MALEDICTIONS always fall upon those who hate and hunt down town-criers because they are revered everywhere , particularly in societies that still proudly retain all the accoutrement of traditional life. Town-criers are the modern-day equivalent of journalists: they gather people either through bell-ringing or drumming and create the atmosphere for people to debate and take firm positions on contending issues.
The former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Godsday Orubebe is a highly respected passionate, resourceful and imaginative town-crier whose hands are always, skillful, either on the Opuozi drum or bell. The indefatigable and responsible town-crier he is, Orubebe had drummed through some communities of his ambition to become the governor of Delta State in 2015.
Because town-crying is a sacred responsibility – a responsibility willingly taken on often in preparatory prefiguration of the avatar that is a few miles away (like that of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ in the Christian Bible), Orubebe has been, expectedly, deservingly applauded by the Ijaws for timely crying in the wilderness to herald the messiah’s majestic arrival.
Singularly, for his dexterous theatrical finess injected into his town-crying built around his governorship ambition, the Delta Ijaws will always create archival space for Orubebe in the annals of Ijaw nation. No genius of Orubebe’s stature had ever been born in Ijaw.
The flawless town-crying of Orubebe is the philosopher’s stone needed by the Ijaws to actualise their age-long dream of producing a governor in Delta State – an awareness that makes Ijaw people daily pour blessings and accolades upon him for preparing the crusade ground – even with his knowledge that town-criers are not remembered beyond town-crying as John the Baptist himself disappeared when Jesus Christ came on the scene. Alas, the commendable self-appointed town-crying task of Orubebe has just been sacrilegiously sabotaged by the indefinable activities of Delta Ijaw Congress.
For willing assumption of the garment of saboteurs against the commendable strides of the former minister, it is enough for him to declare war against Delta Ijaw Congress. As a fitful fighter for many years, more daring and skillful than both Amalinze the Cat and Okonkwo of Umuofia, I am sure Orubebe will move against them.
Though indescribably content with his sacred God-appointed status as a town-crier for the Ijaw nation who knows he will sit by the corner when the men have closeted themselves away in important pan-Ijaw Congress, the Delta Ijaw Congress has just taken a resolution that paints him as the sole governorship candidate for the Delta Ijaws. The group further claims that the resolution enjoys the blessings of all the Ijaw traditional rulers, elders, chiefs, opinion leaders, youths and women. By arrogating to themselves the power and responsibility to endorse a governorship candidate for the Ijaws, they have destroyed the house beautifully built by Orubebe for which he daily commands the unsolicited applause of the Ijaws.
Obviously, Delta Ijaw Congress did not consult Orubebe before the collective endorsement of the minister as the sole governorship candidate for the Ijaws. It was rather sudden, impetuous and presumptuous – the endorsement. If he had been consulted he would have told them in unambiguous language that he is content with being a sacred town-crier for the messiah who will emerge at the appointed time.
Most categorical among his sincere pronouncements would have been that he is not ready to become the governor of Delta state in 2015. There are many pointers to his declared avowal not to hold a rulership position over people again – may be he has a calling to stick to the Bible now resident in Ogbobagbene, his own village.
To the general knowledge of Nigerians, Orubebe was sacked by President Jonathan alongside other ministers. Among the sacked ministers, none has publicly refuted the sack. But Orubebe publicly refuted the sack and theatrically coloured it a resignation from the Federal Executive Council for the sole purpose of gubernatorial-dream actualisation.
For a man who resigned from a position as Minister for Niger Delta Affairs where he is expected to confront the age-long development challenges of the people, there can be no better pointer to the fact that he has lost the desire to govern people and address their developmental challenges. It is ridiculous for a man who would not use his ministerial platform to address the problems of his people, not to talk of a tarred road to his village Ogbobagbene, to aspire to the seat of the governor of Delta State.
