May 25, 2010

Day a Lebanese became an Ijaw chief

By Samuel Oyadongha, Yenagoa

PENULTIMATE Saturday will for long remain indelible in the minds of the expatriate staff of construction giant, Setraco Nigeria Limited. That was the day one of their own was honored by the people of Oporoma in the Southern Ijaw council area of Bayelsa State.

It was a day the usually heavy security presence around these foreign nationals was relaxed, affording them the opportunity of mingling with the locals and sharing food and drinks with them in a friendly atmosphere.

The occasion which was the conferment of a chieftainship title on a Lebanese national, Engr Michel Nehme, who incidentally is the South-South Regional Manager of Setraco, afforded the army of expatriates that accompanied him to Yenagoa the opportunity to see the inherent hospitable nature of the Ijaw people often misconstrued as being hostile. This is against the backdrop of the recent hostage saga in the troubled volatile Niger Delta where the rampaging youths at a point could not differentiate between construction workers and oil industry workers.

*Michel Nehme flanked by Bordellion Abule and Eze Robinson and wife at the occasion

The thinking of many was why the event of this magnitude should not hold in Oporoma in the deep swamp of Southern Ijaw council area instead of Yenagoa.

Vanguard Metro reliably learnt that with Yenagoa reclaiming its status as the oasis of peace in the Delta, the expatriates were prepared to journey to Oporoma to savour the serene and alluring waters of the creek. But the huge logistics involved in conveying the large influx of Setraco personnel and friends of the recipient of the chieftaincy title put paid to that.

The event which took place at the Gloryland Cultural Centre in the heart of the capital city turned out to be a huge party and an opportunity for locals to see the scintillating dance steps of the Lebanese nationals rocking Ijaw music to the admiration of all.

But for the colour of their skin it would have been difficult to say they were not Ijaw as they mingled effortlessly with their hosts. At a point, the overwhelmed locals got up to shower cash on the Lebanese nationals at the arena.

Conferring the chieftaincy title of ‘Amafiniowei 1 of Oporoma on Engr. Nehme(meaning “the first to open up Oporoma in all aspect of development”), the monarch of Oporoma Kingdom, King Bordellion Abule, Pere XVII, the Amananaowei of Oporoma Kingdom, said it was in appreciation of his commitment to the betterment of the community.

He explained that Nehme had contributed immensely to the development of the community.

“This conferment of chieftaincy title to Engr. Michel Nehme became imperative due to the love he has for the Oporoma Council of Chiefs and the entire community by assisting the community with capital projects and also giving the palace a face lift.

“I therefore confer the title of ‘Amafiniowei 1 of Oporoma, meaning “the first to open up Oporoma in all aspect of development,” King Abule said.

The King of Oporoma Kingdom added that by the conferment, Nehme had been initiated into the traditional ruling council of the community and that he had become a member of the community.