By Ben Binebai
Multiculturalism is a concept which points to ethnic, cultural, linguistic and historical pluralism of a given society. In Towards a definition of Multi-culturalism by Caleb Rosado the point is made that Multiculturalism is a system of beliefs and behaviours that recognise and respects the presence of all diverse groups in an organization or society. It acknowledges and values their socio-cultural differences, and encourages and enables their continued contribution within an inclusive cultural context which empowers all within the organization or society (3) Multiculturalism is simply a pattern of life in which different cultures drawn from ethnic nations that are original to a society exist. It expresses ethnic diversity, accommodation and tolerance. Delta state is an unappeasable prototype of a multicultural society. A society that depends on the positive cooperation of its ethnic nationalities for survival.
From a deconstructive standpoint, in which I vouch to deploy the down-to-earth methodology of deconstructive reconstruction to detect the fault lines of the raw oral text of rotation and waste of logic, to post-structuralise the structuralism of the old and disproportionate understanding of the principle of rotation along the contour of senatorial district, I am motivated by the multicultural consciousness of the state to divulge, confront, reconceptualise and reconstruct the power rotation principle that incubates the office of the executive governor of Delta State for intra-cultural and cross cultural prosperity. To this end, I fully endorse rotation, reversal and bring to visibility the principle of alternation.
Delta state is a geopolitical entity created by national will and law of existence, to pursue self-determination. A state rich in oil and gas, blessed with both land and water located in a physical space accommodating a human population larger than some African countries. Its sacred and major vision and fountain of existence is expressed largely in her political destiny. Running down the memory lanes, its peace is most times shattered by the recurrent ghost of criminal colonial fabrications, systemic systematization and acute visibilisation of neocolonial and endocolonial tendencies of ethnocentrism. Its brotherhood bounces and burbles on the lane and lips of its people. It is a state that hosts the Ijaws of Delta who also, to a large extent, produce oil to fatten the purse of both the state and the nation. They are balkanised into six local government areas and treated very clearly not only as a subaltern area but constantly denied development by successive governments.
A critical examination of the unwritten but strong political blueprint for the office of the governor indicates clearly that it lacks credibility and serviceability on the ground that it denies and delays or restricts some of the ethnic groups from enjoying the privilege to emerge as governor. Besides, the rotation of the governorship slot amongst the three senatorial districts and the habitual retention of two tenure of eight year rule by the governor have established the renounceable culture of discriminatory development in the State. In this case, the coastal region is worse hit. The political implication of this arrangement is that eight years development and advancement of an ethnic group in power is eight years of backwardness and lack of development for others who are voiceless and subordinated by the dominant centre. I personally feel, considering the background of ethnic pluralism, this eight years tenure of a governor will have to be revisited and reduced to a single tenure when the governorship circle must have rotated round the ethnic nations. The Ijaws and the Isokos are the worst hit. Subordinated people have history; they do not need to spill blood. Delta does not need to see the horrors of conflict, smell and see the bad odour and colour of conflict from cockeyed political benediction to enjoy the moral commands of protection, freedom and balance.
Power alternates between one major mono ethnic group and a less populated ethnic group. For instance, after Ibori from the linguistically bonded Urhobo central Delta ruled for eight years, in observance of the principles of rotation and alternation, he handed over power to Emmanuel Uduaghan, from the least populated Itsekiri ethnic group in the linguistically diverse Southern Senatorial District to rule as governor. After Emmanuel Uduaghan, the rotation and alternation arrangement was deployed to bring in Okowa from the linguistically united Delta North/Delta Ibo geographical space. Consequently, following ethnic rotation and alternation, Urhobo, Itsekiri and Ibo in Delta have tasted the Governorship slot in keeping with the principle of senatorial and ethnic rotation and alternation. This is a very comfortable and healthy political configuration that promotes the blood of multicuralism in the veins, lungs and arteries of Delta State. For purpose of fairness this theory of ethnic rotation and alternation in the distribution of the office of the governor speaks for even ethnic groups declared invisible by some groups with large population. For instance, the Urhobos in the central Delta have produced a governor. It is therefore wrong as a matter of principle to desecrate the ethnic rotation and alternation principle by returning power from one majority ethnic zone to another major district and majority ethnic group that has tasted power.
Alternation is a binary resolution that provides a clear political tradition devoid of ethnocentrism and imbalance. The term is deducted from the Elliott Wave Theory which refers to corrective wave. In this theory, “the second and fourth waves of an impulsive wave in a five wave structure or motive are said to be alternating in different waves which is essential for the move to be a valid impulsive one” The five broad ethnic groupings represent the five waves structure. This scientific principle of alternation when applied to a multicultural state like Delta is capable of producing a profitable and balanced political system.
