By Obiri Jonathan
Delta state was created on the 27th day of August, 1991 under the erstwhile military President, Gen. Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida. Before its creation, Delta state was part of the integrated Benin and Delta Province state known as Bendel State. Delta state is a multilingual state comprising of different ethnic nationalities viz the Aniomas, Urhobos, Ijaws, Isokos, and Itsekiris.
In the midst of the divergent ethnic nationalities in the state, the Ijaws of Delta state have made unquantifiable contributions to the growth, development and fame of the state in Nigeria.
In terms of educational development, the Delta Ijaws are proud to have birthed great scholars who have recorded indelible feats in academics. The likes of Prof. J.P. Clark-Bekederemor, the first professor of English in Nigeria who hails from Kiagbodo town; Ebi Yeibo, joint winner ANA poetry prize 2014 who hails from Ayakoromo town; Ekanpou Enewaredideke, winner Isidore Okpewho Prize for Literature who hails from Ayakoromo town; Dr. Benedict Binebai Head, Department of Theatre Arts, Niger Delta University, Ammassoma who hails from Ofougbene town; Prof. A Narebo, Retired High Court Judge and Preofessor of Law, Delta State University, Oleh Campus who hails from Esanma town; Hon Justice Niki Tobi, former Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria and pioneer Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Maidugiri who hails from Esanma town; Hon. Justice Ebiowei Tobi, Judge, High Court of Delta State, Effurun Judicial Division who also hails from Esanma town; Hon. Justice Francis Fedude Tabai, retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria and former Pro Chancellor, Delta State University, Abraka who hails from Torugbene town; Prof. Victor Peretonmode, Vice Chancellor, Delta State University, Abraka who hails from Kiagbodo town; Mr. Ebipade Brisibe, President All Confederation of Principals of Secondary Schools, Delta State, Nigeria who hails from Ojobo town; Dr. Sylvester Ebisine, Provost, Delta State School of Marine Technology, Burutu who hails from Torugbene are just a few of the innumerable academic gurus that the Delta Ijaws have proudly produced.
In the history of Nigerian politics one cannot overlook the inputs of political bigwigs such as Chief E. K. Clark former Federal Commissioner of Information who is from Kiagbodo town and late Chief L.S.T. Fufeyin former Minister of Transport (Mid-Western Region) who hails from Ojobo town. Even in our contemporary political era, the Delta Ijaws have made great records in the persons of Chief (Sen.) James Ebiowou Manager, Distinguished Senator of the Federal Republic who is from Ogbein-ama and Ogriagbene towns, Hon. Kingsley Otuaro (Deputy Governor, Delta State) who hails from Okerenkoko, Rt. Hon. Julius Pondi (Member, Federal House of Representatives) who hails from Sokebulou town, Hon. Nicholas Ebomo Mutu (Member, Federal House of Representatives) who hails from Akugbene town, Hon. William Angadi of Ogriagbene town, Hon. Kelly Penawou of Akugbene town, Hon. Tamarautare Brisibe (Chief of Staff to Delta State Government) who hails from Ojobo town, Hon. Frank Zuokumo of Ojobo town, Hon. Tito Zuokumo of Ojobo town, Hon. Solomon Funkekeme of Ojobo town, Elder Godsday Orubebe of Ogbobagbene town, Elder P.Z. Aginighan of Ogodobiri town, Hon. Collins Olorogun of Ezebiri town, Hon. Frank Enekerogha of Obotebe town, Hon. Braduce Angozi of Ayakoromo town, Hon. Godwin Edumogiren of Ayakoromo town, Hon. Yerin Ekpedibo Yerin of Ayakoromo town, Hon. Asupa Forteta of Egodo town, Hon. Ebikeme Clark of Kiagbodo town, Rt. Hon. Felix Akila of Bulu Endoro town, Chief Wellington Okrika of Kunukunu-ama town, Hon. Preyor Oboro of Kpakiama town, Chief Pius Sinebe of Patani town, Hon. Basil Ganagana of Bulu Angiama town, Hon. Sunday Ezonfade of Okpokunou town, etc.
Chief Clement Moni, Chief Tunde Smooth, Chief Afro Biukeme, Hon. Sunday Feke, Chief Joseph Penawou, Chief Ekomieyafe Oduboh, C.E.O KFT, Chief (Mrs.) Biboere Manager, C.E.O JulieMa Nig. Ltd etc are few of the countless Business Magnates of Ijaw origin whose companies and firms have employed thousands of unemployed Deltans in gainful employment in their respective enterprises.
