The Bayelsa state government has called on state community leaders to take conscious steps to preserve their cultural values as part of efforts to combat moral decay in society.
State Governor Senator Douye Diri made the call to Onopa, the state’s Yenagoa LGA. As a guest of honor at this year’s Uge-Adiafa (Yam) Festival of Atissa.
Represented by his deputy Senator Ewhrudjakpo, Governor Diri expressed concern that the rich cultural heritage, including the language, of the Ijaw nation is being threatened by Western values and foreign practices.
According to the governor, most dialects in Ijaw country would become extinct unless conscious steps are taken to protect them and warned that when a people loses their indigenous languages, their own culture and identity are lost.
He noted that while festivals are an expression of culture, the erosion of their language could, in the long run, lead to the culture’s extinction.
He reminded parents and elders that they have a social and moral obligation to teach their children good character and behavior and stressed that a culture without respect for elders is no culture at all.
“As a people, we suffer from so-called environmental terrorism, which is mainly caused by the oil companies. But there is another type of terrorism that threatens us, namely cultural terrorism.
“We must know and recognize that Westernization threatens our society every day. When a people has lost its culture, it has lost its identity. If they lose their language, they have lost their identity.
“The Ijaw nation, which also consists of the kingdoms of Epie and Atissa, should know that we are on the verge of losing our language. So I would like to take this opportunity to call on all of us parents to teach our children our language.
“Let me also urge our youth to learn how to respect. You must know the line between illegality and morality. A culture without respect is no culture. If you don’t respect others, you won’t be respected,” he said.
In response to the Kingdom of Atissa’s requests, the governor mentioned some ongoing and completed projects in the region started by his government, including the canalization of the Ekoli River in Obogoro and the construction of the new Commissioners Quarters in Onopa.
He assured the people of the Epie and Atissa kingdoms that the government will continue to identify with them for the sacrifices they are making as hosts of the state capital.
Opening his welcome address, the Chairman of Uge-Adiafa 2022 and member representing Yenagoa Constituency 1 at the Bayelsa Assembly House, Hon. Oforji Oboku, described the annual festival as an important unifying factor between the 12 municipalities that make up the Atissa -Kingdom exists.
Oforji paid tribute to the government led by Governor Dir for always identifying with the people of Atissa and called on the government to extend the ongoing canalization in Obogoro to other Atissa towns currently affected by erosion.
In his presentation, the Ebeni of Atissa, King Godwin Igodo, commended the current administration for its infrastructure development projects across the state, particularly those in the Kingdom of Atissa.
King Godwin Igodo, appointed by the Ebeni-Isisibo of Atissa, His Royal Highness Dr. However, Goodwill Simeon, represented, appealed to the state government to use the six-classroom block built by the SPDC in 2017 for the Onopa community.
He also called for more government projects in Atissa cities and for the state government to appoint more Atissa sons and daughters to various positions of trust.
Meanwhile, the Ebeneken (supreme ruler) of the Onopa community, host of the 2022 Uge Adiafa festival, HRH Morris Tamama, has commended the state governor, Senator Douye Diri, for honoring the occasion.
Praising the governor for both the completed and ongoing projects in the municipality and other parts of the Atissa kingdom in particular, and the entire state in general, the royal father described Governor Diri as a listening leader, just as he said, that the governor has shown his courage as a true leader who has immensely influenced the annals of the state’s development.
By: Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa