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How Olu of Warri reunited estranged Itsekiri communities – Chief Thomas Ereyitomi

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Says it’s injustice to deny Delta North, Okowa second tenure
The power pact between Ijaw/Itsekiri in Warri South-West

By Emma Amaize,

Regional Editor, South-South

THE  Akatigba-Ayola of Warri Kingdom in Delta State and House of Representatives hopeful in Warri, Chief Thomas Ereyitomi, has disclosed how the Olu of Warri, His Majesty Ikenwoli, restored peace to 80-85 per cent of Itsekiri communities across the three Warri Local Government Areas, which he met in disarray when he took over the reins of power.

Ereyitomi, a People Democratic Party, PDP, chieftain in Delta State, who spoke to Saturday Vanguard on peace initiatives of the Itsekiri monarch, Ugbordo community under his leadership and political undercurrents in the state, asserted that it would amount to injustice for the people of Delta South and Delta Central senatorial districts to deprive Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and Delta North senatorial district (Anioma) of second term in 2019.

The politician, who also represents the Itsekiri ethnic nationality on the Board of the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission, DESOPADEC, dismissed the contention that the state government and the development agency were marginalizing his ethnic group, saying it was a farce.

 

Royal decree

His words: “When the current Olu of Warri, His Majesty Ikenwoli, came, there were lots of disunity, acrimony and so many things in Itsekiri land. The Olu has done well; a lot of internal issues we have in Itsekiri communities have been settled. Virtually all the Itsekiri communities were in court against themselves, but the Olu of Warri gave a directive that everybody must withdraw their cases from court and come back home to settle, which have been complied with.”

“All these communities are living in peace now. Do not forget too that we are all humans, even if we are brothers born of the same father and mother; we also have cause to disagree.

Olu of Warri

“I can assure you that the Olu of Warri has been able to put a lot of these communities that were in disarray before together. I am not saying that there are not one or two communities that have not complied with the Olu directive given the circumstances and enormity of the issues among them. He has done well because 80 to 85 per cent of communities that had issues prior to his coming have resolved and now live in peace among themselves,” he said.

Nobody should stop Okowa

On Okowa\s second term bid and plot to stop him, he said: “It is not right to deny him and Delta North a second tenure. If people from Delta South and Central say Delta North should not have their second tenure, which is injustice. We are all Deltans and should leave in peace, Chief James Ibori from Central started this new dispensation and did his first and second tenures and handed over to Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan (Delta South), who did his first and second tenures. “

“Now, Delta North is taking its turn under Okowa. To be fair is to be fair, if the Central and South had done first and second tenures, then, Delta North should do its second tenure. Why should they stop them? Is it that the people of Delta North are inferior? Is it that Central and South are superior to them. Those of us who believe that we are brothers and sisters in Delta stand to say that Okowa will go for second tenure, complete it and power will rotate back to Central.

“This governorship that Delta is rotating among the senatorial districts, I can tell you categorically that everybody in the state is enjoying it. It brings a lot of peace and trust among us. So anybody canvassing that North senatorial district should not have its second tenure is unfair,” he said.

Judging from his performance, he said: “The incumbent governor, Dr Okowa merits second tenure because we are all aware of how he has managed problems. He came in when the country was going through turbulence. Secondly, with the minimal resources at his disposal, he was able to manage it, appropriate it to all the various sectors to the extent that they were not lacking.”

“Thirdly, as the economy is improving, Delta state is getting more money, you can see what is happening in Delta today is visible, it is not something that is hidden. There is no place that you go to in Delta today that you do not see projects going on. So if a man is performing the way he is doing, there is no moral justification to say that we should not support him, he added.

I’m a member of Ibori political family

Do you know about the Ibori political family and are you part of it? Ereyitomi snapped before the reporter could finish the question: “Ibori political family is in Delta state, I know of it, I am a member of Ibori political family because I share the ideology of Ibori.”

My mission to the House of Reps

He stated: “My mission to the House of Representatives is very clear; it is to provide quality representation to the people of Warri Federal constituency and ensure that what is due to the people get back to them.”

