Deputy Governor of Delta state, Barr. Kingsley Otuaro has given a graphic details of how as “a community development activist, peace and security expert and public servant”, he was discovered and brought into politics by former Governors, James Ibori and Emmanuel Uduaghan.
Otuaro spoke on Friday during his investiture as Fellow of Society for Peace Studies and Practice, FSPSP, cum Public Lecture/Book Presentation to mark his 50th birthday at KFT Centre, Warri, Delta state.
Speaking at the event, the Deputy Governor said that Ibori and Uduaghan discovered him from the Creek where he was into community development work, championing peace and security processes, saying that the appointments that followed thereafter were to prepare him for the future.
According to him, his first ‘political appointment’ as Special Assistant Community Affairs came through recommendation to Chief James Ibori, former Governor of the State by Uduaghan who later become Governor and appointed him as Commissioner in DESOPADEC representing the Ijaw ethnic nationality.
Otuaro, who said that the theme of the lecture; “Governance, Security and Peace-building in the Niger Delta”, captured his entire engagements and interactions in life and public service in the last 15 years or more, said that he will continue to be committed to the quest for peace, security and good governance in Delta state and Niger Delta region.
He said that, if the Federal Government had leveraged on knowledge of experts – in Peace and Conflict Studies, the scourge of Boko Haram insurgency, IPOB challenge as well as Niger Delta crisis, would have been better solved or brought under control.
While thanking dignitaries at the occasion including his Principal, Sen. (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa, Governor of Delta State, Otuaro said he will continue to be in the vanguard of peace in the state so that the governor can better spread projects to all parts of the state as he currently doing.
Below is the full text of his speech.
“I am truly overjoyed by the honour done me today by the Society for Peace Studies and Practice (SPSP) to mark a special moment of my life.
“Earlier, the SPSP had elevated my membership status of the body to a Fellow of the society. Today, they have taken a rare and giant step in celebrating this point of my golden age with a public lecture and book presentation with the theme “Governance, Security and Peace-building in the Niger Delta”. The theme is apt as it captured my engagements and interactions in life and public service in the last 15 years or more.
Frankly, I didn’t know that my modest efforts occasioning a description of my person as “a community development activist, peace and security expert and public servant”, either as DESOPADEC Commissioner representing the Ijaw ethnic nationality or as Deputy Governor, amongst others, have not gone unnoticed. I understand that my contributions can in so many ways “form a body of empirical data for analysing the issues of governance, peace and security in the realm of sustainable development of the Niger Delta”.
“Talking about security, let me observe: From when I was at the University of Ibadan, on my voyage in Peace and Conflict Studies, I have wondered why, say Boko Haram insurgency, IPOB challenge, Niger Delta crisis among others should linger, if the Federal Government leverages on knowledge of experts such as my teacher, Prof Isaac Olawale Albert, who was first to introduce Peace and Conflict Studies as a discipline to Nigeria at the University of Ibadan.
“I like to appreciate, specially, Prof. Sam Oyovbaire, who chaired the Delta State Technical Support Committee in which I was the youngest member. The Committee, set up to aid the Delta State Delegation to the Ledum Mittee Technical Committee on the Niger Delta, also had Prof. Godwin Sogolo where I was tutored to mind once again, minute details as the appropriate use of commas and semi-colons! The Prof Oyovbaire-led Committee was retained as a standing committee and worked towards re-invigorating government institutions for better service delivery.
“To my Pastor at Christ Embassy ably represented here, I can’t thank you sufficiently for your assistance in prayers and intercessions to God.
“To the academics who have put the book together in my honour, I say bravo for helping me further advance the cause of peace which we need for governance and sustainable development. Many thanks to the book reviewer, Prof CBN Ogbogbo, great historian cum lawyer and President, Historical Society of Nigeria. I have only contacted him through his books showing great erudition on Niger Delta issues.
“It would be difficult to here and now recall all who have touched my life significantly. Let me begin by a gratitude to my dear mother; to the good people of Gbaramatu Kingdom and the Ijaw and Niger Delta people for their contributions in forging the man that Chief James Ibori, former Governor of Delta State appointed SA Community Affairs on the recommendation of Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan who later become Governor and appointed me Commissioner in DESOPADEC representing the Ijaw ethnic nationality. These appointments complemented my beginnings to prime me for my adventures towards peace in the Niger Delta and governance.
