The Delta State government has responded promptly to allegations of marginalization levelled against the administration of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, stating clearly that it was untrue for anyone to suggest or claim any form of discrimination against the Ijaws or any other ethnic group in the state, as the administration would never promote ethnicity because the people of Delta are one.
This clarification was made on Saturday, July 20, by the incumbent Chief Press Secretary to Governor Okowa and Commissioner-designate for the Delta State Executive Council, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, who was reacting to an allegation of marginalization made by former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Elder Godsday Orubebe.
Mr. Aniagwu said: “Let me make it very clear that the PDP in Delta State is one strong family under the leadership of the state governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa and of course, the party leadership. And the party remains committed to the development and empowerment of not only the members, but the entire electorate of Delta state.”
Speaking further, Aniagwu noted that; “Our brother, our leader, a very good friend to the governor, Elder Godsday Orubebe, is also a key member of that PDP family, he has contributed to the development of the party in the state and is always given his due respect and we will continue to give him his due respect.
“We do not emphasize ethnic groups in Delta because we have grown together as one Delta; we try as much as possible not to emphasize those fault lines of ethnicity because it does not and will not take us anywhere.
“So I do not want to believe that what is ascribed to him that a particular ethnic group is marginalized is true because all the ethnic groups in the state are seen as key stakeholders and are respected as Deltans, more so, the governor has same regards for anybody, irrespective of tribe.
Assuring those nursing misgivings of marginalization of Governor Okowa’s detribalized approach to governance, Aniagwu said: “And I can assure you, he will continue to regard everybody, he will continue to take their wise counsel and take steps to ensure that everybody feels safe under the umbrella,” he said.
“Elder Orubebe needed to be enlightened because the state government led by Gov Ifeanyi Okowa has successfully constructed standard projects in Ijaw communities.
“They include Oporoza internal road, Okerenkoko internal roads, Burutu township road, phase one and two, Youbebe – Biniebi-ama road, Obotobo – Sokebolou – Yokiri road, Obotobo I community internal road, Sokebolou internal road, Burutu Modern Market, funding of Ayakoromo Bridge project, Ogbobagbene – Ojobo road and construction/renovation of schools.
“Despite the difficulties in embarking on projects in the riverine communities, Governor Okowa within four years as governor has been able to reach out to Ijaw communities in Delta state by embarking on lasting projects, appointing sons and daughters from the riverine communities into his administration and empowering of youths.
“What about Nigeria Vice president Prof Yemi Osinbajo’s visit to the riverine communities where he commissioned road projects constructed by Governor Okowa,” Aniagwu said, emphatically stressing Gov. Okowa’s developmental strides in the Riverine areas.
He said: “The Peoples Democratic Party is a party of so many ungrateful and sadistic people, and sometimes it sounds funny when I see and hear some of them talk on the television, radio and in the newspaper. “One day we shall come out to call names with facts and history. It is a party that kills the spirit of loyalty, love and commitment.”
Speaking on the alleged marginalization of the Ijaw in Delta state by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s administration, Orubebe said: “In Delta state, Governor Okowa has been deliberately sidelining the Ijaw people who stood by him in all his two elections and it is painful and sad. The Ijaw people fought for him all through. In good and bad times, they were there for him.
“The deputy governor is Ijaw but I can tell you that he is just a name there, even though he is not talking or complaining.
“I saw basically a helpless and a hopeless situation when I visited him twice since 2014. The second visit was just a month or two ago. What explanation can he give the Ijaw people who gave him all their support,? he queried.
“I want to advise him to discuss with the leaders of the Ijaws and explain the issues he is having with Ijaw people”, Orubebe urged.
Accusing Governor Okowa further, Orubebe alleged that the Delta Governor has deliberately sidelined and abandoned the Ijaw in the state, shortly after becoming governor, despite the massive support they gave him to become governor, which clearly contradicted his campaign promise to remain a father for all tribes in the state.
According to Orubebe: “In Delta state, Governor Okowa has been deliberately sidelining the Ijaw people who stood by him in all his two elections and it is painful and sad. The Ijaw people fought for him all through. They were there for him.
“There is always a day of reckoning and some of us are coming out to talk now because we thought Governor Okowa was going to change but he has decided not to change.
“We shall continue to express our minds on all issues bordering on the nation, at the state and national levels,” he warned.