June 13, 2024

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Ijaw Youth Leader: Wike Should Do For Fire Victims In Rivers What He Did For Sokoto Traders

7 min read


In this interview with EDITH CHUKU, Comrade Emmanuel Moses bemoaned the neglect of victims of fire incidents in Rivers State.
He spoke on issues ranging from Ijaw leader’s unpreparedness to take the mantle of leadership in the state come 2023, as well as, the governor’s purported unfair treatment to the Riverine, among other issues.

Let’s meet you?
My name is comrade Emmanuel Moses, I’m the provost, IYC, Port Harcourt Special Area.

How did the recent fire incident at marine base affect you?

Although I am not one of the traders at Timber market, but as Stakeholders, as an Ijaw Man it behooves on me to speak, because the market is situated at Marine Base, Tompriama, Iyo-Polo community which is an Okrika community, and Okrika are Ijaws, thus as the Provost of Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) PH Special Area, I am duty bound to speak for my people.

IYC as a pressure youth group stands as the defenders of the rights of Ijaw people, we always stand up for our people, so that is why we have to react to the fire incident that occurred at the Timber market marine base which happens to be located in an Ijaw Community (Iyo-polo, Tompriama, Marine Base PH). I use this medium to call on the Governor of Rivers State, House of Assembly member representing the Constituency, Mayor of Port-Harcourt and Councilor of the ward to quickly come to the aid of the market people and community as well; because the market is inside the community so it affected the community as well.

In regards to the Plankshed Timber Market in Marine Base, Frankly Speaking it might be a case of sabotage and secondly based on the proximity of the market and their closeness, Congestion, to each other, if fire comes up it can easily spread wild based on the fact that wood are good conductors of fire. For instance, all those sawdust, Extractions from wood, and the wood are good conductors of fire thus once fire comes up it spreads fast and wild. A possible solution is for Government to rebuild and reallocate the shops with good spacing and steady water supply. The primary responsibility of Government is to protect lives and property, provide enabling environment for businesses to thrive thus the Government of Rivers State from State to the LGA level should liaise with the traders of timber market and the community (Iyo-polo) on how to rebuild and regulate the market.

There should be reasonable space between each other and each shade should have their own running water with detergent, although they have something in place but it is not enough, they have drums of water and soap, I’ve visited the market, they have drums where they put water and soap inside the market incase of fire incident. I don’t know if the recent fire incident is a case of sabotage or natural disaster that is why I am calling on the Rivers State Government at all levels to act swiftly in other to elomorate the pains and losses of both the Timber Market dealers and the community dwellers.

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Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike reacted swiftly in the case of Sokoto State with 500million naira. Why does he appear unconcerned now that his home is affected?

in the sense that as a State we have pressing issues like unemployment, youth restiveness; etc, as voice of the Marginalized Ijaw People, we thought that the freewill donation of 500million could have been better used for the establishment of 23 high skills vocational and entrepreneurship centres in all the 23 Local Government of Rivers State. 500 million would have better or further advance the life and business of at least 500 Rivers Youth with entrepreneurship skills and Grants in other to make them employers of labour and self-reliant.

The freewill to Sokoto State donation sparked wild reaction as Rivers People are dumbfounded as they are confused as to the motive of giving such a huge amount when Rivers State is not economically active and viable like Lagos State. Rivers people from the feelers are questioning if it was a gesture or whether it has a political undertone.  I don’t know how to classify this donation, if the Governor carried out this gesture as a private individual issues wouldn’t have arose but as a public servants; questions like where did he derive the funds from? Did the release of the funds follow process? Is Rivers State economically viable to carryout such freewill donation of this magnitude considering the current state of things globally.

Though it is not totally wrong to assist Sokoto State but charity begins at home, before you do for others you must have to satisfy your own people. He is doing well to the best of his ability, he is constructing roads and bridges but what Rivers State is in deer need of is human capital development, provision of the enabling environment for businesses to thrive, creation of jobs, empowerment of Rivers people for self-reliance and productivity etc.

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On a final note; Plank shed Market is situated in an Ijaw Community (Iyo-Polo) Tompriama, Marine Base Southern PH, it has been raised down by fire; We need support, what is good for Sokoto is good for Okrika, (Ijaws). I humbly appeal to the Mayor of Port-Harcourt to act swiftly, Councilors, House of Assembly Members from Ijaw extraction and highly Spirited Ijaws should visit the market in order to proffer a lasting solution to these incessant fire outbreaks. The NDDC as an Interventionist agency should intervene in other to ease the pains and losses of both the market Men, Women and the community, (Iyo-Polo).

The Okoro-Nu-Odo flyover and the Rumuogba Flyover among others are being commissioned. How does that make you feel?
Well, it’s a good one, he is commissioning bridges and flyovers all over the state but we need to understand one thing, Rivers State has upland and Riverine areas, we are from the Riverine area and to access our communities has been major challenge, why building eight bridges on one particular area (Upland). Frankly Speaking, the Governor is not being fair to us the Riverine people, like as I was saying, the commissioning of Okoro-Nu-Odo flyover is a welcomed development because if you look at the area it is strategic and opposite the east-west road from the express it is important and strategic because it will help to beautify the area, ease traffic from visitors and residents of Rivers State, we are not totally against the construction of bridges in PH and Obio / Akpor but our reservation is that there should be a balance and evenly distribution of development across these line, Upland and Riverine Dichotomy. Currently Port-Harcourt and Obio/Akpor LGA are congested thus it is imperative for the Government at all level to deliberately take steps to create new cities in other for development to get to the grassroots. Route to Our Riverine  Communities has become a death trap as pirates have overtook the waterways; travelling to Andoni, Bonny, Bille, etc has become a 50/50 game because it is either you are Kidnapped, robbed or killed. if our Riverine Communities are accessed by road, it will lead to commerce, safety and result to improved economic activities as we are predominantly Fisher men thus it will open a large market for us to easily access the market, compete and contribute our quota to National development.

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If the Governor wants to concentrate development in Port Harcourt, we have the southern Port Harcourt which starts from UTC junction down to Port Harcourt old town. For instance Borikiri has only one entrance and exit point, why not create alternative route that will boycott the heavy traffic which is frequently experienced by residents of Borikiri due to the absence of alternative route for a population of over 200 thousand people. Borokiri is Ijaw Territory located in Southern Port-Harcourt thus if the Governor wants to concentrate his development in PH, he should keep the balance and develop our Riverine areas in Port-Harcourt.

2023 Rivers State governorship election, do you see an Ikwerre man handing over to someone from the Riverine?

Ijaw means truth and I will always say the truth, our Ijaw leaders are not ready for Leadership, they are not strategically positioning themselves to take over power, they have failed to develop themselves and their people for a possible takeover. I don’t know the reasons but we have been ruled by uplanders since 1999, thus we are in dire need of power rotation, development will only come when we have our own person who understands our terrain and peculiarity at the helm of affairs. We need an Ijaw governor, who understands us and our peculiarity, an Ijaw Governor who understands our terrain, an Ijaw Governor who can develop our area and Rivers State at large. Our terrain not difficult to develop, all we need is an Ijaw governor who is in touch with the needs and realities of our terrain, we need a Governor from Ijaw area because he who feels it knows it as no one can sell or feel our story better than us.

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