“Let me revert back to greeting immensely Professor Sam Oyovbaire, for finding the time to honour me by chairing this occasion. My profound gratitude to my Principal, Sen. (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa, Governor of Delta State, with whom I am in divine mandate as Deputy Governor, for his inspirational wisdom grand support of my peace overtures for development of our dear state.
“My profile, available to the public place, could not have captured all movements of my life. I cannot possibly fill all the gaps here, either. Let me recall that during the raging Warri Crisis, I became Chairman of the Warri Ijaw/Itsekiri Grassroots Peace Front (WIIGPF). Our goal was to achieve peace for the development of the area. We worked with passion and successfully talked youths out of the Ijaw-Itsekiri conflict frontlines in Warri in 2004 and contributed to the prevailing relative peace. As Special Assistant on Community affairs to Governor Ibori, I continued the peace-building process in the Warri area.
“As Commissioner representing the Ijaw nation in DESOPADEC under Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan’s administration, and as Deputy Governor, I engaged scholars in seminars, workshops and conferences for critical stakeholders such as traditional rulers, youth and community leaders and attended by corporate executives from the oil and gas industry, as part of a body of empirical research towards peace. These include “A 3-day Leadership, Environment and Election Violence” in 2014. As Chairman of the Delta State Advocacy Committee Against Vandalism of Oil and Gas Facilities set up by Sen. (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa, Governor of Delta State, we toured the oil-bearing communities in 2016 to preach protection of oil facilities in the wake of the renewed violence by the Niger Delta Avengers.
“More recently, we initiated and held “A 2-Day Conference on Securing Oil and Gas Installations in Delta State, Phase 1 at Ogulagha town in Burutu LGA. It is gratifying to note that following that Conference at Ogulagha, supported by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, oil bearing communities saw the danger of vandalism of oil facilities on the environment. The Ogulagha Conference eventuated to be the first of its kind and most impactful constructive engagement between the tripartite parties of Government, multinational oil companies and host communities on common issues.
“We had engagements with the Presidency which made the Federal Government team led by the Vice President Prof Yemi Osinbajo to embark on a confidence-building/fact-finding mission in the Niger Delta to enable it address developmental aspirations of the people. The combine of understanding from the Federal Government, following our engagements and the support of Governor Okowa, enabled me participate in the successful rescue of the Lagos School Students kidnapped to the creeks of Ondo State. Nigerians witnessed the surrender of weapons to security agencies in Ondo State from the amnesty we appealed for and secured.
“My adventure in the Ondo State saga demonstrated how a synergy between the Federal Government, Delta, Ondo, Lagos and hence all coastal states can ensure inter-states security to halt criminal activities, shore up investors’ confidence in the Niger Delta area, and promote economic well-being of our nation. The possible atmosphere of peace can be capitalised upon to embark on development projects as now being done by Governor Okowa to spread projects to all parts of Delta State.
“Permit me to at this juncture note that the imperative for peace and security for political participation, good governance, economic advancement and physical development should remain the focus of agitations for a better place in the Niger Delta as should be in other places in the nation. Let me therefore use this occasion of celebration of peace, to appeal to Ijaw, Urhobo, Itsekiri and other Niger Delta ethnic groups feeling justifiably aggrieved at Federal Government (FG) neglect, not to shoot self in the foot by destroying the environment through oil facilities vandalism with attendant environmental pollution.
“Let the intellectuals leading the struggle embark on a paradigm shift and evolve ways of drawing national/international attention to our plight without violence, which Mohandas Ghandi posited is a courageous way of life. Let us think of ways to maximally engage government to benefit optimally from our oil before it runs dry or lose its value in a world gradually shifting its focus to other sources of energy. There are more bridges and road projects and other infrastructure that would require huge revenue and expedited attention in the riverine areas for our socio-economic advancement.
“It is also my pleasure to appeal to the FG to please see no sacrifice as too big to achieve peace in all parts of the country including the Niger Delta. The FG should hence adopt win-win and avoid win-lose strategies towards reconciling all sections of the country to forge a united, strong and prosperous Nigerian nation.
“Indeed my gratitude to the long list of personalities whose names time will not permit me to mention—absent or present here to honour and celebrate my life at 50, with me.
“Once again, I feel honoured by the Society for Peace Studies and Practice who decided to mark this auspicious day for me with beautiful offerings.
“Ultimately, I thank God Almighty, the creator and preserver of life—through Jesus Christ, for this colourful day! I pray for His blessings on you, all the way, as I commit to the service of God, to promotion of peace, security and good governance. So help me God!”.