Saturday, 25 May 2013
Delta Youths Boo Reps Deputy Leader, Senator Manager, Commissioner
Irate youths in Isoko, Delta State yesterday booed two members of the National Assembly as well as a commissioner who represents the area in the Delta State Oil Producing Development Commission (DESOPADEC). Leo Ogor Okuweh, the deputy majority leader of the House of Representatives, Senator James Manager (Delta South), and Joe Ogeh, a commissioner with DESOPADEC were humiliated as they toured Isoko wards over the weekend.
All three men, who are members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), ran into the rain of abuses as they visited Isoko North local government area as part of a “PDP Say Thank You” tour to celebrate the party’s purported victory in the 2011 general elections. But their celebratory train crashed as they visited the Ekiugbo Iyede ward where youth protesters confronted them.
SaharaReporters learned that more than 100 youngsters took part in the protests. Some of the protesters’ placards read, “PDP, most corrupt party in Delta state,” “Where are the jobs promised our people?” “PDP is a disappointment, disgrace and failure,” “James Manager, what can you show in the land for your so many years in the National Assembly?” “Now you know another election is approaching, hence you are coming to deceive us again.” The protesters took positions around the market square, venue of the gathering, singing and booing the three officials.
The youngsters rent the air with mocking songs and particularly lambasted Mr. Ogeh, an indigene of the community. They accused the commissioner of amassing wealth for himself by awarding contracts to a select few individuals.
One PDP official claimed that the youths who disrupted the event were sponsored by Philip Adheke, a former chairman of Isoko North council who in 2011 ran for a seat in the House of Assembly on the platform of the Democratic People’s Party (DPP) – and lost.
But one of the aggrieved youth, who simply gave his name as Ogagaoghene, said they were disappointed that Mr. Ogeh and his cohorts have continued to impoverish the people especially the youths whom they used and dumped after the elections. “The most annoying aspect of the whole thing is that Ogeh, a son of the community, decided to join forces with his political cohorts to enrich themselves to the detriment of the masses. This protest is a sign of warning to all PDP persons to stay clear of the area,” he said.
The protest lasted for over 30 minutes and was witnessed by Patrick Ferife, the Delta State commissioner of Lands Survey and Urban Development. A source disclosed that the protests nearly degenerated into a physical clash between the irate youths and the armed security detail that traveled with the touring officials. The source said Mr. Okuweh was so visibly angry that he tried to confront the protesters, but he was restrained by a party leader sitting beside him.
In an interesting twist, a PDP member who asked for anonymity accused Mr. Ogeh of organizing the protests. The source said Mr. Ogeh was unhappy over the recent arrest of one Anthony Ogbalor, a kinsman and loyalist of his. Mr. Ogbalor, aka Dracula, was reportedly picked up from Mr. Ogeh’s residence in Warri. The commissioner had been accused in the past of sponsoring youth restiveness and thuggery in the area.
Approached for comments on the protests, Mr. Ogeh walked away in obvious anger. However, Mr. Okuweh told reporters that, as a legislator, he has had a positive impact on the lives of his constituents. “My people will continue to enjoy dividends of democracy from me,” he said. He added: “Just move around my constituency. A series of projects I attracted to the areas are there for everyone to see, though my duty is to make laws for the good governance of the country as enshrined in the constitution.”
In a separate development, SaharaReporters learned that Goodluck Idele, the transition committee chairman of Isoko South local government area of Delta State, narrowly escaped been attacked by furious youths in his home town, Uzere.
The embattled chairman had reportedly traveled home over the weekend to felicitate with Abednego Ekoko, a former vice chancellor of Delta State University, who recently regained his freedom from kidnappers. A council official who accompanied Mr. Idele detailed the attack. “On arrival, the visibly angry youths numbering over two hundred barricaded the entrance to the professor’s house and resisted the chairman vehemently from gaining access to the compound. In fact, he was humiliated, pushed and bundled out of the gate entrance.”
The youths accused the chairman of taking sides with “disgruntled elements” bent on causing crisis and discord in Uzere, a community beset by factional disputes. A source indicated that many community leaders as well as residents had ignored invitations to present their case to a peace and security committee set up by the council boss. “The committee is too compromised and has no locus standi to handle the lingering crisis in Uzere kingdom,” one source said.
When Mr. Idele was reached by phone and asked about the attack on him, he denied the account, laughing.