warri -sapele road, hundreds of excited wafarians on their way to church joined in the dance. For once, it was obvious that the people were willing to give peace a chance, alleviate stress and to appreciate the beautiful things that life has to offer.
As the clock chimed midnight, fire works cracked the air as shouts of happy new year rent the air. The fire works like rockets, shot into the dark night illuminating the skyline in beautiful colours of the rainbow. The booming sound of the fire works attracted worshippers who trooped out of churches to join in the celebration. Popular Warri star, Emma Gray was on hand to ensure that people were kept on their feet as they danced their way into the new year.
Ama Agbajo, Chairman PDP Warri South who was on hand to witness the midnight fireworks, described the success of the event as a result of the effect of peace. According to him,Â â€œwe mobilised to see that all sectors irrespective of their political affiliations, feel the effect of peace and you can see that from what is happening here tonight. Today we are at Okere junction; a place known for violence, robbery but you can see at 12:10am in the year 2010, everybody is free. No robbery, no fighting, no violence.
And this is in line with the three point agenda of the governor-peace, human capital and infrastructure. Without this peace, we canâ€™t develop. So we are really happy with what is happening here tonight and if you look up there and see that lighting, it reads, God bless Warri. This is what we pray forâ€
As the night wore on and it was time to leave, we couldnâ€™t help joining in that prayer that God would bless Warri and that the new found peace would last forever. This peace would be confirmed when the second edition holds successfully next year.