31 July 2016, Warri — ELDERS and Leaders of Thoughts of Ijaw ethnic nationality in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, weekend, warned Ijaw militants against their vow to declare the republic of Niger-Delta, saying that what Ijaw nation wants is true federalism.
Ijaw leaders at a consultative meeting in Warri, Delta State, hosted by Ijaw national leader, Chief Edwin Clark, said: “The Elders and Leaders of Thought of the Ijaw nation call for the immediate restructuring of the Nigerian nation along the lines of peaceful federalism, and noticed that this is the panacea for the sustainable development of Nigeria.”
Bayelsa state governor, Hon Henry Seriake Dickson, Deputy Governor of Delta state, Mr. Kingsley Otuaro, former Deputy Governor of Rivers State, Sir Gabriel Toby, former Minister of Culture, Alabo Tonye Graham-Douglas and ex-Minister of Police Affairs, Alaowei Brodrick Bozimo attended the meeting.
Also at the meeting were former national chairman of the Traditional Rulers of Oil Mineral Producing Communities of Nigeria, HRM Pere Charles Ayemi-Botu, Mbene III, Ama-Okosu of Ogbe-Ijoh kingdom, Alabo Tobin-West; Chief Boma Obuoforibo, INC National Chairman, and Sir Ngo Martins Martyns-Yellowe, Chairman Civil Service Commission On the current dialogue with militants and stakeholders in the region, they stated in a communiqué, “As a demonstration of sincerity of commitment to dialogue, Federal government should immediately withdraw the military from all occupied Ijaw communities, particularly Gbaramatu kingdom.”
Non-inclusiveness of current Govt
The leaders also noted the “non-inclusion policies of the present administration, which has led to the alienation of some components of the federation, particularly the Ijaw nation from the mainstream of national development” and called on Mr. President to “redress this ugly state of affairs.” Furthermore, they said the prevailing trend of executive/legislature face off was negatively affecting governance and enjoined both arms to work in harmony in the interest of the nation. The meeting noted the impact of various activities of militant groups of the Niger Delta on the national economy and ordered them to cease further attacks on crude oil and gas facilities and embrace the offer of dialogue offered by the federal government.
They also called on the FG to release the 10 innocent students of Gbaramatu kingdom. “The meeting passed a vote of confidence on the Chief Boma Obuoforibo-led leadership of the Ijaw National Congress. We condemn the move to scrap the Nigerian Maritime University approved by the preceding Federal Government with a temporary site at Kurutie and call for the immediate take-off of the university,” the leaders said in the communiqué. Chief Clark, however, noted in his opening remarks that any planned or ongoing dialogue between the federal government and militants amounts to a nullity without the involvement of Ijaw leaders. He emphasized before the leaders went into a closed-door session that they converged to reach a common ground on the renewed militancy and its impact on the Niger Delta and Nigeria.
“This is not the first time this kind of crisis is happening. In 2008 and 2009, similar incident happened and Gbaramatu was affected, elders, leaders intervened and we got Amnesty. “Today we hear that federal government is planning, already talking or negotiating with militants and nobody has consulted us. That will not work. These children are our children and we cannot fold our hands when they attack them and pretend not to notice. We must be involved in what government wants to do,” he said.
I am vindicated – Gov Dickson
In his remark on the occasion, Governor Dickson felt vindicated on the stance of the Ijaw leaders in tandem with his earlier position on the current situation in the Niger Delta and state of the Nigerian nation. “I have said there is no need for more wars in the Niger Delta, certainly not in Ijaw land as the matter is not for war-war but jaw-jaw. I am delighted that our leaders are thinking in that same direction. This meeting is like a prelude to a larger, more comprehensive Ijaw meeting of all our leaders that the government of Bayelsa state would host in no distant time.
*Emma Amaize – Vanguard