There was tension and drama in Warri, Delta State yesterday as the National Coordinator of the Oodua Peoples’ Congress (OPC), Otunba Gani Adams, inaugurated a Delta State chapter of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) in Itsekiri community.
What would have been a bloody confrontation between angry Itsekiri youths and security operatives was averted by the swift intervention of the leadership of the Itsekiri Leaders of Thought, Itsekiri National Youth Council (INYC) and members of the OPC.
Adams, who led 2,000 OPC leaders, including Alhaji Oyinlola Awe, Lateef Oladimejo and Mudashiru Aderibigbe, National Admin Secretary, Financial Secretary and Treasurer; INYC President, David Tonwe and others, were stopped from the venue of the ceremony.
The ceremony, scheduled for 11am at the Atuwatse II Model Primary School, Esisi Road in the Oil City, was later moved to a private residence when policemen invaded the scene and barricaded the entrance to the premises.
Mr. Gbubemi Abigor, INYC spokesman, lamented the misinformation spread about the event.
“Our idea is to have contact with our brothers from the Southwest (OPC) and ensure that we can relate socially, economically, politically, etc.
“Funny enough, this very good and noble intention was marred by negative speculations. We deem it necessary that we should avoid anything that can dent this noble relationship we are trying to create,” Abigor, who spoke on behalf of INYC President, David Tonwe, said.
Speaking in the same vein, Otunba Adams, who led a large contingent of about 80 of OPC National Coordinating Council members to Warri, said: “We are not in Itsekiri (Warri) to cause problem and I do not see anything bad in coming to Delta State.”
The OPC leader regretted that respected Itsekiri leaders would spread false information about an ordinary meeting between two closely related ethnic groups, who share ancestral linkage.
He said the congress was not a fully militant group as it was portrayed, stressing that the group has played its part, like other ethnic bodies, in restoring pride of place to the Yoruba nation.
He hailed the Itsekiri Leaders of Thought for ensuring that OPC Delta State (Itsekiri chapter) was inaugurated and the INYC for hosting the OPC National Coordinating Council (NCC) Meeting without the predicted breakdown of law and order.
“With what we have done, we have shown a great deal of maturity. We played down the issue of confrontation.
“Our members in this community are more than 2,000. If we (had) marched them to the field, there would have been chaos. I have to thank the leadership and organisation skill of the Itsekiri for the level of understanding,” he added.
Earlier, Pa Ayomike, who received the OPC and INYC teams in his home, slammed the state government for preventing attendees from enjoying the freedom of association as provided by the constitution, stressing that it has become a recurring incident for the government to violate the constitution.
However, he commended Otunba Adams and the leadership of the Itsekiri National Youth Council, led by Tonwe, for achieving the goal of the day despite the intimidation and harassment by security operatives.
Pa Ayomike, a reputable historian, later presented one of his books, titled: ‘Warri: A Focus on The Itsekiri’, to commemorate the historical visit.
The inauguration of Comrade Hakeem Agboola as the OPC Delta chapter coordinator was witnessed by Mr. Amorighoye Mene, Mr. Edward Ekpoko, Chief F.A. Rewane, Prof. Tony Afejuku, Mr. David Iwere and Dr. Lucky Akaruese