A true gauge of Orubeb’s readiness to govern people is for him to go back to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and prove his mettle as an administrator par excellence. A dog does not go back to its vomit and so having said bye to public life of service to the people when his services were still required, Orubebe should stick to his avowal not to be involved in public life of service again.
For seven traditional rulers and some personalities/politicians who woefully failed the Ijaws in their heydays in the past to gather under a new but perforated umbrella called Delta Ijaw Congress to adopt a sole governorship candidate for the Ijaws signals self-opinionated, hypocritical, self-profiteering, infantile, precipitate and selfish agenda. It is an insult for few Ijaws to vote themselves spokesperson for Ijaw nation. It shows the ideological vacuity and emptiness of DIC. For a group that cannot berate Orubebe for non-performance in his ministerial days can only end up as entertainers on the pages of newspapers.
Perhaps, among the members of DIC, it has caught on that Orubebe’s candidacy enjoys the support of President Jonathan – a cheap propaganda drummed up to hoodwink gullible people. Probably blinded by this cheap creative blandishments, DIC has forgotten the fact that among the Ijaws, Orubebe is seen as a town-crier and ground-sweeping masquerade who derives excitement from town-crying.
On issues of governorship candidature, the authentic Ijaws have aversion to volubility, categorical pronouncement and impetuous endorsement, but these have fast become the hallmarks of Delta Ijaw Congress. I doubt the Ijawness of the members of Delta Ijaw Congress because their verbal productions are strangely unizonic.
For any good organisation driven by progressive ideology for the political emancipation of the Ijaws, the commencement point would have been the vigorous advertisement of its own executable programmes for public scrutiny and analysis, while the political space for governorship is strategically thrown open to multiple competition. Building a new political group around one personality shows lack of directional vision and ideology –a development antithetical to the political emancipation of Delta Ijaws.
This is what Delta Ijaw Congress, formed around the personality of Orubebe, graphically represents to the distaste of the intelligent Ijaws who know what characterises a would-be governor of Ijaw extraction in Delta State.
Even with vague knowledge of the characterisation of a would-be governor of Delta State, the ultimate mandate belongs to all the Ijaws and the other ethnic groups in Delta State, not one already floundering body tendentiously called Delta Ijaw Congress.
Why even build a house around Orubebe, a man who could wake up one day and resign from the governorship race as he allegedly claims (with panache) to have done when his services are still needed by president Jonathan and Nigerians?
The Delta governorship is open to all competent Ijaws and non-Ijaws prepared. Even at that no Ijaw man in Delta state will ever forget that unassuming, taciturn, noiseless three-legged enigma of a son who has performed wonderfully in any position and is still performing. Anchored on the vigorous town-crying of Orubebe, the Ijaws are vaguely aware of who has the capability to contest the Delta state governorship election but even with this vague awareness, the mandate belongs to all the Ijaws and other ethnic groups in Delta state.
For a group (DIC) that luxuriates in precipitate, visionless and impetuous, manipulative endorsement pronouncement rather than excoriate Orubebe for non-performance based on codified directional principles behind DIC’s formation if any exists, and whole heartedly support his self-imposed town-crying as atonement for his resignation from office and clear the road to the emergence of Ijaws’ anointed son governor, the discerning Ijaws perpetually shed tears of bewilderment, anger, disappointment, dislike and repudiation for the so-called Delta Ijaw Congress because you are not and can never be the megaphone or mouthpiece of Ijaw people in Delta state where the likes of chief EK Clark, Timibi Maika, Tompolo, JP Clark, Paul Bebenimibo and many others who are still alive, relevant, vibrant and mentally agile.
The days are over – the days ideologically rootless groups or organizations like DIC sprout and rhetorically decree darkness upon Ijaw nation when moonlight has not yet yielded to invasive darkening clouds – have long sailed into WAKELESS slumber in the farthest depth of River Forcados.
*Mr. Ekanpou Enewaridideke, a political analyst, wrote from Warii, Delta State.