REPORT OF THE ELEME CULTURE AND TRADITION COMMITTEE APPOINTED BY THE O-E’LA OBOR ELEME (THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF ELEME PEOPLE) ON MONDAY 2ND OCTOBER, 2017

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REPORT OF THE ELEME CULTURE AND TRADITION COMMITTEE APPOINTED BY THE O-E’LA OBOR ELEME (THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF ELEME PEOPLE) ON MONDAY 2ND OCTOBER, 2017

 

Introduction

On Monday 2nd October, 2017, O-E’la Obor Eleme, the apex social cultural organization of Eleme People worldwide, held a stakeholders’ meeting at the Eleme Civic Center, Ogale wherein the Eleme Culture and Tradition Committee was appointed.

Constitution of the Eleme Culture and Tradition Committee

The Committee was constituted as follows:

  1. High Chief Osaro M. Ollorwi                                     –           Chairman
  2. Rev. Canon Ransom G. O. Ngoke, JP                        –           Secretary
  3. Chief Obarijima Osaronu                                            –           Member
  4. Chief Evang. Jonathan Lekwa                               –           Member
  5. Rev. Samuel O. Nwafor                                            –           Member
  6. Mr Nwafor John                                                        –           Member
  7. Chief Mrs Martha       Egbe                                      –           Member
  8. Mr Sampson Onungwe Eppie                                  –           Member
  9. Evang. Obele Nwoke Samuel                                   –           Member
  10. Evang. Sunday Anasemi Obele                                –           Member
  11. Chief Mrs Roseline E. Ngobe                                    –           Member
  12. Rev. Prof. Raphael Ngochindo                                 –           Member

Term of Reference

The terms of reference of the Committee include the following:

  1. To identify the causes of the neglect and abuse of Eleme culture and tradition and consequent social decay.
  2. To draw up modalities for social reorientation and cultural revival.
  3. To harmonise and streamline the functions, powers and jurisdictions of traditional leadership institutions in Eleme.
  4. To make recommendations in the light of its findings in order to turn Eleme around to take her place in the comity of culturally endowed ethnic nationalities.

Consequently, the Committee swung into action. The deliberation and consultation were elaborate and far reaching.

Findings

The Committee observes that culture is a society’s shared and socially transmitted ideas, values and perceptions, which are used to make sense of experience and generate behaviour and are reflected in that behaviour.

In view of the above, the Eleme Culture and Tradition Committee make the following findings.

  1. The Committee notes that the major causes of social decay in Eleme is the neglect of Eleme Culture and tradition.
  2. The Committee observes that Eleme Language, the medium through which Eleme Culture is to be upheld, preserved, communicated and transmitted from one generation to another is at the verge of extinction.
  3. The Committee detects that rapid industrialisation and modernization have painfully tore Eleme people from established cultural values.
  4. The Committee identifies that the loss of virtually all the good in our heritage, the rape of Eleme culture, and promotion of cultural dislocation in Eleme is responsible for the basterdization of our traditional institutions and the visible abuse of the process of selection, installation and dethronement of Traditional Rulers in Eleme.
  5. Finally, the Committee ascertains that Eleme traditional marriage process, sports, recreation activities, social cohesion and values that once sustain and promote love, unity and cooperation among Eleme people have come under persistent attacks by both our surrounding neighbours and stranger elements in our midst who are bent on making us to lose touch with our identity and indigenous Eleme system of thoughts and values.

Recommendations

Culture as a society’s shared and socially transmitted ideas, values and perceptions can be observed through language, ancestral origin, occupation, marriage, social classes, burials, music, nutrition, gender bias, and other factors. Because culture is shared and transmitted through learning and helps shape behaviours and beliefs, we make bold to recommend the following as way forward for E;leme:

1.     Eleme Language

  1. The Eleme Local Government Council should through appropriate legislation put up a framework to encourage the development of Eleme Language; and make it compulsory for our children by firmly adopting it as a medium of instruction throughout the Pre-Primary, Primary and Junior Secondary Schools in Eleme.
  2. Parents should be encouraged to speak and teach their children Eleme Language.
  3. Eleme Local Government Council, O-E’la Obor Eleme, Corporate Organizations and Wealthy Individuals in Eleme to organize and/or sponsor debates, essay competitions in Eleme Language as well as donate trophies and prizes for competition in Eleme Traditional Sports.
  4. Eleme Language to be adopted and enforced as medium of communication in all gatherings of Eleme people such as meetings, marriage ceremonies, chieftaincy ceremonies, burials and so on. The Eleme Legislative Assembly should be encouraged to adopt Eleme Language as official language for transaction of business at the floor of the house.
  5. The Eleme Language Center should be encouraged and empowered financially to write and publish books in Eleme Language, train both teachers and learners of Eleme Language and develop the language in keeping with changing times.
  6. The Committee rejects the suggestion of adopting the Latin Alphabets for writing Eleme Language and recommends the continuous use of the Eleme Orthography which has been approved by the Federal Government of Nigeria and gazetted.

2.     Sport

Sport is a strong unifying factor and builder of both the human mind and body. Eleme culture recognises the importance of sport and promotes several sports to unite the people, establish love and cooperation amongst the people. Eleme sports also test endurance and sustain healthy body. The Committee notes that there is urgent need to resuscitate the following dying traditional sports:

  1. Aken – This is an outdoor sport for men. The Committee recommends the introduction of female version and suggest the introduction of prizes to replace killing of goat and other rituals.
  2. Ngoro – This is an indoor sport for men.
  3. Ngo – This is both indoor and outdoor sport for men and women.
  4. Katanka – This is an outdoor sport for able bodied men. The Committee recommends the introduction of women version in terms of competition for prizes.

3.     Recreation

In addition to the above sporting activities, the Eleme culture recognises and promotes the following recreational events among others:

  1. Eloi – Stories and songs are instrumental in retaining languages and culture. Folktales and stories are usually told in the evening to entertain adults and children alike.
  2. Owu – Masks and masquerades are important elements of culture.
  3. Ogbo – Adults and Youths should be encouraged to form cultural groups (drama, dance, musical troupes, etc.) to entertain. They can also make a living by so doing.
  4. Ogbo Nja, etc.

4.     Ogbo Nja

The Committee observes the lack of love, unity and cooperation among Eleme people and recommends the restoration of Ogbo Nja Festival to promote brotherly love, unity, cooperation and relationship among Eleme people. Ogbo Nja can be celebrated as part of Christmas or New Year activities on 25th and 26th December or as part of the Eleme Cultural Week Celebration in October.

5.     Eje

The Committee notes that Eleme dance such as Eje Ekpete, Eje Piopiopioo, Eje Alikirija, Eje Agala, Ngelem, Tamkpe Eje, etc. teaches social patterns and values, and help people work, mature, praise, or criticise while celebrating festivals, funerals, competing, reciting history, proverbs and poetry.

6.     Eleme Cultural Week

The Committee recommends Eleme Cultural Week to be held annually in the third week of October where communities and individuals can compete for various prizes in sports like Aken, Katanka, Ngoro, Ngo, O’ū Okãi, Ofe Mbo Eta ei among others. The Committee also recommends Debate and Essay Competitions in Eleme Language to be included in the weeklong competition. The Committee further recommend the creation of a body to be known as Eleme Kultural Organization (EKO) to champion the rebirth of all aspects of Eleme Culture.

7.     Economic Empowerment/Wealth Transfer

The Committee notes that Eleme Culture has an established process of economic empowerment and wealth transfer known as Ndele which has hitherto transformed the lives of many families and recommends its revival as an attainment for social recognition and status conferment among our female folks. By this, no one can assume the title of Emere Owa overnight without being formally confer with it, after due process and especially meeting the minimum requirements.

8.     Traditional Rulers

The Committee observes that one of the institutions that have been subjected to abuse in Eleme is the traditional institution. It is disheartening to point out that Traditional Rulers are selected, installed and dethroned frequently without regard to the custom and tradition of Eleme people. Worse still, those prohibited from taking chieftaincy titles do so with severe consequences for the people and land of Eleme.

  • Offices of Oneh Nkiken Eleme and Oneh Nkporon Eleme 

 

    1. Those to be selected and appointed into these offices must be vast in Eleme culture and tradition, literate with good background and must be members of Ogbo Nkporon Eleme in good standing.
    2. The Committee discovers that the reverend offices of Oneh Nkiken Eleme and Oneh Nkporon Eleme are non-existence or dormant and therefore recommends that these offices, which are vital for the effective functioning of Ogbo Nkporon Eleme be constituted and made functional by Ogbo Nkporon Eleme.
    3. The Committee also recommends the same arrangement for Nchia and Odido Districts of Eleme.
    4. Ebubu and Onne Clans should also consider having functional Oneh Nkiken Ebubu and Oneh Nkporon Ebubu as well as Oneh Nkiken Onne and Oneh Nkporon Onne.

9.     Qualification for Selection and Installation of Traditional Ruler

The Committee recommends that the person to be selected and installed as   Traditional Ruler must have the following qualifications:

  1. Must possess a minimum of WASC or its equivalent.
  2. Must demonstrate relevant knowledge of the custom and tradition of Eleme people.
  3. Must be a Member of Ogbo Nkporon of the Community, Clan, District or Eleme.
  4. Must not be somebody found guilty by Ogbo Nkporon for witchcraft.
  5. Must not be somebody who had been convicted for felony.
  6. Must not be somebody found guilty by competent court or Ogbo Nkporon for stealing or misappropriation of public fund and had been properly dethroned or expelled by the appropriate Council of Chiefs.
  7. Must not be someone who had been found guilty by Ogbo Nkporon for betrayal of the people of Eleme or any part thereof.

