The Ijaw People Assembly worldwide also known as the Ijaw Nation Development Group (INDG), having keenly examined with stark satisfaction, the statement of the president of the Ijaw national Congress (INC), Professor Benjamin Okaba, on June 18, 2021 in a press conference, hereby vehemently support the INC position on behalf of the Ijaw ethnic nationality in the compass, Nigeria.
Of a truth, our silence should not be taken for granted nor mistaken for cowardice. It is no fiction that Nigeria is at the edge of a precipice occasioned by misrulership, and social, political and economic injustice.
Nigeria now, is more divided along sundry cleavage lines than anytime in history. Nigerians are engulfed in miasmata of apathy and hopelessness not of their making but of the making of a dysfunctional nation state. The British experiment of 1914 supposedly expired in 2014 following which a renegotiation of Nigeria became imperative.
Rather than address the issues bedeviling Nigeria at the very root, the current administration at the helm of national affairs, by way of utterances, mutism, body language or lackadaisical disposition, apparently tolerates (at best) or apparently enables (at worst) the spate of worsening insecurity, social anomie, heightened desperation and systemic poverty; as such, relief and citizens prosperity in the country are at phantasmagorical levels.
The current constitution operated by the supposedly expired British experiment is far from people’s constitution. Many have argued that good and effective leadership under a skewed constitution can proffer hope to the citizens. Yet others argue that a people’s constitution followed through the letters can instill hope in the citizens even under a leadership that is below par.
Whereas prosperity and happiness in any nation are better guaranteed under a mix of good leadership and a people- centred constitution, Nigeria has been drawn to the vortex of double jeorpady in that wise. A situation where ijaws are made to play second fiddle in a country to which we are indigenous, despite our huge endowment in human and natural resources, whereas carpetbaggers continue to hold sway in our polity, cannot be the dreams of our forebears.
We, at the INDG are committed to promoting the sustainable development of Ijaws and our collective territory regardless of current location on the geographic contraption, Nigeria. No Ijaw should be left behind!
At INDG, Ijaw lives matter and we shall continue to defend our right to life, right to free speech, right to a clean and sustainable environment and other such rights as shall be in tandem with Ijaw development goals and such we shall so pursue within the ambits of legitimacy.
We stand unflinchingly with the INC position to reiterate the following few:
1. That Ijaws are autochthomous in their territory. That we are not a conquered people and we can’t be conquered. In that regard, we should be equal players in the body politic. A fourth largest ethnic nation (Ijaw nation) can not be given the appellation of minority in a comity of well over 250 ethnic nations.
2. All obnoxious laws as well as draconian policies hindering the progress of the Ijaw nation and the country at large be jettisoned. We challenge the federal government to cede mining licenses of solid minerals in Borno and Zamfara states to people of Ijaw extraction as it is done regarding the oil and gas in Ijaw territory. The nascent water resources bill is disgustingly objectionable to the ijaws and we strongly advice that it be halted and pooh-poohed by the legislative houses as it will only create another portal for future, yet avoidable agitations. The water Resources Bill is a hegemonic veneer for grabbing our God -given waterways.
3. That true federalism be enshrined under a new constitution articulated by the people. We are very reluctant to continue on a collective path to progress in a union where discourses on cattle grazing routes in a nomadic fashion regarding private enterprise (cattle herding) in a 21st century has become a top issue of national interest well over education, health, science and technology. The ongoing constitution review project in the estimation of the INDG is a charade or window- dressing that will not provide succour to the common man in the creeks of Ijaw natural territories. The 1999 constitution lied to Nigerians to the effect that it was said to be enacted by the component federating units or the people. Amending a lie can make telling further lies inevitable. A brand new constitution is the way to go!
4. The federal government should take urgent steps to remediate Ijaw environment. The decades of oil and gas exploration and exploitation has ripped our environment of nearly everything congenial. We are fishermen and fisherwomen. We can no longer fish for sustenance let alone for commerce as aquatic lives within our hydrosphere have been significantly decimated by reason of oil and gas- related activities of the central government.
5.That we shall support systems, processes, discussions and legislations that will advance our happiness and prosperity wherever we are found; we shall also support the pursuit of happiness and prosperity of others within the Nigerian space.
6. The current happenings in Nigeria has long reached intolerable levels and as such, we call on the national government to take frantic steps as well as concerted efforts to reverse the trend through a national dialogue where all aggrieved sections of the country shall be heard and their concerns attended to.
We want to be in a country we can call our own. We can not be slaves in our own country.
INDG herewith enjoins all ijaws in Nigeria and in the diaspora to support a methodic emancipation of Ijaws from the asphyxiating grip of feudalistic hegemonists, starting from resource control. We look forward to supporting INC in more than many ways as INC convenes an All IJAW Summit with a view to accentuating in a declarative stance, Ijaw national position. We at INDG shall in no small measure obscurantist tendencies that would negate our visibility as a reliable ally of INC in developing trust for our content and quality.
Ben Nanaghan Dortimi Kester.
President, INDG. Secretary, INDG
19th June, 2021.