Ethnic Politics In Delta State By Paul Ebinum

Delta State was created out of the former Bendel State in 1991. Prior to its creation there have been agitations by some ethnic groups in the present Delta State for a state of their own. The Urhobos wanted a state of their own called Delta State. The Ibo speaking wanted an Anioma State. Some minority ethnic groups in Delta South wanted a Coastal State. Babaginda, out of a deft political ingenuity and marital favouritism created Delta State comprising all three contending groups with capital in Asaba.

Since its creation there have always been calls for political leadership to rotate among the ethnic groups. The political leaders feel that the only way for them to maintain political and economic power is for the rotation of the gubernatorial leadership along ethnic lines. There has never been any conscious effort to produce leaders that will develop the state socially and economically. The clamour for zoning is not hinged on any patriotic effort for state or ethnic gains but for personal aggrandizement.  This has been the bane of the state.

In a bid to perpetuate this selfish design, mediocre and people whose past records are in doubt are brought forward as leaders. Is there any wonder why an ex-convict was elected as governor of the state? Qualities and attributes of a good leader are ignored by the selfish few who are the beneficiaries of ethnic politics. Ibori, an Urhobo man, an ex-convict was propped up and eventually elected governor of the state. His years in office were years of plunder. He came as a conquering army and having conquered the state, decided to plunder it and strip it bare. By the time he left office, the state was worse than he met. The beneficiaries of his misrule were not the Urhobos, his ethnic group, but his cronies who had no agenda for the development of the state but on how to loot it.

Ibori, by the time he left office decided to install his cousin as his successor. His cousin, who is from Itsekiri ethnic group and Delta South geo political zone, was not installed in order to protect and develop Delta South but was put in office so as to cover up Ibori’s misdeeds. The Uduaghan government as all can see has not only taken the state backwards but has also ensured that projects executed by his government are the most expensive in the country. The Itsekiris as a group has not benefitted from Uduaghan’s government. The Delta South geo political zone has nothing positive to say about Uduaghan’s government.

In education, infrastructural development, health, social services Uduaghan’s government has hardly made any mark. Unemployment is still high. Insecurity is on the rise. The roads are getting worse. Health services have deteriorated. Apart from the project with Obasanjo Farms, nothing has been done by the government to improve agriculture. Nothing concrete has been done to engage the hundreds of thousands of unemployed youths in agricultural pursuits. Meanwhile, the Obasanjo Farm project near Ogwashi Uku can only employ less than a hundred workers. Roads are constructed without drainages. Today, when rain falls, Jakpa Road, Ekpan Road and some other major roads in Warri are flooded. The same applies to Okpanam Road in Asaba.

The Uduaghan government will surely in 2015 try to install a puppet from another geo political zone as governor all in the name of ethnic balancing. If he does and succeeds, one can easily envisage the type of government that will be in place. An incompetent one.

So why is ethnic politics still being championed by the ruling class in the state? The answer is simple. The ruling class cuts across all the ethnic groups in the state. In order to perpetuate themselves in power, they use ethnicity to divide the people. They play the politics of balkanization – divide and rule politics. They know that if the people are united, their political career will come to an end. The ruling class irrespective of their ethnic origin has united to rape the state and appropriate the commonwealth of the people. To protect their political career and relevance, they now resort to ethnic politics. They have started the ethnic politics again by canvassing for a governor from a particular zone.

The irony of this trend is that it is only when they are plotting their evil machinations that they now consult their colleagues in minority ethnic groups. The Aniomas have come out to say that it is their turn to rule. To achieve their aim, they have begun consultations with the Ukuanis. The Ukuanis have always been the beautiful bride of the Aniomas to be courted, de flowered and abandoned. During the agitation for the creation of States, the Aniomas courted the Ukuanis. That was when they realized that the Ukuanis are their kiths and kins. Delta State has been created. The Ukuanis have been abandoned by both the Aniomas and other ethnic groups in Delta State. Election year is approaching and the Aniomas have begun making rapprochement to the Ukuanis. The abandoned bride has once again become beautiful. Let the fact be stated that since the creation of Delta State, the Ukuanis have never benefitted from their relationship with the Aniomas. Today, Ukuani ethnic nationality is the most neglected in Delta State. There are no good roads in the Ukuani nation. Health care services are lacking. Public infrastructure is nonexistent. It is high time we faced the truth. The Ukuanis are a distinct people. They are not Aniomas. They have their distinct and peculiar culture.

Delta State does not need an ethnic stooge chosen by those who have wrecked the state to be governor. What Deltans need is a competent, progressive, articulate, selfless and pro people individual as governor of the state. A man who can deliver the dividends of democracy. A man who can sacrifice personal interests for the good of the people. Deltans need a man who is credible, has not been tainted or stained in any form. A man who has seen it all and wants to translate what he has seen within and outside the country to reality in Delta State. An intellectual and visionary leader is what Deltans are clamouring for. A man who can guarantee good roads, employment, security, accountability, economic boom, social security for the elders, revamp agriculture, grant free and qualitative education, who can harness the abundant human and natural resources for the common good is what Deltans crave for.

Deltans are not particular about one’s place of birth before electing such as governor. A man that satisfies their yearnings for quality leadership is all they are asking for. Let us as a people look for such individual and should not fall into ethnic division as championed by the looters of the state. Enough of incompetent and clueless leaders. Delta State deserves the best and the best we must get in 2015. That is the only way the state can move forward.



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