Ijaw, Itsekiri disagree over name, location of maritime varsity



Adopting a name for the Maritime University in Delta State yesterday stirred a sharp disagreement among the Ijaw people of Gbaramatu community and their Itsekiri neighbours from Omadino during a public hearing at the National Assembly.

Their historical tussle was re-enacted before the Senate Committee on Tertiary Education which is processing the bill for the establishment of the university.

The panel had invited leaders of both communities to defend their memos at the forum.

Chairman of the committee Jibrin Barau, had barely asked the representatives over to make their submission than the disagreement erupted.

The piece of legislation for establishment of the institution currently carries Okerenkoko, an ijaw word, while the Itsekiri leaders want it changed to Okerenghigho, their mother tongue.

Leader of the Ijaw delegation, Chief Fedude Zimughan, alleged that their Itsekiri brothers, in a desperate bid to lay claim to the land, had obtained a ‘black market’ court judgment, which he stressed, had been set aside by another court which would soon hear the substantive suit.

But Edward Ekpoko, who spoke on behalf of the Itsekiri leaders, maintained that the current name must be changed “in line with a court judgment which was given in our favour.”

The Registrar, Mr. Nathaniel Anho, who stood in for the vice chancellor, urged the Senate not to rename or relocate the institution, adding that its current location was suitable.

The committee subsequently pledged way to resolve the lingering differences.

In the meantime, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani, has called for collaboration with the nine oil-producing states, oil companies and development partners to solve the challenges facing the region.

Speaking at a stakeholders’ meeting organised by the ministry in Abuja, the minister regretted that many organisations and development partners were working in the region without fully involving the state governors.

He said his dream was to get every relevant agency involved in the affairs of the area, adding that the move had become imperative because of the recent activities of militant groups and other criminal elements in the oil-rich region.

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Usani Uguru Usani
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