10.Dethronement of Traditional Ruler

The Committee finds that in all communities and clans of Eleme if the Traditional Ruler commits an offence, he is suspended from office and his function delegated to Oneh Nkiken (Land Priest and Traditional Prime Minister). The Traditional Ruler is then tried and if found guilty, a fine is imposed on him. He is expected to pay the fine within a time limit, normally three to four months. Once the fine is paid, the Traditional Ruler is reinstated; failure to comply leads to deposition.

The Committee notes that the following offences are viewed seriously in Eleme and can lead to deposition of a Traditional Ruler without suspension.

  1. Witchcraft
  2. Stealing
  3. Murder

The Committee also observes that these crimes are heinous in nature and can warrant the dethronement of a Traditional Ruler where he has been found guilty by a court of law or Ogbo Nkporon on appeal.

11.Marriage

The Committee discovers that the marriage tradition of Eleme people had   been grossly abused and is in total disarray with foreign traditions and behaviours infiltrating every aspects of the system making it difficult for our boys and girls to marry as at when due; our boys inability to marry in Eleme and rising sexual immorality are also traceable to high cost of marriage.

The Committee condemns in strong terms an emerging practice of monetizing Ofe Mbo Eta ei and accompanying drinks and stresses that Ofe Mbo Eta ei is very significant in Eleme marriage culture as it symbolises the beginning of a life-long relationship between two families; the official union of a man and the woman; and importantly, breaking of covenant, a disconnection with the bride’s family and a connection with the husband’s family – her new home. Such goat is killed in the bride’s ancestral shrine to placate or pacify her ancestors and with the drink offer libations and prayers for freedom from problems, barrenness or mishap in her new home, especially in procreation and good fortune and therefore forbidden to be monetized.

The Committee concludes that the Eleme People recognises etaale ekpii oja 4 manilas, equivalent of N100.00k, a she-goat, one big tripod-stand pot of palm wine known as mmi oso ofooro , another one jar of palm wine called akpirikpa mmi nsi opee, a bottle of gin (kaikai) and a token of 1,340 manilas for first daughter and 1,200 manilas for others, equivalent of Thirty-Three Thousand Five Hundred Naira (N33,500.00k) and Thirty Thousand Naira (N30,000.00k) respectively, as pre-requisite for contracting marriage in Eleme.

The Committee therefore observes that the waste known as modern Oja Onu (mutual feeding which has been wrongly construed as “Buying of Mouth”), financial imposition on goat (no matter its size) and unnecessary fines associated with Ofe Mbo Eta ei as well as expensive bride price which are strange to Eleme be eliminated to make our marriage affordable and pocket-friendly.

The Committee recommends that Ogbo Nkporon Eleme, O-E’la Obor Eleme    and Churches in Eleme work out modalities to regulate the cost of marriage in Eleme; delete wasteful activities like elaborate Oja Onu involving setting of canopies, sharing of wrappers to hundreds of people, bridal trains and dance, and cumbersome procedure that increase costs from the system.

Still on marriage, the Committee further recommends for consideration the possibility of Ochu Owa ceremony proceeding Ofe Mbo Eta ei in the evening of the same day to reduce expenses.

Conclusion

We, Members of the Eleme Culture and Tradition Committee wish to express our profound gratitude to the People of Eleme for finding us worthy to serve in the Eleme Culture and Tradition Committee and assure our willingness to be of further service for the peace and development of Eleme should we be called upon to serve again.

 

High Chief Osaro Ollorwi

Chairman

Rev. Canon Ransom G. O. Ngoke, JP

Secretary

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ELEME, SPEAK OUT

Eleme, Speak Out

Are Eleme People really singing their problems loud and clear enough? Are they actually telling the world their sufferings, deprivations, and other challenges? Speaking out or dramatizing a problem through writings, speeches, acts, etc. is a sure way of bringing same to the forefront. What many term “mere song” has proved to be an effective strategy for dismantling barriers and solving problems.

 

All over the world organized people have sang their problems into solutions. Repeated song is a powerful weapon. The blacks in former Apartheid South Africa dismantled the bricks of oppression through the instrumentality of “song”. They attracted the attention of the international community by effective songs – music, dance-drama, literature, protest and so on to drag home their demands. They were consistent, focused and determined to be liberated and they attained that lofty goal.

 

The economic, social, environmental and health situations in Eleme should be of concern to the average Eleme man and woman, boy and girl. The armies of unemployed youths on our streets, lack of infrastructural facilities, the social decay in the land, the environmental challenges, rising health issues, the rapidly decreasing populations are enough to propel us to saturate the mass media (print and electronics), social media and the entire universe with the “Eleme Song” when well-defined and articulated.

 

People are attracted by what they see and/or hear. Our oppressors want to extinct us by inflicting pains and environmental atrocity on us and hiding our predicaments from the world. Let us expose their evils by speaking out. Help only comes to those who seek it! We cannot fight our oppressors because they have the wherewithal to exterminate us. But, with help of our immediate and remote neighbours and the international community, we can appeal to their conscience and ask for a better deal. Besides, if telling the world our ordeal is song let us sing on. Speaking out is no sin, telling your story is no crime, and narrating your experiences is no hate speech. Fear not, be courageous, and be strong!

 

In fact, one of the responses to my write up “Facilities of Death” on the wall of Nneka that has attracted my interest and that should be of great concern to the leaders of Eleme is that of Ibim Semenitari who wrote, “Many years ago while in Tell magazine, I did a story on the situation in Eleme and some other impacted communities. The story was borne out of research conducted by my late uncle Prof Difini Datubo Brown. He was a professor of plastic surgery and long before reparative surgeries for cleft upper lips and other congenital malformations became known he had done a lot of these at UPTH and he discovered that most of his patients who came in with congenital malformations were from communities with high levels of pollution. He went ahead and took samples from Eleme, then NAFCON was in full operation and his findings were troubling”.

 

Are you aware that most of Eleme people today have one congenital challenge or the other? Are you also aware that while the populations of other ethnic nationalities are increasing ours is declining? Let us all sing the “Eleme Song” until things change for better.

 

Semenitari concluded by calling on “Corporations and agencies in the Niger Delta … to look critically at the environment and issues around the health of our people. Truly Eleme has taken a lot of beating”.

 

A friend of Eleme singing the “Eleme Song” (if you like) while, Eleme people watch in fear and silence, expecting miracle. It is the repeated song of the Hebrews, cry of the oppressed Israelites, which moved God to raise Moses to lead them out of Egypt, not fear and silence. Moses started fighting for the Hebrews long before God supported him with miracles. Every Eleme person is a child of miracle. Let us take the first step and God will do the rest. Today, the Ibos are singing the Biafra Song, the Yoruba are singing the Oduduwa Song, and the Hausas are singing the Arewa Song. The Ijaws are drumming for Niger Delta Republic? Even the Ogonis are asking for Ogoni Nation. Where is Eleme? What is the Eleme Song? Let us stop being one of the crowds and be what God wants us to be.

 

The Queen of Great Britain and Ireland Express of India usurped our independence from us on 19th and 20th of April, 1898 with the promise to offer us protection which they never did but rather turned around to fraudulently mortgaged us without our consent to Nigeria that is not only robbing us of our wealth but decimating us. What do we want from Nigeria? Say it, write it, act it! The world is listening to true cries. The universe has ways of responding to true complains.

 

There are people outside Eleme who are willing to sing the “Eleme Song” more than we do now because we are suffering from overdose of our problems. These friends and well-wishers of Eleme are only waiting for us to start singing and they will join. What are we waiting for? It is time to speak out! What do Eleme want from Nigeria that British married her illegally to?

What Drives Eleme Is Beyond Eleme

What Drives Eleme is Beyond Eleme

Depending on the level of one’s “intellectual” achievements, he should know that whatever his religious inclination, if he be steadfast, he ought to transcend from primary level of belief to the advanced level of knowingness. The journey to consciously developing a purity of creative heart calls for the highest ideal in man as it reflects in his daily life. In the elevated state of perception and existence, which only true religion offers, man should be progressively anchoring tolerance, dissolving attachments to material things and replacing love where anger and hatred previously held sway. When these realizations are absent, then such individual is not religious but a blind-aggressive-fanatic in the endless universe.

