Home News Ijaw may opt for self-determination, says INC president

Ijaw may opt for self-determination, says INC president

by James Davies

By Simon Utebor, Yenagoa

The President of pan-Ijaw group, Ijaw National Congress (INC), Prof. Benjamin Okaba, has said that in the absence of true federalism with a new constitution in Nigeria, the people of Ijaw ethnic stock will embrace self-determination and self-actualisation.

Okaba revealed this Saturday at a news conference in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, against the backdrop of growing insecurity, banditry, tension, injustice, nepotism and other socio-economic and political problems plaguing the country.

He said their current resolve for self-determination and self-actualisation by the Ijaw people could only be reversed if urgent steps were taken by the powers that be to urgently and sincerely address the minimum conditions precedent to guarantee their continued commitment to the Nigerian project.

He advocated the restoration of true federalism under a new constitution enacted by the people wherein a lean exclusive legislative list is prescribed for the federal tier of the government.

He also called for the restoration of Ijaw territory as a non-balkanised administrative and political federating unit (s) for reassurance of the Ijaw development pursuit.

He said the Ijaw people had watched with deep consternation the gradual decline of the Nigeria state to the precipice, as it embarked upon a rudderless mission to self-implosion.

He said rather than douse the rising tension in the country, resulting from growing insecurity, mass poverty, disillusionment and the unbridled atrocities perpetrated by well-known and unknown actors, the comments by some notable and equally influential political and ethno-religious leaders in Nigeria are insipidly conflagratory and divisive.

He said it might be apposite to infer that if the current unrestrained orgy of violence unleashed on the country was not urgently and squarely checked by those with responsibility to do so, the end of Nigeria as a united nation might just be irredeemable.

Okaba, a Professor of Sociology at the Federal University, Otuoke, said one major reason for the detestable situation was the heightened injustice and marginalisation of Nigerians, particularly of the minorities (including the Ijaw ethnic nationality) who have endured for too long.

He said despite the huge sacrifices the Ijaw people have made and are still making to the birth and sustenance of the country, the Ijaw have never been fairly treated by the Nigeria nation.

Okaba said his address also served as an advance notice to all Ijaw people, their neighbours, particularly in the Niger Delta region, others oppressed and deprived and the Nigerian state, preparatory to the convocation of an all Ijaw summit that would ultimately decide on the way forward in very specific terms.

Okaba equally called for the repeal of all obnoxious and discriminatory laws and policies that have continuously undermined their fundamental human and environmental rights as indigenous people of Nigeria

He said the Ijaw land and the Niger Delta region is the only place in the entire world where oil and gas is produced but have remained impoverished, neglected and underdeveloped, adding that their retreat from militancy to meaningful and constructive engagement should not be undermined for cowardice.

The INC president said clear evidence is the unacceptable story of the Federal Government spending over 15 years in constructing a yet to be completed major East-West road that ferries petroleum products across the country.

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