By Emeka Nwokocha
Critical stakeholders in Delta State including President-Generals of kingdoms/communities, Security Agencies, Opinion Leaders, Women Leaders, Youth Leaders, Religious bodies, and others, across the senatorial districts in Delta State, have expressed concern about rising insecurity in the state, even as they feared that if drastic measures were not taken urgently, the consequences would be very grave on the people and the state.
The stakeholders expressed their worries during a robust deliberations at a 3-day Senatorial Town Hall Meeting organised by the Delta State Policy Advocacy Committee (D-PAC), which began on Tuesday 19 January, 2021, in Asaba, capital of the state and rounded off on Thursday 15 January, 2021, in Otu-Jeremi, headquarters of Ughelli South Local Government Area of the state.
The leader of D-PAC, Chief Edwin Uzor, was ably represented by the Secretary of D-PAC, Pastor Edewor Egedegbe who delivered a keynote address at the meetings. According to Pastor Egedegbe, D-PAC is the Delta State arm of the Policy Advocacy Committee established in the six South South states by a frontline Nongovernmental Organisation (NGO) and Peace Advocate, the “Niger Delta Dialogue,” to ensure a study conducted by the latter on insecurity in the South South States gets to the stakeholders across the aforementioned states.
Pastor Egedegbe said, “the objective of the town hall meeting is to present to the critical stakeholders of the three senatorial districts of Delta state, a comprehensive findings of a diligent research study on insecurity in Delta State carried out by the duo of Prof. Sam Ogege of Department of Sociology and Psychology, Delta State University, Abraka, and Ebimboere Seiyefa, Ph.D., of Department of International Relations and Diplomacy, Baze University, Abuja. He stated that the study was conducted at the instance of the Niger Delta Dialogue with funding support from the European Union (EU).
Continuing, Pastor Egedegbe, stated that the meeting would also enable a workable synergy between D-PAC and the stakeholders with a view to proffering lasting solution to rising insecurity in the state.
He said, “it is important to inform this gathering that as part of D-PAC’s action plan to work with critical stakeholders of the senatorial districts to achieving a secured Delta State of our dream, we have presented this report to various agencies of government, traditional rulers council, and religious leaders in the state.” Pastor Egedegbe, urged the stakeholders to study the report diligently and give their input so as to making Delta State secure for all.
Speaking at the Delta South session of the town hall meeting held in Ozoro, headquarters of Isoko North Local Government Area, the Area Commander of the Nigeria Police Force, Area Command, Ozoro, Assistant Police Commissioner (ACP), Emeodi Ezewulu, commended D-PAC for organising the meeting. He said, “the importance of security in the development of the society cannot be over stressed.” Continuing, he added that no meaningful progress would be made in a society where insecurity is the order of the day.
The senior police officer alluded to the fact that security challenges are enormous but stated that with the support of the public they are not insurmountable. He urged the stakeholders to support the police and other security agencies to make Delta State safe. He charged them to share the knowledge they have gained at the meeting with the people of their communities.” He emphasized relevance of community policing to curbing crime, even as he charged the public to give the police the needed support so they would do their work effectively. He said, “the community must partner with the police to ensure a safer society.” He said, “take the police and other security outfits in your area as your own. And as we are advancing in democracy, the police is very critical in ensuring a safe society.”
Speaking at the meeting, Mr. Godwin Okotie, from Tebu community, Warri North Local Government Area, described the town hall meeting as a welcome development. He identified leadership tussles in communities as an enabler of insecurity in the state, saying that loss of lives and destruction of property have become a recurring decimal following community leadership tussles in the state. He called on the government to strengthen the laws and ensure there is rule of law in the society.
Also speaking, Dr. Avwoke Frederick, charged the government to be unbiased in implementation of its programmes and policies. He said, “when developmental programmes are not carried out in equitable manner across the state, it fuels agitations and actions that often times, jeopardize security in the state. Continuing, he expressed concern about marginalization of the ljaw communities in the state, noting that such show of negligence and unfair treatment being meted out to ljaw nation by successive governments could lead to loss of trust in the government and cause insecurity.
Mr. Uvoh Ewomazino from Isoko nation, commended D-PAC for holding the town hall meeting, saying that the initiative would go a long way in building peace in the state.