 

Besides, the nature of activities or endeavours a people delve into tells more about the expectations of that people. Are Politics, Church, School really businesses? If yes how lucrative are they? This is where so many got it wrong in Eleme. Methinks, one can only dabble into these activities as social services and not profit making ventures. When you expect to make profits from social services like politics, church, and school you end up being frustrated or becoming a celebrated crook. Besides, no one has ever become rich by being a mere salary earner. Although, the system do not favour us, we are responsible for the situation we find ourselves. Establishing a fertilizer plant, petroleum refinery, or any giant manufacturing concerns are capital intensive project, usually beyond the financial strength of a single individual. Can two or more Eleme indigenes come together to finance such a project? Definitely, not. Why? Your guess is as good as mine

Eleme Language Is The Key

A WELCOME ADDRESS PRESENTED BY CHIEF OSARO OLLORWI, CHAIRMAN OF ELEME LANGUAGE CENTER AT THE OCCASION OF THE LAUNCHING/PRESENTATION OF THE BOOK TITLED “NSà ELOI RÔ AT THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY HALL, ELEME LOCAL GOVERNMENT COUNCIL, OGALE ON FRIDAY, 18TH AUGUST, 2017

  1. The Chairman of this Historic Occasion, Dr. Princewill Obele, Medical Director/CEO Sonabel Medical Center
  2. The Special Guest of Honour, Opusenibo Hart Dagogo, Permanent Secretary Rivers State Ministry of Education
  3. Royal Father of the Day, HRM King (dr.) Samuel O. Ejire, JP, Ͻnε Eleme X
  4. Her Majesty, Ԑmεrε Evelyn Ada Gokpa, Ԑmεrε Ͻwa Eleme
  5. Spiritual Father of the Day, Archbishop, Moses O. Kattey, PhD, G. O. Commonwealth Covenant Church International
  6. The Chief Launcher, HRH Ԑmεrε Appolus Chu, Ԑgbεrε Ԑmεrε Okori 1, Eleme
  7. The Chief Host, Chief Hon. Obarilormate Ollor, JP, CTC Chairman, Eleme LGA
  8. The President-General, O-E’la Obor Eleme, Elder Israel Gomba-Abbey
  9. Distinguished Ladies & Gentlemen
  10. All Protocol Observed.

 

On behalf of the Eleme Language Center, I heartily welcome you all to the launching/presentation of the Book titled, “NSà ELOI RÔ. It is indeed a great honour that your presence has bestowed on this occasion.

The need to show great concern for the teaching, learning, and preservation of the Eleme Language can be appreciated when we realized that the language is at the verge of extinction. Just like any other challenge of life, the government alone cannot contain the continual drift of the Eleme Language towards total extinction, especially when it is an established fact that corruption and bureaucracy slows down government’s good intentions and efforts in Nigeria. This is why government efforts at encouraging the teaching and learning of Eleme Language should be complemented by all of us.

The Book

The book we are launching today is the outcome of a painstaking research conducted by Eleme Research Foundation last year. We made it clear then that, “The study is required to create awareness and advocate the participation of Eleme people in the teaching and learning of Eleme Language using the four language learning skills of Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing”. Our primary target is to advance the teaching and learning of Eleme Language in Schools in Eleme.

Generally, the aims of the new 9–Year Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) is to inculcate in children good behaviours, moral values, fear of God, respect for the rights of others, ability to obey rules and regulations and to live in harmony with others.   The Book Nsã Eloi Rã contains fourteen (14) stories and each of the stories is written to inculcate moral disciplines; each of the stories have a peculiar lesson to teach, a peculiar message to deliver to the reading public, the children in school and even the adult that is learning Eleme Language.

 

The stories are designed to inform, educate, and entertain. Its language is simple and easy to read and understand. At the end of every Chapter, the reader is expected to explain the lessons learnt and carryout some class activities tagged, “Ogũrũ Enu Rε Ԑnaa Ebo Kalasi” and answer the questions that follow known as “Edoεgua”. Nsã Eloi Rã is written for those interested in learning Eleme Language.

Whither Eleme Languge?

Most people would rather want to believe that Eleme Language is not a priority problem of the Eleme People. We, in Eleme Language Center do not agree. Whither Eleme Language, if I may ask? Eleme Language is dying. Eleme Language might be lost forever, if prompt conservation actions are not taken NOW. A very high proportion of children of Eleme extraction cannot speak or write fluent Eleme today. For most Eleme parents English Language is the prestige language they wish their children to acquire and any education that did not lead to its early acquisition is often regarded as second best, and even an attempt to hold back Eleme from advancement.

Eleme is recognized as one of the 250 ethnic nationalities in Nigeria. The Eleme Language is featured at number 96 of the four hundred (400) languages recorded in the book “Studies in Nigeria Languages”. The Eleme Language Center in collaboration with the Rivers State Readers Project with technical support of the Language Development Center of the Nigeria Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC), Abuja developed and secured the approval for the Orthography of Eleme Language as published in the ORTHOGRAPHIES OF NIGERIAN LANGUAGES MANUAL X, 2011. What this means is that the Eleme Language has been approved as one of the Nigerian Languages. The Eleme Language Curricula have also passed through the processes of writing, review, and assessment. The Federal Government had done its part, it is our responsibility as owners of the language to produce and distribute the Curricula respectively. It is also our duty to produce the Eleme Phonology, write necessary books based on the curricula, train the required quality of teachers to teach the language and deploy them to schools.

Language is an important medium for the preservation and promotion of culture of a people. People without language are people without culture; people without language are people without history; people without language are people living on borrowed present and lost future; anybody can claim you and swallow you.

The disturbing general practice in Eleme today is to introduce English Language as medium of instruction in the nursery and primary schools much earlier than necessary. Apart from English, other Nigerian Languages including Ibo, Hausa, Yoruba and Efik have become prestige languages for urban-dwelling Elemes. Eleme mothers now communicate with their children in Pidgin English rather than Eleme Language. This is at the expense of the Mother Tongue – Eleme Language. Churches in Eleme also prefer to conduct their services and preach their Sermons in English, Ibo, Efik, Ogoni and other languages rather than Eleme Language.

Similarly, the colonizing industrialization and modernization have painfully tore Eleme people from established cultural norms and values. Eleme Fathers’ inability to preserve, protect, and promote Eleme Language is also a disturbing factor. Today, there is hardly any family in Eleme without children born of women married from outside Eleme, notably, Efik, Igbo and Ogoni speaking origin. Some Eleme people now look at Eleme Language with disdain. The natural consequence of all these unintended developments is rapid alienation to the roots of the Eleme society; the rape of Eleme traditional values, and the promotion of cultural dislocation in Eleme.

Language, as we all know, is a very important component in a people’s culture and tradition, yet matters got to a pitiable pitch where the Eleme man or woman is frightened, cowed down browbeat on and threatened with regards to speaking the Eleme Language in public places and government offices. Is it not disheartening and dishonorable to witness Eleme Legislative House conducts house businesses in English Language?

Ladies and Gentlemen, extinction is a phenomenon that normally takes place without notice. When species of wildlife is at the verge of extinction, only a handful of people with a fecund foresight will be aware of the dangerous trend and will raise the salvation alarm of immediate rescue and conservation of the particular animal species. It will interest us to know that a language is said to be at the verge of extinction when the following occur:

  1. When there are no outstanding scholars of the language.
  2. When the language is not taught in the school.
  3. When the language cannot boast of a written form daily, i.e. in the form of newspapers and magazines.
  4. When the general means of mass communication e.g. radio and television despise using the language.
  5. When the younger generations have a hyper-hatred for the speaking of the language.

People of Eleme and Friends of Eleme, when the above barometers are applied to Eleme Language, the conclusion are clear. Please, think about this! To the best of my knowledge, we lack enterprising scholars of Eleme Language. Kindergartens, primary schools and post-primary schools in Eleme do not offer Eleme Language as a subject and Eleme Language is not a Diploma or Degree Programme of any tertiary institution in Nigeria. Radio and Television Stations in Rivers State in particular and Nigeria in general do not cast their news and programmes in Eleme Language. Worse still, is the glaring enslaved mentality of our younger generation that hates the indigenous Eleme Language. As for the music world, English, Ghana, Congo, Igbo and even Ogoni records remained favoured amongst spineless and culturally dislocated Eleme youths.

The results include lack of respect for local traditions, abuse of culture, disregard for values and a widening gap between the world of school and Eleme heritage.

All hopes are not lost. The Eleme Language deserves the highest protection possible. To promote the teaching and learning of Eleme Language, action has to be multi-sector involving all stakeholders. Government must show political commitment to promote conservation awareness, Social mobilization is very important, followed by action. Beyond generating awareness, the Eleme Local Government should improve commitment to the teaching and learning of Eleme Language; develop strategies for support of independent studies; seek out appropriate NGOs/CBOs partners, build their capacity through training; create NGOs/COBs Resources Centre; strengthen strategic planning for the teaching and learning of Eleme Language and regularly update the partner’s data base.

As directed by the Eleme Local Government recently, the Eleme Language should be firmly adopted as a medium of instruction throughout pre-primary and primary schools in Elemeland. This will ensure the survival of the language in the midst of 512 competing Nigerian Languages. The Eleme Legislative Assembly when properly constituted should as a matter of priority take a step further by enacting appropriate legislation making the teaching and learning of Eleme Language compulsory in all Pre-Primary, Primary and Junior Secondary Schools in Elemeland.

The Eleme Local Government, corporate organizations operating in Eleme and philanthropic Individuals should be patriotic enough to sponsor National Eleme Language Competition quarterly, biannually or annually. This can take the form of Debate and/or Essay Competition among Nursery, Primary and Junior Secondary Schools in Eleme and even among Eleme Students in Tertiary Institutions.

Inter-and Intra-Community Eleme Language Competition can also be encouraged and appropriate prizes awarded to promote the language. Parents should make it a point of duty to communicate with their children and wards in Eleme Language from birth. The Eleme Elite should religiously stop being ashamed of Eleme Language. Speak Eleme language anywhere, everywhere and anytime you meet your kindred. Be proud of Eleme Language. Your Language is you. It is Eleme Language that made you thick, unique and special. Eleme Language made you who you are, what you are. That Eleme standout in the crowd as an ethic nationality is our language. If we lose our language, we become a forgotten people.

