From: Ben Dunno, Warri
Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo state has clarified that the people of Gelegele community (an Ijaw settlement) in Ovia North East Local Government Area of the state are no strangers as they have a long historical link with the people of Edo State.
Governor Obaseki gave the clarification, at the weekend, when the elders and leaders of thought from the five Ijaw kingdoms of Edo State and the leadership of the Ijaw National Congress (INC), Edo State chapter, paid him a courtesy visit in his office where they presented him a paper on the way forward.
Speaking with newsmen at the end of the closed-door-meeting, the governor urged those trying to distort history by alluding to the fact that the Gelegele people are strangers in Edo State, to desist from such unfounded claim and insinuations, saying the present day Edo state has no ethnic group that could be referred to as strangers.
Obaseki, noted that it was in view of the recognition of Gelegele community as part and parcel of Edo state that prompted the initiative to embark on the seaport project in the area, adding that it was part of his administration commitment to ensure that development comes to the people of the area.
He maintained that there was nothing greater than peace in any community, saying that it is under such condition that developmental goals of any society, state or nation could be attained, especially to the most disadvantaged in the state.
“Without the rule of law, peace and order in the state, none of us will have progress; none of us will realize our vision. We all should embrace peace to move the state forward in terms of development,” he said.
He noted that though disagreements are expected as one makes progress in life, the role of leadership or government is to resolve the issues that cause disagreement or differences in an amicable way to avert chaos.
Reacting to the controversies surrounding the denial of the Gelegele people from crown their monarch, the governor noted that there were constitutional guidelines and legal framework that must be followed before arriving at such decision and urged the people to comply with such laid down procedures before embarking on such traditional rites.
But in a swift reaction to this last statement by the governor, the Ijaw team leader, Rev. (Prof) Christopher Dime, stated that as an ethnic group recognised by law, the Gelegele people reserve the right to both its traditional and cultural identity, adding that one of such ways of exercising this right lies in the peoples freewill to select and crown their monarch without being denied.
He noted that since all matters relating to local government adminstration as well as traditional and chieftaincy affairs are vested in the state government, it became incumbent on Governor Obaseki to act on it rather than playing politics with it by turning it to a constitutional matter.
Describing the governor’s view of recognising the Gelegele people as a bona fide indigenes of Edo State and bringing in constitutional matters to hinder them from installing their monarch as double standards, Prof. Dime pointed out that the first step the state government must take to prove its sincerity in resolving the issue would be to allow the people install their monarch.
Another leader of the delegate, Barr. (Chief) Robinson Esite, demanded for the establishment of Community Development Committee (CDC) as being practiced in Lagos where the people can elect its executives to office and allocate budgets for developmental projects in the community for the Gelegele people in order to give them the right sense of belonging in the state.