Published On: Tue, Aug 29th, 2023

Midwest @ 60: Oborevwori Calls For Strong Synergy Between Edo And Delta States


LAGOS AUGUST 29TH (URHOBOTODAY)-Governor of Delta State, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori, has called for greater cooperation between Delta and Edo states to ensure speedy development of the two states.

Oborevwori made the call at a colloquium to mark the 60th anniversary of the creation of the Midwestern Region of Nigeria, later renamed Bendel State. 

The colloquium with the theme, ‘60 Years After the Referendum, Which Way Midwest?’, took place in Benin City, Edo State.

Deputy Governor of Delta State, Sir Monday Onyeme, read the address of Oborevwori at the ceremony that had in attendance, the Governor of Edo State, Mr Godwin Obaseki, representative of the Governor of Bayelsa State, Sen. Adams Oshiomole, among others.

“I call on our people from both States to sustain and deepen the very cordial relationship we have all shared; we stand to gain from such harmonious co-existence, sharing with and caring for each other.

“So, with this colloquium, I strongly believe that we should deepen our relationship, possibly have a council that will comprise people from both states to regularly meet  and insist on the implementation of a development roadmap to ensure speedy socio-economic development of our states,” the governor said.

He went through memory lane on how 89.07 per cent of the people voted to opt out of Western Region with headquarters in Ibadan and chose Midwest State with headquarters in Benin City.

The governor said, “this ceremony is very special in several ways as it brings fresh memories of the creation of the Midwest Region as it then was, through the instrumentality of a transparently free and fair referendum by the people occupying the Midwest area of the old Western Region.

“I must thank His Excellency, Godwin Obaseki, for putting together, this colloquium to remind us of where we are coming from, the shared values, love and amity among our people and in fact, the true essence of democracy.

“The history of this epic referendum is, no doubt, so vast that it cannot be adequately covered in one fell swoop.  It is of utmost importance here to note that once a people decide on anything of interest to them, nothing can change their stand: neither money nor intimidation can sway them.  In a seemingly simple plebiscite, two boxes – black and white –  were placed before the voters to choose whether to remain in Western Region with its headquarters in Ibadan or vote for a Midwest Region.

“While 60 percent of the registered voters were enough to tilt the balance either way, 89.07 percent of the people voted overwhelmingly to opt out of the Western Region.  In that plebiscite, a region, the Midwest Region, was created without much fuss.  This result was not achieved without opposition.  There were intense campaigns from both sides but they were carried out without violence or threat to lives.  In spite of the opposition’s resistance, the people’s will prevailed.

“Beyond the euphoria that the success of the referendum elicited, I am particularly touched by the neat, straight forward process that the creation of a region or State as it is presently known, required and it was accepted across the board.  The losers bore their loss with equanimity.

“Particularly important here is the acceptance of the result on the one hand and the violence-free conduct of the referendum unlike the present-day elections, which are often characterized by needless violence, bloodshed and mayhem in some parts of the country.  This creation of a State through the ballot – the only one to be so created in the country, is significant as it demonstrates that Nigerians are not violent and that when democratic processes are undertaken transparently, the people will queue behind whatever outcome that the exercise brings.

“Let us pay tribute to the founding fathers of this great victory of our people.  There are too numerous to be mentioned but we must not forget the enormous prices they paid to release the Midwest Region from an apparent hegemonic hold of the Western Region.  It is pertinent to note that the Midwest held its own and thrived without hitches as a Region in a most astonishing way, with Chief Dennis Osadebey and Sir Jereton Mariere at the helm.   Oba Akenzua II was particularly solid behind the agitators for the creation of Midwest Region.

“The former Midwest Region was later christened Bendel State by military fiat while the same military in the same method, later divided Bendel State into Edo and Delta States.  Glory be to God, people in both States still share the same brotherhood through cultural, marital and social ties.

“Beyond these, is that people from both States still co-habit like they have always done when they were in the same State.  In addition to this, is the non-discrimination in property ownership on either side of the   artificial divide.  The result is that we are still closely knit in our relationship as brothers and sisters.

“Once again, I thank my brother governor, His Excellency, Godwin Obaseki, for convening this gathering, which will further strengthen the fraternal bond among our people.”

Governor Godwin Obaseki, had in an address said “it is with immense pleasure and a sense of historical significance that I extend a warm welcome to all of you to the 60th anniversary colloquium of the Midwest Referendum.

“We are gathered here today not only to commemorate a pivotal moment in our history but also to reflect upon the journey that brought us to this point.

“This colloquium offers us an opportunity to engage in thoughtful discourse, sharing insights, and perspectives that can guide our path forward.”

Sen. Adams Oshiomole was among those who spoke at the event that was attended by the Deputy Chief of Staff, Government House, Asaba, Sir Christopher Osakwe; Rt. Hon. Funkekeme Solomon, Mr Charles Aniagwu, Mr Darlington Ijeh,  Mr Jaro Egbo, Rt. Hon. Basil Ganagana, among others.

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