Besides negative narratives of Port Harcourt, the Rivers capital, being ravaged by cult gangs who are making living difficult for many, there are other things to cheer about in the oil city.
For instance, a first time visitor to Port Harcourt, you cannot miss the allure of the roasted plantain popularly known as “Bole” and complemented by specially prepared irresistible pepper sauce at different street corners of the city.
This popular delicacy is now the subject of an annual festival called Bole Food festival which started in 2016.
For this year, the organizers have announced programmes for the 2019 edition themed ‘Our taste, Our Culture’, a one-day event aimed at celebrating the rich heritage of the Niger Delta through food with emphasis on the various creative ways people prepare roasted plantain known as ‘Bole’.
“We expect another successful and fun-filled event that will also set the standard in highlighting the importance of celebrating our culture and local cuisine,” Bole food festival convener, Iwuh Chinonso said.
According to him, “Bole Festival has grown in prestige and attendance over the years and is currently able to compete with food festivals anywhere in the country.”
“This year we want the event to represent that growth creatively and in terms of market appeal as a brand while maintaining the casual fun atmosphere that has endeared us to the people,” Chinonso said.
The event had only 300 people in attendance in 2016 and had over 8,000 people and over 80 food vendors in attendance in 2018.
The festival is usually marked by side attractions such as music performances, comedy, food competitions, indoors and outdoor games with prizes to be won and gaming activities for kids.
FG Will Do More To Develop Niger Delta – Osinbajo
The federal government has assured it will do more to enhance the physical development of the oil- bearing communities in the Niger Delta in the next four years.
Giving the assurance on Friday during a courtesy call at the Obotobo, Burutu council area, palace of the Ebenanaowei of Ogulagha Kingdom, HRM, Captain Joseph Timiyan I, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), lamented the inadequacy of the performances the development agencies created to fill gaps in the region.
The Vice President, who was in Delta state to perform some official assignments including the 20.29 KM Obotobo 1- Obotobo 11 – Sokebolou – Yokri Road in Ogulagha Kingdom, Burutu council area and the Main Axial Road in Okerenkoko, Gbaramatu Kingdom in Warri South-West council area, said the federal government would sit with the state government to determine area’s in need of development.
Osinbajo lamented the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has not been able to meet the expectations of the people of the region, a situation which he said would necessitate a meeting with the state governments to fashion out means of really impacting the people.
“The NDDC in many respect has not met the expectations of the oil producing states; a lot of money is invested in NDDC and the Ministry of the Niger Delta because the real reason they were created is to speed up the development of oil-rich communities. We will sit with the Delta State Governor to look at specific areas to develop in the creeks,” he said.
Meanwhile, while commissioning the road in Ogulagha Kingdom, Osinbajo said: “I want to commend Governor Okowa for his achievements in a neighbourhood and area that has not had this type of road.
“We commend him also on several other initiatives in this kingdom in particular, because this has been a very peaceful community and its a host to several of our oil and gas assets.
“So, its really is a special pleasure to commission these roads and also thank His Royal Highness,(Elder, Capt)Joseph Timiyan, who has maintained the peace in this neighborhood and who has shown true leadership by the way he has conducted the affairs of this area”, he said.
Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, disclosed that the Vice President was invited to commission the projects because he visited the creeks in the pursuit of peace and the enabling environment for oil and gas production.
“it is not just the length of the road that makes this project unique; it is that the road is located right beside the Atlantic Ocean with all the human, material, ecological and financial implications that this difficult terrain presents; we did not know we could get this length of road in the creek until the King drew our attention to it.
“I am happy about the progress we have made so far; this has greatly helped to ensure peace in the State, which bodes well for uninterrupted oil production and the health of the national economy; we are continuing to use various structures and initiatives to ensure that the peace we have enjoyed in the last three years is sustained,” the governor said.
RUGA: Niger Delta Militants Issue Serious Warning To Northern Youths
Some Niger Delta militants under the banner of Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators have issued a stern warning to youths from the Northern part of the country over their recent threat and ultimatum to residents from the Southern region of the country.
