Quest for autonomy in Bayelsa oil-producing community sparks controversy

The recognition of Ayakiri autonomous community by the Bayelsa State government has sparked off controversy as the Ibenanaowei of Gbarain Kingdom, King Funpere Akah w1and the council of chiefs and elders of Ogboloma Community in Yenagoa Local Government Council have kicked against the development.

The Gbarain Kingdom monarch has petitioned the Ministry of Community Development Affairs which issued the certificate of recognition, stating that the authority to issue such recognition lies solely within his jurisdiction and not the ministry.

Speaking to Nigerian Tribune, spokesperson for Ayakiri community, Chief Bruce Duba, said the last straw that broke the camel back was a statement made by the paramount ruler of Ogboloma, Chief Faithful Tebepina, on September 1, 2020 that Ogboloma has four compounds or families alone, and that Igbeinbiri, the father of Ayakiri was not among them as they were only strangers.

According to Chief Duba, the statement was provocative, which was why the sons and daughters of Ayakiri quickly regrouped, held series of meetings and decided to take their destiny into their hands by forming their own autonomous community.

He noted that the caretaker committee, saddled with the responsibilty of making their dreams of recognition come true, swiftly took action culminating in the issuance of certificate of recognition by the state government on September 20, 2020.

Nigerian Tribune also learnt that the state government has commended the process of gazetting the recognition of autonomy to Ayakiri community in the first quarter of 2011.

The acting paramount ruler of Ayakiri, Chief Emmanuel Onunu and the secretary, Elder Imomotimi Waripamo, said the disownment of Igbeinbiri sons and daughters as bona fide members of Ogboloma ignited their movement for autonomy as a community.

“Ayakiri is an oil-producing community but all the Shell Petroleum Development Company’s (SPDC) development projects were sighted in Ogboloma alone and none in our area. This is an act of segregation and suppression which we have been subjected to over the years,” they added.



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