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Published On: Mon, Aug 5th, 2013

Isoko Nation and Its Integrity

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President Isoko Progress Union Chief Gregory Akpojene

By Goddy Odidi
A few months ago, I was privileged to be present at a gathering of mostly young upwardly mobile Isoko men and women in Lagos where the issue of our former national song” Isoko marginalization came up. The issue of whether or not Isoko can still be classified as marginalized, especially in the area of appointments both at the state and national public sphere was hotly debated. At the end It was almost unanimously recognized that an unprecedented mileage has been recorded; Isoko has never had it so good and proudly too, our sizeable number of brothers and sisters at strategic positions at various strata of public service have in their unique ways proven some good measure of competence.
For the purpose of this essay, I will not attempt to wiseacre you with the statistics. These signs are visibly portrayed by the magnitude of infrastructural transformation going on around us, some completed, and others ongoing while so many still at planning stage. Whether all of these projects can, rightly be ascribed to these sons and daughters of Isoko in the coming years, with the building of new engineering faculty at Oleh, Isoko South Local Government of Area of Delta State and other projects that are yet to be completed. The problem is that our Isoko representatives at the state and national levels are only representing their own pockets rather than the people. The community journalists in Isoko have abysmally failed to project the true image of Isoko nation due to poverty- stricken culture that has enveloped their so-called monthly and weekly publications. Only few called Isoko writers know why they are honorably called into the pen-push profession while others considered financial puffery as a way of surviving the murky waters of Nigeria’s politics. Can any of the Isoko political leaders at the state and national levels attest creative projects they have sited while in or out of their respective offices? One strong weakness I discovered among Isoko political leaders is that they have converted some of the government laudable projects into their own after living their political offices in recent times. There is a case where a former arrogant senator from Isoko south of the National Assembly honorably built a free business centre for Isoko youths especially her constituency to make Isoko youths be soundly literate at computer, only to convert it to her own private business centre and employed his younger brother to run the business centre on her behalf and planning to contest for 2015 again. What a shame among top Isoko political leaders?
Isoko leaders are only interested with political appointments rather than contesting while those serving us have failed to project the true picture of Isoko nation or agitation. This is not truly an epochal moment in the annals of our land. Isoko nation has more half-baked honorable than projects which indirectly has impoverished the people. Even they are more concerned of chieftaincy titles while our traditional leaders and elders are keen to any available shell contracts with dubious means to make their communities ungovernable. Thank God that some Isoko youths are getting wiser than the political liars who thought they can play politics with mendacious projects. If not for the timely divine intervention, the story of Isoko nation would have remained a narrative of total decline and defeat.
In spite of the heartening sights and cheery news of the evolving Isoko nation, one worry on my mind is that as physical development rolls in, our spiritual and social values which form our very essence as Isoko nation are going under. Some of us who are adults are witnesses to the grisly metamorphosis of our land from a homely enclave of dignity, integrity, nobility and serenity to a land of unimaginable depravity. All the cherished values of a dignified people progressively rot away even humanity makes giant developmental leaps. Hon. Joel Onowakpo recent reappointment as Delta State Chairman Revenue Board was a plus to Gov. Uduaghan’s government but Isoko people especially our political leaders must be ready to contest in the boxing ring not as spectators in the stadium.
Reflecting on my experiences of a not too distant past: surely things have not always been this way, there were better days gone by, a season that most of us yearn for with a paroxysm of nostalgia, life was more meaningful, predictable, peaceful and joyful. It was such a time that , it was easy to spot on Isoko man anywhere, dignified and bearing himself with such graceful, pride and palpable contentment. It was a time that a distinguishing attributes of an Isoko person was his or her willingness to share the little that he or she has with others. Ours was a land whose elders had a legendary proclivity for standing on the side of the truth and justice not minding whose ox is gored. An Isoko public officer stood out anywhere with his striking integrity which to others, bothered more on naivety and his principles which was often mistaken for arrogance end being brash. It was an Isoko where we all had honor for ourselves, our identity and our collective humanity as human beings. It was a land envied our fathers respected one another in spite of disagreements, a land where all of us were our brother’s keeper. A land that radiated a specimen of humanity so warm, so hospitable and so genuine. You must have noted it has ceased to be so.
In days gone by, our people took cherishly pride in our culture. An average Isoko young man or woman greets his or her elder in the morning before domestic work but today, it is no longer in existence. The Isoko man and woman looked ever glorious in our native fashion, our native dance steps drew spectators from far and near. Today how many of our communities still have cultural dance groups of Isoko origin? The remnants consist mainly of the old and the almost worn out among us, we seem bent on permanently discarding the elevating highlights of our culture that we ought to keep, while we stubbornly stick to the very elements that are totally dehumanizing , degrading and debasing of the human worth.
