(By Ofori B. Tams) -The people of Ogoni ethnic nationality in the South East senatorial district of Rivers State appear to have dropped their political differences and resolved to work together to take advantage of what many consider their ‘turn’ in the governorship race of Rivers State in 2023.
The indication, according to Notable Outcome’s Correspondent was evident at the Service of Songs in honour of late Elder Austin Wakoh, former adviser to the administration of Rotimi Amaechi and also a senatorial aspirant under the UNDP.
Although sources close to the organisers has it that the burial was funded by the Rivers State Government, activities leading to the funeral of the deceased at his home town, Kpean in Khana local government, was said to have been properly packaged by Ogoni politicians, together with other friends in the committee led by former chairman of Oyigbo local government council, Hon. Felix Nwaeke.
Front line Ogoni politicians at the Service of Songs included Senators Lee Maeba and Barry Mpigi; Hons. George Feyii, Befil Nwile, Emma Deeyah, Dum Deekor, John Bazia and Fred Kpakol. Other Ogoni politicians present included Professors Barineme Fakae and Roseline Konya; Hon. Marcus Nle-Ejii and a former finance commissioner, Hon. Mgbor.
It would be recalled that politicians from outside Ogoni were also at the occasion including former Rivers State governor, Sir Celestine Omehia; Bro.FelixObua, PDP chairman in Rivers state; Barr. Emeh Glory Emeh, political strategist and former adviser to Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State; Hon. BomaIyaye and Hon. Felix Nwaeke.
The Service of Songs was also attended by Bishop Ombo Isokriari, Rev. Dr.Douglas Dante, Senior Pastor at the Assemblies of God Church and Rev. Joseph Kalu, District Superintendent of Assemblies of God church.
At the event, tributes were presented by the church, his community and politicians.
Speaking on behalf of politicians, Hon. Marcus Nle-Ejii, who was said to have been a close associate of late Elder Austin Wakoh, described the deceased as a gentleman who, while he lived touched the lives of those around him.
Meanwhile, speaking on the sidelines of the Service of Songs, Akpobari Wile, a concerned Ogoni, expressed mixed feelings in respect of the ceremony of the day. In a chat with Notable Outcome, he said:
“It is difficult to answer your question as to how I feel today.The demise of our brother Austin Wakoh is a big loss, not only to the people of Ogoni ethnic nationality, but also to the entire people of Rivers State.
“If you look at it from another angle, this is the first time in recent time I am seeing a cross section of Ogoni politicians gathering under one roof for any event.
” I believe the soul of our departed brother will rest in peace if Ogoni politicians can take advantage of the time and bury their hatchet so as to present a united front to solicit for the Rivers State Government House in 2023″.
Akpobari, who regretted that the opportunity to be governor of Rivers State has eluded Ogoni since the creation of the State in 1967 apparently because of division, said he was hopeful that the show of solidarity would not stop after the burial.
He challenged Ogoni leaders like Senators Ben Birabi, Lee Maeba, Magnus Abe, Barry Mpigi; Hon. Dum Deekor, Barr.Ledum Mitee and others to come up with a forum where they can galvanise their interests while looking forward to the next general election in Rivers State.
“It is obvious that this is the right time for Ogoni people, and denying them the opportunity this time will be very unfortunate.
“Ogoni has supported other ethnic groups in this regard. It is only natural that our brothers and sisters from other ethnic nationalities of Rivers State should reciprocate our support, if only to justify what late Ken Saro-Wiwa and other Ogonis fought and died for.