DELTA State is one of those geo-political entities in Nigeria where social and inter-ethnic re-engineering have proved abortive as its history since the cloning of the state in 1991 has been that of virulent acrimonious relationship among the different nationalities that make up the state.
Since Gen.Ibrahim Babangida cloned a state called Delta, a hybrid of Igbo speaking and Urhobos, the Itsekiris and the Ijaws nationalities, neither the Anioma nationalities nor the so-called Core Delta region have had peace.
The core Deltans who feel that Anioma people stole their capital have been belligerent because they feel that the Igbos want to use their oil money to develop their areas. This love-hate relationship continues to find expression on the pages of newspapers where ethnic hate mongers attack the people of Anioma, denigrate their heritage and cultural values.
Things would be perfect in Delta State as long as the people of Anioma would not aspire to produce the next occupant of the Government House. The political elites from Delta Central and Delta South, believe that they own Delta State and the people of Delta North should be made to be “hewers of wood and drawers of water”.
Even when the lion share of the revenue from the federation account, DESOPADEC and NDDC have gone into the pockets of their sons and daughters, with some trickling down as token projects, Anioma people continue to bear the brunt of their hate.
Initially, the Urhobos had been most hostile and antagonistic in their attitude towards their neighbours, but over time this hate mongering attitude towards Anioma people, especially toward the people of Enuani and Oshimili areas of the state, has taken a frightening and murderous dimension.
In fact, the virus has become comparable to the Nazi ideology and hatred which led to the Adolf Hitler-superintended holocaust against the Jews. It is not different from the jihadist ideology of Boko Haram, informed by religious bigotry.
The culture of kleptocracy and sycophancy has been extolled to the highest levels, while the state and its citizens wallow in penury in spite of the resource endowments of the state.
Only recently, a television footage of areas of Delta State affected by oil spillage exposed the shame of Delta State and the proponents of Urhobo dominance of the political system in the state. The footage revealed bizarre poverty of families still living in thatched mud houses.
It must be clearly stated to these hate mongers that the people of Anioma are not political appendages or strangers in the Delta project. Gen. Babangida committed an unpardonable error by denying us a state of our own and lumped Anioma people in a union they would never have contemplated. Anioma people are in Delta State not by our choice and would prefer to be in their own state where they would realise their dreams for self-determination, extol their socio-cultural heritage and historical antecedents.
Even within the politics of Delta State, Anioma people have provided the buffer for peace and development. In the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, it is on record that since 1999, Delta Central has been the strong hold of the opposition party in the State.
In the contest between Chief Moses Kragha of All Peoples Party, APP and Chief James Ibori of PDP, Chief Kragha won in Delta Central. He struggled in Delta South, but it was votes from Delta North that sealed victory for Ibori.
In 2003, the candidate of Alliance for Democracy, AD, Chief Great Ogboru won in Delta Central; again, Chief Ibori and PDP relied on the votes from Delta North to over- come the challenge. This was the time two Urhobo sons were used to savage Chief Ibori in the ex-convict case.
This trend continued in 2007 and 2011 when the opposition party voted against Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan in Delta Central. It was Delta North and Delta South that kept Uduaghan in power even with the judicial coup against him in Benin city.
It is a fact that the Urbobos produced a Senator from an opposition party and they only returned to the ruling party after their years of opposition ended in futility.
So where lies the morality of their claims that a region that has supported the PDP because of its ideology that power should rotate among the Senatorial districts, to ensure equity, justice, fairness and eliminate ethnic cleavages, marginalisation and give every body a sense of belonging should be alienated from the seat of power?
The other PDP states are implementing this policy, so Delta State is not an exception. In fact, PDP cannot afford to reward Delta Central which has over the years voted against PDP at the expense of Delta North which has been loyal over the years.
Nigerians, including the Urhobos, the Ijaws and the Itsekiris, know that without any form of an informal power shift arrangement, the South-South region would never have access to the presidency and their argument to jettison that arrangement in the state would be their Waterloo in years to come. Whatever advantage that they think they are enjoying today is temporal.
Even if Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan decides to go against the power shift arrangement, his Itsekiri nation would rue it in years to come. Whatever goes round comes around. Deltans are no fools. The idea of creating a culture of political dynasty did not succeed in Kwara State; Delta state would not be an exception.
*Mr. Odoh, a public affairs commentator, wrote from Lagos.