Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa has expressed worry about the various challenges confronting the country, calling on the federal government to convoke a national dialogue “to enable Nigerians talk to one another on the way forward in tackling the issues threatening to wreck the nation’s ship.”
Speaking at an inter-denominational thanksgiving service to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the creation of Delta State, held at St. Peters Anglican Cathedral, Asaba on Friday, the governor of the South-South Nigeria state said that the state of the nation required urgent but realistic approach that would ensure lasting solution to the various challenges threatening to tear the nation apart.
The governor said that the federal government should not pretend that all was well with the country as “there are too many voices of anger calling for justice, fairness and equity in the affairs of the nation,” while urging the government to take steps to listen to the voices without further delay.
He expressed dismay that the nation was still paying lip service to its status as a federal system, as too much power is still concentrated in the centre against the principles of true federalism.
He likened the nation to the human body with many parts, which needed to be healthy for the whole body to function properly, saying that it could not be well with the nation, “if it is not well with the component parts.”
He cautioned against building the nation for the elite and the rich while the poor masses were left in the lurch.
Okowa said, “The rich and the elite will not live peacefully in a country where there are many poor people.
“We are still in a nation where so much power rests at the centre, with the federal government, and I believe that it is not right and it is time for more powers to be devolved to the states and more money and resources given to the states.
“Nigeria will be better for it if we restructure, but the greatest challenge we have is as a result of insecurity and it is pushing many people more into the poverty line.
“As a country, we are troubled and there are so many ethno-religious crises but it’s time for us to sit down and talk, otherwise we may not be able to continue as a nation.
“In staying as a nation, we must find solutions to the voices of anger and we must dispassionately look for the opinion leaders in the different parts of Nigeria and speak truth to ourselves.”
Nevertheless, the governor congratulated all Deltans on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the state’s creation, noting that the state had come thus far because God’s presence had been with it.
Okowa recalled that when the state was created in 1991, it was greeted with cautious optimism, but thanked God that 30 years after, Deltans had become more united as a people.
He paid tribute to past leaders of the state for laying a solid foundation for its development, saying “we have come to realise that we are one people though with different ethnic groups and we have come to realise that we can only do better if we work together as one state.
“I thank our past leaders for laying a solid foundation for the development of the state which we have been building upon.
“We thank God because that foundation is truly strong. Today in Delta we can look round and find that there are many growing towns in the state unlike most states.
“We have several growing cities in Delta State and when you take a tour to many states, you will find out that God has truly blessed us in Delta.
“We are growing at our own pace; we may not all be able to grow at the same pace and we must realise this as a nation,” he stated.
Bishop of Anglican Diocese of Asaba, Rt. Rev’d Justus Mogekwu, in his sermon said Delta was a microcosm of Nigeria because of the diverse ethnic groups in the state, but stated that in spite of the diversity, the people lived together in unity, love and peace.
He commended Deltans for their resolve to work and live together in the overall interest of the state, adding that a state where bigotry, bloodshed, bitterness, intolerance, among other vices, existed could hardly make any progress.
Quoting from the Bible, Mogekwu said that the future was bright for the state, as long as Deltans continued to put their trust in God in all their ways.
He pointed out that politics without integrity has been the bane of Nigeria’s development and urged politicians to stop cross-carpeting from one political party to another.
The thanksgiving service was attended by wife of the Governor, Dame Edith Okowa, Deputy Governor, Mr. Kingsley Otuaro; former governor of the state, Chief James Ibori; his former deputy, Sir Benjamin Elue and former military administrator of the state, Navy Captain Walter Feghabo (rtd).
Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba