Political Rivalries, Threat To Unity, Progress Of Epie-Atissa ~ Varsity Don
By Etete Enideneze
A university don, Prof. Chabuovie Menizibeya Sorgwe, has underscored the need for Epie-Atissa to sustain brotherhood in order to reinforce the common identity. He harped that with unity of purpose, Epie-Atissa would make more progress as an ethnic nationality and host of Bayelsa State Capital in Yenagoa.
Prof. Sorgwe advocated this in a lecture titled, Epie-Atissa: A Historical Analysis of a Continuing Relationship, in which he narrated the historical origin of the people, language, culture and age-long bonds of unity, now threatened by political rivalries, at the expense of the common good.
Prof. Sorgwe traced the origin of Epie-Atissa to the ancient Benin Kingdom, adding that Epie language, spoken by Epie-Atissa people is classified under Bini-Edoid group of languages of the Niger Delta region, even if the ethnic group may not have been so recognized politically.
He recalled that the people of Epie-Atissa as a nation, had strengthened unity through common ancestry, culture, language, geographical territtory, local economy, Kingship systems, leadership and socio-, cultural structures such as Epie-Atissa Development Forum (EADF), Oguan Congress; Community Development Committees, youth bodies, women organisations, National Union of Epie-Atissa Students (NUEAS), Epie Language Group, among others.
Sorgwe who is a professor of History, pioneer Dean and immediate-past Dean, Faculty of Arts, Niger Delta University (NDU), Amassoma, however, deplored that politics has threatened the cords that tied Epie-Atissa together. He charged that the historical and linguistic bonds should not be relegated by the present generation, for individual or clique interests.
The lecture was delivered during seventy-seventh birthday of a custodian of Epie-Atissa culture, His Highness (Dr.) Boma Spero-Jack, hosted by Azaiki Foundation, September 17, Prof. Sorgwe admonished Epie-Atissans, especially, the political class not to allow politics tear the people apart.
He urged politicians in Epie-Atissa to shun unhealthy political conflicts often geared towards individual and clique benefits.
According to him, it would be much better for politicians and other classes of persons to prioritize the common identity and overall interest of the people of Epie-Atissa.
The university don, noted that the call could be applicable to other ethnic groups in Bayelsa and Nigeria as a whole, where politics and selfish interests have undermined collective will.
Describing Epie-Atissa as hospitable people, Prof. Sorgwe called for sustenance of the virture, and reiterated the place of unity in the quest to achieve the aspirations of an ethnic group.
Earlier in an opening remark, chairman of the ocassion, Rt. Hon. (Dr.) Boyelayefa Debekemi, former Speaker of Bayelsa State House of Assembly, said he was more or less an Epie man, thus, he had known His Highness (Dr.) Bona Spero-Jack as a man of integrity, worthy of celebration by the Azaiki Foundation and other guests.
Dr. Debekemi who is also a former chairman of the Board the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), further described Dr. Spero-Jack as a complete gentleman who respects even younger persons. He recalled that while he (Debekemi) was speaker, Dr. Spero-Jack not only accorded him respect due to the office, but also took him like a brother.
In his speech, Prof. Steve Azaiki who hosted the birthday celebration in his Yenagoa residence, extolled Dr. Boma Spero-Jack as a father, uncle and elder brother with amazing humility and passion to support people, including him, hence the decision to honour the man he fondly calls Uncle B.
Speaking further, Prof. Azaiki who hinted of plans to document the accomplishments of Dr. Spero-Jack, prayed God to grant the celebrant more years, while also thanking relatives and friends from Epie-Atissa, Bayelsa State and beyond, for joining Azaiki Foundation to honour a patriot and statesman.
Also speaking, a trustee of Azaiki Foundation and former Head of Service of Bayelsa State Civil Service, Dr. (Mrs.) Josephine Igodo, said Dr. Spero-Jack’s lifestyle and good deeds to Nigeria and Bayelsa State were examplary hence should be documented for posterity.
Dr. (Mrs.) Igodo stressed the need to honour living heroes for their selfless services, noting that the celebrant’s lifestyle was worthy of emulation. She advised Epie-Atissa people to love one another, and avoid pull-down syndrome so that the area would withness more progress.
In a goodwill message, Mr. Freedom Osain, a Commissioner in Local Government Service Commission in Bayelsa State, who is also chairman of Epie Kingdom Development Organization (EKDO), re-echoed the call on Epie-Atissa not to let divided political interests affect peace and oneness, instead unite for a common course in order to usher in more human and physical development in the two kingdoms.
Others, notably, Secretary Board of Trustees of the Azaiki Foundation, Chief Noble Akenge; member representing Yenagoa Constituency One in Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Hon. Ayebanegiefa Egba; Permanent Secretary Bayelsa State Local Government Service Commission, Rev. Amokiese B. J. Godwin; Senior Technical Adviser to Bayelsa State Governor on Policy/Strategy, Dr. Patterson Ogon; Hon. Ayi Aziowei, as well as Chief Okpoebi Righteous Gwegwe, eulogized Dr. Spero-Jack’s services to humanity, citing their personal cases in which he not only mentored them, but also rendered varied assistance.
Responding, Dr. Spero-Jack said he was more humbled by the honour done him, and wished the host, Prof. Azaiki, the Foundation and other well-wishers success in their chosen endeavours.
Spero-Jack, who is currently a Special Adviser on Security Matters to Governor Douye Diri, as well as Technical Adviser on Conflict Resolution said, though he wasn’t a birthday freak, the recognition accorded him by guests, would spur him to render more services to society.