As a corps member serving in Delta State, I feel compelled to comment on the state of the young state. It’s been long I have been planning to communicate you personally but unfortunately, I didn’t have the means of reaching each and every one of you. I then resolved to use this widely read medium.
Recently, the Special Adviser on Information, Chief Paulinus Akpeki, in a documentary programme titled ‘Delta Today’ on NTA Benin, said the state is very peaceful and its people are accommodating and hospitable. Nobody would dispute this assertion, even if the person is a visitor to the state.
One is impressed by the cosmopolitan nature of the state, with abundant mineral resources. Delta is known as a strategic state in the country in terms of its industrial base, population and land areas. Farming is a profitable business in the state and efforts are being intensified in the area of livestock products for the purpose of beefing up the nutritional needs of the state and the country.
Be that as it may, the spate of open letters, litigations, petitions, and communal confrontations emanating from sections of the state is anti-productive and is likely to discourage the spirit of those who want to contribute immensely to the betterment of the state.
The recent sporadic clashes between the Urhobo and Itsekiri in Warri during a traditional festival is quite unfortunate. As one journalist puts it, whether it is the Urhobos who are deliberately attempting to marginalise the Itsekiris, their neighbour in Warri, or vice-versa, remain a moot point.
The most serious political problem confronting the state is that of deliberately sponsored antagonisms between the two ethic groups. Right from the creation of Delta State, the crises between Urhobo and Itsekiri have kept on dominating news headlines. This problem has eaten so deep that both the government and the people seem to have forgotten about other important and serious issues in the state.
It is quite worrisome that the crisis is not a border issue, not even over farmlands or on other resources but on the title of the paramount traditional ruler of Warri. This is a matter that could be sorted out through a day’s dialogue.
As a true lover of Delta State, I appeal to those involved in these crises to cultivate the spirit of tolerance and accommodation, which is essential for peace and development. It is necessary to call on the state council of traditional rulers to provide a forum to discuss the differences, for a lasting solution.
Deltans, your state has come of age. And it is your responsibility to work for its development and to improve on the poor state of communications in the state. I call on the state government to establish a newspaper and install more booster stations for the Delta Broadcasting service so that it can reach out to every section of the state and preach the message of peace, love and harmony.
This ‘Letter to the Editor’ by Yushau A. Shuaib was originally published in Sunray, August 5, 1993