By Simon Ebegbulem
BENIN—Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, worldwide, has called for the creation of an autonomous local government area for the Ijaw people of Edo State, saying it was the only way to douse the tension between the Ijaw and Bini.
According to IYC, Ijaw communities such as Egbema, Olodiama, Gbarain, Furupagha and Okomu Ijaw Kingdom need to be allowed to live together in a separate local government area so that they can live in peace among themselves.
A statement by the IYC President, Eric Omare in Benin City, Edo State, said that the creation of an autonomous council was the panacea to the growing tension between the Ijaw people of Edo State and the Bini.
According to the statement: “The reason for the Bini laying claim to Ijaw lands in Edo State is because of the balkanization of the Ijaw people into three Bini dominated councils in the state, namely, Ovia South West, Ovia North East and Ikpoba/Okhai Local Government Areas, as micro minorities despite their huge population and treated like third class citizens in their own country.
¨The Bini people and the Edo State Government should emulate the example of Ondo State where the Ijaw of Apoi and Arogbo have an autonomous council known as Ese-Odo Local Government Area in Ondo State and are allowed local political freedom to choose their leaders and treated as equals in the affairs of the state.”
“Unlike Edo State, in Ondo State Ijaws have council chairman of their own, member of the House of Assembly, a member of the state executive council, have produced members of the House of Representatives, former Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and currently the Deputy Governor of Ondo State.
“However, the reverse is the case as the Edo Ijaws are not even allowed to produce councillor of their own in some cases. The situation of the Edo State Ijaws is similar to the apartheid regime in South Africa.”