The chairman, Okrika Divisional
Council of Chiefs (ODCC), Chief Nemi Wisdom Adoki described it as a triumph of a people’s resilience, yet many others saw the formal installation of Inimieari F. I. R. Gobi Olei XI as a reward for hard work, service to community and indeed dedication to noble courses.
Before Gobi Olei XI, there had lived in Abuloma, community, in Okrika chiefdom, ten occupants of the stool. Although without formal government recognition, the people found in their leaders, light and strength of character that ensured unrepentant followership.
The journey of centuries finally ended last Saturday, when the Gobi Olei War Canoe House was formally recognised with the installation of Inimieari F. I. R. Gobi Olei as the eleventh Occupant of the stool. It was indeed a colourful ceremony that Abuloma people and indeed friends of the War Canoe House will not forget in a hurry.
As early as 8am Saturday, the community was agog with drum beats, gaily dressed women and men and all manner of festivities, awaiting the arrival of the members of the ODCC at the Abuloma Civic Hall.
At exactly 10.30 am the initiation for malities started, with the formal introduction of the Chief-elect by the Chairman of the Gobi Olei War Canoe House, Mr Precious T. Gobi, where upon he was grilled by the ODCC Excutive Head.
To become a chief, among several other considerations, the person must have a house of his own in the community, must be legally married, must not have been an ex-convict, and must have basic education. More importantly, such a choice must enjoy the unanimous support of all families (oko’s) within the House.
Prior to the public questioning, a committee set up by the ODCC, must have screened any chief-elect and reported finding to the committee of the whole before installation. The installation day edition is to enable any dissenting voices to speak-up against the installation, or for ever remain quiet.
That done, the chief-elect was then dressed by three other chiefs, namely: Chief Amba Kwani, Chief Soye Wilson Jamabo, Ogboru (The Third) and Chief (Prof) Opuamabe. He was then formally inducted into the ODCC as a recognised chief of Orkika chiefdom, after more than a century of struggles for formal recognition.
It was indeed a journey that constantly reminds members of the Gobi Olei House of the helplessness of their forebears. And indeed a history replete with exceptional communal unity, perseverance and indeed determination to have things right. That indeed is the destination which the formal installation of Inimieari Gobi Olei XI, eventually became.
From the Abuloma Civic Hall, the celebration moved to the precincts of the UPE Primary School Abuloma, where chiefs, and other invited guests, in turns eulogised the newly installed chief, in ways that truly justified his choice.
Speaker after speaker described Gobi Olei XI, as a very distinguished servant-leader whose contributions to the larger Abuloma community are awesome and his commitment to its development, overwhelming.
Until his choice as Chief of Gobi Olei House, Iniyeimiari was chairman of the Abuloma community Development Committee, CDC, after serving as vice between 2010 and 2012. He was also Vice Chairman, Abuoloma Chairmen Assembly, a position he utilized to foster unity, love and sense of purpose among all war-canoe houses in the community.
Also eventful is the chief’s social life. He was pioneer chairman of Ibise-Amamie Age grade of Abuloma from 1977-1986 and held other positions like Financial Secretary, Building Committee, Community Secondary School, six block building and was also Provost of the Tekena Douglas led CDC.
He had his primary education at the Abuloma/Amadi Central State School from 1971-76, Kalabari National College (KNC) from 1977-1978 before moving over to Okrika Grammar School, Okrika 1978-1984.
He recently graduated from the Industrial Service Centre, Civil Servants Progamme, Batch 4, 2013-2014 of the Rivers State Polytechnic, now Ken Saro Wiwa Polytechnic, Bori, Rivers State.
An astute leader, unrepentant sickler for communal growth and development and indeed positive role model of the youth in Abuloma, Gobi Olei XI means different things to different people. Those who consider his drive for community cohesion and unity, too fast for their pace, see him as stubborn while those keen on seeing Abuloma gain the needed limelight see him as a proactive leader.
