Sylvester Idowu in Warri
“The height great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, for a while their companion slept, they were toiling upwards through the night.”
The above quote played out penultimate Saturday as Prominent Itsekiri leaders and citizens turned out en mass to witness the conferment of chieftaincy title of Oyewumi of Warri kingdom on an illustrious daughter of the land, Barrister Olivia Agbajoh, a one time member of the Federal House of Representatives, that represented Warri North Federal Constituency in appreciation of her toiling for the development of Iwereland over the years.
Ayirimi Emami, Eyeiritomi Thomas, both Itsekiri High Chiefs and Chief Tunde Smooth as well as Hon. George Ekpemukpolo, Chairman of Warri South West Local Government Area and younger brother of ex-militant leader, Chief Government Ekpemukpolo alias “Tompolo” were among dignitaries that witnessed the conferment of the chieftaincy title on the former Commissioner in Delta State by revered Olu of Warri, Ogiame Ikenwoli 11, at his palace.
The monarch, who was marvelled by the calibre of dignitaries that witnessed the ceremony, particularly from the Ijaw ethnic nation, explained that misunderstanding and ethnic rivalry gave room for ‘outsider’ to appropriate the wealth of the region and notably in Delta State.
He attributed the development, with emphasis on acquisition and control of oil blocks by ‘outsiders’ to lack of unity among the various ethnic groups inhabiting the region which emboldened them to take over their resources.
The monarch said inter-ethnic rivalry was the reason the region could not attain its full potentials thereby creating a corridor for outsiders to implement ‘a divide and rule’ diplomacy and take control of the resources of the region.
Ikenwoli, who warned that personal interest was not allowing dividends of democracy to get to the grassroots therefore charged the ethnic groups to work collectively together for the development of the state and region stressed that until there is comprehensive unity, the much sought after development in the region may be a mirage.
“The Ijaw man should fight the cause of Itsekiri and the Urhobo and likewise the Itaekiri man or Urhobo man should fight the cause of Ijaw. If we are united, outsiders will be afraid to divide us because we created loopholes for outsiders to exploit us. Today, no Itsekiri man, Ijaw man or Urhobo man has oil well or oil block, yet the oil is on our land,” he lamented.
The monarch told the Ijaw guests, “we are very happy seeing you here. We are peaceful people, we are accommodating people, if you have anything to do, please don’t hesitate to invite us so when they say we are fighting, we will say no we are not.”
The Oyewumi of Warri kingdom, Chief Olivia Agbajoh, who spoke to journalists on behalf of others, Otsoro of Warri kingdom, Chief Atiwa Amanoritsewor and Egogo-Iwere of Warri kingdom, Chief Robinson Ariyo, thanked the monarch for recognising their contributions to the development of Iwereland.
She said the recognition will spur them to promote unity amongst all the ethnic groups in the state and Niger Delta region as a whole.