Letters & Viewpoints
The Igbo Have had their turn in Rivers state
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I am writing to raise the awareness of the general public and to register our protest against the brazen injustice being perpetrated in Rivers state by Dr Peter Chinwe Otunnuya Odili himself an Igbo from the Ndoni Ogbaru clan who has forcefully foisted Hon. Chibuike Amaechi another Igbo from the Ikwerre clan as the PDP gubernatorial candidate thereby ignoring the official zoning policy of the nation which was mooted to create unity and a sense of belonging amongst all constituent units in the country.
It is common knowledge that Rivers state has a lot of similarities with Delta state where you have the Urhobo, Igbo, Ijaw etc as constituent ethnic groups. In the case of Rivers state we have the Igbo or Igboid groups which comprise the Ogba, Egbema Ndoni, the Eche, the Ikwerre, the Ekpeye, Oyigbo, etc The Ijaw or Ijoid groups which comprise Kalabari, Bonny, Opobo etc and lastly the Ogoni, this much is reflected in the Rivers state government official gazette.
Since the creation of Bayelsa state, the Igbo or Igboid groups now constitute the majority in Rivers state, but that notwithstanding the zoning policy makes it mandatory that either the Ijaw or the Ogoni is supposed to produce the next governor of Rivers state, the Igbo having had their full 8 year turn under Dr Peter Odili. But surprisingly Dr Peter Odili ignored the sensibilities of the Ijaw and Ogoni people and went ahead to impose Hon. Chibuike Amaechi his ethnic brother on Rivers state.
We are happy to note that Delta state, a state with many similarities has honoured the zoning formula by picking Chief Oduaghan, from the Itshekiri ethnic group after the Urhobo have had their turn. This will expectedly foster unity and a sense of belonging. We expect the Rivers state government to do the same thing in the name of justice and fairplay.
What Dr Peter Odili has done is tantamount to having an Asaba man preside over Delta state, and after his 8 year tenure pick another Ukwuani man to succeed him, which represent handing the baton from one Igbo to another Igbo in a multi-ethnic state. Such a move is bound to cause a backlash and crisis if not nipped in the bud.
The attempt to hide under an invented and imaginary "Ikwerre ethnic nationality" to justify the brazen injustice is a monumental fraud that must be resisted. The ethnic identity of each group in Nigeria has long been established under the British colonial administration for almost a century, and subsequent anthropological, cultural and linguistic researches has confirmed same. Any attempt to seek to confuse the facts in order to benefit from another turn by the same ethnic group as Rivers state governor is bound to unavoidably lead to crisis.
We use this opportunity to thank elder statesman Chief Alabo Graham Douglas for alerting the public to the unfolding fraud being perpetrated by Dr Peter Odili and sending a petition to the presidency in protest.
We pray and hope that commonsense will prevail on the PDP and presidency to revert to an Ijaw or Ogoni candidate for the Rivers state gubernatorial elections. The Igbo having had their turn should have the humility to step down for the Ijaw or Ogoni, and wait for their turn again which will surely come as the rotation which has become part and parcel of the Nigerian political process continues.