Delta South: Why Itsekiri will not vote Diden for senate

By Oritsefemi Clifford

The forthcoming elections particularly that of the Delta South senatorial district should be treated with utmost seriousness and sincerity of purpose. We are in an era where ethnic groups are projecting their best hands to defend and protect their overall interests at all fronts.
The Itsekiri ethnic group is a highly distinct kingdom in Nigeria. We are known for our gerontocratic system of governance where elders are chosen as leaders of thought because of the enormous wisdom and experience they possess. When our leaders reach a critical decision, we gladly set aside our personal interests and follow such decision for the general good of Itsekiri nation.

The Itsekiri people are highly dignified in behaviour, showing unalloyed regards for established traditional and cultural heritage of the Iwere kingdom. We are not disrespectful to our traditional institution and this has earned us honour among other ethnic nationalities.

So revered is the Itsekiri traditional institution and kingship that no son or daughter of Itsekiri disobeys the authority of the kingdom. We reverence our king wherever we find ourselves, home or abroad. This is one conduct that makes us different from the rest cultures in Nigeria and this is why we are a proud and well organised people.

Whatever the resolve of the highly respected and honoured Iwere Kingdom is, has always been treated as authority that guides the entire Itsekiri nation. Rebelliousness to the King of Itsekiri, the traditional institution or cultural heritage of Iwere is usually not tolerated and treated with great disdain or even penalised. No true son of Itsekiri can be seen bringing down the kingdom or ridiculing Iwere in the public. Ginuwa forbid!

This rich cultural heritage is a rare gem that all the sons and daughters of Iwere protect. And this remains a priority to all Itsekiri people; we do not mind sacrificing ourselves in a bid to preserve our revered kingdom. This is where Michael Diden, who is often referred to as Ejele, the Delta South senatorial district candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is found wanting.

Irrespective of the current status of the relationship between our revered king, His Royal Majesty, Ogiame Atuwatse III, the 21st Olu of Warri Kingdom, and Diden, it is important to state that the entire Itsekiri Kingdom was brought to a state of disrepute by Diden and his co-travelers. Ejele did not just show a great disdain to the revered Ginuwa Ruling House, he also brought the entire Itsekiri kingdom to public ridicule. He insulted the highly respected Itsekiri kingdom on the pages of newspapers and he did same with no atom of respect to the dreaded stool of the Olu of Warri.

To refresh our memories, Diden granted an interview to newsmen in the days preceding the coronation of our Olu-designate, Prince Tsola Emiko, as he then was, dishing out all manner of unguided statements and sponsoring media onslaught in a bid to discredit and bring down the proud Itsekiri traditional institution and people.

Specifically, the annoying interview with title “Why Prince Tsola Emiko Cannot Be Olu of Warri – Prince Michael Diden” was published on Vanguard Newspaper of Tuesday, June 8, 2020, among other news media. Diden was not just opposed to the enthronement of the current Olu of Warri, he also went forward to tarnish our cultural heritage, bringing it to public ridicule.

When asked by newsmen what his grouse over the emergence of Prince Tsola Emiko as Olu-designate was, Diden fumed “I am totally amazed and disappointed by the action of the Ginuwa Ruling House in the way and manner it purportedly appointed a new king for the Itsekiri nation.”

Diden went further to say the process and emergence of our revered king was illegal while stressing that the Itsekiri tradition was turned “upside down” by the Ginuwa Ruling House. What a disrespect, a direct affront on our collective dignity and heritage! One may need to ask, how important is the Itsekiri ethnic nationality to Diden? What can Michael Diden sacrifice for the good of Itsekiri if he cannot jettison his parochial interest for the overall good of the Itsekiri nation?

To make matters worse, Diden said he wanted to sue Itsekiri nation for N500 million for appointing him as a member of the Olu coronation committee and outrightly described the coronation and crowning of our dear king a “forbidden food” that cannot be eaten.

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“I wanted to sue them for five hundred million naira if not for Mofe and others who came to beg me that I should allow the sleeping dog to lie. I cannot be in the left and at the same time be in the right. I told you that the food they are cooking there is a forbidden food, so there is no need for me to share the same forbidden food with anyone. So, I am not among them. I am not in their committee. Those people that put my name are also illegal people. They illegally smuggled my name into their list without even talking to me or take me into confidence,” Diden stated.

What an embarrassment and public humiliation! Is this the character that the great Itsekiri kingdom should stake her head and integrity for? Certainly not. Diden will bring even worse disgrace and humiliation to the entire Iwere people, who are characterised by class, uniqueness and intelligence.

The Itsekiri nation is too educated and too affluent with one of the highest rate of literacy and rich cultural heritage to be set on this subjugated path. If Diden refused to eat the “forbidden food” cooked by the great Itsekiri kingdom, he should not also ride on the back of the kingdom to the senate.

Meanwhile, outside distancing himself from what gave joy and gladness to all Itsekiri sons and daughters as well as friends from all over the world, the bitterness of Michael Diden for our beloved Kingdom was not hidden for a second throughout the interview. The Journalists had to ask him why he was so bitter and Diden responded: “I am not only bitter but also angry. These guys, I mean the promoters of Tsola are prevailing in illegality. You cannot imagine that they willfully bypassed the succession Edict.

The Itsekiri people have a law for putting an Olu on the throne. My own duty as an Itsekiri man is not to support anybody to become the Olu but it is to support the law. My belief is that when you do things rightly, we will enjoy the benefits of the throne but if we wrongly do it, we will suffer and you can see for yourself what is happening.”

This was coming from Diden despite the worldwide accolades that trailed the emergence of the then Olu-designate. CNN had said this about the coronation of our King “Thousands thronged the streets and dignitaries and well-wishers flew in from around the world as the Itsekiri people of Iwere Kingdom in Delta State crowned a new king, Ogiame Atuwatse III”.

Of all the intellectuals, prominent sons and daughters of Itsekiri, and other dignitaries that celebrated the emergence of the Olu of Warri, it is only Diden and his cohorts that better understood the tradition of Itsekiri to bring an insult so great on the Itsekiri people. This is a case of a bad son setting his father’s house ablaze while neighbours are making frantic efforts to ensure the house is at peace.

While it is possible that our peace loving and forgiving royal father, Ogiame would have forgiven Diden, the Itsekiri nation must see him for who he truly is; a betrayal of the Itsekiri interest. Ejele, like yesterday will always trampled upon the revered Iwere kingdom with any given opportunity because he has shown to be intoxicated with power. If he publicly attacked the Itsekiri nations as a Chairman of Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC), he will do worse to the Itsekiri people or sell Iwere Kingdom to the highest bidder as a Senator representing Delta South.

To preserve our heritage and kingdom, we must not allow characters like Diden to be at the forefront of the Itsekiri nation. He will not just misrepresent us, but also destroy the rich image that our fathers laboured to build. Therefore, I am appealing to the great Itsekiri nation to support the Isoko ethnic group in Delta South for the Senate knowing that a good friend is better than a bad brother while we prepare our first eleven to assume the office in the future for the overall interest of Iwere Kingdom. Besides, Diden is not even qualified as revealed by his credentials.

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