WARRI/Nigeria: As the fight for 2019 rages on, the youths of Ijaw and their Itsekiri counterparts who belongs to the Delta South Senatorial District, seems to be heading for war as the youths of the Ijaw extract under the, Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Western Zone, says Itsekiri people who are currently agitating for power rotation/sharing in Delta State are the worst violators of power rotation in Delta South.
IYC declares that though they are not against rotation/sharing of political offices, but it must apply to all offices within a local government and federal constituency with multi-ethnic composition.
The Ijaw youth group spoke in reactions to claims by President of the Itsekiri National Youth Council (INYC), Comrade Agbateyiniro Weyinmi that Senator James Manager’s fifth term ambition was a threat to the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), power rotation/zoning principle in Delta South Senatorial District.
A statement by chairman of IYC Western zone, Comrade Frank Akiefa, and his Secretary, Snr. Comrade Ebi Wonzu on Wednesday, said contrary to the Itsekiri group claims, there is no existing power rotation/zoning formula or principle anywhere in Delta South.
According to IYC, at all material times and elections from 2003 till date, aspirants and candidates from the other ethnic groups of Delta South Senatorial district, namely Itsekiri and Isoko have always contested with Senator Manager of the Ijaw and Isoko extraction.
Giving a graphic detail, the group said, in 2003 during the PDP primaries, Senator Manager contested against Chief Adolor Okotie-Eboh (Itsekiri) and Senator Stella Omu (Isoko).
In the main election in 2003, Senator Manager contested against Mr. Okorodudu of the then Alliance for Democracy (Itsekiri) and defeated him. In short, Chief Adolo Okotie-Eboh took Senator Manager to court and the case went up to the Supreme Court where Sen. Manager won.
Similar contest happened in 2007, 2011 and 2015 elections both at the primaries and main elections.
From 2003 to 2015 elections, a total of 22 Itsekiris have contested both primaries and main elections with Senator Manager even when Dr. Uduaghan, an Itsekiri was Governor of Delta State.
“It is significant to note that even before the start of the present democratic experience, in 1979 and 1983, the contest for the Delta South Senatorial seat experienced similar pattern as candidates from all the different ethnic groups contested and a winner emerged.
IYC however challenged the INYC to produce the evidence of the agreement and those who entered into the agreement on behalf of the Ijaw, Isoko, Itsekiri and Urhobo people.
The group said it is hypocrisy to queries the fifth term ambition of Senator Manager, but see it right for an Itsekiri who is seeking a sixth term in the Warri Federal Constituency seat from 1999 till date.
IYC maintained that the Itsekiris have monopolized all the elective and appointive officers in the three Warri Local Government Areas since 1954 till date to the detriment of the Ijaws and Urhobos of Warri.
“For example, no Ijaw or Urhobo person has represented the Warri Federal Constituency from 1954 till date. Also since the creation of Warri North LGA which is made up of Ijaws and Itsekiri in 1991, Ijaws have not produced the Chairman and member of the State House of Assembly till date.
“Also the Itsekiris are the only ones who have represented the Warri South West constituency in the Delta State House of Assembly since decades ago. It would interest the reading public to note that the ward difference between the Ijaws and Itsekiris in these two LGAs is 4 to 6 on paper.
According to them, in actual population, the Ijaws are more populated in Warri but the Itsekiris have used their slight two wards advantage to marginalize the Ijaws and monopolize elective and appointive positions till date.
“Whereas with respect to the Delta South Senatorial Seat in respect of which the Itsekiris are calling for equity, it is a massive ward difference of Ijaw (43) to Itsekiri (17). Only God knows what the Itsekiris would have done with the senatorial seat if they have the advantage the Ijaws have now.
“The Urhobos of Warri South LGA suffers similar marginalization to that of the Ijaws of Warri. From 1999 till date, they are not allowed to produce the Chairman of the Warri South LGA except when by natural occurrence the Itsekiri occupant died and the Urhobo born Vice Chairman acted for few months”.
The Ijaw group said that the INYC that is agitating for justice in Delta South Senatorial seat do not see anything wrong with the unjust and unfair treatment melted out to the Ijaw and Urhobo people of Warri.
IYC, however urged the PDP national leadership to discontinue the call by INYC on Manager to jettison his fifth term ambition, insisting that the Senator has constitutional right to contest for the senatorial seat just like other indigenes of Delta South.
Reacting to threat by the INYC to regard all political agreements, compromises and resolutions reached as having been breached, IYC said that the Itsekiris have being the ones breaching all the political agreements reached with them with respect to power sharing and rotation in Warri.
“In the road map to peace in Warri which was initiated by former Governor James Ibori in 2003, part of the agreement reached which was signed by most of the Itsekiri political leaders were that political offices in the three Warri local government areas be rotated among the three ethnic groups making up the area.
“However, this agreement so far has been honoured more in the breach. Furthermore in Warri South West LGA, as part of the power sharing agreement, the Ijaws in the last Delta State Local Government Council election conceded the Chairmanship to the Itsekiris with the understanding that the Ijaws would produce the member of the State House of Assembly in the 2019 elections.
“However, the Itsekiris in breach of this agreement are contesting the election that is supposed to be exclusively for the Ijaws.
“Also during the 2014 local government elections, it was agreed by Warri North LGA stakeholders including then Governor Uduaghan that the Ijaws would produce the Chairman of Warri North in the last local government elections, but when it was time for the election, the Itsekiris disregarded the agreement and produced the Council Chairman.
“So if we may ask, where is the agreement that the Itsekiris have honoured that they are threatening to breach? They have already breached all agreements with respect to power sharing reached with them, hence presently all the Chairmen of Warri North, Warri South and Warri South West Local Government Areas are of Itsekiri origin.
“Also three out of the four members of the State House of Assembly are Itsekiri with the Urhobos of Warri having one and Ijaws having none. All the three Commissioners representing the three Warri Local Government Areas in the Delta State Executive Council are Itsekiri. Finally, the member representing the Warri Federal Constituency in the House of Representative is Itsekiri. So what else is remaining that the INYC and Itsekiri want to breach?
Meanwhile, IYC noted that the threat by INYC to take legal steps to recognized Ogidigben as the headquarters of Warri South Council as against Ogbe-Ijoh the constitutionally recognized headquarters would be an exercise in futility.
“For the records, when the headquarters of Warri South West Local Government Area was rightly relocated from Ogidigben to Ogbe-Ijoh, the Itsekiris took the Delta State Government, the Warri South West LGC and Ogbe-Ijoh Community to court and lost from the High Court to the Supreme Court.
IYC says they are not against the Isokos and Urhobos of Delta South to occupy the Delta South Senatorial Seat but have serious reservations about the Itsekiri because of their oppressive tendencies against the Ijaws and Urhobos of Warri.