Isoko Equity Group an advocacy group in Isoko wrote an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari on March 20, 2019 demanding appointed of an Isoko man as minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Here’s the full letter:
PASSIONATE APPEAL TO APPOINT AN ISOKO MAN AS MINISTER OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA
1. Permit us first to congratulate you on your emphatic victory at the polls. Your renewed pan-Nigerian mandate is a testament to the appreciation of your famed integrity, fairness and equitableness in dealing with issues of State by the electorate. It is our strong conviction that your second tenure will offer you the opportunity to consolidate on your numerous remarkable achievements as well as to right some wrongs which time and perhaps oversight, didn’t allow you to address in your first tenure. One of such anomalies is the inexplicable marginalization of the Isoko people by successive Federal administrations in appointment into key positions and provision of big-ticket infrastructure.
2. Other than the ramshackle police stations and electricity poles and cables that deliver epileptic power, there is no Federal government presence throughout the Isoko Federal Constituency. This, undoubtedly, is gross injustice, unfairness and inequity to an area that has helped to sustain the Federal economy through its oil production that started way back in 1958 at Uzere; the second place oil was discovered and produced in commercial quantity in Nigeria after Oloibiri. Since then our oil fields have remained among the largest on-shore producers in the country.
3. For this reason in particular, Mr. President, the Isoko Equity Group, made up mainly of top APC leaders in Isoko nation, are persuaded, with all humility, that for the sake of equity, fairness and inclusiveness, which you have always preached, the next Minister from Delta State should be appointed from amongst the Isoko people.
4. OML 30 to which Isoko belongs produces an average of 80,000 – 90,000bpd. Out of this quantity, Isoko contributes 65% of the production. This means that Isoko produces between 52,000 – 58,500bpd from OML 30. If OML 26 production of 15,000bpd, which is also in Isoko, is added, it brings production from Isoko to an average of 76,000bpd. Irri oilfields which are grouped with Okpai in Ndokwa East and operated by AGIP, produces an average of 25,000bpd. This brings total production from Isoko oil fields to an average of 100,000bpd. What a humongous contribution to the oil wealth of our country which accounts for over 90 percent of her foreign earnings.
Additionally, there are 8 flare sites across Isoko land. Our people have over the years paid a heavy price with their health and ecosystems because of their very hazardous impact. Indeed, these activities have been implicated in the extensive destruction of our natural environment and the pervasive prevalence of a variety of ailments such as cancer and neurological disorders which were once alien to the Isoko Nation. The abject poverty and squalor conspicuously evident in our fatherland, which has been producing crude oil for over 60 years, to oil the wheel of development in Nigeria, is tears-inducing.
5. Lack of Equity and Fairness in Appointment of Ministers from Delta State:Since the advent of democracy in 1999, all other ethnic groups in Delta State have had Ministers, some several times over. But no Isoko man has been appointed Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In fact, this has been the case since 1973. What a shame!
a. For the avoidance of doubt, in 1999, President Obasanjo appointed Mr. Chris Agbobu from Anioma as Minister of State for Agriculture and Dr.(Mrs) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as a two-time Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy. The current Minister of State, Ministry of Petroleum Resources is also from Anioma. This is in addition to the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria who hails from the same Anioma axis of the State.
b. Urhobo has had three Ministers since 1999. These include Mrs. Grace Ekpigwhre, Minister of Science & Technology; Dr. Stephen Oru, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and Chief Kenneth Gbagi, Minister of State for Education.
c. Itsekiri has had Dr. Roland Oritsejafor as Minister of State for Defense.
d. Ijaw has had Alaowei Broderick Bozimo as a Minister of Police Affairs and Elder Godsday Orubebe as Minister of Niger Delta Affairs.
Of the three distinct ethnic groups that constitute Delta South Senatorial District, only Isoko has not been given a ministerial appointment.
If population is a factor in appointing Ministers, then Isoko should have had it before our Itsekiri and Ijaw ethnic neighbors. Reason: Isoko is more populous than any of them.
6. Isoko is an oil-producing area like no other – peaceful, nonviolenta. Your Excellency, unlike the youths of other oil producing areas in the Niger Delta who, from time to time, give vent to their frustration by resorting to vandalizing pipelines or blowing up oil facilities as well as disruption of oil production and kidnapping of oil workers for ransom, Isoko leaders have consistently reined in their youths to maturely manage their resentment without resort to militancy. Because of being nonviolent, they were excluded from the Presidential Amnesty Programme for Niger Delta youths. What an expensive price to pay for being nonviolent!
b. In a nutshell, Your Excellency, in 60 years history of oil exploration in Isoko, there has never been a single incident of kidnapping of oil workers, blowing of oil pipelines or bombing of oil facilities to sabotage the government and economy as it is the common practice in many other oil-producing areas in the Niger Delta. We trust that your government will not reward criminality in preference to non violence.
c. Mr. President, your appointment of an Isoko son as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria will be a garland for our youths and our people who have kept faith with your government as evident in delivering over 30 percent of the entire votes cast in our area to you in the just concluded Presidential elections. You will by such appointment, reward and reinforce the good behavior of the Isoko people.
7. Your Excellency, our hopes and aspirations are buoyed by your recent reassurance that you will base appointment of new ministers on merit and national spread, with a view to giving every part of the country a sense of belonging. Indeed, we are relieved. Isoko hasn’t been a Minister for over forty-five years , the only ethnic group in Delta that has been so oppressed and marginalized. Permit us, Your Excellency, to mention the obvious: Isoko has a glut of men and women in our Party, (APC) who are eminently qualified to be appointed as Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria – chartered accountants, lawyers, seasoned journalists, doctors, engineers, university dons, architects, seasoned public servants, etc.
8. a. Your Excellency, you have been quoted severally to have said that power comes from God. This statement is incontrovertible. It is our strong belief therefore, that God set you on the Nigerian ‘throne’ to right the wrongs in Nigeria. It is our hope and prayer that you will put an end to the age-long ill-treatment of the Isoko people by successive Federal administrations.
b. Your Excellency, Sir, kindly use this Open Letter by Isoko Equity Group to prove to all and sundry, particularly Niger Deltans, that constructive engagement is more effective and results-oriented than self-help or taking up arms against the government and ones own country.
9. While we eagerly await your positive consideration of our humble appeal, please accept the assurances of our highest esteem.
For: ISOKO EQUITY GROUP