In Otu-jeremi, venue of the Delta Central session of the town hall meeting, the Head of Personnel Management (HPM), Ughelli South Local Government Area, Mr. Austin Emaduku, stressed the urgent need to curb rising insecurity in the state. He commended D-PAC for organising the town hall meeting, saying, “this is an opportunity for everybody to find lasting solution to insecurity in Delta State, and Niger Delta. Emaduku, while reiterating the grave consequence of insecurity on the well-being of Deltans and the economy of the state, said, “the devastating effects of insecurity on the well-being of the people of Delta State cannot be overemphasized.” He charged the stakeholders to support the government of Senator Ifeanyi Okowa as it puts critical measures in place to make the state safe for all.
The President-general of Udu kingdom, Chief Godwin Notoma, harped on non implementation of the local content policy in Udu Local Government Area. He lamented the lopsided structure of appointment in federal government establishments which evidently denies the people of Delta Central Senatorial District the opportunity of holding top positions in the petroleum industry sector of the nation’s economy. He said, “the refineries are located here, but we don’t see our people in the management cadre. When you look at the employment list, you don’t see our boys anywhere. Also, in the gas facility in Udu land, you don’t see our people there. Most contracts in the gas facility are outsourced, such that plants are being built in Lagos and brought here for use at the gas facility, whereas we have welders association and integrity testing association in Udu land who can handle such projects. It is obvious that the Nigerian system creates room for insecurity to fester.”
Continuing, he said, “look at the Delta steel company, though currently operating at minimal scale, you will notice that from the management to the bottom, our people don’t get employment. So, there is a problem created already from start. The Delta State government should be interested in seeing that its indigenes, especially those from the local areas where the resources are tapped, are gainfully employed.”
Chief Notoma, reiterated that the local content policy is being implemented in default and to the detriment of the Urhobos, Ijaws, Isokos and Itsekiris, saying, “we are being short-changed as a people despite being the treasure base of the nation.” He advocated for true restructuring and fiscal federalism, saying, “when that is done insecurity will be reduced to the barest minimum.”
Olorogun J. Ukpeibo, JP, of Olomu kingdom traditional council, presented a salient exposition on the dangers insecurity poses to the state. He frowned at self-aggrandizing posturing of politicians, stating that bad leadership denies the people the opportunity to lead a good life. He was critical about the deployment of the youths as political thugs rather than creating jobs for them to live a responsible life. Continuing, Chief Notoma expressed concern about the threat posed by herdsmen who often attack unsuspecting citizens in the state. He urged everybody to pray for God’s intervention in the prevailing worrisome situation in the state and country at large.
Chief Emmanuel Akpoguma, former President-General of Edjophe community, identified influx of herdsmen into the state as a huge threat to security. He also noted that poor implementation of government’s policies, and poor parenting of children creates insecurity.
The Chairman, HOSTCOM, Urhobo Nation, Mr. Andrew Agoyo, commended D-PAC for organising the town hall meeting. He expressed dismay at the neglect of Urhobo nation by the federal government, noting that agitations by the people of Urhobo nation for economic and infrastructural development had been peaceful over the years, noting that still successive governments would not listen to the plight of the people.
Continuing, he attributed the cause of youth restiveness to increasing unemployment. He added, “when a young man is jobless, he becomes a willing tool to be used by overzealous politicians to foment problem. He blamed the three tiers of government for the troubles ravaging the society, stressing that governments make policies that wouldn’t be implemented. He said, “there is hunger in Nigeria; there is poverty in Nigeria; anybody who says there is no poverty and hunger in Nigeria is not helping the people.” He also blamed the Representatives of the people at the National and States House of Assembly for poor representation. He queried, “what are the interventionists agencies – DESOPADEC and NDDC doing?” He lamented that the agencies receive humongous funds that could be used to alleviate hardship in the society, but no meaningful projects have been put in place to ameliorate the suffering of the indigent populace. He charged the government of Delta State to act very quickly to cushion the hardship the people contend with everyday.
President-General of Idjerhe Kingdom, Chief A.T. Omonode, blamed the federal government for the heightening insecurity in Niger Delta, stating that restiveness among the youths is being caused by lack of employment, saying, “if the funds being generated from Niger Delta could be used judiciously to establish companies to engage the youths in gainfully employed, there will be no insecurity in Niger Delta again.”
He continued, “Federal Government should attract investors to Niger Delta to provide jobs for the teeming unemployed youths, then there will be peace in the area.”
He remarked, “Otorogu is the largest producer of gas in the country, but it has nothing to show for its wealth. It is ironical to note that in Otorogu community, women and children go to the bush everyday to fetch firewood to cook their meals, even when the people don’t get regular supply of electricity.”
The highpoint of the event was presentation of the report, “Insecurity in Delta State: The Issues, Actors and Solutions” to the stakeholders.