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INC MEETING WITH BUHARI: We will explore legal means for self determination if… Ijaw in diaspora

“Ijaw Diaspora will explore all legal means to attain self-determination if the obvious issues presented are not addressed in a timely manner.”

By Ebi Perekeme

Leadership of the Ijaw Diaspora Council (IDC) with its global headquarters in New Jersey, USA with a global membership of Ijaw professionals in varying fields of economic and socio-political endeavors, has accused President Muhammadu Buhari of neglecting the plight of the Ijaw people and as such it has aligned with the Ijaw National Congress (INC) on its stand point in the recent meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa (Aso Rock Villa) in Abuja.

Logo of Ijaw Diaspora Council (IDC)

In a statement to GbaramatuVoice and signed by its President, Professor Mondy Gold, the IDC said that it has “reviewed and analyzed the situation in Nigeria. We have also reviewed statements by Professor Benjamin Ogele Okaba, President of the Ijaw National Congress (INC), cum president of the approximately 27 million indigenous Ijaw people domiciled in Nigeria and in other parts of the world and General Mohammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria during the INC Executive visit to the president on June 24, 2021.

“We wish to state that the plight of the Ijaw people in Nigeria was blatantly ignored by President Buhari. As a matter of fact, we review the concomitant response to the concerns raised by the INC contingent, with deep trepidation given the blandness and off-handedness in President Buhari’s response, have decided to express our discontent and our position on the way forward for the Ijaw Nation.

“To review, Prof. Benjamin Ogele Okaba stated in no uncertain terms that the Ijaws are in demand of restructuring the relationship between the center and the states to reflect true economic and political federalism that will allow for resource control by the varying states, while paying the constitutionally stipulated taxes to the center. In addition, the INC president tabled the current issues of the board control plaguing the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC); the Ijaw grievances of marginalization, neglect, and environmental degradation; request for adequate financial support and proper supervision of the Presidential Amnesty Program; call for the redistribution of oil and gas assets to benefit host communities; call for the federal government to compel oil and gas companies in Nigeria to contribute 3 percent of their annual budget to fund the NDDC, and also demand that oil companies relocate their headquarters to areas where they operate; concerns about the proposed water resources bill; request for the creation of two more homogeneous Ijaw States (Toru-Ebe, and Oil Rivers State); the revamping of the major ports at Onne, Warri, Port Harcourt, and Bonny to accelerate economic growth; a commitment to assist Ijaws in owning modular refineries to create wealth and jobs; and the frustration regarding the completion of the long-delayed construction of the East-West Road.”

Going further, IDC said: “In response to the presentation given by the INC leadership, President Buhari urged the INC to keep working together with the federal government to keep Nigeria as one united entity. In continuation, president Buhari blandly gave fleeting responses, answers, or simply pass the buck of responsibility of all the issues raised by the INC, on the desk of the National Assembly with respect to state creation; the governmental agencies in term of corruption at the NDDC; youths disturbances as related to the completion of the East-West Road project; laid down rules and regulations as related to ownership of marginal fields; while asking the INC to use its influence to bear on some of the issues raised that concerns the Niger Delta.

“The greatest issue of concern for the Ijaws worldwide is the assurance of President Okaba that the Ijaws have no secessionist agenda at this point in time. However, there are too many unanswered questions and President Buhari owes the Ijaw Diaspora community a lot of answers. It must be noted that the Ijaw Diaspora will explore all legal means to attain self-determination if the obvious issues presented are not addressed in a timely manner.

“In all, nothing raised by President Buhari demonstrates true compassion and commitment to resolving or acquiescing to any of the issues raised by the leadership of Ijaw Nation. It seems to be a waste of time and it is very shameful.

“Therefore, as an international body committed to the pursuit of the welfare, progress, development, and survival of the indigenous Ijaw people in Nigeria and the world, the Ijaw Diaspora has resolved to demand a committed, practical, measurable, and time-based approach to address all the concerns raised by the INC leadership.

“Otherwise, the Ijaw Diaspora will aggressively actualize the earlier pronouncement by the INC leadership for self-determination by the Ijaw Nation by all legal means necessary.

“This position is necessary, given the history of the undermining and deliberate marginalization of the Ijaw people by the federal government of Nigeria. For long, the Nigerian entity has suppressed, and/or aggressively put down any form of protest by the Ijaws for not only self-determination but for as simple as pursuing our inalienable rights to survival. To wit, the Ijaw Diaspora community is unequivocally determined to aggressively seek all legal means to attain self-determination.

“God bless the Ijaw Nation!”

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