NEDU MARK, Yenagoa
The Ijaw ethnic group under the auspices of Ijaw National Congress, INC has said that the current structure of the Nigerian state under President Muhammadu Buhari of All Progressives Congress, APC, is lopsided in favour of the majority ethnic nationalities.
The group also said that the development was such that there is inadequate socio-political and economic space for the minority ethnic nationalities, particularly the Ijaw people of Niger Delta, to operate.
In a communique signed by 31 prominent Ijaw personalities including the former Governor of Bayelsa state, Chief Diepreye Alamieseyegha, and released to newsmen after the Pan Ijaw Stakeholders Summit with the theme, ‘Ijaw Agenda Beyond May 29, 2015,’ the group decried the current structure of government and demanded that the anomaly be redressed.
The former Military Governor of old Rivers State, King Alfred Diete-Spiff and Emeritus Professor of History, Ebiegberi Alagoa were also signatories to the communique which noted with regret that successive administrations in Nigeria had proved unwilling to accede to the demand by the Ijaws to be united in homogeneous political entities of their own.
INC reaffirmed that Nigeria is made up of diverse ethnic nationalities with varying histories, motivations and aspirations, insisting that the ethnic nationalities should form the basis of a true Nigerian federation.
The communique reads in part: “Conscious of the fact that the environment remains the most valuable physical resource for development and survival of the Ijaw ethnic nationality, the summit notes that the Ijaw oil and gas communities suffer the deleterious effects of oil and gas exploration and exploitation.
“But we regret the inability of the Nigerian state to address the concomitant negative impacts on the health, economy, culture and environment of the Ijaw people. This reality is leading to the gradual extinction of the Ijaw people.
“Dissatisfied with the present constitutional and legislative arrangements for resource control and allocation in Nigeria, the summit observes that in all true federations and other civilised states, the communities that bear natural resources control these resources and only pay taxes to the central government. Nigeria is the only exception.
“Aware of the fact that violence and restiveness is a new phenomenon foisted on Ijaw people by circumstances of oppression and frustrations, we observe that continued militarisation of Ijaw territory has resulted in severe erosion of our cherished values as a people.”
The Ijaw people, therefore, agreed to take steps to promote and sustain the Izon language as part of efforts to maintain and promote their cultural values.
The group expressed their desire for self determination, reaffirming their total rejection of the unjust legal order that robs resource owners of their rights to their resources.
“The summit acknowledged the fact that the secession treaties between the Ijaw and British colonial authorities have lapsed and that the instrument of amalgamation of 1914 that produced Nigeria expired in 2014.
“Consequently, the summit empowers the Ijaw National Congress to initiate the process of renegotiating the basis of coexistence with other ethnic nationalities.”