Finally, let us individually and collectively, join the Eleme Language Center. Let us resolve to dedicate ourselves, our efforts, our money and other vital resources to the promotion of Eleme Language.

Ladies and Gentlemen, there could have been no book launch today without the encouragement of all people here present. I feel highly honored at the turn out. As earlier pointed out, the unique identity of a people remains their language and culture. Language is the medium through which culture is communicated and preserved from generation to generation. We should come together, cherish our language and thereby carve a niche for Eleme in the society.

The quality of people here speaks volumes. You are welcome.

Thank you all and God bless.

Chief Osaro Ollorwi

Chairman, Eleme Language Center/

Author Nsã Eloi Rã

08036694027

TASK BEFORE NPDC IN OGONI

THE TASK BEFORE NPDC IN OGONI

The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) has blood on its hands. SPDC has spilled blood all over Ogoniland through its activities and actions. The company has also caused massive environmental destruction in the Ogniland where over 60 million gallons of oil is said to have been spilled onto farmlands and community water supplies. The destroyed land and water formerly provided sustenance for the indigenous people of Ogoni.

SPDC crimes in Ogoniland also include its roles in providing financial assistance, logistics support, guns and moral support to the Nigerian military dictatorship for the execution of the Ogoni 9 environmental activists including Ken Saro-Wiwa when they demanded that SPDC cleanup spilled oil in Ogoniland and share the profits more equitable with oil bearing communities.

This campaign of terror embarked upon by Shell which led to the murder of nearly 2,000 Ogoni people with some tortured to death is well known among the Ogonis and will remain indelible in the minds of the Ogonis for several generations to come.

For decades, the people of Ogoni have complained about the usurpation of their land and resources, the destruction of their culture, and the eventual decimation of the people. It is on record that since 1958, $30 billion worth of oil has been taken from beneath the land of the Ogoni, yet essentially zero benefits have accrued to the Ogoni people themselves, reported World Council of Churches. When the group sent observers to Ogoniland in 1995, they found no piped water supplies, no good roads, no electricity, and no proper health care facilities.

Shell, a Dutch Company is the 10th largest corporation in the world and the first in profitability. The company has 96 oil production wells in Ogoniland, 5 flow stations and numerous gas flares which have operated continuously since 1958. By the end of 1992, Ogoni oil production was some 28,000 barrels per day, about 3% of SPDC’s total oil production. Shell also maintains many high-pressure oil pipelines that crisscross Ogoniland, carrying oil from other parts of Nigeria to the shipping terminal at Bonny.

As a result of growing pressure for reform in Ogoniland in 1993, SPDC ceased oil production in the area, but retained its network of pipelines carrying oil produced elsewhere in Nigeria. Although the World Council of Churches finds evidence that SPDC has not ceased oil production in Ogoniland, the company insists its production wells are idle.

Whether SPDC oil wells in Ogoniland are producing oil or not, between 1976 and 1980, Shell operations caused 784 separate oil spills in Nigeria. From 1982 to 1992 additional spills were recorded. Since SPDC “ceased oil production” in Ogoniland in 1993, Shell admits further 24 oil spills have occurred in the area.

Apart from the World Council of Churches’ findings which linked SPDC to continued oil drilling in Ogoniland, in one of the documents I stumbled on in my study during the course of gathering facts for this article captioned, “COMMUNIQUÉ ISSUED AT THE MOSOP GLOBAL LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE IN ACCRA, GHANA, MARCH 28 – 30, 2002 and singed by Meshach Karanwi, General Secretary – MOSOP International, accused Shell of adopting “nascent lateral oil drilling techniques to drill oil from Ogoniland from remote locations”. The same document stated in Article 10 “That MOSOP reasserts its stand on Shell as persona non-grata in Ogoni”.

The Ogoni people see SPDC and the Federal Government of Nigeria as partners in crime against oil bearing communities and the people of Ogoni. Their conspiracy to destroy Ogoni communities and kill the people has not abated, only opportunities are yet to present themselves.

It is true that the spirit of Ken Saro-Wiwa and other Ogoni leaders and that of other Ogoni martyrs will continually hunt the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) or any other company that comes to Ogoniland for oil production through SPDC and the Federal Government of Nigeria. Besides, it is impossible for NPDC to severe relationship with SPDC and the Federal Government of Nigeria.

The fears of the people concerning NPDC are numerous.

  1. If SPDC, a Dutch company that operates in 100 countries has 40% of its oil spills in Nigeria, what will happen when NPDC, a company owned and managed by the Federal Government of Nigeria with its poor managerial cultures and oppressive tendencies fully become operational in Ogoniland?
  2. It is on record that Shell only provided the needed finance, logistics, guns and moral support yet nearly 2,000 Ogonis and their leaders were murdered. What will be the fate of the entire Ogonis when NPDC, an Hausa/Fulani owned company fully becomes operational in Ogoniland?
  3. There is wide spread fears among the Ogonis that the so-called NPDC is SPDC in disguise. They are watching perhaps to unveil the actual group behind the new masquerade in town.
  4. In the ongoing consultation and sensitization by NPDC the Ogonis are already seeing SPDC dance steps and are watching carefully. The words of Dr. Owens Wiwa, Ken Saro-Wiwa’s brother now forms topic of discussion across Ogoniland. Hear him, “Our people are dying in the hands of our government and Shell”. Will NPDC not mobilize Nigeria soldiers to kill the remaining Ogoni people when they eventually dare to ask for their rights to share in oil profits?                                          NPDC activities in Ogoniland are already pitching communities against each other. Groups are already at loggerheads with each other. Interests are now colliding daily. In Eleme, war is breeding between SPDC GMOU Cluster Development Board based in Ebubu and “Council of Traditional Rulers of Oil Bearing Communities”, a private company (Trustee?) based in Ogale on who is the rightful representative. The community leaders on the other hand are also agitating for recognition and direct participation in the oil money. Towards this end, groups are already petitioning NPDC Management disclaiming and dissociating from other groups and their activities. The story is the same in Korokoro, Bunu-Botem, Yorla, K-Dere and other Ogoni communities. Only God will save Ogoniland from the hands of the Nigerian government and Shell Oil.
  5. For the Ogonis, Shell and its activities have brought poverty, environmental devastation, and widespread severe human rights abuses. The Nigeria government who is primarily responsible for environmental tragedy in Ogoniland cannot be a good business partner when it comes to oil production in Ogoniland. The Ogonis are convinced that irrespective of the damning UNEP Ogoniland report that it would take 30 years to cleanup Ogoniland, the federal government is only concern with commencing oil production in Ogoniland. And is bent on forcing the Ogonis to allow for oil production or be hanged to death. This fear is further reinforced by the fact that the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company is a subsidiary of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the most senior partner in the petroleum industry in Nigeria and it is owned 100% by the federal government of Nigeria.
  6.  Ogonis fear that their interests will not be guaranteed and protected. NPDC have concluded negotiation with SPDC to take over its facilities in Ogoniland without resorting to the Ogonis the rightful owners of the oil. The question here is, without oil can NPDC buy SPDC facilities in Ogoniland? NO. And if the answer is no, why was the Ogonis not involved in the negotiation from the beginning bearing in mind that oil drilling has caused devastating impacts on Ogoni environment? That the effects of oil spills, gas flaring and deforestation have stripped Ogoniland of its environmental resources, destroying the subsistence farming and fishing based economy of the Ogonis is enough to allow the Ogonis to negotiate who to do oil business with in its own terms. The Ogonis, as usual, will resist any attempt by the government to impose any firm of condition or force any marriage of inconvenience on the Ogonis. To the Ogonis, any company seeking to carry out oil production in Ogoniland must directly negotiate with the Ogonis and such company must comply fully with environmental best international practices, including UNEP and UNCTAD basic standards.                    Again, the way and manner the Ogoni 9 were framed up, convicted and executed by hanging on November10, 1995 and the treatment melted out to the family members of Ken-Saro Wiwa, John Kpuinen, Dr. Barinem Kiobel, Saturday Doobee, Daniel Gbokoo and Felix Nuate is enough to make the Ogonis yet unborn wary of the federal government of Nigeria and her oil companies.
  7. The fears of the Ogoni people is also compounded by the activities of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Program (HYPREP), a federal government body responsible for the implementation of the UNEP report for the cleanup of Ogoniland which has been moribund due to government insincerity towards the Ogoni cleanup. The sudden reawakening of HYPREP and the way it is going about its “sensitization” is both suspicious and worrisome.
  8.  The Ogoni people still hold the Federal Government of Nigeria and SPDC responsible for the militarization and criminalization of Ogoniland. The World Council of Churches report corroborated this perception. According to the World Council of Churches, “There are more guns and ammunition in the public domain and hunger is pushing more people into crime. It is not surprising that there is no security of persons and property. The crime rate has skyrocketed”. Perhaps, the Federal Government of Nigeria has forgotten the last words of Ken Saro-Wiwa, “Lord take my soul, but the struggle continues”. Some ethnic nationalities in Nigeria can mortgage their conscience or betray their leader for the sake of fear or for fame, cheap popularity, money, but not the Ogoni people.

And true to the nature of the Nigerian government and its agencies, HYPREP came into Ogoniland with a fixed mindset and preconceived project for the Ogonis not seeking the people’s input or bothering about their needs. Analysis of the discussions between the visiting HYPREP officials and natives in all the Ogoni communities revealed masters and servants’ relationship and not partners in business. It is “Take water or leave it”. “Only contractors with high technology will be allowed into Ogoni to demonstrate and test their new technology before engagement”. “Only youths with at least a Master Degree in Environmental Management will be trained and engaged for the cleanup”. These were some of the HYPREP edicts to the oil bearing communities.