Delta state as a geopolitical space occupied by mixed ethnic groups when viewed from the agricultural metaphor of inter-planting or intercropping on one farm land ought to minimize space for separation of weeds unwanted. The allegorical weeds in this context are unmarketable philosophies and principles that are capable of destroying the collective growth of the ethnic nations on the soil of the state. But it does appear that the inter-planting principle has transformed some crops and by that I mean some ethnic groups into weeds. The Inter-planting of ethnic groups in Delta state is an organic structure that was aimed at fertilizing and enhancing the political soil and farmland of the state for the healthy growth of the crops inter-planted either in the mixed or alternated fashion. The agricultural tradition of inter-planting brings about multiplicity and soil strength, harmonizing allocation of plant resources and suppression of weeds and vulnerability to diseases. As we watch the political scenario unfolding, plants weakened by population and political docility within the intercropping frame are choking. A sick political sight of breathing ethnic groups that have been constructed as dominated spaces.
I must express the point without any morsel of equivocation that the rotation of the governorship slot amongst the senatorial districts without ethnic alternation within and outside the senatorial district structure is an experimental and boorish political miasma and paradigm that violate the principles of collective existence and democratic decency. The formula which emphasises the principle of rotation and alternation should not be grounded because of majoritarian interest as it will amount to political banditry and subterfuge that is intellectually woven to delay and vanquish the principle of inclusive development. The point of argument here is that the Governorship slot should go round the ethnic nations in an alternation command within and outside a senatorial district.
The Ijaws are located densely and averagely in six local government areas of Delta State and in terms of population, they occupy a majority position in the population taxonomy and index of the State. How ethical is it to return governorship to Delta central in 2023 that has produced governors while there are some ethnic nations that have not produced any governor in the political history of the state? It will be an unfair and unkind structural (mis)calculation, a self-indulgent and discriminatory hegemonic design to hold hostage the progress of the visibly muted gulf of the state.
From this analysis, it is clear that the 2023 governorship ticket should go to an ethnic group that has not produced a governor, specifically, Ijaw that has not tasted the office. The Ijaws have always been at the invisible boundaries due to criminal balkanisation, political subjugation and majoritarian conspiracy. Ijaw land has no functional roads connecting its length and breadth, no national grid, no good schools, no industries, no portable water, and no functioning hospitals. The area is yet to be painted and conquered by the promethean brush of modernity and civilisation. The people suffer ecological squalor, oil vulturine and environmental degradation. All the industries and ports that made life vivacious are now moribund because of government detachment. Development in Delta state is not balanced. Urban Delta is developing at break neck leap but the development of the riverine is abysmally regulated with motionlessness. The area needs both conventional and technical institutions, not schools that are grudging given, scattered habitually and denied infrastructural growth.
The Ijaw area needs the office of the governor to secure a balanced enjoyment of human rights, equality of citizenship, rapid development and transformation. Coastal Delta was where the Nigerian nation began. Forcados and Burutu great historical and commercial towns of British West Africa gave uninterrupted growth in many possible ways to Nigerian people when they were lucrative multicultural dwelling places. The subaltern Ijaw ethnic group in question needs tolerance and deserves to be given a unique space in the state’s intercultural dialogue. Political leaders and power horses of Delta state must understand the aims and aspirations of the different ethnic groups and fruitfully engage and support the project of coexistence without allowing some others to bleed and cry painfully at the margins. Highly populated ethnic groups should display marketable ethical relationship with those Deltans that have been systematically declared by the dominated order or forced into the subordinate status. A biased majority rule maximizes ethnocentric agenda and ideology in a circle of competing interest and the subaltern is duped of common adventure. It does not protect the margin, does not care about the well-being of the area.
In keeping with the principle of the dogs play, in respecting the seed of sacred love and unity planted by the founding fathers of Delta State on the virgin soul and soil of the land, in upholding the energy of multicuralism, the platform that energises and lubricates the pivot upon which the flywheel of politics and democracy holds sway in Delta State, it appears absolutely illuminating and imperative to look beyond the senatorial rotation in the supply of the governorship slot. Remarkably, under the guiding memory of crystalline history, the application of the principle of rotation and alternation from its virginal dawn, to the zoning of the governor of Delta State is itself, a political heritage that has been strongly shadowed with steady temper, taste and temperature and with fervent physicalisation. The idea of continuous subsuming and spiking to supine the Ijaw in the impending governorship slot will be seen visibly as betrayal of unanimity and the erection of the Jericho walls against the Ijaws whose turn it is to produce the next democratically elected executive governor of Delta State.
Ben Binebai writes in from the Wilberforce Island