Wado City, Warri City and the Abatian Proxy
“Let the kite perch, let the eagle perch too, if you say no, let the wings break”
By Uwa John
When I first read the captivating axiom of “Kite” and “Eagle” in Things are falling apart a masterpiece by one of history’s greatest storytellers, Chinua Achebe, I gave the proverb no metaphorical interpretation beyond the context of the novel until reactions began to follow the recent call for the renaming of part of the town of Warri, occupied by Urhobo, as “the town of Wado”. When Achebe deploys the kite and eagle motif, he is alluding to the predatory nature of human preponderance to take advantage of each other; therefore advocates the need for tolerance, peaceful coexistence, negotiated coexistence and the management of pluralism through the concept of “pole”.
In other words, Achebe dramatizes the interplay between pluralism, humanism and a finite space using predatory birds which, despite their killer instincts, must coexist on the basis of unity, dignity, fairness and fairness in the space that no one can support or legitimize his claim as a natural owner. beyond just saying it. So, by tying together predatory birds of different ferocity, strength, and species and not birds to other animals, provided that all of them can thrive or break wings, Achebe suggests that categories such as “political,” wealth, gender, ethnicity, strength, population and religion should not be determinants of peaceful coexistence in a shared space. Rather, peaceful coexistence should be determined by the triad of equity, justice and equity.
Where this triad is unbalanced, there is bound to be conflict; where there is conflict, there is bound to be a resolution; where resolution smacks of sentiment, there is bound to be a perpetual quarrel; and where the political will is lacking to resolve the conflict, the conflict will eventually be resolved by other means. The last is a natural given. This is the dilemma faced by ethnicities and ethnic claims to the metropolis or the city of Warri. And this is why the Achebean axiom of allowing the eagle and the kite to perch in peace without polarizing air and land space becomes a critical point of reference.
So when an Urhobo group muted, proposed and broadcast the idea of Wado town as a panacea for the paramount land dispute between Warri’s ethnic nationalities, I expected public commentators to ask questions. critics on the validity or not of such a proposition, investigate the motivations behind such a proposition or better yet, remain silent and observe the unfolding of events; quiet, because even a fool is considered wise if he is silent. While I still used the euphoria of this unusual proposal to resolve a historic concern over ownership of the controversial space called Warri City, opponents and cynics alike took to town to drum drums of war and stir up the embers of discord over a harmless proposition that should ordinarily spark an interesting conversation about the boundaries between peace, justice, equity and prosperity in the town called Warri.
Like a league of nocturnal soil men trying to clean up a cloud of decay in colonial Nigeria; these groups have gone to press with what has the appearance of an outdated sense of history and an idealism that has no place in logical thought. With all due respect, Dr Reuben Abati is the head of this group; I preceded Dr. Rueben Abati’s mention of the phrase “due respect” because I consider man a demigod in journalism who got away with so much; however, when a god descends from the exclusive realm of the pantheons, to settle among mortals, he loses his mysticism. Likewise, when a god becomes too vindictive, he is often reminded of the tree from which he was pruned.
This is the dilemma Dr Ruben Abati and the others face in going to press with half-truths, lies and sentiments capable of deceiving the captive public. After reading Abati’s recent publication “The Brewing Crisis in Warri”, I knew almost immediately that in his haste to go to press, for reasons he is best acquainted with, Abati relied on a story book titled A story of Warri, published in 1988 by a certain JOS Ayomike, Civil Commissioner of the Midwest State in the 1970s. Further, I realized that Dr Abati had not read the seminal research edited by Professor Peter Ekeh, a renowned scholar world on the same subject titled: The town of Warri and British rule in the western Niger Delta; nor did he bother to hide his criticism of FMA Ukoli titled “I can see clearly now…” which has severely damaged everything the Itsekiri has left of Warri City.
And that explains why an essay by such a astute social commentator is replete with such misinformation. While I would prefer to leave the topic of Warri’s property to other forums, I would leave our respected Dr Abati and other attorneys with a few questions that might help them present a more informed essay the next time they are. in press. Who invented the name Warri? What were the areas of present-day Delta State called Warri Province in colonial Nigeria? Why and when was the province of Warri converted to the province of Delta? Why and when was Olu from Itsekiri changed to Olu from Warri? Was there a place called Warri before colonialism? Why are there three recognized kings in the Warri kingdom? Why did Olu lose his litigation claiming suzerainty over Okere Urhobo lands in favor of Okumagba? Why is Olu Palace built on leased land in Okumagba? Where does suzerainty fit into the Nigerian land use law constitution? These begging questions will go on and on, but your truth is hidden in them.
Anyone willing to question these questions with an open mind will likely find that while trying to use their socio-political advantage to outsmart the other ethnic groups sharing the Warri space with them, the Itsekiri establishment has ended up pulling a bullet in the foot by making unhealthy demands calculated to make them owners of Warri City, when in reality the Urhobos occupy most of the city; a frightening reality that has become the ‘Joker’. Moreover, successive governments of that time made the problem worse by accepting these unhealthy demands which have now come back to chase everyone away.
But what is playing out now with the conversations around Wado City is just one of the many ways that conflict is trying to resolve itself. It is a call for the government to solve the problem it helped create in the first place. It’s like a people who say we want you to call us by our rightful name; especially when it is evident that Warri was a colonial arrangement designed to cover up the divide and rule doctrine and to distract people from the perception of the ongoing colonial exploitation and exploration in the province. So I ask Dr Abati, if the Urhobo people of the kingdom of Uvwie or the local government, for example, suddenly decide that they want the Warri refinery and petrochemicals in Ekpan, of the Uvwie LGA, to be changed to the Ekpan refinery and petrochemicals because they are not under The local government of Warri South, will it be said that it is preparing a crisis?
The real question to ask is, what will Ijaw or Itsekiri lose if the Urhobo enclaves and other neighboring Urhobo towns become the town of Wado? While we wait for answers to the last two questions, the warmongers fall silent and the conversation continues; or better yet, let the eagle roost, and let the kite roost too.
* Uwa John, Department of the English University of Lagos.
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