That is, in the characteristics of all federal government agencies the promises are so vague that leaves more to be desired. HYPREP Coordinator, Dr. Marvin Dekil, said that HYPREP will provide clean drinking water to impacted communities; update baseline data of UNEP report; conduct health impact assessment study; demonstrate remediation technology; construct an Integrated Containment Soil Management Centre and Centre of Excellence all in New Bori City and training. The Ogoni people have heard all these over and over again.

The Ogoni people are aware that the UNEP Report upon which the cleanup is hinged recommends some emergency measures to be taken to intervene in the lives of the Ogoni people before the cleanup. The provision of potable water is welcomed, since their sources of water are contaminated by oil spill, but shouldn’t be the only intervention programme. Apart from water sources the economy mainstay of the people has been destroyed and their sources of livelihood ruined by oil production activities.

The deprivation clauses in HYPREP arrangements are also worrisome. The training, perhaps, is conceived for only those with “Master Degree in Environmental Management”, while the empowerment programme is expected to be preserve for the “poor of poor widows”. Education, health, roads, electricity and other infrastructures which are equally on the people’s priority list and which has continue to keep the people at disadvantage position and hold them down beyond poverty level are to wait.

Between HYPREP and NPDC who is now forerunner to who? That is, is HYPREP forerunner to NPDC or vice versa? Can the Federal Government of Nigeria answer this question since both bodies are government agencies on an errand of maneuvering for the federal government to commence oil production in Ogoniland with its soldiers on standby to invade Ogoniland in case of any resistance?

The timing for the NPDC consultation and HYPREP sensitization in Ogoniland speaks volume and leaves the people wondering the rationale behind the rush.

The Ogoni people as oil producing area expect greater stake in the control and management of oil business in its territory. They anticipate equity in the allocation of revenue so that oil revenue can be used for the development of their environment.

They also believe that they own the resources above, beneath, and within their territory and therefore reason that all laws that impinge on their independence and natural rights to property or resources that is found in their territory, such as the Petroleum Act, Mineral Acts, Oil Pipelines Act, the Land Use Act and other laws instituted by the Federal Government of Nigeria be abrogated. While Section 315 (5) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which entrenches the Land Use Act and Section 215 (1) of the same Constitution which gives Federal High Court exclusive jurisdiction to determine cases involving mines and minerals, including oil fields, oil mining, geological surveys and natural gas be expunged from the Constitution.

The tasks before the NPDC in Ogoniland therefore are enormous. Can NPDC convince the Ogonis that it can deliver on its own expectations? What are these expectations? How will it go about them? The Ogonis will want to know.

To do this the company must come closer to the people, sit with the people and discuss with the people publicly and not the present arrangements of talking to selected few (who are bent on hijacking or cornering the people’s benefits) in hotels and in their private houses.

 

The Ogoni people are well-educated, including in things of oil and are very much aware of SPDC and Nigeria Government divide and rule tactics and are ready to play along with NPDC. But, will NOT allow the NPDC to embark on oil production activities in Ogoniland when the time comes, except the company approach them openly, genuinely agree business terms with the Ogonis, and enter into a well-defined and valid memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Ogonis where their interests will be defined, guaranteed and protected based on international standards. To marshal the people’s trust, gain their support and cooperation NPDC must express real sincerity of purpose in Ogoniland.

Conclusion

  1. The Federal Government of Nigeria must as a matter of importance involve the Ogoni people in its resolve to providing necessary infrastructures and conducive environment for oil production activities in Ogoniland.
  2. The Federal Government of Nigeria must put a structure in place to provide for the licensing of Oil Bearing Communities to participate in the business of oil production.
  3. The government must demonstrate beyond all reasonable doubt its commitment to cleanup all oil spills in Ogoniland and allow independent international body of experts to periodically assess cleanup activities.
  4. The federal government must cease its attempts to disguisedly force the Ogonis to sign statements which invite Shell or any other company to come to Ogoniland for oil production activities.

References

  1. Hutchful E. (1985) “Oil Companies and Environmental Pollution in Nigeria”, London, Longman Press
  2. Saro-Wiwa, Ken (1994) As quoted from Rowell, Andrew (1994), Shell-shocked, the environmental and social costs of living with Shell in Nigeria, Amsterdam: Greenpeace International.
  3. SPDC (1995) Nigeria brief: The Environment.
  4. The London Observer, January, 28, 1996, “Shell Admits Importing Guns for Nigeria Police”.
  5. Claude Ake (ed) Political Economy of Nigeria, London, Longman Press.
  6. World Council of Churches (1996), Ogoni The Struggle Continues, Geneva, Switzerland.
  7. “Communiqué Issued At The MOSOP Global Leadership Conference In Accra, Ghana, March 28 – 30, 2002.
  8. http://www.greenpeace.org
  9. http://www.shellnigeria.com

IMPACTS OF CULTISM IN ELEME

Impacts of Cultism in Eleme

Chief Osaro Ollorwi

Introduction

What are the marked effects or influences of cultism on Eleme and Eleme people? Are there any physical and nonphysical consequences of cultism in Eleme? How are Eleme people and residents coping with cult activities in the area? This article will attempt to examine the results, repercussions, or aftermath of cult activities in Eleme.

 

The ongoing cult activities have strong effects on every aspects of life of the average Eleme indigene and resident. These include impacts on Economic life; Education life; Religious life; Social life; Death, Burial and Other Ceremonies; Political life; Psychology of the people; and Development in Eleme.

Economic Life

The economic life of Eleme has been driven to a halt. Almost all businesses have been grounded as criminals waylay businesses on daily basis at gunpoint in broad daylight. Businessmen and their family members are made object of regular kidnap for ransom, armed robbery, rape and other violent crimes . These situations have forced many businesses to close shop or relocate.

 

Another worrisome aspect of this development is that the few people who choose to remain in Eleme have to spend more money by traveling to neighbouring communities to shop for their daily needs.

 

National and multinational companies in Eleme now spend more resources on security, compare to other cost units, to keep their operation going. With increasing cost of security and associated risks, many companies are now retrenching. Intels Services have sacked over 1,000 staffers. Daewoo Nigeria Limited has sent packing over 200 employees. Eleme-INDORAMA Petrochemicals Company Limited is not left out.

 

This situation is already having negative impacts on the already congested labour market in the area. It is also contributing to the already existing army of unemployed youths which are ready source of supply of personnel for cult groups.

 

Many other companies that have acquired landed properties and indicated interest to come to Eleme for their operations are now skeptical of coming down due to rising insecurity perpetrated by organized cult groups.

Education Life

The Rivers State University of Science and Technology Onne Campus has been relocated to Port Harcourt. Several private primary and secondary schools have followed the trend.

 

As parents relocate, they also carry their children and wards along and the population of Schools in Eleme continues to nose-dive.

 

It is equally disappointing to note that insecurity made JAMB to cancel its entire centers in Eleme during the recent 2017 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) in the country. Parents have to spend huge amount of money to transport their children and wards to write JAMB in other towns. Some of these candidates arrived late and have to write their examinations under stress, limited time and tight condition. The outcome was poor performance or outright failure as revealed by the results released by JAMB.

Religious Life

The impacts of cult activities on religion in Eleme are more worrisome. Our young men and women now see nothing wrong in patronizing native doctors, medicine men, shrines and secret societies. These people who have charms given to them tie around their waists or have them cut into their chest and back also take front seats in the churches and lead processions in their various places of worship.

 

The ongoing cult activities in Eleme have lured many people to abandon God for worship of Satan in search for protection from gunshots and knife cut. As pastors testify, the number of worshippers who attend church services in Eleme today is daily on the decrease and the commitment of those who managed to attend is also doubtful. Eleme is visibly being drifted back into the prehistory era by cultism. This is not only disturbing but equally disheartening.

Social Life

The social life in Eleme has collapsed. Night activities are now things of the past. Hoteliers in Eleme are already counting their losses. Many operators of Night Clubs and Recreational Centers have been forced out of business by the activities of cultists. People now prefer to stay at home after work than go out for leisure and meet death.

 

While married women are happy because their husbands now spend more time at home, the unmarried ones, especially sex workers are complaining of poor patronage, loneliness and abandonment.

 

HRH Chief I. O. Agbara observed that hospitality business in Eleme is passing through hard times. In his words, “Night life in Eleme has deteriorated; people rarely go out for relaxation and leisure for fear of being attacked by hoodlums. Nothing is happening in hotels nowadays. Business has gone down. The night club section is no longer functioning. Our rooms that before now usually record fully booked capacity is today empty. The hospitality industry is suffering more than any other in Eleme. Few customers that managed to come to the hotel normally leave as early as 7pm, and this affects sale and return on investment. Cultism is killing the hospitality industry in Eleme.”

 

Ms. Nneka (not real name), a sex worker in one of the hotels have this to say, “We are feeling the pains of cultism more than any other group of people in Eleme. Customers are no longer forthcoming. When they show face, they hurriedly take one or two bottles of beer and rush back home immediately and we are left alone stranded. When we call, they neither answer our calls nor return them. Our business is at its lowest ebb now in Eleme. We are already finding it difficult to pay our house rent. Except something is done and urgently too many of us will soon be thrown out of business.”