The Itsekiri/Ijaw power pact I know

Speaking on the existence of a power sharing agreement between the Itsekiri and Ijaw in the three Warri local government areas, he said: “The only one I am aware is Warri South-West local government area where we agree that we will be sharing the chairmanship position of the local government between the Itsekiri and Ijaw.”

Purported marginalization

He stated: “As an individual, I do not believe and I think I speak for generality of Itsekiri people, the state government is not marginalizing Itsekiri people in terms of project distribution.”

“However, needs arise on daily basis and people also thrive on rumour, that is the issue, so you cannot accuse the governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa of being against Itsekiri people. We are the first people he came to their aid on assumption of office after the demise of our king, Atuwatse II. He supported us in Ode Itsekiri, that Big Warri, by putting the roads there together and you know that Ode Itsekiri is the ancestral home of Itsekiri people.

“There are other projects that the governor sited in Itsekiri land and of recent, he came here to commission projects in Itsekiri area. If you go to the riverine areas of the state today, projects are going on massively by DESOPADEC, it is directive given by the governor and the projects are on ground. He will soon go there to commission them. I think it is his busy schedule; he will soon go round the riverine areas to commission them though some are still ongoing. So it not correct to say that Itsekiris are marginalized under Okowa administration, “Ereyitomi stated.

Still on prejudice, he declared: “I do not also believe that Itsekiri ethnic group is being marginalized by DESOPADEC, but if you tell me that we have a lot of uncompleted projects, I will agree with you. However, incomplete does not mean that we are being shortchanged.”

“The challenge we have in this new leadership of DESOPADEC is the recession that the country experienced at the time and Delta state was part of it in two folds, one as a result of the fall in oil price and the second part was the issue we had in the creeks, which led to pipeline vandalism and other things, so there was disruption of oil exploration activities in the creek.

Changes

He asserted: “Under me as Itsekiri DESOPADEC commissioner, we have created some changes. There were stipends the Commission was providing for security, we call it security fund. I found out when I came in that the money was not actually being distributed. I sat with my people and said that since the money is for security, we have to ensure that a lot of people benefit from the money, as at today, a total of 355 persons,   both male and female Itsekiri people cutting across the three Warri local government areas benefit from this money. It is a relief to these people.”

“Second thing is that projects are well funded and monitored this time around to ensure that they meet specifications. Besides that they are all community-driven projects,” he added.

My handiworks speak for me in Ugborodo

Ereyitomi whose  Akatigba-Ayola  chieftaincy title means ‘Remember the good of yesterday’, said his tenure as chairman of the Ugborodo Community Trust Fund was largely misconstrued by some persons, whereas his leadership spearheaded the growth of the riverine enclave.

“I can tell you that my tenure in Ugborodo Community Trust Chairman is none to be compared to any other person for now. When I came in 2008, the only thing I was given was the constitution of the community. I met an empty community; everything that the community is enjoying today was the handiwork of my leadership in terms of empowerment and infrastructure. Today, the community light, it was through my efforts that some elders of the community could receive money. I was behind the completed and ongoing projects in the community.

“So, the late Sandys   Omadeli-Uvoh   laid the foundation and I built on it when I came in. Do not forget that it was not a transition from Sandy’s administration to mine; there were lots of administrations in between before I came in 2008. That Ogidigben, Ajudaibo, Madangho, Ugborodo can enjoy electricity today is what I fought for. The shore protection going on at Ode Ugborodo today is my struggle. The internal roads going on at Ode Ugborodo, Ogidigben and some other places are my handiwork.

“Few days ago, the Olu of Warri was at Ode Ugborodo to commission an ultra-modern hall built by Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC. The project was under me. I put a committee with the fund that we had from SPDC at that time to put up that project and I am glad that when comments were being made at the inauguration, people mentioned the role of my regime,” he said.

His words: “Ugborodo people, wherever they are today, know that after the foundation of the late Omadeli-Uvoh, it is what I built on that foundation that the people are benefiting today.”  

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