By Julius Oweh
Throughout the length and breadth of Nigeria, there are various ethnic groups with intents to protect the welfare and interest of their tribes. The prominent ones are the Arewa Consultative Forum for the Hausa-Fulani, the Ohaneze Ndi Igbo for the Igbos and the Afenifere for the Yorubas.
It is in this mold the presence of Isoko Development Union Worldwide could be understood and situated. It is the socio-cultural umbrella body for Isokos in the two Isoko Local government areas in Delta South Senatorial district, Isoko communities in Ndokwa East local government areas of Delta State and Isoko communities in Bayelsa.
Recently, the president general of Isoko Development Union (IDU) High Chief Iduh Amadhe spoke to Saturday Vanguard on various issues ranging from politics to national affairs and the place of Isoko nationality in Delta State and the Nigerian federation at large.
Amadhe returned a favourable verdict on the Okowa administration, lamenting that Isoko as oil producing area, her people are not included in the amnesty programme of the federal government because of their peaceful disposition, the achievements recorded by his organization and several other matters. Below is an extract of that interview.
GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE AND IDU SECRETARIAT
We, in the IDU, felt that having a small office at Oleh town hall as the secretariat of IDU was a disgrace to the Isoko nation and so we mobilized patriotic sons and daughters to embark on building the IDU Unity complex. The foundation of the complex was laid by General Paul Omu (Rtd) and when we came into office in 2016, we had to continue from where that executive stopped. We cried to the government of Senator Ifeanyi Okowa saying that we have finished the first building in the complex and that we needed the assistance of the government.
Before then, we had fenced the complex, sunk a borehole, put a police post and a bus stop. The governor listened to our pleas and came to Isoko’s assistance and on the 9th of June, 2018, the complex was commissioned. I must say that the governor has done well in that direction. He not only supplied the complex with a 2.50kv generator, he also tarred the internal roads in the IDU complex. We cannot express our appreciation enough for the governor.
ISOKO INTEREST AND OKOWA ADMINISTRATION
From the point of view that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa is the head of the government, one can say without contradiction that the government is doing very well as regards the Isoko nation. He does not refuse our request, he has the interest of Isoko nation at heart. And with him many things will happen, our duty is to continue to remind him. A lot of work is going in DELSU Oleh campus. Governor Okowa is a listening governor and doing very well for Isoko people. Okowa has not been bad to Isoko people and does not hesitate to come to our assistance. Once he knows that the projects or demands are essential to the people, he does them willingly. He is very accessible. I think that with him on the saddle of leadership, many positive things will happen in Isoko. It is on record that Okowa has released money to the contractor for the dualization of Aradhe Ellu Iyede to Emevor road, a model school is approved for Uzere. The Irri Grammar School road has been completed. There are many other things.
Isokos are getting their fair dues under the Okowa administration. It may not be 100 per cent but we must realize that Rome was not built in one day. Ours is to continue to remind the governor and the federal government of our needs for ours is an oil producing area. As long as we continue to talk to the governor and the political class in Delta state, the Isokos will not regret. We are also reminding the governor of the Isokos in Ndokwa East local government area and that they are being neglected and marginalized. We have talked to the governor on the need to provide pontoon at the Iyede Ame axis of the Ase Creek and the governor has agreed and before the end of the year, the pontoon will be provided.
It is, however, unfortunate that at the federal level, the Isoko people are not remembered both in terms of appointment and the amnesty programme. Isoko remains the most peaceful oil producing are and if some people can be given amnesty programme for being violent, I believe there should be reward for a peaceful community. I remember that in our meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on August 27, 2018 we mentioned to him that Isokos deserve to be compensated for being peaceful and he promised to do something in that direction. It is on happy note that recently the federal government published advert on the award of contract for the construction of Ofagbe Ibrede Anwa Umolu road.
AGENDA FOR NEXT GOVERNOR
We do not support any gubernatorial candidate but the one with Isoko nation at heart will win. Here in Isoko, the people are mainly PDP and that speaks volume for the direction of next election. Because we do not support any party, I can vote for individuals that have performed and we shall continue to support such people.
The Isoko presentation to the next governor, legislators is that there are two things that are critical to the heart of every Isoko man. They are roads and electricity. The Aradhe Ughelli Road should be completed. There is need for electricity in Isoko land and that the abundant gas should be converted into light. When that is done, majority of our youths who are artisans can do their small business and there would be urbran-rural drift of migration and that would boost the economic fortunes of the area. Our people should realize the need for unity and politics should not be war or divide us. Rather it should be the means of attracting development to Isoko land. We need people who will represent us well and present our problems to the government either at the state or federal level.
IDU AND PEACE BUILDING
One of the first achievements of IDU is to impress on our youths on the need to embrace peace and that is responsible for non-vandalization of oil facilities. It is now left for the oil companies to reciprocate this gesture. We have also settled many communal crises in Isoko especially those relating to land boundaries dispute. We intervened in the crisis between Ozoro, headquarters of Isoko North and Oleh, headquarters of Isoko South Local Government areas. We did our best to settle it but some people were not happy with our efforts and they went to Asaba.
The matter was referred to Chief Edwin Uzor, the special adviser to the governor on community affairs. That effort also failed and the matter was returned to IDU. To the glory of God, the matter was solved in the traditional way. Our thinking is that Ozoro and Oleh cannot afford to be daggers drawn, for that will mean that the whole Isoko is in flames. For you cannot really differentiate between an Ozoro man and Oleh man, we are brothers and remain that.
We also resolved the crisis between a family in Emede and Oleh as regards the DELSU campus. However, the most disturbing crisis is that of Ibrede community and we are working round the clock to resolve the problem. IDU will continue to promote peaceful co-existence among clans, towns and villages within Isoko land and those of Isoko extraction.