 

Also speaking, an expert in the hospitality industry Chief A. A. Yanwi said, “Hotels rely on rooms to finance salary bills and operating costs. Where rooms are not subscribed or grossly undersubscribed as in the case in Eleme now, hotels find it very difficult to breakeven. Every hotel needs to operate optimally to be in business. Unfortunately, cultism, violence and other crimes have made the situation in Eleme unwise and very dangerous for people to lodge in hotels. And if people don’t lodge in hotel rooms, foods will not be sold, drinks will not be bought; there will be no service charge because no service is provided. Worse still the hotel is expected to maintain its staff, pay salary, settle electric bills, run generators, service vehicles and pay relevant local authority revenue bills and other charges.

 

This scenario was vividly captured by Chief Engr. Paul Obele, the former Managing Director of Warri Petrochemical and Refining Company Limited when he delivered a lecture titled, “Roadmap to Achieving the Eleme of Our Dreams” at the Eleme People’s Congress at Rivers State Golden Jubilee. He said, “Night life in Eleme is dead. People no longer go out after the day’s work for relaxation and leisure due to the activities of cultists”. He recollected when he used to walk alone from Ogale to Alesa by 2am without fear of molestation or attack of any kind. “These are good old days when cultism was unknown to Eleme. But, today, as early as 7pm you are not safe on the streets in Eleme. It is pathetic!” To him, cultism is not only destroying businesses in Eleme but also damaging the people’s once cherished culture.

 

The CTC Chairman of Eleme Local Government Area Chief Hon. Obarilomate Ollor was not left out as he added his voice to the condemnation of the negative impacts of cultism in Eleme stressing that cultism is dismantling the very pillars of Eleme society and advised parents to warn their children and wards as government is out to deal with the situation squarely.

Death, Burial and Other Ceremonies

Other worrisome aspects of these negative impacts of cult activity in Eleme are its influences on death, burial ceremonies, marriage ceremonies, naming ceremonies, birthday parties and so on. Cult-related dead in Eleme are buried within minutes or hours thereafter without any fanfare to evade law enforcement query.

 

Burial of non-cult related dead in Eleme today attracts extra costs as security agents have to be informed and engaged to provide security and maintain law and order during burial.

 

Marriage ceremonies are not left out. Marriage ceremonies require the presence of armed soldiers, police and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps officers for people to attend thus adding extra cost to the overall expenses; a burden on both the groom and bridegroom.

 

Naming ceremonies, birthday parties and other ceremonies also attract expensive security bills except done at the family level and/or in an exclusive area.

Increased Stress-Related Sickness and Death

There is no doubt that the number of stress-related sicknesses and deaths in Eleme are on the rise. Stress occurs when the human body experiences a lack of equilibrium that is perceived as threatening by that individual. There is widespread fear in Eleme. Fear of the known and unknown. Fear of being robbed, fear of being raped, fear of being kidnapped, fear of being assaulted, fear of being murdered or killed, fear of being victimized. Fear! Fear all over the place. Parents of cultists have loss control over their children and wards. Their fates are unpredictable; a very serious threat to their ego; the situation remains ambiguous with increasing anticipation of negative consequences. The entire environment is perceived by the parents as threatening. And these have given rise to such illnesses like tension-related headaches and backaches, weakened immune system, missed period, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, erectile dysfunction, low sex drive, increased depression, heartburn, fertility problem, heart attack. No week passes with Eleme recording one or more stress-related death; apart from deaths caused by inhalation of toxic and other deadly chemicals wickedly emitted by companies around Eleme.

The activities of cultists in Eleme are stressful not only to the parents of these cultists and their relations but also to every indigene and resident. Over 30% of women in their early 40s in Eleme are already suffering from missed period. Many parents have also died of heart attack and other stress-related illnesses.

Political Life

The political life of Eleme can be described as nonexistence. Democracy was murdered in Eleme on arrival. Politicians of Eleme extraction have succeeded in truncating the political life of Eleme. They have divided Eleme youths into groups of cultists for their selfish political gains. They armed these young men and women and use them to:

  1. Assassinate political opponents and their strong supporters.
  2. Kidnap political rivals, their close associates or members of their immediate families.
  3. Disenfranchise the electorate by intimidating and terrorizing them with guns, knives and axes.
  4. Snatch ballot boxes.
  5. Snatch result sheets and other sensitive electoral materials.
  6. Adopt electoral officials and force them at gunpoint to allocate votes to candidates and announce concocted results.

 

The result of this is continues mismanagement, directionless, corruption and waste of Council resources. The impact of cultism on the political life of Eleme can be described as total disaster.

Psychological Life

Psychologically, the average Eleme man or woman lives in fear of being murdered, kidnapped, robbed, assaulted, etc. These conditions have forced many indigenes and residents alike to relocate to Elelenwo, Port Harcourt, Ogoni, Okrika, Oyigbo and other neighbouring communities. Others seek the help of armed soldiers, NSCDC officers and policemen to move around Eleme. Both ways money is leaving Eleme, development is also truncated.

 

The atmosphere into which one enters as you approach Eleme from outside is that of darkness and panic even in broad daylight. The ether of Eleme has been saturated with blood and cry of innocent people cut down in their prime.

In the spiritual realm, it is like Eleme is being driven by the demand for more bloodbath, crime and violence. Worse still, those who are supposed to harness resources and pull their efforts together to address the ugly situation have fled from Eleme leaving the area porous and more vulnerable.

 

On the other hand, the prevailing insecurity in Eleme has helped the people to abandon luxurious life for simple living. Wealth is no longer indiscriminately displayed. So many car owners now prefer using public vehicles and mtorcycles popularly known as “Okada” to move about; and expensive dressings are now giving way to simple wears. Flamboyant life is gradually becoming history in Eleme.

Development

One area that the impact of cultism has been felt greatly in Eleme is on development. Security propels development while insecurity retards it. As the former Permanent Secretary, F. N. Oguru rightly said, “Cultism has taken Ebubu over ten years back”. In other words, cult activities have taken Eleme ten years back. There cannot be development in an environment of insecurity and violence.

 

Cultism is decimating the population of Eleme and this has negatively affected Schools intake, tenants’ population, and small businesses. Many houses which hitherto provide sources of regular income to landlords/landladies are now vacant as residents’ pullout by the day. Those who still have one or two tenants in their houses do not have the will to demand for house-rents as tenants’ income continue to dwindle.

 

All public and private ongoing projects in the area have been halted due to cult activities. Movement of people is also restricted between the hours of 7pm and 6am without official curfew. It is worse in places like Ebubu, Eteo, and Alode where as early as 7pm no vehicle will agree to go in for fear of being victimized.

 

The worse is that Eleme is gradually becoming synonymous with senseless killing, kidnapping, armed robbery, rape, extortion, gun running, cultism, etc. The Eleme society is worst for it due to dwindling revenue, rising crime wave and fear of crime. This should border every well-meaning Eleme son and daughter irrespective of where you stay or reside. It is no gainsaying that indigenes and residents of Eleme are living in perpetual fear and many are being imprisoned in their own home or sent on exile by the ongoing cult activities in the area.

Conclusion

There must be concerted efforts and proper will on the part of indigenes and residents of Eleme to reverse the trend and put Eleme on the course of progress and development. This can only be achieved through value reorientation, equal rights and justice.

DO ELEME PEOPLE CELEBRATE CRIMINALS

Do Eleme People Celebrate Criminals?

 

Introduction

The general opinion among the various security agencies in Eleme is that Eleme People Celebrate Criminals. Is this perception true? What is/are the rationale behind such conclusion? Are the people culpable in the on-going criminalities in the area? I have written, lectured and consulted severally on the Eleme people’s apathy towards on-going crime and fear of crime in the area. Some of the factors militating against the masses direct participation in fighting crimes include:

  1. Fear of retribution,
  2. Fear of invasion by adversary,
  3. Culture of loyalty,
  4. Respect for cultists’ commitment,
  5. Focus on personal needs,
  6. Inadequate laws,
  7. Police attitude,
  8. Politicians’ roles,
  9. Government commitment to cultists and their course, and.
  10. Gender Cold War.

The Eleme social system is interposed with lots of roadblocks and checkpoints to regulate behaviours, control crimes and punish criminals. Among the various controls system are such institutions that everyone would want to belong in the society. They include:

  1. Marriage Institution
  2. Leadership Institution
  3. Institutions of Crime Control
  4. Traditional Courts

 

Every Eleme person, rich or poor, educated or uneducated, young or old, religious or non-religious is a member of one of these institutions in the society. How do these institutions ensure that Eleme people do not celebrate criminals?

 

Marriage

In his book, The People of Eleme (1988), Chief O. O. Ngofa observed that “Marriage is a natural sequence of growth and progress. So long as a man is not married, he continues in a second class status in the society. He never ties the full fathom of cloth, irrespective of his stature. He is not allowed to join other men during consultation”. In this statement are the strict limitations imposed on those yet to be admitted into the Marriage Institution.

 

In Eleme, marriage is regarded not only as a liberator and a status, but also confirms that the person concerned has acceptable character and background. He can be trusted in any affair and is regarded as a responsible person.

 

Eleme culture cherished marriage between Eleme and Eleme. The rationale behind this is to ensure that thorough background check and investigation are conducted at least to determine that the marriage is not contracted with someone with criminal history, health challenges, fertility problems, among other important issues.

