Senatorial candidate of the Labour Party for Bayelsa East, Barrister Iniruo Wills has said there would have been no Nigeria if there was not first a place called Akassa in Bayelsa State.
He explained that Nigeria started from Bayelsa state noting that the famous Akassa Raid of 1895 which happened when the indigenous traders revolted against the exploitation by the British merchants due to unfair trade terms led to the promulgation of the ordinance establishing the Southern Protectorate and subsequently the 1914 amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates.
He was speaking during the official presentation of flags to candidates of the Labour Party in Yenagoa by the state chairman, Mr Ebiowei Olomu.
Wills lamented that although Bayelsa occupied a pride of place in the political and economic history of Nigeria, the state has benefitted very little from its huge contributions to national economy, adding that the unfair trade deals which gave rise to the Akassa revolt of 1895 still existed one hundred and twenty three years later, wondering whether another revolt was required to deliver the state from the dreadful yoke of economic exploitation.
He said the remote and immediate motivations that led to the outbreak of the 1967-70 civil war was about control and ownership of the resources of the Niger Delta people, and blamed the dilemma on the failure of the political class in the region whose vulnerability and gullibility had led them, like Esau, to sell their birthright for a sordid mess of distasteful pottage.
Wills, therefore, called on the people to come out en masse in the coming elections and vote out bad and corrupt leadership so that those who have the will to rescue the region could rightly take their place in the driving seat of engaging the required gear to accelerate sustainable development of the state particularly the Bayelsa East Senatorial zone.
He said he was not just running to make a statement but running to win so he could use the instrument of legislative advocacy and activism to improve the lot of his people.
The former Commissioner for Environment said the reasons why he threw his hat into the political ring were plenty and deep and described the event as robust gathering of individuals with diversity of talents.
He decried the absence of critical infrastructure in the state which he pointed out has greatly impaired the quality of life enjoyed by the people from 1999 to date, and wondered whether the provision of industries, quality education, stable electricity, good road network, standard healthcare facilities and addressing the perennial flooding were too much for the leaders to handle.
Wills, who is also the President Ijaw Professionals Association (Homeland Chapter) noted that the reasons for youth restiveness in the Niger Delta was not unconnected with the rising unemployment among the youths which could easily be avoided through creation of long-term jobs and placement of Bayelsans in top management positions in oil and gas companies.
He said, “This sad scenario could only come about because those representing the state at various leadership levels don’t represent us well…we need to remind ourselves that the situation in Bayelsa State is very bad.”
The Deputy Chairman of the Party, Mr Yousuo who expressed confidence in the capacity of Iniruo Wills to deliver the goods charged him to take the message to the Federal Government. “Tell them our oil is not for the North, West or East. It’s for the Ijaw Nation. It’s a shame that oil blocs in our backyards are owned by Northerners.”
He said if the practise continued, Nigeria would wake up one day to find that the dead heros and matyrs of the Niger Delta struggle are rising again from the grave. “Isaac Boro is coming back. Ken Saro Wiwa is coming back. Oronto Douglas is coming back. Go and tell the Federal Government and Oil multinationals that the battle which they think they won is coming back again to confront them.”
In his remarks, state Chairman of the Party Ebiowei Olomu said the party’s tradition was to field credible candidates at all levels who would not only win elections but use their positions to advance the cause of humanity by helping the poor and less privileged and curing the ills of society.
He stated that with the formal presentation of flags, candidates have been given the official mandate to start campaigns in their various constituencies.
He thanked the party faithfuls, particularly the candidates for their unflinching support and urged them to pass the message of victory to their zones.
While emphasising the importance of door to door campaigns, he charged the candidates and their teeming supporters to conduct themselves decently, adding that because the party was putting forward the best candidates, they must resist the temptation, even at the point of provocation, to take part or procure any form of electoral violence throughout the campaign period so as not to bring shame to the party as Labour Party is known for peace.
The candidate for Yenagoa constituency 2 for the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Barrister Orupadei Emmanuel Ikpakpai in his remarks, observed that Labour Party remained a grassroots party and assured that if elected he would provide better representation and ensure that the state benefitted more from the Gbarain Energy Project.
He said what the people needed most was not the award of contracts from Shell which would benefit only a few but quality representation to ensure that robust opportunities belonging to the State were not diverted and converted into private pockets of individuals but spread across every community, family and households.