By Emma Amaize and Chancel Sunday, Warri
Traditional rulers of Ijaw extraction in Delta State have complained that the Federal Government has, over the years, left out Ijaw indigenes from the state from the federal appointment, beseeching the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government to correct the anomaly.
We‘re sad —HRM Timiyan, Ogulagha monarch
Chairman of Ijaw Traditional Rulers Forum, Delta State, HRM Elder (Capt) King Joseph Timiyan JP, who spoke to NDV, stated: “I think from time immemorial, not just this administration, the Ijaw in Delta State are not taking on board. But this President Muhammadu Buhari administration has been the guiltiest. Even my kingdom, Ogulagha, which is oil-producing has not benefited from any federal appointment.”
HRM Timiyan, who is the paramount ruler of Ogulagha Kingdom, Burutu local government area, stated: “Really, the entire traditional rulers from Ijaw extraction in Delta State are unhappy over the appointments from Federal Government to Delta State because our people are not considered.
“There are lots of appointments from the Federal Government to Delta State, but none is from Ijaw extraction. President Buhari should appoint our sons and daughters from Ijaw extraction.
“The truth is that we are being marginalized in this part of the state, so the Federal Government has to look into it, as the matter affects production quantum. Appointments like this should be focused on the oil-producing areas because these agitations come from oil communities before the non-bearing oil communities also give support.
“Recently, we heard of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, appointments, none is coming to us Ijaw in Delta State, but there are appointments to Delta State, but not from Ijaw in Delta State.
“President Buhari should appoint our sons and daughters from Ijaw extraction and if he wants to know our problems, he should invite Ijaw traditional rulers and we will tell him those things affecting us, those things that he will do to ensure peace in Niger Delta, tackle youth restiveness and stop illegal oil refining,” he added.
It’s unjust —HRM Tabai
Also speaking, the traditional ruler of Esuku Kingdom and former Supreme Court judge, HRM (Justice) Francis Tabai, CON, JSC, who described marginalization of Delta-Ijaw as unkind, noted: “The federal character principle is founded on the principle of justice and fairness to all. It is founded on the principle of every part of the nation having a sense of belonging, which is a constitutional provision.
“As far as I am concerned, the above is one of the most beautiful provisions of the constitution that ensures our oneness as a nation, our oneness as a state and our oneness as a local government.
“Assuming there was no such specific provisions, the normal principle of justice and fairness dictates that when the Federal Government is giving out a number of federal appointments, the Ijaw of Delta State should not be completely excluded, unlike as it is done today.
“Once a section of the country is made to have that negative, unhealthy feeling of being excluded, it affects security and peace even at the family level.
“As far as I know, the president of this country cannot and is not expected to know everything, and I do not think the exclusion of Ijaws is deliberate on the part of the president himself.
“For instance, we have Delta State appointees in the president’s cabinet who are aware of this exclusion. The state’s representatives at the centre should also be held responsible for this exclusion because the president would not know.
“I call Mr President’s attention to this exclusion because it is unfair and against the principle of justice,” he said.
Enough is enough —HM Ayemi-Botu, Semibiri monarch
Former national chairman, Association of Traditional Rulers of Oil Minerals Producing Communities of Nigeria, ATROMPCON, and paramount ruler of Seimbiri Kingdom, HM Charles Ayemi-Botu, asserted that it was an understatement to say that Delta-Ijaw were being marginalized in federal appointments, as “it has become a vicious circle by successive government and it still persists.”
He said: “As a Delta-Ijaw monarch, the question of my justification does not arise, taking into cognizance that Ijaw belongs to the minority ethnic group and, in spite of the glaring fact that we are the fourth largest ethnic nationality in Nigeria, occupying a greater part of the coastal belt, as well as the largest oil-producing and economic live-wire and hub of the country.
“Ijaw monarchs are saying to President Buhari that enough is enough, he should reckon with Delta-Ijaw, as major stakeholders, be it appointment or infrastructural development because “he who pays the piper, dictates the tune.”
I’m disappointed, disturbed —HRM Gbaraun II, Gbaramatu monarch
The traditional ruler of Gbaramatu Kingdom, Warri South-West local government area, HRM Oboro Gbaraun II, Aketegbe Agadagba, who corroborated the claim that Delta-Ijaw people were marginalized in federal appointments, said: “In as much as I am a detribalized person, a critical look at the placement in federal agencies, millennium development agencies, MDAs and parastatals show an imbalance in the appointment of Delta- Ijaws into key positions.
“As an Ijaw monarch, I feel dissatisfied and troubled owing to the fact that we all know how volatile peace in the Niger Delta region was vis-a-vis what is obtainable now. The Ijaw people of Delta State should be given a sense of belonging by appointing capable hands into key ministerial positions and heads of MDAs for proper representation and policy formulation that will positively affect the lives of the common man in the region.
“The peace we currently enjoy now cannot be compromised. Appointment into federal agencies such as NIMASA, NNPC, NDDC, Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA, just to mention but a few, have never been given to any son or daughter from the Ijaw extraction of Delta State even though they are well qualified for such jobs.
“Since the inception of the Niger Delta Amnesty programme, no Ijaw man from Delta State has been appointed to pilot its affairs till date. This is a misnomer because it is on record how the Ijaw from Delta State have contributed to the peace of the region and the security of the Federal Government’s critical infrastructures in the oil-producing communities in the Delta region.
Quick things Buhari should do
“The President Buhari- led government should as a matter of urgency look into balancing the equation by engaging capable hands via federal appointments and pay speedy attention to assenting to the Bill establishing the Nigeria Maritime University, NMU, Okerenkoko, thereby funding it adequately for smooth operations.
“This is the only Federal University sited in the Ijaw Kingdom, but it is a shadow of what a Federal University of its status should be. The establishment of the university in Delta State and among the Ijaws created a sense of government presence and generated employment among my subjects.
“But the diversion of the dockyard meant for the engineering students NMU and its attendant economic benefit to both the people and the Federal Government at large is threatening the peace and tranquillity of the area, as the youth are agitating for a quick response from the government.
“The dockyard project and the Export Processing Zone (EPZ) project will change the face of the Delta region economically; this will, in turn, have ripple effects on the Nigeria economy at large, thereby engaging the youth productively. These actions will promote lasting peace in the Delta region,” he stated.