Youths of Okpai community in Ndokwa East Local Government Area of Delta State have asked Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to use his good offices to intervene and avert what they described as another impending crisis in the community.
This is coming 12 years after a communal crisis in which no fewer than six persons and 12 houses were burnt in the community, now on the verge of another chaos.
The youths also gave the traditional ruler, HRM Goldring Ugbome II, who has been accused of dictatorship, a two-day ultimatum to rescind decisions on the composition of a new Community Development Committee (CDC) or face the consequences.
But Ugbome, who spoke with The Guardian at his palace, on the sidelines of his 55th anniversary on the throne as Okpala Uku of Oluchi, said: “The protests are pockets of dissenting voices. We know those behind them. And I can assure you that the CDC as inaugurated have since started work.”
A similar incident had occurred that caused mayhem between 2007 and 2010 that forced the traditional ruler on a four-year exile at Asaba, due to succession to the leadership of the CDC.
The bone of contention was that the monarch was said to have allegedly hand picked some persons into a constitutional drafting committee with national Vice Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Amaechi Asuguni, as Chairman.
As the people objected to the composition of the Asuguni-led committee, the monarch accepted the constitution as drafted, reviewed it without input from the people and made it a working document for the community.
An indigene of the community, Chinedu Ofulu, who briefed the media yesterday in Kwale, said: “Another bone of contention is the clause that allocated 20 per cent of whatever accrues to the community from the Okpai Gas Plant to the monarch.
“We plead with Governor Okowa to step in before it goes out of hand, as threat of arrests have made the youth leader, Alex Okwuezoru, former CDC Chairman, Ik Ofulu and others to go underground.
“We have been marked for arrest. This has led concerned elders and women to continue seeking audience with Ugbome II, who has remained adamant, leading the youth to occupy the market square in Oluchi with a two-day ultimatum for him to rescind the decision or face the consequences.
However, the Regent of Okpai, Uko Nzefili Adone, who spoke with the media from his hideout, said: “The problem in Okpai is that we resolved to have a constitution for the community at the end of the last CDC executive.”
While the people are yet to come to terms with the unilateral decision to on the composition of the constitutional committee membership, as if we do not matter, the monarch, again single-handedly picked leadership of the CDC with the same Asuguni as chairman and a DESOPADEC board member, Nnamdi Ezechi as chairman, constitution drafting committee.