DELTA State is one of those geo-political entities in Nigeria where social and inter-ethnic re-engineering have proved abortive as its history since the cloning of the state in 1991 has been that of virulent acrimonious relationship among the different nationalities that make up the state.
This finds expression on the pages of newspapers where ethnic hate mongers fan the ember of bitterness and disunity. One of such write-ups entitled “ Much Ado About Power Shift in Delta State” written by one Prince Abugo (See Vanguard newspaper, April 1, 2014).
The use of newspapers to attack the people of Anioma, denigrate their heritage and cultural values has been a pre-occupation of the likes of Abugo who believe that they own Delta State and the people of Delta North are interlopers and as such, should be made to be “hewers of wood and drawers of water”.
Things would be perfect in Delta State as long as the people of Anioma would not aspire to produce the next occupant of the Government House.
If Abugo had used provincial journal, Urhobo Voice, to project his hatred for Anioma people, that would have been synch with the dominant feeling of his clan. But the writer chose a respectable medium such as the Vanguard to ventilate his uninformed comments and pack of half truths, designed to confuse his readers.
In public communication, ignoring such jaundiced opinion has the tendency of giving it undeserved authenticity, thereby encouraging more of such toxic wastes to emits from equally toxic minds.
Since Gen.Ibrahim Babangida cloned Delta State, a hybrid of Urhobo, Itsekiri, Ijaw and Igbo-speaking nationalities, neither the Anioma nationalities nor the so- called core Delta region have had peace.
The core Deltans who feel that Anioma people stole their capital have been belligerent because they feel that the Igbos want to use their oil money to develop their areas. Even when the bulk of the revenue from the federation account, DESOPADEC and NDDC have gone into the pockets of their sons and daughters, with some trickling down into tokenist projects, Anioma people continue to bear the pang of their hate.
Initially, the Urhobos had been most hostile and antagonistic in their attitude towards their neighbours but over time, this hate mongering attitude towards Anioma people, especially toward the people of Enuani and Oshimili areas of the state, has taken a frightening and murderous dimension. The political elites from the so-called core Delta area have played on this to milk the state dry. In fact, the virus has become comparable to the Nazi ideology and hatred that led to the Holocaust against the Jews which was superintended by Adolf Hitler.
It is not different from the jihadist ideology of Boko Haram, informed by religious bigotry. The greed and ideology of ethnic chauvinism that are driving the politics in Delta State have kept the state backward, under-developed and badly governed.
Pseudo public commentators like Abugo make Anioma people and their political leaders the butt of their ill-informed criticisms and attacks.
It must be clearly stated to the likes of Abugo that the people of Anioma are not political appendages or strangers in the Delta project. Gen. Babangida committed an unpardonable error by denying us a state of our own and lumped Anioma people in a union they would never have contemplated. Anioma people are in Delta State, not by our choice and would prefer to be in their own state where they would realise their dreams for self determination, extol their socio-cultural heritage and historical antecedents.
We are not liabilities to Delta State either and there is nothing that makes Anioma people second class citizens in the geo-political entity called Delta State or in any other part of Nigeria.
We have paid our dues and have produced high quality manpower that have excelled in various aspects of human endeavour; we do not need Delta state Government House to prove ourselves.
Even within the politics of Delta State, Anioma people have provided the buffer for peace and development. In the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, it is on record that since 1999, Delta Central has been the strong hold of the opposition party in the State.
In the contest between Chief Moses Kragha of All Peoples Party, APP and Chief James Ibori of PDP, Chief Kragha won in Delta Central. He struggled in Delta South but it was votes from Delta North that sealed victory for Ibori.
In 2003, the candidate of Alliance for Democracy, AD, Chief Great Ogboru won in Delta Central; again, Chief Ibori and PDP relied on the votes from Delta North to over come the challenge. This was the time two Urhobo sons were used to savage Chief Ibori in the ex-convict case.This trend continued in 2007 and 2011 when the opposition party voted against Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan in Delta Central. It was Delta North and Delta South that kept Uduaghan in power even with the judicial coup against him in Benin city. It is a fact that the Urbobos produced a Senator from an opposition party and they only returned to the ruling Party after their years of opposition ended in futility.
So, where lies the morality that a region that has supported the PDP because of its ideology that power should rotate among the Senatorial districts, to ensure equity, justice, fairness and eliminate ethnic cleavages and marginalisation should be alienated from the process that it has supported all along?
The other PDP states are implementing this policy, so Delta state is not an exception. PDP cannot afford to reward a zone that has over the years voted against its candidates and punish a region that has been loyal to it.
Governor Uduaghan has refused to follow the examples of the other PDP states because he wants to capitalise on the embers of hatred being fanned by the Urhobos, to impose his nephew as his successor.
JOSHUA ODOH, a public affairs analyst, wrote from Asaba, Delta State