By Emma Amaize
WARRI – THE Ijaw National Congress (INC) and the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) opposed, weekend, any attempt to recommence fresh hostilities in the Niger-Delta region, saying the era of armed struggle was over and the armed fighters should quit the state for intellectual agitators.
President of the INC, Dr. Atuboyabia Obianime and the national president of the IYC, Dr. Chris Ekiyor stated this, weekend, in their keynote and welcome speeches at the 11th anniversary symposium by the IYC on the Kaiama Declaration/ post amnesty summit at Effurun in Delta state.
The Minister of Niger-Delta, Chief Ufot Ekaette who was represented by his special assistant, Mr. Edi Orugbo commended the IYC for its role in the prevailing peace in the region and urged it to continue in like manner so that the post amnesty programme would be a resounding success.
Dr. Ekiyor who set the tone of the discussion with his address said the Ijaw youths had prosecuted in the past 11 years an agenda for self determination by any means possible, as agreed in Kaiama in 1998, saying, the agitation led to the creation of the Niger-Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and Ministry of Niger-Delta.
Pointing out that the Federal Government has executed its programme of disarmament to a holistic conclusion in the first phase; he said amnesty was only a means to an end and not an end to the Niger-Delta question.
His words, â€œHowever, Niger-Delta should proceed from there to the intellectual dimension to drive and tell the Nigerian state the way forward. In fact,Â a new chapter of Niger-Delta struggle has opened, it is no longer be the use of arms, it should now be intellectual, where we will take it mentally to the National Assembly and others to change the oppressive laws against the region so that things will begin to workâ€.
INC president, Dr. Obianime noted the amnesty programme of the Federal Government seemed to have caught the freedom fighters given their inability to understand and agree on the way forward since then.
According to him, â€œThere seem to be a lack of orientation and direction. With the change in the rules of engagement, many are caught unaware, therefore, a feeling of betrayal and loss. We need to quickly engage such minds to release their creative energies in the short, medium and long term employments. So we need skills and new contemporary skills to become employable and usefully engagedâ€.
Obianime who got a standing ovation for his lecture, entitled, â€œFrom the trenches of the swamps to the top of the Zuma Rockâ€ said Kaiama Declaration of 1998 does no longer represent arms struggle, but, a battle of brains that should be jointly fought by the elders and youths to bring development and not crisis to the region.
Saying, â€œKaiama taught us that if we want, we can. That is to say, if we set our minds to it, we can achieveâ€, the INC leader said while the old Kaiama was a story of armed struggle by the youths, the new Kaiama is a philosophical- driven struggle in which violence is less fashionable, â€œand in consonance with international norms, political and social engineering, networking and reappraisal of issues must take overâ€.
He added, â€œWe need to put our house in order to re-engage a Federal Government who after amnesty and the resuscitation of the oil output and cartel, has no real grasp or urgency in any form to redress the imbalances of the past in the region. The post amnesty era must be a period of concrete talks, capacity and skill buildingâ€¦â€