Even in the entertainment industry, we cannot undermine the role played by musical and movie artists such as Tare Okiri populary called Harrysong, Joy Tambou (Nollywood Actress), Lizberg Aneneme (Famous Ijaw indigenous Rapper), Jasper Paljagz Angola (Nigerian RnB singer) and most outstandingly Chief Barrister Soja Smooth whose music themes and performances played a pivotal role in the relative peace in Warri area. Barrister Soja Smooth was largely instrumental to the realization of Peace between the Ijaws and Itsekiris.
Traditionally, the Delta Ijaws have royal fathers whose intellectual, cultural and material stability commands respect within and outside the bounds of the state. HRM, Pere Luke S. Kalanama, the Pere of Akugbene Mein Kingdom is one of the most highly educated traditional rulers in West Africa. We also have the likes of HRM, Captain Joseph Timiyan, the Pere of Ogulagha Kingdom, HRM, Oboro Gbaraun Aketekpe Agadagba, the Pere of Gbaramatu Kingdom, HRM, Hitler Perekeme (Jp), the Pere of Ngbilebire Mein Kingdom, HRM Pere Couple Oromoni, the Amakosu-owei of Ogbe-Ijoh Kingdom and a host of others whose sterling leadership qualities cum unmatched wisdom, intelligence and wealth speaks volume far and wide the universe.
It is however lamentable that Despite the contributions of Ijaws to the well-being of Delta State, the Delta Ijaw communities are crashing under the burdensome encumbrance of underdevelopment orchestrated by the powers that be. The ongoing administration best justifies this claim. Gov. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa who came into power in the year 2015 has showed little or no regard for the Ijaw people despite the block votes he got from the Ijaw people. In terms of appointment, the Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa led government has the highest record of S.S.A’s and P.A.’s. But the question lies on how many of these S.S.A’s and P.A.’s are from the Ijaw nation. I will not dwell much on this aspect as his choice of appointment of S.S.A’s and P.A’s might have been informed by factors such as personal proximity and intimacy before his candidature.
Over the world, it is duly acknowledged that education plays a significant role in the all-round development of the society. It is on this note that the Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa led government expressed its readiness to encourage and support education in Delta state, be it formal, non-formal or technical. Schools were built, renovated and furnished. We have the examples of the Technical Colleges in Ofagbe, Sapele and Agbor that were given a transformational shape. Numerous secondary/primary schools such as Emore Grammar School, Oleh, Dom Domigos College, Warri, Hussey College, Warri, Eni Primary School, Ellu etc were given facelifts. The question therefore is: How many schools from the Ijaw area of Delta State were built or renovated? Is it the dilapidated and bush swallowed Ayakoromo Grammar School? Or the Omomotimi Apkaremogbene Primary School where the classrooms are in a state of dejection? Is it the already collapsing mud built Serikoromo Primary School, Oyangbene? Is it the unfurnished Torugbene Grammar School that has suffered neglect for years?
Even more appalling is the state of marginalization in the creation of and citing of higher institutions in Delta State. The analysis below will go a long way in proving whether the Ijaws of Delta State are marginalized educationally or are at an advantaged position:
UNIVERSITIES IN DELTA STATE:
- Federal University of Petroleum Resources – Ugbomoro town (Urhobo)
- Delta State University, Abraka Campus – Abraka town (Urhobo)
- Delta State University, Anwai Campus – Asaba town (Anioma)
- Delta State University, Oleh Campus – Oleh town (Isoko)
- Delta State University, Affiliate Study Centre – Agbor town (Anioma)
- Delta State University, Affiliate Study Centre – Edjeba town (Urhobo)
COLLEGES OF EDUCATION:
- Federal College of Education, Technical – Asaba town (Anioma)
- College of Education, Warri – Edjeba town (Urhobo)
- College of Education, Agbor – Agbor town (Anioma)
- College of Physical Education, Mosogar – Mosogar town (Urhobo)
- Delta State Polytechnic, Ozoro – Ozoro town (Isoko)
- Delta State Polytechnic, Ugwuashi- uku – Ugwuashi-uku town (Anioma)
- Delta State Polytechnic, Otefe Oghara – Otefe Oghara town (Urhobo)
- Petroleum Training Institute, Effurun – Effurun town (Urhobo)
- College of Health Technology, Ufuoma – Ufuoma town (Urhobo)
- State School of Nursing, Warri – Edjeba town (Urhobo)
- State School of Nursing, Agbor – Agbor town (Anioma)
- School of Marine Technology, Burutu – Burutu town (Ijaw)
- School of Marine Technology, Kwale Campus – Kwale town (Anioma)
- School of Marine Technology, Gbaregolor Campus – Gbaregolor town (Urhobo)
It is pitiable that out of the 20 listed campuses of higher institution, ONLY ONE is cited in an Ijaw community. What an insult to the Delta Ijaw communities? No further evidence do we need to prove that the successive administrations in Delta State are not interested in the educational development of the Ijaw people. The Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko and the NIMASA Technical College, Okoloba, the only two institutions that were established in Delta Ijaw area with the efforts of former President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, High Chief Government Ekpemupolo and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency under the erstwhile leadership of our own persecuted son Mr. Partick Akpoboloukemi were made to suffer cancellations and setbacks. The smooth running of these two institutions is being fought against on the basis of frivolous allegation of misappropriation of funds. It is against this backdrop that I expected the swift and resilient intervention of the Delta State Government to ensure that these institutions run unhindered.