In whichever divide one finds oneself, there is no disputing the fact that the young man has indeed impacted positively on his environment and is linked to virtually every development effort of his people ranging from environment, education, health and indeed youth development.
That perhaps accounts for the number of men, women and the youth that turned out enmasse to celebrate history last Saturday. It was indeed an occasion that revealed the best in the average Abuloma son and daughter, as they filed out in their colours and different dance steps in celebration of a long journey of struggles and perseverance that eventually culminated into a formal recognition of and eventual initiation into the prestigious Okrika Divisional Council of Chiefs (ODCC).
Four-term member of the Rivers State House of Assembly and immediate past member of the Greater Port Harcourt Development Board, Chief James Fuayefika Bilogbolo, in a speech at the event described Gobi Olei XI as a likeable youngman whose progressive attitude to communal unity and growth are indeed exemplary.
He commended the Gobi Olei War Canoe House for their steadfastness in fight for the most desired recognition denied their fore bears for ages and urged the people to rally round their chief for further development of the House and indeed the Abuloma Community.
Hon Fuayefika commended the new chief for providing the much-need rallying point that formed the elixir for the eventual choice, screening and installation of a Head Chief for the Gobi Olei War Canoe House.
In his installation speech earlier, Chairman of the Okrika Divisional Council of Chiefs (ODCC) Chief Nemi Wisdom Adoki described the chieftaincy institution as a very sacred one, designed to uphold and protect the people’s rich cultural heritage.
Chiefs, he said, must live an exemplary life of leadership, compassion, wisdom, love and dedication to service. He urged them to be proactive to modern developmental imperatives by serving as social engineers, motivators and indeed master-servants striving for rapid communal growth and development.
Chief Adoki described Chief Gobi Olei as an example of master-servant traditional head, who had contributed meaningfully to the development of his people and advised him to continue.
In an interview with The Tide shortly after his initiation into the ODCC, Chief Gobi Olei said his royal house could now heave a sigh of relief. He recalled the struggles of his predecessors who as Gobi Olei One-Ten, failed to get government recognition until his eventual choice as Gobi Olei XI.
He described the journey as a torturous one but said the end indeed justifies the means. He attributed the success to team work, unity, cohesion, dedication to the struggle and indeed determination of House members who were poised to jump every obstacle in the road to the coronation.
Highlight of the installation/initiation ceremony was the taking of oath of allegiance and the traditional chieftaincy banquet, amidst pomp and pageantry.
Soye Wilson Jamabo
Correcting The Narrative About Fubara
A lot has been reported from the media parley our leader, former Governor Nyesom Wike, granted yesterday, where he alleged a lot of things about his successor, Governor Siminalayi Fubara, happenings in the politics of Rivers State, and the issues surrounding the crisis in the state.
A lot of us have avidly followed and had an experiential experience of the events in this state since time immemorial, irrespective of the silence of our people for fear of the uncertainty of the future. Even in our silence, we know the truth when we hear it and we know our history.
The truth is that Governor Fubara is too loyal, calm and very humble to even think of fighting anybody. Our leader, Chief Wike, even affirmed this in his media parley yesterday, wherein he stated that Sir Fubara was his best bet because the other aspirants would not have been able to tolerate him for two weeks.
A man, who wanted to destroy any structure would not have proposed to resign as governor, instead of fighting. Governor Fubara, whom we all know, has never been desperate for power because we all know how he emerged. If not for the public humiliation-laden impeachment ambush against his reputation, he still would have carried on quietly as the very humble person that he is and hoped that the issues would be resolved internally.
In this state, we heard in a recorded conversation where a local government chairman was violently threatening another, that he and Governor Fubara should get prepared for war, because he is coming for them, and the governor who has been accused of fighting the structure has not responded or taken any action against the chairman. Such could not happen during the eight years of our leader; when chairmen were suspended and their allocations deliberately delayed as punishment.
