The Ogbe-Ijaw – Aladja crisis has lingered for long unduly and has denied the neighboring communities of a peaceful and harmonic coexistence.
In this interview, Daily Report Nigeria caught up with the Convener of the Aladja/Ogbe-Ijaw peace Vanguard, Amb Enieghan Layefa Thompson, who gave a background overview on the crisis, while shedding light on the impact of his initiative.
Amb Enieghan Layefa Thompson is a Pastor by calling, an engineer by training, a brand Consultant by passion and a fisherman. He is the principal partner of TOMWILL GROUP.
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Q. For the sake of those who may not know, what is the story behind the Aladja and Ogbe-Ijaw tussle?
Ans. It is an age long land boundary adjustment that has taken so many lives. Its so painful that what can be resolved peacefully has snowballed into a bloodbath between two communities that are met to be brothers.
Q. What is the rationale behind the Peace Vanguard?
Ans. Sometimes in 2017, I became so worried about the dimension the crisis was going. A situation where the heads of vibrant youths were almost turned to trophies. As a matter of fact, it was a season of beheading.
I was really pained and I asked myself what I could in all of this crisis.
So, I reached out to a very dear friend from Aladja and I discussed my vision with him. His name is Bezi. We talked extensively and the vision was born.
But at that time, he advises that we cannot do much then because the crisis was very serious at that time.
From right – Amb Enieghan Thompson with other conveners of the Aladja/Ogbe-Ijaw Peace Vanguard
Fast forward to today, after about good three years of consultation, we decided to follow through by making the Facebook group that was created in 2017 to be reactivated about a month ago, and today in just about two months we are more than 2400 members.
Q. Interesting, what has been reaction towards the Peace Vanguard from both communities?
Ans. Indeed it is intresting.
Well, at first some persons where resentful about it because of the hatred and bitterness that has grown so deep in the both communities but majority of the people where so excited about the vision. It was like everyone in the both community has been looking forward to Peace.
So, I can say that both communities of Aladja and Ogbeijoh welcome it we an open heart.
Q. How has the leadership of the neighboring communities handled the situation before now?
Ans. I most commend their efforts. They have been several meetings with the government on the way forwards. I am also aware that the King of Ogbe-Ijaw and the Ovie has also initiated a peace process as well. The two local government chairmen of both Udu and Warri South West has also carried out peace process as well.
So, everyone is trying their best to see how peace can be restored. But the difference between this other peace process with the Peace Vanguard is that it is been initiated by the youth of both communities.
Q. Has the government ever tried to intervene and what has been the effect of it’s intervention if there was any?
Yes! they have but I think they lack the political will to implement their findings.
I just believe some individuals from both communities are making huge money out of the crisis so they will rather the blood bath bath continues.
Q. What were the resolutions reached at the end of your first General Meeting?
Ans. Resolutions reached includes;
- A reconciliation committee was setup to visit people who has lost love ones during the period of the crisis
- That sensitisation materials should be printed.
- Billboards with peace inscription should be install inside the community and outside or entering point of both community
- That stakeholders of both community should be visited
- A mega rally should be carried out in August inside and outside the community.
- A peaceful protest of both community in Asaba to draw the attention of the government to do the needful.
- That there should be complete ceased fire from both community until the land issues are address by the state government.
Q. What is the next step for the Vanguard?
Ans. Well, the next step is a huge one because it involves finance. Various committee was formed yesterday. Among such was the Reconciliation committee. A committee that will pay visit especially to those who have lost love ones during the crisis and to visit the power brokers of the both community.
We are planing to erect more billboards in the both communities and its environs with the message of peace. One of such billboards is already at Udu Express junction.
We also intend to print posters, stickers and produce more branded T-shirts and caps with the message, #Aladja/Ogbe-Ijaw peace vanguard, WE ARE ONE.
And, we are also planing for Prayer Day and a Massive rally.
Q. Your last words for indigenes of both communities?
Ans. My last word is that we should embrace peace because development can never strive where there is no peace.
There is no problem that can not be resolved on a round table.
And I will love to plead with every one to give their supports in anyway they can.
Thank you sir for your time. We urge you to do more this sir…
I want to also appreciate you for all the good job you are doing. Thanks a million.