In the aspect of road constructions in the Northern part of the State Gov. Okowa did wonderfully. But is he the Governor of the Delta Northern region only? Although he constructed some other roads in Delta Central and some parts of Delta South, not a single road has been commissioned in an Ijaw town. Below is an analysis of road construction and rehabilitation projects carried out by the Gov. Okowa led administration:
- Reconstruction/Expansion/Construction of Kefas Road/Old Emede Road/Uzere Junction, Oleh in Isoko South Local Government Area. Oleh.
- Completion of Palace Road in Owa-Oyibu, Ika North – East LGA Owa-Oyibu.
- Construction of Ikokogbe/Idumizomor Road, Owa-Oyibu in Ika North-East LGA Owa-Oyibu.
- Construction of Onomigbo Street, Orerokpe, Okpe L.G.A Orerokpe.
- Construction of Ejinyere/Orodje Streets Orerokpe, Okpe L.G.A Orerokpe.
- Construction of Ejiyere Street, Dederu Street and Akemu Street (by Church of God Mission)Warri South Local Government Area, Warri.
- Construction of Orikeze Street with a Spur to Orikeze Close in Ika South LGA Agbor.
- Reconstruction of Oteri Township Road Ughelli North L. G. A. Oteri.
- Construction of Usonia Street in Asaba
- Construction of Upper Imudia/Dr. White Street, Agbor, Ika South L. G. A. Agbor Completed & Commissioned
- Construction of Idumu Ugboh Street with a spur of 113m to Godwin Emefiele Close, Agbor Agbor. 1.05km Completed & Commissioned
- Construction of the Extension of Ikokogbe / Idumuizomor / Palace Road, Owa-Oyibu in Ika North East Local Government Area. Owa-Oyibu 0.95km Completed & Commissioned
- Construction of Access Road to Awaritse Industrial Park, Obitugbo (Phase) 1 in Warri North Local Government Area Obitugbo, Koko. Completed
- Construction of Access Road to Ani-ikpeku, (Palace Road) Igbodo Igbodo 1.00km Completed
- Construction of Esenwa Street, Access Road to Christ Embassy Church Road and Extension of Access road to the Orthopaedic, Surgical Wards and Doctors Quarters, Asaba Asaba 1.07km Completed
- Construction of Edwin/Ikechukwu Roads, Owanta/Aliosimi in Ika North East LGA. Owa Completed
- Construction Ogala-Chukwuemeke Street, with A Spur to Orolua Close, Word of Faith Street and Kingsley Street, Owa in Ika North-East LGA Owa 1.21km Completed
- Construction of Onyeacholem Street in Ika North East LGA Owa 0.66km Completed
- Rehabilitation of Roundabout at Nnebisi/Okpanam/Anwai Roads and Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan Way Intersection, Asaba (Section II) Asaba. Completed
- Rehabilitation of Roundabout at Nnebisi/Okpanam/Anwai Roads and Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan Way Intersection, Asaba (Section I) Asaba Completed
- Construction of drainage along Edwin/Ikechukwu Street, Boji-Boji Owa in Ika North East LGA Owa. Completed
- Construction of Discharge Drainage Channel at Ibori Golf Course, Asaba in Oshimili South Local Government Asaba. Completed
- Dualization of Owa-Ekei-Ow-Alero Road (from Old Lagos/Asaba Road to Owa Alero Roundabout) in Ika North East LGA Owa.