The militants warned that the Northern youths were worsening the already-tensed situation in the country.
Buhari had announced suspension of the Federal Government’s earlier plan to establish settlement for Fulani herdsmen across the country.
The militants however advised the Buhari-led government to build the settlement in the large expanse of land at the Sambisa forest instead of siting same elsewhere.
The group spoke against the backdrop of a 30-day ultimatum by the youths to President Muhammadu Buhari and Southern Governors to implement the Ruga settlement policy.
This was contained in a statement issued in Port Harcourt on Sunday by John Dukku, the leader of the coalition, who said it was unfortunate that the Northern groups would call for the implementation of a policy that had been suspended.
The statement added, “The attention of the Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators has been drawn to the recent second round of 30 days ultimatum issued by the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) to the Federal Government to forcefully implement the suspended RUGA settlement for Fulani herdsmen across the country or they will resort to self help and destruction of lives and property of Southerners resident in the North.
“The Coalition of Northern Groups further issued an ultimatum to Southerners living in the North to vacate if their various state governments refused to donate lands to federal government for the implementation of its suspended Ruga settlement within the said 30 days.
“We are surprised that in a time like this when killings of innocent citizens is the order of the day by CNG brothers, we thought CNG and Arewa youths would have risen above ethnic sentiments to condemn the unprovoked killings and the high rate of poverty in the land, rather they are bent on worsening the already tensed situation by issuing unwarranted threat.
“While we see the recent RUGA settlement plan by the Federal Government as its plot to Fulanise and Islamise the entire country by proxy. We also want the CNG to note that there is no settlement in the entire Northern part of Nigeria allocated to any tribe or ethnic group of Southern origin by the federal government under any name or guise.
“Therefore the recent threat by CNG is ill-conceived and foolishly advised by their sponsors/war mongers who feel they are super humans.
“We therefore also want to re-echo that the entire South-South and Niger Delta would never part with any of its land to Fulani terrorists no matter the amount of threat.
“We advise the Northern youths and the Presidency to build their planned Fulani settlements in Sambisa forest and stop chasing shadows as forceful implementation of such ethnic plan would only spell doom for the country.
“The Coalition of Northern Groups, Arewa Youths, MACBAN, Northern Elders, the Security Agencies and the Presidency should note that any Niger Deltan or Southerner killed by Northern youths as a result of this threat shall receive severe and adequate response from us.”
Fulani Herdsmen: Niger Delta Elders Reject Ruga Settlement
The Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has rejected the plan to establish settlements for herdsmen across the country.
Alfred Mulade, PANDEF’s national secretary, made this known in a statement.
The group accused the federal government of making the “disturbing decision unilaterally”.
It also alleged that the federal government is disrespecting the rule of law, saying the power to allocate lands was vested in governors.
PANDEF called on governors of states in the region to reject the idea, saying “it is capable of undermining the prevailing relative peace and security in the region.”
“Without any equivocation, PANDEF strongly condemns the programme and hereby states that there is no land anywhere in the Niger Delta Region for the establishment of such settlements for herdsmen, “the statement read.
“It is quite disturbing that in a democracy, the Federal Government would unilaterally decide the establishment of Ruga settlements or cattle colonies.
“It is necessary to note that the Land Use Act, enacted in 1978 to regulate land tenure and administration systems, and to ensure effective and equitable utilization of land and land resources in the country, vests all urban land within a state in the state governor, and all non-urban land in the local governments in which they are found.
“This disrespect to the Rule of Law with impunity and authoritarianism neither fits into the practice of Democracy nor supports Mr President’s recent recommendation of True Federalism for Nigeria.
“In fact, along with the re-submission of the Inland Waterways Bill and the approval of a Radio frequency for the establishment of Radio stations for herdsmen by the Federal Government, there is only one inescapable conclusion, and that is, Nigeria is towing a catastrophic destiny.”
The group also called on the federal government to do away with the plan or be ready to meet with resistance.
Governors of Taraba and Benue as well as their counterparts in the south-east have all kicked against the establishment of settlements for herdsmen.
The federal government said the initiative is meant to resolve the farmers-herders crisis.