To foster peace, unity and development across the Ijaw ethnic nationality and its neighbours in the Niger Delta region, a week-long spiritual cleansing of the communities was concluded at the weekend in Oporoza, headquarters of Gbaramatu Kingdome, Warri South West council area of Delta state.
The ceremony, which saw thousands of Ijaw people from Delta, Bayelsa, Edo and Ondo states, was tagged ‘Gbaraun-Egbesu, Ibolomibo-Ere and Amaseikumor annual festival’.
It was presided over by the Chief Priests from the various Niger Delta communities led by High Chief Government Ekpemukpolo a.k.a. Tompolo, the spiritual custodian of the Egbesu shrine in Oporoza, Gbaramatu Kingdom.
Tompolo is the former leader of the defunct Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).
The chief host and traditional ruler of Gbaramatu Kingdom, His Royal Majesty, Oboro Gbaraun Il, Aketekpe, Agadagba, said Amaseikumor Festival is a “series of spiritual cleansing activities meant to purify the Kingdom and the entire Ijaw nation of evil, detrimental to the development of her people.
“This is a festival celebrated to entrench the nature of peaceful coexistence and foster unity among members of the Kingdom, Ijaw nation and her neighbours within the Nigerian polity. This explains the huge attendance of the festival annually by people from cross various tribes”.
Lamenting the growing insecurity in the region, the monarch tasked the various Niger Delta Governors, as Chief security officers of the states, to put measures in place to curb the influx of bandits into the region.
Noting that the rate of crime has become worrisome, he charged every Niger Deltan as well as residents, to “do their bits” to ensure safety of lives and properties.
“Consequently, the school is not funded and the necessary infrastructural development at the permanent site stopped,” he added.
He also called for the relocation of the NIMASA dock/ship building yard from Lagos to Okerenkoko, its original site where job has already commenced and payment of the judgement debt sum of N100billion in Suit No.FHC/ASA/CS/139/2009 Chief Nelson Ogekegbanwei & 52 Ors. Vs. Federal Republic of Nigeria.
While noting the Ijaws of Gbaramatu Kingdom are peaceful, enterprising and desirous of development, the monarch emphasized that they (Ijaws), however, “detest oppression, slavery and injustice.
He assured of sustained peace in the Niger Delta Region if government can keep its own side of the obligations, stressing that “peace and unity in one kingdom is the foundation block for peace in the entire country.
“Nigeria is presently in dire need of security, peace and unity. While we are doing our bit in Gbaramatu Kingdom to ensure peace and unity, we implore governments at all levels to employ proactive and productive measures timely to curb the escalating spate of insecurity across the country.
“The security threats are real and should not be politicized but addressed appropriately. There cannot be peace and unity in a state of crisis and insecurity, just as there cannot be any meaningful development in any form in the absence of peace and unity.
One of the celebrants of the feast, Hon. McDonald Igbafiwei, the traditional Prime Minister of Gbaraun and member of the Bayelsa House of Assembly representing Southern Ijaw Constituency, decried “the continued neglect” of the Niger Delta region, urging the Federal Government to review the ugly trend without further delay.
Others urged the authorities, particularly the Federal Government to “take notice of the peculiar problems of the Ijaws of the Niger Delta and create enduring peace for the people, so that development can come to the Region”.
The festival saw a rich cultural display of the Gbaramatu people and climaxed with the appearance of the Amaseikumor masquerade.