- Dualisation of Sapele Road from Amukpe Roundabout by Sapele/Warri Expressway to AT & P Roundabout Sapele in Sapele Local Government area Sapele.
- Construction of Ughelli-Afiesere-Ofuoma Road in Ughelli North L.G.A Ughelli.
- Dualization of Nnebisi Road (from Traffic Light Junction to Cable Point) Asaba Asaba.
- Expansion and Upgrading of Tankers Park, Ekpan in Uvwie LGA Ekpan.
- Construction of Middle Section of Alisimie/Oza-Nogogo in Ika South LGA Oza-Nogogo.
- Construction of Ugbomro Road (Section I: Between DSC Expressway and the Federal University of Petroleum Resources Junction) in Uvwie Local Government Area Ugbomro.
- Main Axial Road at Okerenkoko, Warri South West Local Government Area. Okerenkoko.
- Construction of Edegbrode-Elume Road in Sapele Local Government Area Elume
- Rehabilitation/Widening of Access Road to Beneku Community in Ndokwa East LGA Beneku.
- Completion of the Construction Of Ogwashi-uku/Ubulu-Unor Road Ubulu-Unor.
- Widening/Reconstruction Of Owhelogbo/Abbi Road In Isoko North And Ndokwa West Local Government Areas Owhelogbo.
- Rehabilitation/Asphalt Overlay of Ekakpamre/Ekrokpe/Usiefurun Road in Ughelli South and Udu LGA Usiefrun.
- Construction of Joseph Ebolo and Madonna School Road, Asaba Asaba.
- Aragba/Okobia/Okwetolor/Okuagbude/Warri-Sapele Junction Okwetolor.
- Rehabilitation of Old Abraka Road (from Traffic Light to Powerline), Owa in Ika North East LGA Owa.
- Rehabilitation / Resealing of Okpare-Umolo-Ovwodokpokpo-Kiagbodo Okpare.
- Construction of Okere-Urhobo Community Road in Warri South Okere-Urhobo, Warri.
- Construction of Okuovo-Kpokpogri-Opuraja/Iriama Junction Road in Okpe L.G.A Okuvo.
- Construction/Rehabilitation of Kwale Township Roads in Ndokwa West Local Government Are, Kwale.
- Construction of Anglican Diocese Grammar School Road, Uzuobe Street And Rehabilitation/Overlay Of Other Township Roads, Iyede In Isoko North Local Government Area. Iyede.
- Reconstruction of Old Oleh/Emede -Olomoro Junction, Isoko South Local Government Area; Emede.
- Construction of Oritsejobor Street, Dr. Steve Oru Street, Dr. Steve Oru Close, Okpodjiko Street Extension, and Rehabilitation of Okpodjiko Access Road in Ughelli, Ughelli North Local Govt Area Ughelli.
- Rehabilitation/Maintenance of Various Roads to Agbarha in Ughelli North Agbarha.
- Construction of Odion/Odi/Igunbor and Ewere Street in Ika North East LGA, Owa.
- Rehabilitation of Warri – Sapele Expressway at Ch 6 + 500 and at Ch 1 + 100 from Effurun Roundabout Ohorhe.
- Construction of Obi Okolotu/Anthony Anonye Street with access from Madumezie Street Asaba.
- Construction of Drains along Old Emede Road/Emede-Olomoro Junction, Oleh in Isoko South LGA Emede.
- Rehabilitation of Adeola Road/New Ogorode Road Junction in Sapele LGA Sapele.
- Rehabilitation of Failed Sections of Agbor/Abavo/Umutu/Eku Road (From College Junction Agbor to Eku Junction) Agbor.
- Rehabilitation of Failed Sections of Link Road from Oghara to Koko / Ugbenu Highway in Ethiope West Local Government Area Oghara.
- Rehabilitation and Overlay of Ogaga Boad and Constructin of Spur to Rev. Atufe Oyibo Close, Amukpe Amukpe.
- Construction of Monu Olarewaju Crescent, Off Marian Nneamaka Ali Drive, Asaba in Oshimili South LGA Asaba.
