Clark Claims Warri Has Been Abandoned.
Chief Edwin Clark, a South-South leader and elder statesman, has said that the oil city of Warri has been abandoned with no development, precisely as leaders feared before Delta State was formed in 1991 from the former Bendel State.
In an interview with Vanguard, Clark also stated that the state’s former governor, James Ibori, has no right to intervene with who the current governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, nominates to succeed him.
He explained that in 1991, at a meeting in Benin City, Edo State, presided over by former military Vice President, late Admiral Augustus Aikhomu, leaders of the old Bendel State agreed that the new Delta State, without the Asaba division, would have its capital at Warri, but the then Olu of Warri and his people protested, forcing the government to reverse its decision.
According to him, “The fear the old Warri province had with the none execution of the plan of making Warri the state capital, was that Warri will eventually become a desolate and abandoned township, with no development and employment because the oil companies will move out of Warri, in addition to the fact that no tertiary institution will remain in the city.”
“The situation in Warri today, has justified the fears expressed in 1991, the city is abandoned,” he added.
Clark, who shed light on the intrigues surrounding creation of the state, asserted: “When Gen. Ibrahim Babangida became military President, he decided to create two states out of the old Bendel State, namely Edo and Delta states in 1991. Edo State was to comprise the old Benin province, which included old Benin division, old Asaba division, Ishan division and Afemai division.”
“While the old Warri province, now Delta province comprising East and Western Urhobo divisions, Western Ijaw division, Warri division, Aboh division. Later, Isoko division was created out of Eastern Urhobo division.
“The two states were created based on the two old provinces. Edo State was to have Benin as its capital, while Delta State was to have Warri Township as his capital.
“This was an official decision taken at a meeting held at the residence of the vice military President, Admiral Augustus Aikhomu.
“Sadly, and regrettably, His Royal Majesty, the Olu of Warri, Atuwatse II and Mr. Allison Ayida, the former Secretary to the Federal Government with other Itsekiri leaders, protested to the Federal Military Government, that they did not want Warri township to be capital of Delta State because the Urhobos and the Ijaws will dominate the state.
“Hence, Asaba, which was the headquarters of the old Asaba division in Benin province, eventually became the capital of Delta State.”
On supposed face-up between Ibori and Okowa over the latter’s successor, he said: “I repeat here again that Chief James Onanefe Ibori, former governor of Delta State, has no moral justification to interfere with whatever arrangement Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa may wish to make as regards his successor and the threat to go your own way and face the consequences does not arise because Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa is the elected governor of Delta State and he is only responsible to the electorate and not to an individual.”