By Simon Ebegbulem
BENIN—THE Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, has urged Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State and Benin leaders to call the Benin National Congress, BNC, to order, so as to avoid unnecessary inter -ethnic war between the Ijaw and Benin people over the Gelegele sea port project.
President of IYC, Eric Omare, who spoke to Vanguard in Benin City, said that the threat by BNC to go to war with the Ijaw over the Gelegele sea port project was capable of inciting Benin youths against the Ijaw, warning that if urgent steps were not taken, the issue might degenerate into a bloody ethnic conflict which will not do the Niger Delta any good.
It will be recalled that BNC had warned the Ijaw to stay off Gelegele land after they accused the Ijaw of claiming the land and warned that they might go to war if the Ijaw tried to annex Gelegele land which, according to them belongs to the Oba of Benin.
But reacting, Omare said: “As people who have contributed to the peaceful inter-ethnic relationship in the Niger Delta, we condemn that statement. It is uncalled for and unacceptable to our people. I believe that there are more civil means of expressing grievances rather than threatening war.
“Furthermore, such threat of war is not in tandem with the recent efforts of leaders of the Niger Delta under the auspices of PANDEF to bring all ethnic nationalities in the Niger Delta region under one umbrella to collectively and peacefully agitate for our rights.”
“More so, the statement is inciting, capable of inciting Benin youths against Ijaw youths and which can snowball into interethnic crisis between the Ijaw and Benin people. We call on leaders of the Benin ethnic nationality and the government of Edo State to call leaders of BNC to order in order to avoid unnecessary inter- ethnic crisis in the Niger Delta region.
“On gelegele, what is need is for all stakeholders to work together towards the actualization of the Gelegele sea port project and not comments that will drive away investors. We are calling for immediate intervention so as to avoid crisis in the region between the Ijaws and the Benin people,” he said.