This is truly a season of anomie in our beloved homeland. There is today a susceptible change in the way our people evaluate success, our own have joined the bandwagon of easy riches, the young ones are encouraged to keep behaving badly because everyone does it. We are increasingly degenerating into a society where the usual disapprobation of shame and or guilt can no longer modify behavior. Our innate tendency for diligence is gone. Today with the rough condition of everyday existence, it is a war of all against all; husbands and wives, sons and daughters all are at each other’s throat in desperate bid to survive interpersonal relationships which would have provided succor during periods of hardships and uncertainties now take the character of combat. I am scandalized that our children today hardly go on errands for anymore without expecting monetary compensation. The worst is that our Isoko children living outside Isoko cannot speak their language fluently than English language and other Nigerian languages. Whom to blame now? Our youth’s choice on the bitter gall of frustration and hardship. This obvious depreciation of our value system is easily noticed among them; an Isoko with large percentage of its youths drifting into motorcyclist business, kidnappings, and gangsterism, reveling in appalling perversions, trying hard to entrench a frightening culture of impunity and terror and earning us all a terrible image, this is to say the least depressing.
Our values have become highly monetized our elders and traditional leaders have lost their voice for justice because obscene gifts corrupt wise words. A worse agonizing situation is the fact that we have unwittingly adopted apathy and docility as our way of life and become a remarkably subservient people.
The central thesis of this essay is to rightly call our attention to the tragic collapse of culture of values, of identity and ultimately our essence; the core of our Isokoness’ the very thing that makes Isoko people unique in Delta State. We are known as peaceful loving ethnic groups in Nigeria. We are blessed with arable lands for farming while crude oil and gas is found in Isoko after Port Harcourt in 1956 while Isoko 1959, but no government presence except few ones now.
Threats to a people’s value system is obviously an inevitable part of the dynamics of societal evolution, but every society must stand awake to its responsibility of stemming that raging tide that attempts total erosion of their essence as a people whenever it rears its ugly head societies that genuinely thrived and made real progress had placed a high premium on the fundamental values that define their essence even as they embrace innovation and new ideas. As a matter of fact, the essential values of a people should stand as a platform upon which innovation, modernization and societal rebirth mount.
It is time to take the critical path to face portentous and worrisome challenge of the distort of our spiritual and social values. We must realize the imperatives of receiving these past fading treasures or else, the very essence of Isoko may be totally lost to the current inevitable infrastructural transformation and the attendant incursion of alien cultures. Walking into the past-paced future, bereft of our pride, identity and dignity as a people seems to me like a lee way with dreary, fatal consequences. If Isoko people are ready to agree internally to provide a stable father for the region, then the sky is the beginning not limit. The likes of Chief Oke Akpojene, chief Paul Odhomor, Hon. Emmanuel Egbagbor, Hon. Dickson Egbebare, Hon, Obi Eneruvie, Comrade Ovuzorie Macaulay, Hon. Benjanmin Essien, Hon, Asiaka Ogeh, Prof Stephen Akpavie, Chief Solomon Ogba, Hon Leo Ogor, Barr. Afakohor Duncan. Engr. Goodluck Idele, Chief Egbuwoke, Raymond Uredi, High Chief Sergent Uredi, Dr Abel Ubeku, Otunba Isaac Emiyede, Engr Solomon Okpithe, Engr.Johnny Onozefe, Alice Ukoko, Barr. Benjamin Overiri, Elder Peter Erebi, Owho Ovuakporie, Frank Egbodo, Michael Ubogu,Hon Malik Itiakpo, Hon Jerry Ezimano, Chief Edwin Ozah, Stella Omu, Paul Omu, Hon Timi Ohwerefe, hon Raphael Okelezo, Hon Johnson , Hon. Oghale Osiga and others should come together to agree on the need to move Isoko nation forward without sentiments, then we shall have a new Isoko people- oriented vision for unborn generation of the region. Isoko people must not sell their political birthright for greediness come 2015. We must also agree to produce a better political position and not allow wealthy arrogance to influence or rob us of our mandate of Isoko nation in 2015. Isoko nation can only be built if we have cordial unity and put away past grievances in life. An Isoko man that is placed in a better position of authority should be able to extend a lovely fellowship of support to his or her fellow brother or sister without hesitation. Our so-called Isoko politicians must live above board rather representing their constituencies objectively than selfishly. The issue of acquiring wealth alone in Isoko should be discarded in the mindsets of our political leaders and fathers in Isoko.Our leaders should be thinking of Isoko nation having its own state and more local governments not singing praises of non- Isoko leaders because of political appointments with intimidating security operatives and estacodes. The pull-him-down syndrome among Isoko great men and women should be jettisoned now. Forgiveness should be the watchdog of every Isoko person living on the planet earth.
Aligning myself to the immortal words of the equally immortal Chinua Achebe; writers don’t give
Prescriptions; they give headaches. Our late acclaimed founder of Isoko politics are easily forgotten because they never laid any memorable legacies or even built people after them because of greedy attitude. The new generational leaders of Isoko nation must live to create legacy not enmity to eternity. I have only attempted to arouse us all to rub minds and seek critical insights that will awaken us all from our complacency. Sometimes some people have destructively criticized me that I am supporting Barrister Festus Keyamo for Delta State governorship election for 2015 while we cannot see any Isoko genuine political leader vying for the position rather waiting for political appointment and only interested with Yes sir format and take home monthly cut. If Urboho, Anioma, Kwale. Itsekeri and Ijaw can project their people nationally and internationally, and then Isoko people should not be kept in dark for so long by greedy Isoko leaders. Isoko people must be ready to produce a distinguished father and mother now that would be the mouth piece of the Isoko nation. Since IDU, IAN and others have failed us over the years.
The time now, let the crusade for our rebirth begins; let the true Isoko nation please stand up to be counted or recognized in Nigeria.

Goddy Odidi is a Lagos based Public Affairs Analyst

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