Ijaws Convene, Harp on Unity, Development

Ijaws Convene, Harp on Unity, Development

Members of the Ijaw National Congress (INC), Western Zone, on Saturday convened in a townhall meeting to reiterate the need for unity and development.

The meeting of the Zone, which comprises of Delta, Ondo and Edo states had in attendance critical stakeholders, traditional rulers, youth and women bodies.

The meeting titled: “Ijaw unity and sensitization” was chaired by former Minister of Police Affairs, Alaowei Broderick Bozimor and held at the PTI Conference Centre, Effurun, Delta State.

Speaking, Alaowei Broderick, commended the INC led by Prof. Benjamin Okaba for being committed to services of Ijaw nation, adding that the leadership has hown capacity on the mandate rested on its shoulders.

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Among other things, the former minister assured that the dreams of the founding fathers would be sustained, stressing that Ijaw should speak in one voice and show dedication to its course.

On the part of the chairman of Delta Ijaw Traditional Council, His Royal Majesty, Elder Capt Joseph I. Timiyan JP, the Paramount Ruler, Ogulagha Kingdom in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State, there should be synergy between Ijaw political leaders, INC and the traditional institutions to achieve rapid development and the needed unity in Ijaw nation.

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His Royal Majesty, King Dr. Charles Ayemi-Botu, aka “Lion of the Niger,” who is the paramount ruler of Seimbiri Kingdom, HRM Bosu Dio, JP, the Ayamabulo1 of Idwini kingdom in Delta State and HRM Ekiomi Oweiagbe, the paramount ruler of Operemor kingdom and other traditional rulers also spoke on the same vein.

The key note speakers of the event Associate Prof. Stephen Ileoye Aina, Chief Tumbo Hippo Broderick Ph.D and Rev Dr. (Col.Rtd) Joel G.Jibor strongly emphasized on building strong institutions that would form the base of Ijaw nation unity and development.

The various speakers blamed Ijaw political leaders for the underdevelopment of the Ijaw nation, adding that until such leaders see the need to influence developmental projects in Ijaw nation, it would be difficult for Ijaw nation to move forward.

The president of Ijaw National Congress, INC, Prof. Benjamin Okoba raised some germane challenges in Ijaw nation such as the move to alienated Ijaw communities from Akwa-Ibom map, adding there is a move in the national assembly to redraw Akwa-Ibom state map, so as to claim ownership of Ijaw territories in the state.

According him, Calabar people who are majority in the state have told the senate champer that the state does not have a map, hence they want to draw map for the state, narrating that Ijaw nation seriously frowned at the move and that INC have gone to court to challenge the state actors.

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Okaba, while speaking at the event condemned herdsmen killings in Patani, Agiama, and other Bayelsa and Delta communities, stating that traditional rulers should not leave security in their communities in the hands of strangers.

He advised that local vigilantes groups be up to compliment the conventional security operatives in every Ijaw community.

The INC president said: “Don’t sell land to strangers, especially herders and other perceived criminal elements in Ijaw communities. Those who are selling land to strangers threatening Ijaw nation peaceful co-existence should be seriously cautioned.

“It may interest you to note that every military barrack, there is a Fulani settlement, you may not understand the intent behind. It is a move to conquer Nigeria in a couple of time. Please be wise my people, stand up and take the security of your community and kingdoms very serious to dispel every security threat”, he stressed.

He highlighted how Niger Delta struggle started in Rivers state by Ijaw leaders and how later Ijaws became second class citizens in the state.

The Ijaw leader narrated, “We tried our best, work very hard collectively with our brothers in the other divides, with the governor’s magnanimity and today we have produced a governor in Rivers state”.

He also urged Ijaw political leaders to work hard to be found in the positions of the secretary to the state government, Chief of staff and speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, especially now that Ijaw son is not a governor, nor in deputy position.

“Delta Ijaws must move to occupy other vital positions in the state. Ijaw will keenly involve in the strategic moves to produce a federal minister from Delta State in the next administration in the country”, he said.

Okaba also explained efforts being made by INC and the Forum of president generals in Niger Delta to end Aladja and Ogbe-Ijoh communal crisis which had lingered for decade.

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However, one of the guest speakers, Associate Prof. Stephen Ileoye Aina, highlighted greedy, selfishness and poor leadership qualities as part of the challenges facing Ijaw unity.

He noted, “Let me say how delighted I am to be part of this important conversation at a time when it has become imperative to discuss ljaw’s unity. For sometime now our unity has been called to question and this, to say the least, has been slowing down our integration and undermining most envisaged development. Our survival would appear to have been caught in the trap created by this phenomenon. It is therefore important we put the issues on the table and discuss them with a view to finding lasting solutions to the problems of Ijaw unity”.

While delivering speech Chief Tumbo Hippo Broderick, a key note speaker said: “The leadership have to formulate the policies and also authoritatively allocate the available resources to sectorial areas for development. In this regard, there is need for interaction between the leaders and the citizens who are the ultimate beneficiaries of the development projects.

The approach to effect development in our society, Nigeria and also other developing countries has been a top down approach until of recent, most nations in the developing world adopted the bottom-up development approach.

In concluding the introductory part of this lecture is basically all about building political and economic capital for development. The main focus of the lecture is on mobilizing resources and building political and economic centres for the development of society, Ijaw inclusive”.

The INC western zone chairman, Chief Ogunkoru Robinson who spoke on behalf of his exco emphasized on poor support and participation of Ijaw political leaders on the activities of Ijaw National Congress, adding that more should be done by Ijaw leaders to encourage the apex body’s activities.

Addressing newsmen shortly after the event, the INC national publicity secretary Mr Izonebi Oyakemeagbegha thanked the participants at the historical event, adding that more programmes of INC would be unveiled in no distance time.

He further said that INC had made progresses in the course of Ijaw nation and Niger Delta region, adding that Ijaw people should repose confidence on the apex body and that they wouldn’t be disappointed at the end of Okaba led administration.

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