If Fubara was fighting as many people had expected him to, the man would have since dissolved his cabinet and relieved a lot of people from their duties, but alas that is not the case, which was the common practice during the administration of our leader.
Amidst the disrespect from even his cabinet members by some very powerful commissioners and chairmen, Governor Fubara has remained calm, respectful in words, and humble. Such tolerance, restraint, and humility should be studied. This is what those struggling to be governor through impeachment will never endure.
One clear take-home in all of this is that we have examined and x-rayed Governor fubara and we have found him not guilty. But as usual, the system will always come up with a reason to lead Rivers State people into a needless battle, thus the allegation of destroying the structure. How can a man who practically inherited all political office holders of the former administration be accused of such a charge?
NOW THE ISSUES.
He, Fubara is destroying our structure, I’ve asked him to maintain the structure that brought him. – Wike
Response: As a people, we can choose to feign ignorance or not but the truth is that, Governor Fubara in the beginning of his government was even called a puppet and a weakling because he practically inherited the working team of his Oga. From personal boys of our leader to special assistants, to commissioners, to security and even his chief of staff were provided for him. The elders that used to move with our leader, are still the ones moving with the governor. Every appointment so far in this state, except for a few special assistants and the two commissioners from the local government of the governor, was processed directly by the structure. So, how then has the structure been destroyed, which is yet to be made known to the public? I would not want to dwell on speculations for now, hence my question.
I’ve respected President Tinubu by keeping calm, but Governor Fubara has disrespected the President and Vice-President. – Wike
Response: After the intervention of President Tinubu in the imbroglio of a failed mutiny attempt that bedevilled our state. It is Governor Fubara, who has carried himself more in a peaceful manner. For the first time in the history of our state, the governor appeared in a state broadcast to apologise and even called the minor setback a father and son issue that will be resolved. The governor has never threatened anyone publicly, rather it is our leader, Chief Wike, who has threatened to cause more issues in the state which will cripple governance and development, even with the presidential intervention.
27 Assembly members are against the governor. – Wike
Response: That they are against the governor is no fault of Fubara, because even the members do not know why they are against him. They are only following orders as directed by the structure that purchased their forms just as the governorship forms were purchased for all aspirants. A lot of members who have dared to open up in private said they were coaxed into the decision because of their pending appeal judgment. To date, there is no public rationale as to why the failed impeachment attempt was enforced.
He is an ingrate and only ingrates will support him. – Wike
Response: For a man who was declared wanted by the EFCC because of you, yet he stayed loyal, went into hiding and took the shame all because of the structure. Then such a man cannot be said to be an ingrate. Everyone in life has one or more persons that have helped him/her to grow and disagreeing with one who helped you to grow on some certain issue does not amount to betrayal or being an ingrate.
We still remember the painstaking roles President Jonathan and his wife, Mama Patience, played in ensuring that another Ikwerre son took over as Governor of Rivers State from an Ikwerre son who had served eight years straight. Even after the efforts of these Ijaw Icons, we stopped seeing them in our state, we stopped issuing an official birthday wish to them as a state until recently, but this did not stop our Ijaw brothers and sisters in Rivers State from supporting and standing in defence of our leader, Chief Wike.
I fought my battles. – Wike
Response: Our dear leader has forgotten that he did not fight his battles alone. It was the combined efforts of all Rivers people that ensured that he came out victorious. The women of KELGA, The women of Ogu/Bolo and Okrika, the youths of PHALGA, the sons of Nyemoni in Akuku-Toru and many others, all played their part.
In all the victories of our leader, it is Rivers people that have made it possible and the Grace of GOD, so it should not be about self.
It is Atiku’s people who are trying to use Fubara against me. – Wike.
Response: If only our leader had handled matters with his son internally, and protected him from the disrespect he was subjected to amongst supposed family members, instead of attempting to use the Assembly to remove him unjustly, it would not have been a free-for-all fight.
