A Request for the Creation
Of Warri State Or
Warri Protected Territory
In accordance with
section 8(1)(a) of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
1. The Principles
We have based the development of our model on the following political verities:
· “Any idea one can make different peoples into a nation by suppressing the religious on tribal or regional or other affiliations to which they themselves attach the highest political significance, is a non-starter”
Sir Arthur Lewis, Tribune 19 July, 1988
· “The lesson of this century is that countries put together artificially will fall apart (as in Europe). National identities will not be suppressed.” (words in brackets added for emphasis)
Margaret Thatcher, British Prime Minister
in Newsweek 2 Sept. 1991
· “Across the world a resurgence of tribal ties is creating more complex global alliances. Where diplomacy defined borders, now history, race, ethnicity, religion and culture are dividing humanity into dynamics new groupings”
Joel Kotkin, Newsweek 4 Oct, 2010 p.32
· “Events of the past decade attest to the fact that communal attachments do not quickly wither away with exposure to modern influences. Quite the contrary, modernization often creates the very conditions necessary for the incubation of strong communal identities and sets the stage for communal competition”
David & Audry Smocks, Politics of Pluralism, 1960
2. The Nigerian Situation:
a) The existence and resurgence of ethnic associations, such as Afenifere, Arewa, Urhobo Progress Union (UPU), Ijaw National Congress (INC), Ohaneze-Ndigbo, Ibibio Uniion, etc, is a natural phenomenon, which if properly appreciated and harnessed, will give energy and life to the artificial creation of 1914 (Nigeria) by Lord Lugard. Let’s face it, the various nationalities think about, like and respect these associations, as they fear, dislike and disdain our governments, at all levels.
b) The British appreciated these manifestations and tendencies hence, ab initio, they introduced the Indirect Rule – as system that allowed local governance as practiced by the various nationalities on the ground when they came. Whereas today, this local governance as set up by the British, based on ethnic homelands. Is practiced everywhere in the country, first as District/Divisional Councils, and now as local government councils, through naiveté, our leaders insist on running a conceptually different American Constitutional administration in Nigeria. A contradiction!
c) In America, there are no traditional homelands as exist in Nigeria, Britain or Russia. Immigrants have created states and countries not based on homelands in America. Britain that bequeathed to us our homeland – based system has today conceded greater autonomy to her various nationalities in their homelands of Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. And England on every April 23rd – the day of the Patron Saint of England (Saint George) crave and pray for their homeland of England, a smaller part of what they call the (dis) United Kingdom.
d) Today in Europe, ethnic nationalities have approximately become congruent with national borders: Dutch in Holland, French in France, Russians in Russia, Spaniards in Spain and Greeks in Greece, etc. In Belgium, where the Flemish and the Walloons continue to bicker, they cannot have stable government.
3. The Peoples of Nigeria
They are the different nationalities, over 350, that the British found occupying the various territories that were amalgamated on 1st January, 1914 to form Nigeria. They are the Hausa, Tiv, Fulani, Ibibio, Ibo, Itsekiri, Benin, Urhobo, Efik, Yoruba, Ishan and sovereign in its territory and running its own affairs and promoting its inter – nationality relations. In the Nigerian customary law, nationalities, big or small, are corporations; they have souls and are indestructible.
4. Instability in Nigeria
Instability has choked the country. After 50 years of flag independence, Nigerians cannot find their baring. Most ethnicities in Nigeria perceive the “Big Three”, Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba and Ibo nationalities in various states bear the oppression and greed of the larger groups. And in this state of confusion arising from wide – spread dissatisfaction, survival challenges take the centre – stage while development and progress are sacrificed.
We Itsekiri have borne the brunt of it all. Our land over the ages, a treasured heritage, legitimately secured in a series of court judgments up to the privy Council in well over seventy-five years, is savagely claimed against the rule of law. Our culture and tradition are assaulted and demeaned and due process is ignored. We even daresay that the “Big Three” have not sought “to swallow” others, the way we watch things happen around us. The Yoruba, Ibo and others do not practice irredentism as done around us.
