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Delta 2023: Need for serious sober dialogue

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By Fred Edoreh

We have enjoyed some good level of mutual understanding and political peace in Delta State following the rotation of the Governorship position through the senatorial zones.

We have had an assumption that with the completion of the first circle after our leader, James Ibori had emerged from Delta Central, Eweta Uduaghan from Delta South and Ifeanyi Okowa from Delta North, the new circle will begin again from Delta Central and the process will go seamlessly. It seems however that we are being pointed to an existing reality.

It all seemed so smooth running before now but I guess we may be hitting a bump in the race for 2023 with the possible logical and reasonable claims from the various major ethnic components of the state.

On a general cultural and nationalism note, Delta comprises Delta Igbos, Urhobos, Itsekiris, Isokos and Ijaws.

On the geo-political note, Delta North is seemingly homogeneous of Delta Igbos but with dialectic differences comprising Ika, Oshimili, Aniocha and Ukwani. Delta Central is also seemingly homogeneous but also comprising many dialectic groups. Delta South is heterogeneous, comprising of Itsekiri, Isoko and Ijaw.

So, here comes a substantial challenge: Do we take the configuration of Delta State on the basis of geo-political Senatorial Districts or on the basis of converging major nationalities?

If we start the new circle of rotation with Delta Central, the Urhobos are to start a new turn. But, if we consider the essential convergence of major ethnic nationalities, it means the Ijaws and the Isokos have been ruled out.

This is the challenge for who and how we succeed Gov Okowa in 2023.

From different perspectives, different people will be swayed different ways, but it is understandable for the Ijaws and the Isokos to kick because that would mean that their ethnic distinction is not considered.

Trouble is that we cannot wish away the sentiments of the Ijaws and the Isokos to also take their turns in the circle of rotation, especially so as they are major contributors to the state and national oil economy. Can we really ignore them and start a new circle without them? That would be saying they are not relevant and that would be a dangerous proposition.

On the other hand, problem is that it is also a bit difficult to consider rotation on the basis of ethnic nationalities and dialect groups with the multiplicity of dialectic and sub cultural groups that make up the state. Where do we draw the lines and how do we compute the flow? Can we actually discharge democracy on the basis of ethnicities?

Even in Delta North, the Aniocha, Oshimili and Ukwani will argue that they are distinct and deserving of their entry after Ika has had its turn.

It is just as in Delta Central, the Okpe Urhobo, Ughelli, Agbarha, Udu, Ovwian, Orogun and others will argue that they are also distinct and deserving after Ethiope has had theirs.

This whole equation calls for sober reflection and deep dialogue, not just among political leaders but especially among cultural, community and traditional leaders in order that we don’t truncate and mess up the seeming understanding, cohesion and peace that we have been able to attain in Delta State this whole period.

We cannot solve this mathematics by grandstanding, absolutism and zerosomeness.

In this calculation, the overall and ultimate interest of unity, equity and peace in Delta has to be the paramount consideration. They must be “give and take.”

Truth, again, is that, it is very difficult to consider rotation on the basis of ethnic groups. Guess that is why political representation is delineated on the basis of state, federal constituencies and senatorial zones.

By that, it would be safe to say all expectations for the start of new circle had been on Delta Central. But where does that leave the Ijaws and the Isokos who are substantially distinct?

People have a right to their sense of stake and, being a democracy, we cannot deny any group a feeling of being cut off or being marginalised and their right to assert themselves and to contest.

I guess this is where leadership and statesmanship should come into play in Delta State.

I wish my Delta State a safe ride…

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Daily Report Nigeria

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