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Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike has said that nobody can rename any part of Rivers State. Wike spoke while making indirect reference to the activities of Indigeneous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB).
The Governor had earlier gone tough against the group’s hoisting of Biafra flag in some communities in Oyigbo and their attempt to change the name of the area to Obigbo.
Oyigbo is a suburb in Port Harcourt where many people have been killed in war-like assault that was unleashed against a civilian populace by the military backed by Governor Wike.
The statement was made on Friday when the Governor received a delegation of Tiv people living in Rivers State under the aegis of Mdzough U. Tiv led by Mr. Caleb Yashi to Government House, Port Harcourt.
Governor Wike while speaking noted that the Tiv people had not caused any problem for the state government and urged them to continue to live peacefully with people of their host communities.
‘In this state, you have not made any problem here. We know that the Tiv people are warriors, and very strong. But this is not the period of war. It is a time of peace when everybody has to live together.’
‘Rivers State is a place that is very accommodating. We accept everybody to stay with us peacefully. It is only those who want to rename Rivers State that I have said, I will not agree.’
‘Nobody can rename Rivers State. As per living peacefully, we have good relationships with all ethnic nationalities that live in Rivers State.’
He said the age-long relationship between the people of Tiv ethnic nationality and the state emboldened them to support each other when the Benue massacre happened.
The governor said he visited the area to offer goodwill and support to the Benue State Government during the massacre of Tiv farmers by herdsmen in that State.
Speaking further Wike said people of both states also bear similar weight of marginalisation meted against minority tribes in the country and also pointed to the need for restructuring.
He said: I felt that what affects you also affects us. So, when that massacre took place in TiV land, we believed that anybody in TiV land that dies, an Ikwerre person will have to commiserate with that particular family.
‘That was why we decided to go and see my colleague and friend the governor. Whatever we did that time, we believed it was because of the strong tie we have together.
‘I know what my colleague, the current governor passed through. I thank God that Benue people rallied round him to give him the necessary support.
‘Now, if you look back and remember what happened that period, you’ll know that there is no way you’ll not constantly say that this is the time to restructure this country.’
Wike while addressing the leadership of Ogbakor Ikwerre cultural Organisation Worldwide urged them to continue to ensure that Ikwerre people worked together always. Wike also informed the group that the contract for the dualisation of the Eastern Bypass Road had been awarded as part of the urban renewal programme.
He however noted that it behooved the people of Ogbunabali Community to allow the work to extend to their road because of its overall benefits. Pointing out that there was already resistance from the community, and called on the leadership of Ogbakor Ikwerre to talk to them to accept the development. Wike also said that the nearby swamp would be sand-filled to provide a space for the people of the Nkpogu community to have their social activities.
Leader of the Tiv delegation, Mr. Caleb Yashi in his remarks said the Ikwerre and the TiV people shared a common friendship for years.
He said the relationship started when Wike was elected Deputy National President of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) with a Benue man as the President then.
They also noted that the Tiv people were allowed to display their dance during Ogbakor Ikwerre day adding that Wike showed enormous love when he visited Governor Samuel Ortom to commiserate with him when herdsmen killed Benue farmers.
They also appealed to be considered for partnership when the Rivers Cassava Processing Company begins full operation. On his part, the President General of Ogbakor Ikwerre Cultural Organisation worldwide, Prof. Emeka Wami said they led the TiV people to meet Wike because they considered him a strong voice championing the cause of the minorities in Nigeria.
He particularly commended Governor Wike for the manner he handled the crisis that erupted in Oyigbo Local Government, saying it was in the best interest of the state and the country.
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