5. Reports On Our Problem
Most government reports have high-lighted Itsekiri problem of survival over the years, and here we summarize some of them:
a) Wiillink Commission Report, 1958
As far back as 1958, the report had given a clear insighted into the survival problem of the Itsekiri in Warri as follows:
“There is another people… They are the Itsekiri… in (Warri) division, though they are the largest single group, they are in a minority (relative to others combined) being about 40 percent of the total…” (Words in brackets for emphasis)
The dismal failure of Nigeria, following the manipulation of the willink Commission of 1958, that denied minorities their rights of equality with the majority ethnic groups, has been the undoing of our efforts at nation – building. Even though the Commission was manipulated and constrained from making sensible, wholesome recommendations for the entire country, the Constitutional Conference at its resumed sitting in 1959 agreed on the findings of the Commission at paragraph 52 of its report:
“(a) A minority area should be created in the Western Region and should consist of the whole of Benin and Delta Provinces, including Warri Division and Akoko-Edo District on the understanding that the position of Warri Division in relation to the proposed area should be further considered locally by the Government of Western Region. The conference took note of the undertaking by the Western Regional Government that they would discuss the question further with all interests concerned on their return to Nigeria…”
Thus when the Mid-Western Region was created in 1963, its 1964 Constitution designated Warri Division (now Warri South, Warri North and Warri South West LGAS), Akoko-Edo, Isoko and Western Ijaw as Special Areas as per Section 7(3) and Item 3 of the First Schedule to the Constitution. Essentially, the Special Areas provisions gave the people of the protected areas the right to be represented in their homelands regardless of their numerical status.
“ A law made by the legislature of the Region may provide that, notwithstanding that a person satisfies any of the requirements of paragraphs (a) to (c) of subsection (1) of this section, he shall not be qualified to be a member of the House of Assembly for a constituency in a special area within the meaning of subsection(4) of section 14 of this Constitution unless he satisfies such conditions as may be specified by that law; and until provisions to the contrary is made by such law there shall, as respects the constituencies in each area described in paragraphs 1,2,3 and 4 of the first column of the First Schedule to this Constitution, be deemed to be specified by such a law which so provides the condition that a person shall be a member in accordance with customary law of the ethnic group specified as respects that area in the second column of that Schedule”.
“ A law made by the Legislature of the Region for the purpose of subsection (4) of this section shall not come into force as respects any existing special area unless:-
(a) A referendum upon the question whether the law should come into force has been held in that area in pursuance of provision made in that behalf by the Legislature of the Region; and
(b) The persons entitled to vote in the referendum were those who at the date of the referendum were entitled to vote in elections of members of the House of Assembly for the constituencies in that area: and
(c) Not less than two-thirds of all those persons voted in the referendum in favour of the law”.
We implore the National Assembly to set in motion the necessary legislative machinery to adopt similar protection arrangement in the event of Warri being made a Protected Territory.
In a democracy, such a dispensation should not worry or bother other nationality groups, near or faraway, because its object, as in our case, was to lubricate the dynamics of government and promote healthy relationships. Unfortunately this forward-looking, progressive measure was terminated by the military in 1966, and no one has ever thought of resurrecting it for full application nationwide.
(b) Justice Irikefe States Creation Commission. 1975 in acknowledgement of the Itsekiri fears expressed to the Commission, it recommended “that the feras of the Itsekiri could be properly assuaged b yother means devised and worked out at the State level”, rather than Warri Autonomous Province demanded by the Itsekiri. Nothing has happened till today inspite of its acceptance by government.
(c) Prof. Takena Tamuno-led Presidential Panel on National Security in 2002 proposed the necessity to protect Itsekiri in Warri, their homeland.
(d) Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma-led Presidential Committee on Warri Crisis in2003 emphasized the still-growing Itsekiri fear of political annihilation.
6. Population Strength of Itsekiri in Warri 1963 Census Figures (with Ethnic Classification)
Ethnic Group Population % of Total
*Itsekiri 92,711 64
*Ijaw in 3 enclaves 20,702 14
*Urhobo of Agbassa 2,000 1.4
*Others, Urhobo, Edo,etc 29,167 20
Source:1963 Census, Warri.
1996 Census Figures (no ethnic classification)
Warri North 137,300
Warri South 303, 417
Warri South West 116,681
Source: Warri South LG
Summation: Given the Willink Report of 1958 percentage estimate of Itsekiri population as 40% in Warri Division and the 64% of the 145,060 enumerated in the 1963 census, an extrapolation of 400000-450000 as Itsekiri population today is a fair minimum.
Comparison: And this Itsekiri population estimate puts it almost at par with viable states in America such as:
Wyoming(493,000) and Vermont (600,000). Independent nations such as:
Bahamas (336,000) Barbados (282,000)
Cape Verde (523,000) Dominica (80,000)
Equitorial Guinea (538,000) and Granada (106,000)
with similar populations even do survive. Monaco (34000) &
Liechtenstein (16268) in 1960 (both in Europe)
And Palau (21000) are also independent nations, having smaller populations. So our case for a Warri State based on the foregoing exposition is sound and unimpeachable.
