The pan Ijaw socio-cultural group, the Ijaw National Congress (INC) led by the erudite Professor of sociology, Benjamin Ogele Okaba last week made the Ijaws across the globe proud with the visit to the President Mohammadu Buhari.
This August visit shows that the Ijaws were actually missing in action, with the comatose posture of the apex congress due to lack of leadership and direction.
No thanks to the former governor of Bayelsa state, Senator Henry Seriake Dickson whose ignoble role thwarted efforts to give the Ijaws a voice, when the election for the enthronement of a leadership for the congress was botched by hoodlums allegedly sponsored by the erstwhile Bayelsa “strong man”.
The current governor, Senator Douye Diri needs to be appreciated for the direction he gave in ensuring that the INC bounce back to life and give the Ijaws a voice.
Professor Benjamin Ogele Okaba and executive members clearly have done the needful by engaging the Nigerian President with baggages of demand for a fair deal for the Ijaws who are the proverbial goose that lays the golden eggs that had suffered neglect for long.
For the visit to come five weeks after their inauguration is a pointer that the Professor Benjamin Ogele Okaba led INC should be given all the needed support to take the Ijaw nation to the eldorado she deserved.
It is worthy of note that this unique visit is significant because the Ijaws are first ethnic nationality to engage the Nigerian President with genuine demands on how peace and stability of the nation can be sustained.
Coming at the heels of agitations by some aggrieved ethnic nationalities with calls for secession and balkanization of the current structure.
We must continue to insist on the unity of the country, because in unity there is bound to be progress and development. Other ethnic nationalities should emulate the Ijaws because only through dialogue and engagements that some wrongs can be corrected.
Wanton Killings and destructions cannot solve the age long problems of corruption, marginalization and discrimination by the ruling class. If the agitators take a little rest and reflect on the issues of misrule and poor governance, they will notice that all political actors from the various divides are culpable because they benefit one way or the other as collaborators in the deprivation of their own people of the good things of life.
Until the politicians realize that their call to duty is service to the people, we would continue to witness increase crime and criminality in high and low places.
The needed turn-around must begin with the presidency and the national legislature because the pivot of progress, peace and stability starts from there not minding the ongoing constitution review, the federal government must call for a national dialogue of major stakeholders to negotiate the future of this country.
I am in sync with the president of the INC when he bluntly made our points thus; ” our plight are becoming unbearable. Our story is that of a people well blessed. It is an history of a people well blessed within their natural habitat and aboriginal locations but paradoxically we have been so dislocated politically, economically and socially. We have been intentionally deprived the space to prosper and soar as a people, we have been made refugees in our aboriginal lands while our wealth has been taken to give an asylum of opulence to the rest of Nigeria.
“The Ijaw agenda of self-actualization is predicated on Resource Justice. Our quest and resolve is for a just and justifiable reward for our resources and sacrifices. We believe very strongly that this is achievable and shall be of mutual benefit to the state, the Ijaw people and the generality of Nigerians. “Restructuring might just be the magic wand that could turn things around for a more prosperous, united and stable Nigeria. We are only seeking the re-enactment of the once viable and accepted old order of derivation that would allow us own, manage and control our God given resource (that we directly bear the multiple brunt of exploitation), as it was practiced in this country when the Yorubas had cocoa, the Ibos had palm oil, and Hausa Fulani produce and paid prescribed taxes to government.”
The president should not take the demands of the Ijaws with a pinch of salt, but must put in place all machineries needed to put his name in the sands of history. His name would be definitely be written in gold as one of Nigeria’s leaders who left a lasting legacy. I wish to congratulate Professor Okaba and his team for a job well done. Mr President please listen to the echoes of the INC.