Trying to link this to Atiku because of the presidency is a disservice to Rivers State people, because of a truth, this is just Rivers people standing and defending the integrity and personality of Governor Fubara, the number one citizen of their state, just as they did defend you, our leader.
In a society where influence outweighs democracy, the true value of our voice diminishes, as power is wielded by position rather than the genuine voice of the people.
I remember when Governor Fubara, once said that nobody should send him any message because he would show it to his Oga, our leader. The truth is, there is always a limit to how far you can continually push a humble man, no matter how loyal he is.
Until kingmakers realise that there is an elastic limit to which they can stretch their authority, everybody will contnously be called an ingrate and betrayer.
By: Ezebunwo Ichemati
Ichement, son of Rebisi Kingdom, writes from Port Harcourt
Dissecting Rivers Consolidation, Continuity Mantra
Bodo Community: Tortuous Journey To Peace …As Paramount Ruler Returns
Bodo City, a coastal community in Gokana LGA recently celebrated one year of relative peace.
Following resolutions at a peace meeting convened by the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, CP Emeka Nwonyi, between the Paramount Ruler of Bodo, King John Sunday Berebon, his Council of Chiefs, Head of Dynasties, elites and other community leaders, Bodo Community has got back its groove as the paramount ruler returned home from exile to the warm embrace of his people.
The event attracted key Ogoni stakeholders from the religious circle, traditional institution, civil society groups among others, who came to celebrate the peace process with the people.
Addressing the people at the community’s town square, the Paramount Ruler of Bodo Community, King John Berebon who demonstrated deep remorse and sobriety in his countenance openly apologised to the people over the events of the past, and urged the people to put an end to all incidences of violence in the community, and work towards sustainable peace and development.
Harping on the need for unity of purpose in the community, the Paramount Ruler appealed to those affected by the recent violence to forgive in the interest of peace and development of and look forward to a more prosperous Bodo.
Addressing newsmen shortly after the community gathering, the Paramount Ruler acknowledged that the crisis was a snag that crippled the community’s years of enduring development efforts but expressed hope that such negative vicissitude will not resurface in the community.
In his remarks, a former Niger Delta agitator and traditional ruler, High Chief Solomon Ndigbara commended the people of Bodo for embracing peace to herald a new lease of life and development in the community.
Ndigbara who hails from Yeghe community in the local government, called on youths in the community to ‘’embrace peace and shun violence for meaningful development to take place in Bodo”.
Ndigbara also restated his commitment to work with security agencies to ensure lasting peace in the area.
The Chairman of the Community Development Committee (CDC) in Bodo City, John Vaah who also spoke at the event expressed gratitude to God for the return of peace in the community.
He said, “I’m very happy that all of us are gathered here to celebrate the return of peace in Bodo City, the crisis has negative effects in the development of our community, but with peaceful coexistence among us now, more developmental projects will be implemented in the community to improve the living conditions of the people”.
Before now, the community is known for its hospitality centred around an attraction created by its special foods and sea delicacies , its serenity and social life which make it a destination to choices.
The prime coastal community has a cosmopolitan and commercial outlook, and boasts of a fair portion of modernity and civility among other Ogoni communities.
Apart from its strategic location as a coastal and boundary community, Bodo City is known for its deep sense of hospitality centred around its special sea delicacies, serenity and social life.
Unfortunately, in recent times, the once flourishing community fell into a turmoil of intra communal crisis that shattered its uncommon bond, severing old ties of brotherhood and filial affinity.
They persevered through this trying moments adapting themselves to find lasting solutions to the evolving problems while pegging hope on all measures of possible respite, but the embittering crisis seemed unabated.
The crisis which is linked to vested interests, disagreements among stakeholders over leadership and management of community fortunes, and supremacy contests among cultists operating in the area, among other divisive factors, balkanised the rank and file of the people, attracting negative attention to the once peaceful community.
Investigations reveal that the community crisis started after it won a huge sum from Shell Petroleum Development Company over environmental rights.