7. About Governance
Abraham Lincoln’s definition of democracy is well-known: Government of the people by the people for the people (19th November, 1863). But before his time, great thinkers of the Enlightenment period had argued over the essence of governance. Thomas Hobbes (1588 – 1679) after experiencing the civil War and the short-lived Oliver Cromwell’s intervention thought human life was short, brutish and mischievous. He thus favoured strong state over individual rights. Voltaires (1694 – 1778) having the same mind preferred that lions ruled over man rather than rats, and tyrants rather than the mob. He stood for dictatorship. Later, Locke (1632 – 1704) asserted that governance should be a contract between ruler and citizens based on the latter’s consent. Others, including Bentham (1748 – 1832) and John Mill (1806 – 1873) expanded the idea of liberal governance to be based on the happiness of the greatest number of the citizenry. It was Montesquieu (1689 – 1755) who sought to solve the mischief of man in governance by the American Constitution from the mid- 18th century.
Thomas Jefferson, the 3rd American President provided the golden rule which has today guided all modern states in fashioning out how they exist and live together and we will here quote his two sound ideas:
All too, will bear in mind this sacred principle that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate which would be oppression (Italics added) (March 4, 1801).
Free government is founded on jealousy, not in confidence; it is jealousy and not confidence which prescribes limited constitutions to bind those we are obligated to trust with power. In question of power let no one be heard of confidence in man but blind him down from mischief by the chains of the constitution.
8. In the Nigerian context, we, Itsekiri, are a small nationality group with long history of civilization and development from our links with foreign European nations since the early 16th century in the areas of trade, Diplomacy and Christianity. The hostility of our neighbours is legendary and several ethnic crises. We have secured every square inch of our 1520 square mile Warri Kingdom by judgments with tears.
9. In this situation, where a state or states have to be created from the present Delta State, we elect to have our WARRI STATE which by all considerations will be a most viable state. And failing to have a Warri State, and a COAST STATE (as proposed) which, in its composition, could be good, safe and healthy state for us, we propose that Warri be made a PROTECTED TERRITORY. THE PROPOSED WARRI STATE/ PROTECTED TERRITORY SHALL COMPRISE WARRI SOUTH, WARRI NORTH AND WARRI SOUTH WEST LOCAL GOVERNMENT AEAS OF DELTA STATE.
In our Warri State, we shall protect and administer our patrimony, that includes (a) our lands and rivers (b) our traditions and age-old customs and (c) our natural resources. Its capital shall be Warri.
10. Economic Viability
v Oil & Gas – The 3 Warri LGAS are the source of about 30% of Nigeria’s total oil production, and over 68% of the Delta State quantum. Warri, the proposed headquarters of the State, is the mega metropolis of the present Delta State and contributes about 80% of its internally generated revenue. Other Assets:
1. Chevron Tank Farm at Escravos
2. The EGTL Projects in Escravos (all in S.W. Warri LGA)
3. The Bonga, Okan and over 20 other oil fields.
4. The Warri Refinery in Warri South LGA
5. Chevron & Shell field Offices in Warri & Escravos
6. Koko has been designated Export Processing Zone
v Ports: There are three major ports in Warri, Koko and Escravos, and the last-named loads ocean-liners from its tank farm.
Agriculture: Fishing trawlers are based within the proposed state for fishing, shrimping & crayfishing. These industries hold great promises.
v Law & Order: We are historically a peace-loving society and our people are never, never known to be associated with current crimes of kidnapping, gun running and any dangerous militancy. Where we can have our state essentially under our direction, it would amount to an A-plus, giving greater security to the region.
v Tourism: The Nanna Living History Museum in Koko – the first of its kind in this part of Africa – and the royal Cemetery, Ijala in Warri – a potential World Heritage Site – are the must –see areas in the new State.
v 10. Manpower Requirement: Up to now the potentials of our people have been fully tapped. The lack of job-creation resulting from mismanagement of resources, nepotism and marginalization of our people, leading to non-placement of most of our qualified sons and daughters, have produced tremendous disenchantment with the present set-up which our own administration can solve.
Development process fares well in democratic societies free of rancor, bitterness and crisis. Our aspirations as a nation will come to naught if we do not curb lawlessness in whatever form. Rule of law and due process are lubricants in the machinery of any society, and we as a people have disregarded or ignored them for too long to our detriment. It is a principal reason, we of Warri, wish to manage our own affairs and develop on our own terms.
The decision to make the Request for the creation of A Warri State or A Warri Territory was jointly taken by ourselves and our representatives and in consultation with our traditional ruler, Chiefs & leaders.