By Dirisu Yakubu
A coalition of All Progressives Congress, APC support groups has accused Itsekiri leaders in Delta South Senatorial District of stoking ethnic conflict amongst the various tribes in the region in their continuous opposition of the newly appointed Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Chief Bernard Okumagba.
This is even as the group warned that the attacks if not checked, could affect the appointment of an Itsekiri son, Bismarck Rewane who was named by President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday to serve in the newly constituted Economic Advisory Council.
In a statement jointly signed by Convener and Secretary of the Coalition of APC Support groups, Engr. Jator Abido and Mr Beke Apere respectively and made available to journalists in Abuja, the group said the call became necessary following litigation filed at the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, by Mrs Rita Lori Ogbebor, and two others Itsekiri sons, Jackson Omasanjuwa and Edward Omagbemi, challenging the appointment of Chief Bernard Okumagba as the Managing Director of the NDDC.
The statement read in part, “Our attention has been drawn to litigation filled by some notable Itsekiri leaders at a Federal High Court challenging the appointment of Chief Bernard Okumagba as the Managing Director of the NDDC. We find this not only as an affront to the unity and peace of the Delta State South Senatorial zone but also a calculated attempt to tarnish the integrity of the person and government of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“This kind of attitude puts us as people who are not united and capable of managing its own affairs. It is disturbing that these individuals who have sponsored all manner of protests in the past against the appointment of Okumagba have failed to point out his incompetence but have rather hinged it on ethnic consideration. For the umpteenth time, let it be clear to all who genuinely care to know that Delta South Senatorial District comprises of four ethnic nationalities-Ijaw, Urhobo, Isoko and Itsekiri and of the four ethnic groups, only Urhobo person has never occupied any position in NDDC.
“Urhobo Indigenes in Warri South Local Government Area of Delta South have two recognised traditional rulers of Agbarha Kingdom and the Okere-Urhobo Kingdom, who both have equal traditional rights and privileges with their counterparts of Ijaw, Isoko and Itsekiri in Delta South Senatorial District”.
The group urged Itsekiri political elites of Itsekiri to respect the wisdom of the President in making his appointments, adding they should portray the region as a united body of persons committed to the public good.
“The President reserves the right to appoint people who share in his aspiration to deliver on the promises he made to the nation while seeking election. Okumagba appears to be one of such persons the President has confidence in to drive his vision for the NDDC accordingly.
“However, those who for one reason or the other opposed his appointment should stop forthwith as the President has yet appointed another Delta South person, Bismarck to serve in the Economic Advisory Council. Any further opposition coming from many quarters in the region at this point can jeopardize the interest of the region”, the statement further stressed.
It would be recalled that the appointment into the NDDC board by President Buhari pitted some leaders of the South-South against one another, with governors of the oil-producing states kicking against what they called the “lopsidedness” in the selection of persons into the board.