Tony John, Port Harcourt
The Etche Ethnic Nationality is made up of Etche and Omuma local government areas of Rivers State. Recently, the people held the Convention of Ogbakor Etche at Community Primary School Hall, Afara, Etche.
The convention, which was chaired by Eze (Dr.) Hycenth Anuonyeh, had in attendance traditional rulers, political, religious, opinion and community leaders in Etche Ethnic Nationality. Daily Sun gathered that the convention, which is held twice a year, affords the natives a chance to evaluate how the two local government areas, as a people, have faired.
Anuonyeh highlighted a number of issues bedevilling Ogbakor Etche as a body and advocated more support from sons and daughters of Etche. He decried the reality in which, since the present democratic dispensation, Etche has not been privileged to have ministerial, senatorial, ambassadorial positions, positions in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and Secretary to the State Government, among others. He stressed the need for Etche to negotiate for appointments before voting in subsequent elections.
President-general, Ogbakor Etche, Sir Machy Nwodim, bemoaned the fact that Etche has remained stagnant.
“Since 2007, apart from the statutory elective positions, Etche people have never gotten any dividend of political leadership,” he said. He attributed self-centredness and greed, among others, as factors causing the present state of development in Etche, thus necessitating the theme of the convention, “Making Etche Great Again.”
He said: “This year’s convention is all about giving account of stewardship by Ogbakor Etche, elected and appointed persons in Etche and finding ways to make Etche greater. This has become necessary because sometime ago, we were really great in all spheres of life. But, unfortunately, in recent times, we have found ourselves nowhere except in academics, where we are still excelling.
“Things have, therefore, fallen apart in Etche nation and the centre can no longer hold. We are no more great and the only way we can be great again and even greater is for us to reverse the trend by loving ourselves, becoming patriotic, outgrowing gossip and, generally, speaking with one voice, in spite of political leanings, when issues bordering on Etche come up and making Etche our project.
“In this regard, Ogbakor Etche feels some concern with the infiltration of most of our youths into political engagements and making politicking unsafe and disturbing.”
Grand patron of Ogbakor Etche, Ochie E.N.B. Opurum, advised Etche sons and daughters to work to improve security in the land, as well as attract infrastructural development in both Etche and Omuma LGs. He called for the reconstruction of Chokocho-Igbodo Road, Odagwa-Akwa- Obibi Road and some other roads in Omuma LG.
Chairman, Etche LG, Dr. Obinna Anyanwu, advised: “We should all put our hands on deck as one people to make Etche great again,” and expressed hope that Etche would be greater this year.
Former Commissioner for Education, Chief Allwell Onyesoh, appealed to those in authority to develop a recipe for the security of life and property in Etche: “The Ogbakor Etche has continued to grow over the years. It is important that we should take capital development seriously, as there is so much poverty in the land.”
Issues raised at the convention included boundary dispute between Rivers and Abia states along the Owaza axis, which has resulted in disputed oil wells. They discussed the need to see how Etche sons and daughters could be appointed to headship positions in NDDC. Also discussed were the brutal killings of Etche sons thrown into the Chokocho River.
Another issue was the controversy surrounding the installation of an Okrika chief in Umuebulu in Etche. Attention was also drawn to the dilapidated state of the Umuaturu-Akpoku-Obite Road, particularly the Okomoko-Obite bridge.
On the killings in Chokocho, the organisation noted that police had launched investigations into the matter. The Etche LG was meeting with security agents and stakeholders to address the security situation in Etche.
The controversy over the installation of an Okrika chief in Umuebulu was being handled by the Igbo Agwuru ASA Council of Chiefs.