 

Abraham was quite aware of the forgoing when he told his trusted servant not to take a wife for his son Isaac from the daughters of the Canaanite among whom he resides, “but to go to my country and to my kindred to take a wife for my son Isaac”. Like the Israelites, the Elemes do not just jump into marriage. They carryout extensive background checks and screening before considering contracting marriage. The Elemes know that marriage creates families; and the family is the basic unit of society. The Elemes believe that if the family decays the society smells, therefore are very mindful of whom they tie the nuptial knot with.

 

There are many Eleme people today, who no matter how rich or popular they are cannot marry in Eleme when full background check/screening is conducted as is tradition, so they hide under the cover of “one people” or “one Nigeria” or “one world”.

Leadership

The Eleme culture frowns at crimes and condemn criminals, it rejects them and refuses them admission into leadership positions in the society. For someone to be appointed or elected into any traditional leadership position in Eleme, the person must be free from any accusation of stealing, murder, and witchcraft. He must be married and be adjudged to be good and has contributed to the defence, projection and development of the community.

 

Another prove that the people of Eleme do not celebrate criminals is the existence of well-defined traditional institutions of crime control and punishment. These institutions are explained in the table below.

 

Institutions of Community Policing and Crime Control

All towns and villages in Eleme have the same basic social structure that encourages the existence of agreeable human groups with specific social functions. These groups are responsible for policing the communities, maintaining peace and stability. Every Eleme man and woman, boy and girl belongs to one or more of these groups. The groups are:

S/N INSTITUTION DESCRIPTION FUNCTION
1. Oku O’tor Family group made up of smaller units agreeing with kindred lines. Settles minor disputes between members of the same family.
2. Oku O’e Extended family which owns a hall and maintains one shrine, known as Nsi Eji Settles disputes between members of the same family in matters of assault, stealing, boundaries, inheritance, adultery, witchcraft, invocation of juju, and other forms of misdemeanour.
3. Oku Omu Age grade to which all males belong Settles disputes between people of the same age group resulting to assault, slander, issue of threat, invocation of juju, and other matrimonial cases.
4. Egbara Eta Uninitiated adult men below Oku Ekpo They promote communal work, security, control social decay, and perform traditional entertainment such as: wrestling, dancing, and singing.
5. Mba Eta Organization of Women selected on age and representative basis Regulates the activities of women; ensures high morality and discipline among women.
6. Eji These are Ancestral Spirits – that is, spirits of all who have lived and died. They are known as Oku Eji and dwell in a separate spiritual kingdom known as Eta Eji. They exercise spiritual power and authority and are believed to be ever watchful, powerful and able to help or punish any person. They communicate through dreams and their feelings merely conjectured. They administer divine justice by blessing the good and punishing the bad. And since they cannot be seen or heard, there is always no appeal against the decisions of Oku Eji.
7. Ejor These are deities or gods such as Ejilee, Onura, Ebaajor, Mbie, Ejamaaejor Ogbenwata, Ndorwa, Osarobinmkpa and others. They are known as Oku Ejor and dwell in a separate spiritual kingdom known as Eta Ejor. They are believed to be somehow senior and superior to Oku Eji. They act as agents to Obari (God). They communicate directly through the human consciousness of the Priest or Medium. In this way they reveal secrets, prescribe remedies or answer questions put to them, and administer divine justice.

 

8. Oku Eta The Traditional Ruler (Oneh Eh Eta) and his elders (Oku Ekpo) They constitute Owe Ebo Ete and adjudicate in disputes between two or more persons or between two families concerning land tenure, divorce, custody of children, stealing, boundaries, inheritance, adultery, witchcraft, invocation of juju, defamation of character, rape, elopement, and so on.
9. Oku Nkporon Group of Initiated men with the Highest Judicial Powers and Authority. They constitute Owe Nkporon and adjudicate in more serious matters requiring urgent or detailed investigation such as murder, witchcraft, inheritance, land tenure, divorce, custody of children, stealing, boundaries, adultery, right of burial, invocation of juju, rape, and so on at the appropriate levels of the society.
10. Oku Nyoa Oku Nyoa are group of initiated elders led by One Nkiken (Land Priest/Traditional Prime Minister). Nkiken (Earth-Spirit) is the only Deity that directly relates to the foundation of a community or village and its protection. It is the mother that sustains all living things and receives all of them back to its stomach. The position is hereditary and it is confined to the lineage or family of the original founder of the community. One Nkiken (Land Priest and Leader of Oku Nyoa) exercises spiritual and administrative powers. He performs Ajija ritual for cleansing of Pregnant but unmarried girls and Owaraekpaa Osila (first daughter ritual). He appoints and installs Oneh Eh Eta on the active advice of Oku Nkporon; receives and performs the duties of Oneh Eh Eta if One Eh Eta is found guilty of gross misconduct or upon demise of an incumbent, until a successor is appointed and installed. He ensures that things are done in accordance with custom and tradition. He commands the respect of the gods in the community.

 

The existence of these groups helps to solve the problems of crime and criminality in the society. They help maintain law and order. They control behavior in society. They are the pivots upon which the community revolves. They solve social decay and render communal services. These institutions maintain the center of gravity in all aspects of human relations and dealings. But, are these institutions still relevant in the modern Eleme? Why are they not as active as they used to be? How comes the modern legal system is bent on reducing their powers and rendering them moribund? Will the society be better for it, if these institutions are revitalized, empowered and encouraged to participate actively in community policing? Your answers, comments, observations, suggestions and updates are very necessary.

Traditional Court

There are three authoritative government functions in Eleme – rulemaking, rule application, and rule adjudication. These are the three old functions of separation of power in Eleme except that an effort has been made to free them from their overtures – rulemaking rather than ‘legislation’, rule application rather than ‘executive’ and rule adjudication rather than the ‘judiciary’.

 

The traditional political system of Eleme has been stressed by no differential and diffused character of political and social structure. It would be noticed that the Chieftaincy in Eleme fulfil at one and the same time the rulemaking, rule application and rule adjudication functions and specialization is not consciously related to the idea of fulfilling roles at all.

 

The process of rulemaking is direct and democratic. At the clan level, representatives are sent from the sub-clans to take part in a clan meeting. The sub-clan is divided into communities and villages, and the communities are further divided in lineages and sub-lineages. The lineage is again divided into what is called “Oku Otor” i.e. people of the same family. Each Oku Otor has “Ekpone” (head of the Oku Otor), who is the source of authority for all others. No member of the Oku Otor can take decision or perform any act without consulting Ekpone.

 

The Ekpone posse law, he executes the law and passes judgment on those who disobey his order. He offers sacrifices to the gods and liaisons the family with the ancestors. Any matrimonial disputes or quarrels are mediated by him. In return, he is accorded respect, obedience and honour by members of the family and others outside the family depending, of course, on the charisma and will power of the Ekpone to hold together his subjects.

 

Above the Oku Otor level we have the next kin group – the lineage or extended family called Oku Oɂe. The head of the Oku Oɂe is known as “Ekpone Oɂe” – a very important figure in the community who holds the title of “One Nsi Oɂe”, a symbol of authority of the ancestors, which is very important and mystical in Eleme traditional political system. The One Nsi Oɂe who must be an initiated member of “Oku Nyoa” is seen as the intermediary between the Oku Oɂe and the ancestors. He is the fountain of authority in the community. He serves the “Oɂe” shrine (“Nsi Eji Oɂe), assisted by the next older person who is being prepared to succeed him at the appropriate time.

 

In Eleme, wisdom is associated with age and it is commonly believed that the oldest man is wiser, is closer to the ancestors, and is respected by them. And so, the oldest man is usually the One Nsi Oɂe. He is usually the priest of “Nsi Eji Oɂe”. He makes laws, he also adjudicates.

 

Rulemaking function is also performed by adult male members of the clan in a general assembly called “O’elabo of the Clan”. The O’elabo is made up of the Oneh Eh Eta (the chief), and the elders (Oku Ekpo) collectively referred to as Oku Nkporon, the Egbaraeta, leaders of thought and representatives from each village and community.

 

The procedure for rulemaking at the caln level is democratic, but the final decisions taken depend on the elders when they retire to a “tete-a-tete” meeting known as “Ola”. The “Ola” group finalizes all discussions made in the meeting and decides on decisions to be adopted. The Ola group consists of Oku Nkporon (group of initiated men with the highest power and authority and made up of representatives from each community). Matters often discussed in such assemblies ranges from land disputes, imposition of levies, to war, peace or defense.

 

The Oku Nkporon also performs the functions of executing and adjudicating the laws they have helped to enact. The output structures are also multi-functional. Other structures such as Oku Omu (age grades), Egbara Eta (uninitiated men), Mba Eta (organization of women selected on age and representative basis), also perform rulemaking, rule application and rule adjudication functions.

 

All these structures and functional roles of the political system condition have influenced the political thought of the Eleme people. It should be seen clearly therefore, that the traditional court referred to is not a particular permanent building but interplay of several forces – political, social, cultural and otherwise for the highest good of the people.

 

There had been the belief in the mystical powers of the chiefs. People respected the chief (Oneh Eh Eta) because of his power to make libation and sacrifices to ancestors and as a result, they have better harvest. It was through myths that the chief was able to hold his people together. It was only the chief who can call on the gods to punish or not to punish evildoer in the clan; apart from him, no other person can do it. The importance of the myth was that it helped in the effectiveness of rulemaking and rule adjudication.

