As part of efforts aimed at promoting the cultural heritage and identity of the Ijaw ethnic nationality, the Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson, on Saturday, 9th February, 2013, attended the Alagba Masquerade Festival of Kalabari Kingdom in Buguma, Rivers State.

Speaking during a courtesy visit to the Amayanabo of Kalabari, King Theophilus Princewill, Hon. Dickson reaffirmed that the promotion of Ijaw culture and integration of the people would remain the centre-piece of his administration.

His words: “Part of what our government is doing in Bayelsa is to promote and project and uphold our history, language and culture which have come under very severe assault. So I’m happy that I have stepped into this ancient kingdom and your palace and I have seen unadulterated Ijaw culture of the Kalabari people.”

He also used the occasion to emphasize that Bayelsa, being the only homogenous state of the Ijaws, will continue to champion efforts aimed at fostering peace and unity among the people.

To this end, the Governor urged the people of Ijaw Nation to work together and always opt for amicable ways of settling their differences rather than resort to acts of violence.

“Let me say as Governor of Bayelsa State that we must work together at all times to ensure that our people have a peaceful and amicable way of resolving whatever misunderstandings there may be.

“Let me assure you that in me and the good people of Bayelsa, you have a partner to work for peace; to work for smooth resolution of all of our problems; a partner for closer Ijaw integration because we have our own ways of resolving issues. We will never in our lifetime promote division and violence among our people.

“We cannot have a situation where Ijaw brothers are at war because whatever there may be and whoever we are, we are all Ijaw people and we live for one another. Whatever touchWhatever touches one of us, touches all of us,” Governor Dickson declared.

Describing Kalabari as an important clan in the Ijaw Nation, the Governor extolled the leadership qualities of King Princewill and observed that the Kingdom has experienced appreciable development under his reign.

The Governor, who was accompanied on the visit by the one-time President of the Ijaw National Congress, Chief Joshua Fumudoh, added he was in Buguma to identify with the customs and traditions of the Kalabaris by witnessing the famous Alagba Masquerade Festival.

He was also full of praises for the Council of Chiefs and the entire people of Kalabari for rallying round their monarch as well as preserving their rich cultural heritage.

Responding, the Amayanabo of Kalabari Kingdom, King Theophilus Princewill supported Governor Dickson’s position on Ijaw nationalism, stating that his doors are always open to the Governor to discuss issues that would promote the collective interest of the Ijaw people.

“I am very sure to say that everything that you have said has been in good faith and it is for the good of Ijaw Nation. For that, I have my door always open 24 hours for you,” King Princewill promised.

In his remarks, the Palace Spokesman, Hon. Prince Dateme noted that the Governor’s visit has doused the tension between the people of Bayelsa and Rivers states, especially the Kalabaris.

(C) BNMT news