The lawmaker representing Ese-Odo Constituency in Ondo State House of Assembly, Barr. Success Torhukerhijo, has condemned the recent approval of the adoption of an indigenous anthem projecting only the culture and tradition of the Yoruba tribe by the State Executive Council.
The lawmaker representing the Ijaw-speaking communities in the state described the decision as “highly provocative and very irritating as it portends a deliberate affront to the peace-loving Ijaws of Ondo State.”
He alleged the governor of “running the Government of Ondo State without recourse to the pluralistic nature of the State.”
According to a statement made available to journalists in Akure, the state capital on Tuesday, Torhukerhijo said: “It is an incontrovertible fact that Ondo State has two ethnic nationalities viz the majority Yoruba and the minority Ijaw.
“It is therefore preposterous that the Governor could imagine adopting an anthem for the state in the Yoruba language without thinking of the concerns of the Ijaws. The Ijaw people consider this to be a ploy to obliterate them from the history of Ondo State. This is intolerable and is outrightly rejected by the Ijaw ethnic nationality.
“Akeredolu should tow the path of honour taken by his predecessors, particularly the doyen of the politics of progressivism in Ondo State, Chief Michael Adekunle Ajasin, who in recognition of the existence of the Ijaws in Ondo State created a Subordinate Area Council which enjoyed almost equal status with other Local Governments in the State in 1981. Not only this, Governor Ajasin ensured that the Ijaw news and programmes were aired on the State Radio and Television.”
The lawmaker alleged the governor of flagrantly disregarding constitutional provisions to deliberately plot the extermination of the Ijaws of Ondo State through draconian laws and questionable executive actions.
Buttressing his claim, Torhukerhijo referred to Section 42 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) states that: “A citizen of Nigeria of a particular Community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not by reason only that he is such a person(s) be subjected either expressly by, or in practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restriction to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religion or political opinions are not made subject or (b) be accorded either expressly by, or in practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups and places of origin, sex, religions, or political opinions.”
The legislator, therefore, noted that the actions of the governor “have put an average right thinking Ijaw man into psychological trauma. Akeredolu’s recent action as Governor of a dual ethnic Ondo State smacks of lack of social equality and is an antithesis to a united, just and free society.”
He alleged the governor of not possessing the political will for an all-inclusive government, saying the Ijaws in the state have been consistently subjected to neglect and abandonment on issues of state by his executive and administrative actions.
“It is pitiable that the Ijaws with a lot of qualified manpower do not have a Permanent Secretary, no Judge in the State High Court and we are short-changed in every facet of the State public service by Governor Akeredolu’s executive and administrative actions. It is pathetic that we have only one Magistrate Court in the whole of the over 250 communities in Ijaw land and no Magistrate is posted to the place,” Torhukerhijo said.
He, therefore, called on the governor “to immediately put on hold his Odua anthem and confer with Ijaw leaders to come up with the Ijaw version of that anthem if it must be sang in public places.
“Governor Akeredolu should hearken to the cries of the Ijaws by appointing qualified persons of Ijaw extraction to the Permanent Secretary cadre and the State Judiciary as Judges. Ijaw indigenes should be appointed into the State Customary Court of Appeal as Judges to reflect the dual ethnic configuration of Ondo State.
“The Governor is beckoned to strive to run an all-inclusive Government by considering the interest of the Ijaws in Ondo State in his administrative and executive actions and in all aspects of governance.”