Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, has urged the Federal Government to create an avenue for a national dialogue to dissect and seek solutions to various challenges facing the country.
Okowa gave the charge at an interdenominational thanksgiving service to mark the 30th anniversary of the creation of Delta State, held at St. Peters Anglican Cathedral, Asaba, yesterday.
The thanksgiving service was attended by wife of the governor, Dame Edith Okowa; Deputy Governor, Mr. Kingsley Otuaro; former governor of the state, Chief James Ibori; his former deputy, Mr. Benjamin Elue, and former military administrator of the state, Navy Capt. Walter Feghabo (rtd).
Others include Minority Leader of House of Representatives, Mr. Ndudi Elumelu; Senator James Manager; Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mr. Sheriff Oborevwori; state Chief Judge, Justice Theresa Diai; President, Customary Court of Appeal, Justice Patience Elumeze and state Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Kingsley Esiso.
Speaking further, Okowa said there were too many voices of anger calling for justice, fairness and equity in the affairs of the country, urging the Federal Government to take steps to listen to the voices.
He noted that if it were not well with the nation, it would not be well with the component parts.
The governor warned against building the country for the elite and the rich, whom he said, would not live peacefully in a country where there are many poor people.
He stated: “We are still in a nation where so much power rests at the centre, with the Federal Government, and I believe that it is not right and it is time for more powers to be devolved to the states and more money and resources given to the states.
“Nigeria will be better for it if we restructure, but the greatest challenge we have is as a result of insecurity, and it is pushing many people more into the poverty line.
“As a country, we are troubled and there are so many ethno-religious crises, but it’s time for us to sit down and talk, otherwise, we may not be able to continue as a nation.
“In staying as a nation, we must find solutions to the voices of anger and we must dispassionately look for the opinion leaders in the different parts of Nigeria and speak truth to ourselves.”
He congratulated Deltans on the 30th anniversary, noting that the state has come thus far because God’s presence had been with it.
He recalled that when the state was created in 1991, it was greeted with cautious optimism, but thanked God that 30 years after, Deltans have become more united as a people.
The governor paid tribute to past leaders of the state for laying a solid foundation for its development, adding that it was being built upon.
“We have come to realise that we are one people, though with different ethnic groups, and we have come to realise that we can only do better if we work together as one state.
“We thank God because that foundation is truly strong. Today in Delta, we can look round and find that there are many growing towns in the state, unlike most states.
“We have several growing cities in Delta State and when you take a tour to many states, you will find out that God has truly blessed us in Delta.
“We are growing at our own pace; we may not all be able to grow at the same pace, and we must realise this as a nation,” he said.
In his sermon, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Asaba, Rt. Rev. Justus Mogekwu, said Delta was a microcosm of Nigeria, because of the diverse ethnic groups in the state, adding, however, that in spite of the diversity, the people have lived together in unity, love and peace.
He commended Deltans for their resolve to work and live together in the overall interest of the state, noting that a state where bigotry, bloodshed, bitterness, intolerance and other vices exist can hardly make any progress.
Quoting from the Bible, Mogekwu said the future was bright for the state as long as Deltans continued to put their trust in God in all their ways, pointing out that politics without integrity was the bane of Nigeria’s development.