It is not clear if President Goodluck Jonathan would eventually retire to the serene university town of Otuoke, his hometown on May 29, from the Aso Rock Villa, after his official disengagement as President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces or once again return to the classroom, his first calling before veering into the murky waters of politics.
What is clear is that he will be returning to a paradox of mixed reactions that is Ogbia Kingdom, where those close to him are fulfilled and others nursing sense of betrayal and abandonment. It is normal in life as no one can please everybody.
It is in the face of this conflicting scenario that some Otuoke indigenes are prepared to roll out their drums to give a rousing welcome to one of their own who, through divine intervention, rose from the neglected backwaters of the Delta to occupy the exalted office of the President of the most populous black country in the world.
While some folks are not happy that the state and by extension the Niger Delta region did not benefit from his presidency in terms of infrastructural development, some see his last minute to develop the area as tokenistic. They regret the neglect of the proposed coastal road that would link the littoral states of the South to Epe in Lagos. President Jonathan’s recent award of contracts for the Elebele-Imiringi-Otuoke road, the Igbedi-Amassoma road and Okordia-Zarama-Biseni road have only impressed a few.
Others have argued that in spite of the noticeable flaws of President Goodluck Jonathan not being able to influence mega projects to the region, he deserves a heroic welcome for his courage of conceding defeat even before the conclusion of the collation of the 2015 presidential polls, a trait alien to African leaders, who are in the habit of sitting tight on power.
This singular act, which according to them, prevented the country from drifting into anarchy has proven to the world that something good can come out of Ijaw nation.
But surprisingly, with few days to Dr. Jonathan’s disengagement from office as President and Commander–in-chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, there is nothing fascinating about his ancestral hometown, Otuoke, where he is expected to return.
Though the decision of his government to site the Federal University in his community has changed the once nondescript rural settlement into the most beautiful community in the entire Ogbia Kingdom and the state, the people are still living in darkness and lacking potable water.
Be that as it may, the Bayelsa state government is planning a grand festival to welcome home their national hero. Elsewhere in Otuoke, the town is quiet and devoid of any sign of celebrations.
The Ogbia Brotherhood which could have been the rallying point for the people is divided due to alleged interference of some of the President associates.
Aside the construction workers trying to put some finishing touches on the fencing of the palatial residence of the Jonathans, which also has a chapel for worship, it is just normal business as usual. The Patience Jonathan Square ,venue of the proposed civic reception is yet to be given a facelift.
Most people care less and are indifferent to the coming back of their kinsman. Obviously, nobody is happy with the development, yet the people are grateful for what they have been able to achieve under their son, albeit modest.
Although the people never envisaged a situation where Jonathan will lose the presidential poll, however, having come to terms with the reality, they have since moved on and taken the twist in fate in good faith.
According to a community leader and one time Community Development Committee chairman, Mekunumuni Digha, “the unprecedented transformation of Otuoke from the once sleepy community to an academic environment with the establishment of the Federal University, Otuoke, has affected the standard of life of the people.”
He noted that the people are relishing the transformation of their community.
“The major and famous impact of what Mr President has done for this community is the establishment of the university. The establishment of the university has brought development to us and that is why the people have welcomed it and they are happy.
“Bringing university to a place like this is like bringing light; it creates jobs opportunities and manpower development in every field of human endeavour. Our people can now develop the vast lands that had remained unused over the years as a result of the siting of the university,” he said.
He disclosed that the people were overwhelmed with the siting of the university and therefore made sacrifices to ensure its take off. “The community was very happy with the creation of the university that they donated over 200 hectares of land for the project. They organised a lunching and raised funds to build structures to enable the institution kick off. Most of the structures in the administrative section and permanent site were built and donated to the university by the community”.
The Ogbia Brotherhood Youth Council, the umbrella body of all Ogbia youths said they are prepared to host their son, President Goodluck to a grand reception as he steps down as Nigeria’s president.
To this end, the youths, he noted, are in high spirits and have fully mobilized the youths and the people to roll out their drums and give the returning president a befitting homecoming.
In a chat with Saturday Vanguard, the National President of the body, Comrade Dazibia Apiri thanked the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and Nigerians for giving their son the opportunity to serve and lead Nigeria, adding that Jonathan’s administration has added “immense value to all facets of the Nigerian state.
“We the youths of Ogbia kingdom are ready to join Governor Dickson and other Nigerians of good conscience in hosting Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to a grand reception as he transforms from the Nigerian President to Nigeria’s most celebrated statesman.”
He said the departing president has done a lot for the people, citing the Federal University and job opportunities for Ogbia youths, among other several empowerment opportunities. “Today, Ogbia youths can hold their heads high anywhere because of the precedent set by our elder brother and father.
“Above all, his humility and uncommon courage in conceding defeat and for declaring that his ambition does not worth the blood of Nigerians have elevated him above as a statesman, peace ambassador and a hero of democracy,” he said.
In his view, the Otuoke Youths President, Mr John Adueze said the people will forever remain indebted to President Jonathan for all the changes that have occurred in the community.
He said, “I believe that the purpose and intention of God to give us a President is because this place was in dire need of development. That’s why he brought Jonathan to alleviate our plight. There has been a kind of rapid development since he became president, things that we ordinarily would never dream of. We are feeling his impact. He is a role model to us.”
Another senior citizen of Otuoke, Mrs. Azibla, said even though the people are disappointed that their son did not secure a second term, they all have cause to thank God and celebrate their illustrious son for coming home alive in good health, and with his wife.
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