Seek creation of Warri State, eight geo-political zones
BY HENRY UMORU
THE people of Itsekiri have written delegates calling for the creation of Warri State out of Delta State and the division of the country into eight geo-political zones.
According to a memorandum by the Itsekiri Ethnic Nationality, which was signed by the Chairman, J.O.S. Ayamike and the Secretary, Edward Ekpoko and distributed to delegates, the people called for minority protection as in the case of the Constitution of Midwestern region which protected minorities like the Itsekiri, Ijaw, Isoko and Afenmai and made their homeland special areas.
Lamenting the level of marginalization in the area, the people of Itsekiri who noted that they produce over 38 per cent of the oil and gas that sustain the country, stressed that even at the level of their contribution to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP, they have no representative in a Senate of 109 members, one Federal House of Representatives seat out of 360 seats and three out of 29 members of the Delta State House of Assembly.
Consequently, the Itsekiri Leaders of Thought said in the absence of protection of minorities like them, Warri State, which should be conterminous with Warri North, Warri South and Warri South West Local Government Areas in Delta State should be created, adding that with the creation of Warri State, there would be preservation and control of their land; preservation of their language; inviolability of their custom and the right to participate in the government of Nigeria at all levels.
The people also called for true Federalism, stressing that the Itsekiri people support parliamentary system of government against the backdrop that it was cheaper to run and it would check wastage in political administration.
On Minority protection, the document read, “We demand for insertions of provisions to protect minorities in the 1999 Constitution (as amended). This further amendment should be similar to the minority clause inserted in Section 7(3), 14(4) (5), paragraph 3 of the first column of the First Schedule of the Midwestern Region Constitution of 1964 which protected minorities like the Itsekiri, the Ijaw, Isoko, Afenmai in the defunct Midwestern Region and made their homeland Special Areas.
On structure of Government, the people said, “We demand for true federalism. The federating units should be the ethnic nationalities. Big ethnic nationalities can form a federating unit while minority land-owning ethnic nationalities can form a federating unit or a Region with other ethnic nationalities with whom they have geographical contiguity. Such union is to be guided by a constitution.
“We call for the recognition of the following zones: *South West Zone, *Mid West Zone – to be carved out of South-South Zone and to comprise Edo and Delta States; *South East Zone; *South-South Zone; *North East Zone; * North Central Zone; *North West Zone *Middle Belt Zone – to be carved out of North-Central Zone and to comprise of Benue, Plateau and Kogi states.
“The Itsekiri of Warri now in the South-South Geopolitical Zone have geographical contiguity with the proposed Midwest Zone and the South-West Zone. If the Midwest Zone is created, the Itsekiri will opt for Midwest Zone but in the absence of that it prefers to be with the South-West Zone with whom they have historical link.”