The Ijaw national leader, who doubles as the leader of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, Chief E.K Clark, has revealed how the Itsekiris stopped Warri from being made the capital of Delta State Capital in 1991.
Senator Clark said this in an interview with Vanguard newspaper, which was published on Wednesday.
According to the elder statesman, His Royal Majesty, the Olu of Warri, Atuwatse II and Mr. Allison Ayida, 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 would dominate the state.
The former Federal Commissioner of Education went further: “When Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, the Military President of Nigeria became the President, he decided to create two States, out of the old Bendel State namely, Edo State and Delta State 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 its capital. This was an official decision taken at a meeting held at the residence of the Vice Military President, Admiral Augustus Aikhomu.
“ In attendance, were His Royal Majesty, the Oba of Benin, Oba Erediauwa I; His Majesty, the Olu of Warri, Atuwatse II, Gen. David Ejoor, former Military Governor of Mid-West Region; Gen S. O. Ogbemudia, former Military Governor of Midwest State, Senator D.O. Dafinone, Chief O. P. Edodo, Chief Rita Lori-Ogbebor, Chief Sylvester Muomeke, Dr Oniawa, Chief Tayo Akpata, Chief James Otobo, Prof Sam Oyovbaire, who was the Minister of Information, was the Secretary of the meeting, and the notes of that meeting is still available.
“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.
“Thus, Asaba Division which was originally part of the old Benin Province, was transferred to the new Delta State to form of it, thereby increasing the population of Delta State over and above its counterpart, Edo State. Delta State has 25 LGAs while Edo State has 18 LGAs. The old Aboh Division was the only Division that was part of Warri and later Delta Province.
“This sudden change created serious crisis and agitation in the original Delta people against the transfer of Asaba Division from Edo State to Delta State. Asaba town being the capital of Delta State, which has common affinity with Anambra State.
“The original people of Delta Province swore not to go to Asaba. But later, peace prevailed, and on the condition that the governorship position will not come from the former Asaba Division.
“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, employment , etc 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 borne out the fears expressed in 1991, the city is abandoned.