BY BOBSON GBINIJE
“It is because Nations tend to stupidity And baseness that mankind moves so slowly, It is because individuals have a capacity For better things, that it moves at all”. George Gissing (1857-1903)
ANY individual or Nation that is tenebrously cocooned in the cesspit of communication blackout will metamorphose into an organism forgotten by the march of civilization. Hence, the principles of debate, dialogue, verbal phosphorescence and confabulation are fundamentally crucial as indispensable elixir for nation building. Will the Okpe Nation use the National Conference as a pedestal to shout-out its long borne political socio-economic servitude and marginalization albatrosses in Delta State and Nigeria to the world?
The Okpe People arguably constitute the single largest dialectical amalgam amongst the Urhobo ethic group not as part of Urhobo collectivity, but as a dichomised people with a unique identity. In fact, the Okpe People are Urhobos with a slightly tilted dialect. They mainly occupy Sapele and Okpe Local Government Areas in Delta State.
In the light of the Berlin Conference of (1884-1885) that led to the arbitrary delimitation of Nigeria and Africa into puppet states and the 1914 Amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates and their protean and multi-dimensional problems, the political engineering process of building a Nigeria where equity and justice reigns has led to many Conferences and Constitutional amendments dialogues.
We believe therefore, that the proposed National Conference should attract the submission of all interest groups in Nigeria and beyond. Hence, the Okpe Nation and its People should not be left out. We therefore make bold to submit these modalities and guidelines to the yet to be constituted “Okpe National Conference Advisory Body and Committee”.
1. They should without slips of prolixity call for the creation of an ‘Urhobo State’ with Orerokpe/Osubi as headquarters. This will cardinally precipitate and attract all-embracing development to Urhobo land and to the Okpe Kingdom in particular.
2. They should call for a 50precent Derivation formula and the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) should be done with soldierly brevity.
3. They must assert that the derivation allocation money should be paid to the exact villages, towns and areas where the oil is EXPLORED AND EXPLOITED from. This will forestall unnecessary diversions’ of Derivation monies by State Governments and it will positively checkmate corruption and infrastructure deficit etc in the oil producing areas, especially in the Okpe Oil Producing Areas.
4. They should advocate that in the National Conference there should be no- go areas. This will allow for an open discussion of all issues bedeviling and befuddling the Okpe Nation and the Nigerian People.
5. They should vociferously clamour for the creation of more Local Government Areas (L.G.A) in Okpe kingdom.
The current Sapele and Okpe Local Government Areas are a shortfall vis-a-vis our numerical superiority and land spans in Delta State. The Economic and Socio-political benefits are immeasurably colossal.
6. They must call for all Oil Multinationals to relocate their Headquarters to their local areas of operation. This will positively impact all-embracing growth and development of the areas in which they operate. It will enhance youth employment and checkmate communal restiveness and underdevelopment.
7.They must prevail in their memorandum to the Conference Committee to shun skullduggery and ventriloquisms by displaying a high sense of responsibility and concrete integrity through a factual sense and sincerity of purpose. The National dialogue is critically imperative, because Lord Frederick Lugard, the Colonial Governor General was called upon by Lord Harcourt in 1912 to fine tune the logistics for the Amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates”. Which he perfected in 1914.
He said on page 100 of his book “The Dual Mandate in British Tropical Africa,” that “To administer such enormous territories as East Africa or Nigeria as single unit, decentralization is more than ever necessary”. He further said that “in the sphere of administration there are obviously many subjects – education, taxation, slavery and labour, native courts, land tenure and so on – in which uniformity and continuity of policy are impossible in so large a country”
He concluded by saying that “in a country so vast, which included communities in all stages of developments and differing from each other profoundly in their customs and traditions, it was the declared policy of government that each unit should develop on its own lines. This report hallmarks the impetrative of the devolution of power to the federating units as panacea to the schismatic and anarchical entropy of political topsy- turvy”.
They must impress on the Advisory Conference Committee that “without equity and justice in Nigeria there can be no peace “. A situation where the Okpe People are crassly marginalized in political appointments, Headship of Boards, Commissionership and Ministerial appointments at Federal and State levels is unacceptable. We have no Federal and State Tertiary Institutions in terms of educational balance, no good roads, no electricity, no shelter, no viable and functional Medicare infrastructures, no jobs, and no industries, etc
They must make a powerful submission that some of our neighbousrs are fanning the embers of war by gross falsification of history to illegally encroach on Okpe territory and land. That settlers in Okpe land especially those in Sapele, Obotie, Ohorhe, etc have taken over our land and they now constitute an unnecessary irritants to the Okpe people in their own land.
They should impress on the Advisory Body that the total dominance of every sphere of life in Nigeria by the three major ethnic groups to the oppression and neglect of the over 250 ethnic nationalities does not augur well for democracy. The question of security should be squarely addressed and an inter–religious dispute resolution body should be set-up. The equitable and fair distribution of Nigeria’s largesse will serve as catalyst to peace and security.
They must let the Advisory Body know that this is ‘Project Nigeria’ and there should be no room for splendiferous theatricatization of sentiments, parochial self-serving actions and edacious interests.
*Mr. Gbinije, a social critic, wrote from Warri, Delta State.