By Mike Ekureku
Bayelsa State Government has granted autonomy to a community along its boundary with Delta State, known as Kabokiri Community in Sagbama Local Government Area of the state.
Following the development, the state Ministry of Local Government, Community Development and Chieftaincy Affairs has been directed to issue a certificate recognizing the rural settlement as an autonomous Community
The state Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, disclosed this at a meeting with members of the Ijaw Community led by its Acting Amadaowei at the Government House, Yenagoa.
Senator Ewhrudjakpo, in a statement by his Media aide, Mr Doubara Atasi, explained that approval for the autonomous status was given by Governor Douye Diri following a justifiable request made by the community.
He said the Governor also directed that the name of the community, which is located on the Bayelsa part of the famous River Forcados should be changed from its former name, New Patani, to Kabokiri Community as requested by the indigenes.
The Deputy Governor urged the Sagbama Local Government Council to work closely with the Ministry of Local Government, Community Development and Chieftaincy Affairs to ensue the full integration of the Kabokiri community into the scheme of things in the Sagbama area and the state at large.
Senator Ewhrudjakpo specifically charged the Chairman of Sagbama Local Government Area to immediately meet with the leaders and integrate the new community fully into Sagbama Ward 13 to enable them have a fair share of their rights and responsibilities as indigenes of the state.
He also urged the community to work out modalities for the conduct of credible elections that would enable them choose capable individuals as their paramount ruler and officials of the Community Development Committee (CDC), Youth and Women groups of the community.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Governor has constituted a committee to visit the Kabokiri Community to identify the immediate social amenities needed by the people and submit its report to Government in three weeks.
The committee, which is headed by the Commissioner for Local Government, has the Deputy Chief of Staff, Deputy Governor’s office, the Chairman, Sagbama Local Government Council, the Special Adviser 1 to the Governor on Security, Senior Special Assistant on Political Matters to the Deputy Governor and Senior Special Assistant on Security to the Deputy Governor as members.
His words: “The Governor has just approved a request that Kabokiri Community be properly integrated into Bayelsa State. So going forward, the name of that Community is no longer new Patani. The new name of the community is Kabokiri based on what you people have requested.
“So on behalf of His Excellency the Governor of Bayelsa State, the commissioner for Local Government, Community Development and Chieftaincy Affairs is hereby directed to issue a letter of recognition to that community as Kabokiri Community of Sagbama Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, from this 8th day of our Lord February, 2021 with immediate effect.
“Also, we are giving the community some period of weeks depending on what we will agree in this meeting, for us to conduct a formal Amananaowei Election and CDC Chairman, Youth President as well as Woman Leader elections for that community.
“We want the major families that are there to put their heads together and come up with a workable ‘formula’ for the election. You have to decide whether the position of the Amananaowei should be open to all or rotated among the families in the community to have a peaceful process, so that if it’s not your turn, you don’t contest.”
In their separate remarks, Acting Amadowei of Kabokiri, Chief Ekiyor Ebidowei, Chief Pathfinder Ebikebina and Barrister E.B. Oyinkuro all expressed gratitude to the state government for granting autonomy to their community.
While pledging to be a responsible community, they also vowed to remain loyal and commited towards supporting government’s policies and programmes at all times.