The Okpe Union has called on the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to restore to full operations of the ports in Sapele, Warri, and Koko to reignite economic activities in Delta State and environs.
The union said reviving the ports, among others, would add more value to the Nigerian economy.
President-General of Okpe Union, Prof Igho Natufe stated this during a press conference to commence the 93rd anniversary of the union.
The Okpe Union, which was founded in 1930, is the oldest registered ethnic organisation in Nigeria.
Natufe also urged the governor-elect of Delta State, Sherriff Oborevwori, and the senator-elect for Delta Central Senatorial District, Ede Dafinone, who address the numerous abandoned projects in Okpe kingdom when they are sworn in.
According to Natufe, the long-standing request for the restoration of the Sapele, Warri, and Koko ports needs to be re-echoed as a new administration comes on board on May 29.
He lamented that the three strategic ports in Delta were once the drivers of the economy of the region, adding that the abandonment of the ports could be attractive given the quantum of oil and gas activities in the state.
Natufe said, “We seize this opportunity to reiterate our long-standing request for the restoration of the Sapele, Warri, and Koko ports. We call on the incoming President and his cabinet to pay urgent attention to this request. The value of these three ports to the Nigerian economy cannot be underestimated.”
Explaining further the call for the revival of the ports in Delta State, General Secretary of the union, Kingsley Akpederin, Esq, said, “Considering the enormous internally generated income, which the ports are likely to rake in for both the government and people of Nigeria and Delta State, we are demanding that our seaports be given the kind of attention the seaports in Lagos are receiving.”
*Decries abandoned projects in kingdom
On abandoned projects, Natufe lamented that the Okpe Nation was littered with unfinished tasks.
He cited the examples of the Orerokpe Stadium, the Technical College in Orerokpe, and abandoned road projects in the kingdom, calling on the incoming administration, led by an Okpe indigene to pay attention to these projects.
“The lack of accessible road networks in the rural areas, absence of post-secondary institutions, industries, and banks, especially in Orerokpe, the headquarters of the Okpe Kingdom, symbolize the marginalisation of the Okpe Nation.
“There is a vast disparity when we compare, for example, Okpe Nation with the Isoko Nation where the leaders of the latter have used their power and influence to attract industries, banks, and post-secondary institutions to their ethnic nationality,” Natufe lamented.
The Okpe Union President-General also lamented that since the inception of the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC), Okpe has been denied its rightful slots of appointments and award of projects due to the falsity of placing it under the Urhobo appellation. ‘’Let me reassure all Okpe Nationals that the NEC of the Okpe Union shall not rest on its oars to intensify its sensitisation activities in Okpe Nation regarding the fact that Okpe is a distinct ethnic nationality, as well as the benefits this recognition bestows on the Okpe Nation.
“Since the inception of the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC), Okpe has been denied its rightful slots of appointments and award of projects due to the falsity of placing it under the Urhobo appellation while, for example, the Ijaw, Ika, Isoko, Itsekiri, and Ndokwa ethnic nationalities receive their respective slots, as recognised ethnic nationalities.”
He urged the Delta State Governor-elect, Sherriff Oborevwori, to champion the amendment of the DESOPADEC law to recognise Okpe as a distinct ethnic nationality, “so that the Okpe Nation can have what is due to her from its God-given oil and gas resources like the other petroleum producing ethnic nationalities.”