 

The chief was an essential element in the system. The community was held together not only by economic and social links – such as living and farming together – but by spiritual and religious links, as already discussed. There was a strong religious element in the Chieftaincy; the chief was the link between the living people and the spirit of their ancestors; and he performs many duties such as making sacrifices and libations which were essentially those of a priest.

 

Similar conceptions are found in other parts of the world. The Kings of England, for instance were thought to have magical or miraculous powers of healing a certain disease by touch, and as late as the reign of Queen Anne (1702 – 1714), people were regularly brought to be cured by the touch of the royal hand.

 

Since the chief in Eleme and his people were linked in this spiritual way, it was difficult to fit strangers into the system. This may be one reason why strangers tended to live in settlements of their own outside the town or village. This personal link between the chief and the people was distorted by the new legal system introduced by the European invaders on one hand and the lopsided Nigerian Constitution on the other hand.

 

The system developed among the people different idea and thought about wealth, power and authority. Wealth to them was not accumulation of wealth in the form of commercial or industrial capitals. If wealth was accumulated, it took the form of consumption of goods and amenities. Wealth to them was meant to be used for the benefit of all and the support of additional development; hence the people of Eleme believed strongly in extended family system and African socialism.

 

The growth of the Eleme traditional legal system has been slow and steady. All towns and villages in Eleme have the same basic structure that encourages the existence of agreeable human groups with specific socio-political functions. We have seen that these groups helped in maintaining peace, order, and stability in pre-literate Eleme. There were age grades to which all males belong called Oku Omu. The family group made up of smaller units agreeing with kindred lines called Oku Otor; and the extended family, which owned a hall and maintained a shrine known as Oku Oɂe.

 

The hierarchy of the community was made up of the chief (Oneh Eh Eta) and the elders (Oku Ekpo) called Oku Eta, and another group of initiated men who have the highest rulemaking, rule application and rule adjudication status called Oku Nkporon. By this arrangement, all imaginable situations were speedily dealt with by the appropriate group, thereby sustaining peace and order in the whole clan.

 

Disputes between people of the same age group (Oku Omu) relating to assault, defamation of character, issue of threat, invocation of juju and minor matrimonial cases were dealt with by Oku Omu. Disputes between members of the same family in matters of stealing, assault, defamation of character, issue of threat, invocation of juju, adultery, boundaries, inheritance, witchcraft, and other forms of misdemeanour were settled by Oku Oɂe. The aggrieved member may sue the other party or the elders may in the circumstances intervene directly.

 

Disputes between two or more persons or between two families concerning divorce, land tenure, custody of children, rape, stealing, assault, defamation of character, issue of threat, invocation of juju, adultery, boundaries, inheritance, witchcraft, elopement and so on were settled by Oku Eta.

 

Owe Ebo Ete (Oweboete) Court

Apart from the above arrangements for settling of cases and disputes, the system also recognized two traditional courts which sit in the chief’s palace or in the disputants’ community town hall. These are “Owe Ebo Ete” and “Owe Nkporon”. Both courts operate at the community level, sub-clan level, and at the clan level. Whenever Oku Eta sits as a court it is called Owe Ebo Ete (Owe Ebo Etate). Owe Ebo Ete is presided over by the chief (Oneh Eh Eta) while the elders constitute its membership. Its decisions on matters brought before it is final and binding, but an unsatisfied party reserves the right to appeal to a higher level Owe Ebo Ete or to the highest court called Owe Nkporon.

 

Since the traditional legal system in Eleme does not differentiate between criminal and civil cases, each matter is taken on its merit and as it affects the co-existence of the parties concerned as well as the larger community. The remedies sought are generally declaration of title, compensation or restoration. That is, to establish ones right, to be cleared of accusation, to recover property or to obtain a public declaration.

 

Suing before the Owe Ebo Ete court involved the aggrieved person going to the Oneh Eh Eta (chief) and complaining. He would state his claims and relief sought as well as the possibility of calling witnesses. He has to pay the prescribed fees and he would be advised on the materials for other related processes. The chief would try to dissuade the complainant from suing with money but if he refused, he would be asked to sue with the prescribed fees and ordered to appear on a date convenient to the chief depending on the nature of the case. He may however, agree with the date or meet the chief to adjust the date after explaining his reasons.

 

On the appointed date, the chief, One Nkporon (spokesman of the community), and elders would constitute the Owe Ebo Ete court. Both parties would state their cases and call witnesses. Members of the court might ask questions to elucidate the points in dispute. The disputants would be allowed to cross examine each other and the witnesses would also be questioned to clarify issues. Thereafter, the court would rise for consultation and on their return, the verdict would be given. The party at fault would be seriously reprimanded and asked to pay appropriate fine. The guilty party may choose to obey the judgment of Owe Ebo Ete court or to appeal against the judgment.

 

Owe Nkporon Court

Owe Nkporon is the highest court in Eleme. The clan head (Oneh Eh Eta) presides over its sitting and members are drawn from the rank of Oku Nkporon who have completed all the processes of “Oba Nkporon”, and are therefore entitled to join in the court’s routine consultation called “Ola”. The processes of getting the Owe Ebo Ete and Owe Nkporon courts to sit are the same but Owe Nkporon is more expensive than Owe Ebo Ete and its decisions are final.

 

Owe Nkporon can hear a fresh case brought before it as well as appeals coming from Owe Ebo Ete or lower levels; however, Owe Nkporon cannot be delayed unduly by any of the parties in a dispute. Once proper information has been communicated to the parties regarding the date of hearing, venue, and time, the court would proceed to hear the disputants, collect evidence, cross examine the parties and witnesses, visit to locus (where applicable), and give its verdict, even though the other party failed to put in appearance.

 

Where a case is taken on appeal from the community level to the clan level or to a higher level court, it is the practice of the court to request for evidence that related the ruling of the lower court. This is the simplest and cheapest way of obtaining justice in the shortest possible time. Although some persons have tried to brand these processes devilish and fetish; the law has also proscribed and labelled same as heathenish and we are aware paying heavily for it in terms of rising crimes and criminality.

 

The powers of the community are also limited by the fact that they cannot confiscate any of the property of unresponsive ones since that is against the law. Banishment and public ridicule is also having less effect as people can easily run out of their community and in fact, the whole Eleme, to the nearby urban center where they can easily make new friends and get on with a life devoid of those cultural constraints.

 

The use of Ogbe to protect one’s life and properties, elicit the truth from an offender and ensure confidence has also come under the harmer of the modern judiciary. However, as Chief O. O. Ngofa noted:

 

“Inspite of the fact that modern judiciary frowns on the invocation of what they call ‘harmful juju’ the practice of invoking the local deities is on the increase in Eleme, irrespective of the rather high fees and protracted sacrifices that are associated with its invocation and revocation”.

 

Ogbe was once an important instrument of investigation. The invocation of investigative juju as a practice of the people has come to stay despite the onslaught of Christianity, civilization, and modern judiciary but, the efficacy of ogbe has faded considerably.

 

The result of the concerted dislodgement of the culture and tradition of the people of Eleme is a crash of the value system as against an upsurge of anti-social activities such as increasing levels of violence, robbery, murder, kidnapping, fraud, vandalism, cultism, adulteration, impersonation, immorality of all kinds and types and several other forms of malpractices and crimes.

 

The church is complaining; its instruments of modern socialization have failed to instil discipline and morality in the people. The school is at crossroads, confused and stranded; it is either its storehouse of modern socialization materials has been exhausted or the operators have lost focus. The government is worried; its modern legal system has failed to inculcate fear and check increasing anti-social activities. The society is no longer at ease, it is drifting, and things are falling apart, crimes and fear of crimes everywhere. Perhaps the Religious and National Values Curriculum now introduced into our Schools would do the magic, in the next ten to twenty years, as we pursue the goals of harmonising such key values as honesty, regard and concern for the interest of others, justice, discipline, right attitude to work, courage and national consciousness.

 

Conclusion

Conclusively, it is wrong to opine that Eleme people celebrate criminals. The system speaks for itself and the people proud themselves as honest, hardworking, industrious and progressives. You can never see Eleme person escorting a criminal to or from court, or celebrating a criminal at any event.

The average Eleme person may appear to be weak and fearful but always own up to his integrity. He hates corruption and avoids violence. He believes in honesty and self-discipline. The Eleme culture encourages Eleme people to stay at home, work hard and make a respectable living at home. Perhaps, this accounts for why majority of Eleme people do not travel very far and long. Criminals are not needed, nor are they tolerated or celebrating in Eleme society. The Eleme tradition hates criminals and has a way of isolating them so that they do not corrupt others in the society. There is nowhere in the Eleme tradition that celebrates criminals, or considers criminals as heroes or role models. The Eleme people see criminals as evil and pandemics; and isolate and keep them away from society.

Besides, the average Eleme person knows that Elemeland has a way of rewarding good and punishing evil. Instances abound where a whole family has been destroyed and the compound abandoned due to heinous crime committed by one of its members. A close look will reveal to you that no public fund looter in Eleme has gone unpunished. Eleme do not celebrate criminals; rather it ensures that the criminal and beneficiaries of crime are punished to deter others and sanitize the society.

What we are experiencing in Eleme today is as a result of the loss of values in the Nigerian society. The unfolding events in which the future of Nigerian youths is being used by politicians should call for the concern of all.

 

 

Osaro Ollorwi – 08036694027