The 2021 Ekpeye youth grassroots mixed martial arts championship and youth empowerment programme, organised by Mr. Ebere Bernard and Friends Foundation, has ended with a clarion call on Ekpeye youths in Rivers State to embrace peace always.
The event began with a public lecture with the theme, “Repositioning and Empowering Ekpeye Youths for Global Impact”. It was aimed at enlightening and empowering the youth in various fields.
Participants in the timely colloquium were drawn from among Ekpeye traditional rulers and chiefs’ council, communities and clan youth representatives as well as senior secondary school students from various high schools across Ekpeyeland.
The keynote speaker, Ebere Bernard, reviewed the economic wealth of Ekpeye nation and the activities of oil and gas companies in a bid to stimulate strategic thinking among Ekpeye elite in the area of petroleum exploration, as well as the midstream and downstream petroleum business for sustainable development of the region.
He noted that oil was discovered several decades ago In Ekpeyeland by Shell Petroleum Development Company and, since then, Shell and other multinational oil companies, including Chevron, Agip, Total as well as indigenous companies have become major players in exploring and exploiting petroleum resources in Ekpeyeland.
“Irrespective of being among the major oil-producing communities in the Niger Delta for decades, Ekpeye communities and the people are considered one of poorest and backward tribes in the state,” he lamented.
According to him, the petroleum industry had played a dominant and strategic role in the economic development of Nigeria as a country over the years, but it was debatable whether the industry has contributed to sustainable economic growth in Ekpeyeland.
Bernard revealed that oil and gas resources from four major oil mining licenses (OML) in Ahoada West and East communities constitute between 5 and 10 per cent of the entire Niger Delta oil reserve. He, therefore, called for indigenous participation and collaboration in oil exploration business to ensure optimum business success and sustainable development of Ekpeye.
Other guest speakers who made presentations were Chilotu F. George, who spoke on the topic “Rule 7: Pursue what is meaningful, not what is expedient,” and Chukwumerijie Nwanaekezie-Phil, who x-rayed the significance of information technology for the advancement of humanity.
The president of the foundation called on Ekpeye youths to embrace peace. He condemned the killings going on in different communities of Ekpeye.
His words: “I know you all; I know the elders, as well as the angry youths and their villages. I only come today with the art of peace.
“Having practised martial arts as a student and master for over 30 years, I have come to realise that the sword does not reside in the hand, but in the heart. The gun does not reside in the hand, but in the heart. It is good to know that every battle is fought and won in the mind. With the power of the mind, a warrior can convert a blade of grass to a weapon.”
According to him, a true warrior has no reason to carry weapons to defeat hi enemies, but what he carries is the art of peace.
“To our elders, practise the truth and nurture your children well. To our youths, make yourselves the shrine of the divine, and do not create any opening that will allow evil enter your lives,” he counselled.
The event witnessed traditional wrestling, judo competition and mixed martial art championship.