An out of court settlement and for the clean-up of oil spill in the community, got enmeshed in a lingering crisis afterwards, as a result of sharp disagreements among key stakeholders, leading to the exile of the Paramount Ruler, King John Sunday Berebon, and other prominent personalities who alleged threats to their lives by suspected cultists in the community.
The crisis created opportunities for some selfish interests to rip off the fortunes of the community, and this drifted the general prospects of economic development of the community, thereby driving a wedge against the collective aspiration of the people in a self sustaining and thriving economy.
The deepening factionalisation of the people therefore left in its wake untold consequences including wanton killings and destruction of properties.
But the task of renewing peace in the community took a long process. Many indigenes were worried by the degenerating effects of the crisis, as stakeholders of the community became most concerned and kept reserved attention on the ensuing events and activities in the community, and opted to work out a process of restoring the old cherished peace and sense of order that made Bodo a centre of attraction.
However, it took the intervention of the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, CP Emeka Nwonyi, to broker peace in the community.
The peace process was initiated by the Commissioner of Police and followed up with several meetings and overtures with stakeholders of the community to unite the two factions and restore lasting peace in the community.
At the end of several meetings and interventions with critical stakeholders and concerned authorities, at the instance of the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, respite finally came the way of Bodo people recently following a happy and emotional reunion and resuscitation of the broken facades of the people.
The peace process evolved through the instrumentality of a peace and reconciliation committee headed by renowned academic and pioneer Secretary of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People, MOSOP, Prof Ben Nanen, which liased with other stakeholders to broker a conciliation and reconciliation process that brought the community back from the woods.
The nostalgic reunion among the people which took place in the community recently, signalled a rebirth of sustainable peace among the people as they thronged to the community’s town square to celebrate the return of peace with a collective vow to abide by the peace accord.
The event also attracted key Ogoni stakeholders from the religious circle, traditional institution, Civil Society group among others, who came to celebrate the peace process with the people.
The Chairman of the Community Development Committee (CDC) in Bodo City, John Vaah said, “I’m very happy that all of us are gathered here to celebrate the return of peace in Bodo City, the crisis has negative effects in the development of our community, but with peaceful coexistence among us now, more developmental projects will be implemented in the community to improve the living conditions of the people”.
Also speaking with newsmen during the community peace gathering, a renowned cleric and stakeholder in the community, Rev. Msgr. Barinem-livy Boniko urged all stakeholders of the community to contribute their quota in the preservation of peace in the community.
He urged the youth to shun violence and embrace peace, pointing out that “lasting peace and stability can only be achieved in Bodo when the people engage in dialogue rather than violence and acrimony to resolve evolving conflicts and differences among them.”.
This he explained will engender mutual trust, unity and development in the community.
In her submission, a woman leader in the community, Mrs Charity Yaah-Gana thanked God for the restoration of peace in Bodo City. She decried the unremitting seduction of violence and self destruction among the youths and urged them to resist the spirit of aggression by sheathing their swords and embrace peace in the overall interest of the community.
Distinguished academic and Ogoni-born activist, Prof Ben Nanen who hails from Bodo City also lent his voice to the peace moves in the community.
Prof Nanen who is a member of Bodo Peace and Reconciliation Committee, in a mark of gratitude, thanked the people of Bodo City for embracing peace to end the dark phase of life witnessed in the community.
He said the colossal damages incurred by the community as a result, of the crisis were a grave set back and dent on the development efforts of people that will require a quantum leap to remedy.
The university teacher, however, expressed hope that Bodo City will be restored to its past glory with the return of peace in the community and urged all stakeholders particularly the elites to be key partakers in the peace building community development efforts.
The climax of the community reunion was the administration of traditional peace oaths by High Chief Solomon Ndigbara to some youths and stakeholders in the community.
According to some stakeholders who spoke on the sidelines of the event, the traditional peace oath symbolises commitment to peace on the part of all affected parties in the conflicts.
By: Taneh Beemene
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