Ijaw elders, leaders set up panel on restructuring
Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
The Governor of Bayelsa State, Mr. Seriake Dickson, on Tuesday moved to reconcile contending groups in the region and urged the Ijaw ethnic nationality to support the ongoing reconciliation efforts to strengthen the Ijaw National Congress (INC) and the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC).
Dickson said that both organisations were critical to the effective coordination of the people’s struggle against emergent challenges in the national space.
A statement by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media Relations, Mr. Fidelis Soriwei, said the governor made the call while speaking at a consultative meeting with Ijaw leaders and elders in the Eastern Zone of the Ijaw Nation comprising Rivers and Akwa Ibom States, in Port Harcourt.
Dickson was said to be reacting to some concerns raised by four-time Minister, Alabo Tonye Graham-Douglas, who hosted the meeting, on the issue of the unity of the organizations entrusted with the responsibility of promoting the cause of the people in the Nigerian federation.
He said: “We cannot afford a divided and fragmented INC; we cannot afford a fragmented IYC. These are essential organs of the Ijaw struggle and movement. Just as I raised these issues while consulting with Pa Edwin Clark, I am here to consult with you on the way forward.”
Speaking also on the issue of restructuring, Dickson stressed that the Ijaws were united in the demand for a restructured Nigerian Federation that would guarantee economic justice and freedom.
“We all know where the Ijaw nation stand on that issue. Our position is to fight for a restructured, just, equitable, egalitarian democratic Nigeria, where all of us have the respect that we rightly deserve and our people have the necessary freedom to organize ourselves and to benefit from the endowments that nature has put in our soil.
“We are all united about this and there is no argument about it in the entire Ijaw nation, and to advance these things, we need to be on one page. So again, I call for unity, forgiveness, and I call on all of us to support a reorganized, virile and cohesive Ijaw nation,” he added.
The meeting of the leaders and elders agreed to establish a think tank on modalities for mobilisation and for restructuring. The committee is saddled with the responsibility of monitoring and evaluating developmental efforts in business politics, economic and socio-cultural endeavours.
In his remarks, the host, Graham-Douglas, said that the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) had failed in its statutory duty to uplift the development of the impoverished oil bearing communities of the Niger Delta.
According to him, the NDDC contrary to the law and expectations had focused development activities on the state capitals to the exclusion of the oil producing areas.
Present at the meeting were former Deputy Governor of Rivers State, Sir Gabriel Toby, His Majesty, Dr. Kroma Eleki, a former President of the INC, Boma Obuoforibo, Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Konbowei Benson, retired Federal Permanent Secretary, Amb. Godknows Igali and AVM Larry Koinyan (rtd).
Others were the Dappa Amakiri of Opobo, Prof. D.M.J Fubara, Chairman PDP Bayelsa State, Mr Moses Cleopas, Secretary to the Bayelsa State Government, Kemela Okara, Prof. Mildred Amakiri and Prof. Steve Azaiki, Pro Chancellor of the Niger Delta University (NDU).