Isoko Monitoring Group (IMG), a pressure group in Isoko, Delta State, has expressed displeasure over the "continuous stay of Senator James Manager, an Ijaw, representing the Delta South Senatorial District, in the National Assembly without any respect for the power rotation deal among other ethnic nationalities in the district”.
According to the group, the Isoko people have taken the decision to support the Itsekiri in displacing Senator James Manager, an Ijaw man who has turned to "Mugabe in the seat as if it is his father's property”.
Speaking with journalists in Asaba during the weekend, Sebastine Agbefe, the IMG President, lamented that the Ijaw, “without recourse to the power rotation accord, have been holding onto the Senate position meant for three ethnic nationalities in the senatorial district”.
Speaking on the decision to work against Manager, who has been senator since 20003, Agbefe said: "Enough is enough. This time around, the Isoko nation is fully ready to join forces with the Itsekiri to make sure Senator James Manager, an Ijaw, is voted out massively, because as a people, we will not continue to fold our hands; we will have to fight for it. The Ijaw man occupying the position now, in the person of James Manager, has turned Mugabe to the detriment of other ethnic nations in the district. It is the turn of the Itsekiri to occupy the seat, and the Isoko are solidly behind the Itsekiri come 2019.
"Now let me take the Ijaw on an important memory lane. You see, power rotation runs in the veins of the average Deltan, especially, those from the minority ethnic groups. It is a concept that has brought peace, harmony, equity, fairness and political inclusiveness amongst Deltans. It is like a norm indoctrinated in every child at birth. This is not to suggest that we do not have those who for personal and selfish gains try to disrupt the arrangement.
"Paying attention to my Delta South senatorial zone, what we are fighting to sustain is not different from what is practised in the entire state. For instance, in the 2015 governorship election, the people voted Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, a minority Ika man from Delta North, because his major contenders, Chief Great Ogboru of the labor party and Olorogun Otega Emerhor of the All Progressives Congress were from Delta Central senatorial zone that had already produced Chief James Ibori as governor between 1999 and 2007.
"Similarly, Dr. Emmanuel Ewetan Uduaghan, a minority Itsekiri man from Delta South senatorial district, also enjoyed the support of majority of Deltans based on the power rotation or zoning arrangement. The reality on ground today in Delta State is that political parties that have field governorship candidates from zones other than Delta North are considered to have blessed parties who field candidates from Delta North with victory, even before the polls.
"A lot of politicians will argue that the rotation is not practised or recognised in their parties because they have never been in power, but it does not sway the electorate because the issues are just beyond political parties. The electorate are very conscious of power rotation. No zone wants to be cheated. This arrangement also reflects in the presidency, where it is rotated between North and South.
"It is against this backdrop that we are canvassing to protect the power rotation or zoning arrangement in Delta South senatorial district. It consists of four ethnic groups: Isoko, Ijaw, Itsekiri and Urhobos of Patani and Warri federal constituency. We believe that if every ethnic group is allowed to represent the zone at intervals, there will be peace and harmony. But in a situation where one ethnic group tries to hold onto it for too long, it will breed discord and enmity.”
Agbefe accused the Ijaw of holding onto the senatorial position for too long, and restated their determination to “fight for it”.
He continued: "Regrettably, the Ijaw who are the current occupants have refused to see things from our angle. They have been holding onto the Senate position meant for all of us. But as a people, we will not fold our hands; we will have to fight for it. We believe that the Isoko people have put in place a very solid foundation for rotation of the Senate position. Recall that in 1999, Senator Stella Omu, an Isoko woman, was the Senator representing the district but was replaced in 2003.
"The Isoko people did not see the position as a private property. Otherwise, James Manager will not have become the senator representing the district. At this point, every right thinking man and woman from the zone already knows that it is the turn of the Itsekiri. The work here will not be left for the Itsekiri alone, because if they fail to go to the Senate, it will never get to the turn of the Isoko again. Therefore, all Isoko sons and daughters, irrespective of political party affiliation, should fight this with eyes closed.
"The Isoko and Itsekiri should behave like the northerners did when President Jonathan wanted to return as president, at a time that they [northerners] considered to be their turn. Certainly, what will further strengthen the coalition of the Isoko and Itsekiri is the fact that James Manager's kinsmen are boasting in the media that ‘the Ijaw cannot relinquish the senatorial seat to the Itsekiri because they consider the Itsekiri as minority’.
"It reminds me of a quote in ‘Arrow of God’: ‘But let the slave who sees another cast into a shallow grave, know that he shall be buried in the same way when his day comes’. We the Isoko people are also minority group in the district. A coalition of both ethnic groups automatically changes our status from minority to majority. This is the only way our pride and dignity can be protected.”