The academia virtually gathered in Asaba Thursday, to deliberate on the multiple challenges confronting the Nigerian nation using the Niger Delta as a case study.
They were drawn from tertiary institutions across the country for the unveiling of a book titled “History and the Niger Delta: Oil, Politics and Culture,” which was written in honour of one of their own, Prof. Sam Aghalino of the University of Ilorin, Kwara State.
Reviewing the book, Prof. Efosa Oseghale of the Ambrose Ali University, Ekpoma, said all 57 articles of the book were peer reviews from 82 quality contributors including male and females, from every level of tertiary institution in Nigeria.
According to him, the contributors, which were drawn from the six geo-political zones of the country, produced the “most outstanding compendium on the lives of the people of Niger Delta.”
“The book in terms of content is no doubt the boldest, most comprehensive and thought-provoking compendium on oil, politics and culture of the Niger Delta. It is in fact not only about the Niger Delta, but about Nigeria and its many contradictions in the context of questions relating to resources, equity, justice, nationhood and sovereignty.”
In his welcome address, one of the editors of the book, Dr. Lemuel E. Odeh disclosed that it was a collection of original fieldwork on Niger Delta, which interpreted the issues in contention in a fresh dimension.
He explained that some of Aghalino’s friends and mentees resolved to do a festschrift in his honour having worked many years as a scholar and distinguished himself in Niger Delta history as well as risen through the ranks to become a reputable professor.
He hoped that the book will help in expanding the mental horizon on the oil, politics and cultural activities in the Niger Delta.
The special guest of honour and Secretary to the Delta State Government (SSG) who poured encomiums on Aghalino, commended the efforts in producing the festschrift noting that it would impact positively on moves to better the lot of Niger Deltans.
In his remarks, a former SSG and chief host of the event, Comrade Ovuozourie Macaulay said that the people of the Niger Delta were also their own problems.
“The problem is that we the south south people are quick to pull down ideas and efforts like this one that is meant to salvage us. Let us not be the ones to be used to frustrate efforts to better the lot of the Niger Delta people as was done to the resource control crusade.”
Also, a former President General of Isoko Development Union (IDU), Chief Amadhe Iduh blamed the leaders for the challenges of the Niger Delta.
“We have a problem in the Niger Delta and the leaders of this country are contributing to this problem. Few weeks ago, a forensic audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was presented and till date, nothing has been heard from the government in spite of the pledge from the minister in charge of the Niger Delta Affairs, Obong Godswill Akpabio,” he asserted.
On his part, Aghalino said he was elated by the honour done him by the colleagues and commended them for the efforts.