- Dualization of Access Road to Jesse Jesse.
- Construction of Uduophori (Bomadi/Ohoro Junction)/Toru-Angiama/Toru-Apelebiri/Patani Road (Phase II) in Patani L.G.A. Uduophori.
- Dualisation of Asaba/Okpanam Roadd Section II Okpanam.
- Dualisation of Old Lagos Asaba Road from Emuhu Junction to Agbor-Obi Junction in Ika North East LGA Boji-Boji.
- Dualisation of Ughelli-Asaba Road, (Sector A). Ughelli.
- Rehablitation of Jeddo Ughoton Road and Construction of Access Road to Eagles Height University Ughoton.
- Construction of Trans Warri – Ode-Itsekiri Bridges and Access Roads Phase I: Section I Ubeji to Ode-Itsekiri Roundabout with Spurs to Ijala Ugbodede, Orugbo and Ajigba – Inorin – Usele Communities and Section II (iii) Ode-Itsekiri Internal roads Ode-Itsekiri.
- Expansion and Rehabilitation of Sections of Oghara Junction to Otefe Road in Ethiope West LGA Oghara.
- Construction of Council Road, Akwukwu-Igbo in Oshimili North LGA Akwukwu-Igbo.
- Construction of Ogbani Road (Circular Road) and Completion of Hezua Road (Phase I) Akwukwu-Igbo in Oshimili North LGA Akwukwu-Igbo.
- Construction of Word of Faith Street, Owa Owa.
- Continuation of the Construction Of Issele-Uku/Onicha-Uku/Ugbodu/Ukwu-Nzu/Obomkpa/Idumu-Ogo Road: Completion Of Phase I of the Contract (6.65km Length) from Idumu-Ugo to Obomkpa in Aniocha North Local Government Area Ukwu-Nzu.
- Construction of Oghara Township Road, Phase VI Oghara.
- Construction of Orodje Street, Extension and regulation of potholes on Secretariat Road, Hospital Road and Palace Road Orerokpe.
- Resurfacing of Ughelli-Agbarha Road in Ughelli North Local Government Area (Phase 2) Agbarha.
- Construction of Abraka Township Roads (Phase I) Abraka .
- Rehabilitation of Resealing Of Alihiame/Aligwai/Aliokpu/Agbon-NTA Road in Ika South Local Government Area Agbonta.
- Reonstruction of Owa-Alero/ute-Okpu Road (from Railway Flyover Bridge to Ute-Okpu Roundabout) in Ika North LGA Ute-Okpu.
- Continuation of the Construction Of Issele-Uku/Onicha-Uku/Ugbodu/Ukwu-Nzu/Obomkpa/Idumu-Ogo Road: Completion Of Phase II of the Contract (2.43km Length) from Onicha-Uku to Ukwu-Nzu in Aniocha North Local Government Area Ukwu-Nzu.
- Rehabilitation of Ozoro/Oleh Road Ozoro.
- Issele-Uku Main Access Road from Benin/Asaba Federal Highway with an Extension to Obi Palace Junction to Market Road, in Issele-Uku Town, Aniocha North LGA Issele-Uku.
- Maintenance of Roads in Effurun, Uvwie Local Government Area Uvwie.
- Construction of Ndobu Road, Off Palace Road, Igbodo, Phase I Igbodo.
Out of the 78 road construction projects above, only the concrete pavement at Okerenkoko (more or less a walkway) and the Toru Angiama- Apelebiri road project (number 30 and 57 above respectively) both uncompleted are cited in Ijaw area. What happened to the bad roads and water flooded community pavements and inner roads in Kpakiama, Patani, Ayakoromo, Bomadi, Tuomo, Oboro, Ogbe-Ijoh, Obotebe, Akparemogbene, Oyangbene, Eseinmogbene, Ebeingbene, etc.? What happened to to the abandond Ayakoromo-Igbo Ideh Bridge? How about the fast eroding town of Gbekebor? They are all neglected by the Delta State government.
IJAWS, WHERE ART THY PLACE IN DELTA STATE AFTER 26 YEARS?
WHERE ART THOU PLACE?
If I were to give an answer, I would say:
Our place is:
- Out of 20 higher institutions!
- Out of 78 road construct projects!
Obiri Wenebokefe Jonathan, Wrote this piece from the flooded inner roads of Ayakoromo Town, Burutu L.G.A., Delta State.