…NDDC now a Goldmine For other regions outside Ijaw, Niger Delta region, Clark
…Says Amnesty was established for the Niger Delta region, but today it has been taken over other tribes
By Henry Umoru
THE National leadership of Ijaw National Congress, INC has thrown its weights behind the Southern Governors who have called for the restructuring of the country as the way forward.
According to INC, restructuring will address all the anomalies in the country and marginalisation of some parts of the country, stressing that without restructuring of the country, Nigeria will not move forward.
Speaking yesterday in Abuja when he led INC Executive on a visit to Elder Statesman and Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark, at his Asokoro residence, the INEC President, Professor Benjamin Okaba stressed that as Senators would vote on the sixteen thematic areas highlighted in the 1999 Constitution during the ongoing amendment process, they should consider the vote on restructuring to check marginalisation of some sections of the country.
Okaba said, “Unless this country is restructured, we cannot move forward, we shall continue to tell people that unless we go back to the understanding we had in 1960, unless we go back to the same fiscal federalism, that was practiced when cocoa, groundnut were the mainstay of our economy, we cannot achieve much. We are convinced more than before that the Ijaw agenda is all about survival. We slave to the nation where we should be the chiefs.
“We have been subjected to all forms of victimisation to the extent that they even threaten us with their rifles, and they are trying to impose a bill, the water resources bill. As if the land use decree is not bad enough. All these are unacceptable. We will pursue our course further.”
Recall that Okaba and others were recently elected to carry out the activities of the INC.
The INC President who noted that the visit to Chief Clark as the Chairman, Board of Trustees, BoT of INC was three-fold; to introduce very formally the newly elected executive council of the INC worldwide, said, “The second is to seek his blessing, the last is to celebrate our daddy as he marks 94 years.
“Today, we have come to present the trophy of that contest, fourteen of us holding different positions. We are building consensus very fast. We are giving you the assurance this boat that you started long time ago, we are going to assist you in taking it to greater heights.”
“You will recall that as the life chairman of the board of trustees of the INC. One of your measure worry in the last six years is the instability in the INC, you made several efforts to set up several committees, you made several interventions and in 2019, there was a botched effort.
“When Senator Diri, the present governor of Bayelsa, he got your permission to restart the process and indeed, Ijaws gathered and conducted an election that has been acknowledged to be the most freest, in fact, the most scientific, an election that has shown to the world that the Ijaws can be pacesetters.
“What Nigerian government have been funding difficult to adopt was what the Ijaws did, introducing their electronic voting. You have always prayed for a stable Ijaw nation, you have always prayed for a united Ijaw nation as the spokesman of the south-south you have always wished back at home, there should be stability. Because if there is trouble at home, what are you doing outside.
“Today, we have come to present the trophy of that contest, 14 of us holding different positions. We are building consensus very fast. We are giving you the assurance this boat that you started long time ago, we are going to assist you in taking it to greater heights.
” We are very conscious of your unwavering and uncommon commitment to the Ijaw course and that is the spirit we have come to tap. You have shown it before anybody, your letter to Buhari advising him that all these things that are going on have expiry date, no leader from any part of the court has been able to summon that kind of courage. And that is what we are looking for.
“You have always fought a selfless fight, you have always placed the Ijaw course ahead of any other consideration.
“Because of our minority status we have been subjected to. We produce the gas but paradoxically, people who cannot distinguish between groundnut oil, crude oil and palm oil are those that own oil blocs making billions of naira. Even when they seemingly handover power to us they strangulate us to a point whereby we were given empty power. Power without empowerment, power that could not make us even our local government.
In his response, Clark who noted that the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC has become a Goldmine for other regions outside Ijaw, Niger Delta region, said that Amnesty that was established for the Niger Delta region has today been taken over other tribes like the Igbos, Kogi State, the Northerners, among others,
Clark who urged the new leadership of INC to work assiduously in uniting the Ijaw people, said, “You were elected to serve your people, to project your people. The Ijaw voice must be heard outside. We have an assignment for the Ijaw people within the next three, four years, we want to see you protecting the interest of the Ijaw people.
“When you belong to a team, that team must move together. In every boat, there is only one captain, the captain will have supporters, so carry everyone along in the discharge of your duties. Always remember,, what are you leaving behind, what is your legacy, we have tried for sometime now, what do we do to resuscitate INC, IYMC, God will guide you, protect you, give you the courage, the wisdom, good health to manage the affairs of the Ijaw nation.
“When you belong to a team, that team must put together, must move together. In every both, there is only into one captain, the captain will have supporters. I am indeed very happy that for the first time, you exhibited to the whole world, that Ijaw people have always been misunderstood. But you are always on top.
“You were elected to serve your people, to project your people. The Ijaw voice must be heard outside. That NDDC for instance has become the goldmine for other ethnic groups who are not Ijaw people.
“For example the NDDC Act says that projects with be determined by the amount of oil you produce in your area. Appointment will be decided by the amount of oil you produce in your area but today they who produce 2 per cent, are more represented in NDDC than those who produce 80 per cent.
“So when you share projects and Imo, Ondo and Abia, they have more employees in NDDC than our own people, the Niger Delta people, how do they come in.
“There has not been anybody, any organisation well established enough to tackle the problem of the Ijaw nation. So that is why we have been fighting for the past eight years, we feel INC has a proper executive to speak for the ijaw people.
“We have an assignment for the Ijaw people, within the next three, four years, we want to see you protecting the interest of the Ijaw people.
“The militants remain militants to protect their own interest. The amnesty programme was established for the Ijaws in 2009. Today you go to the office, there are more Kogi people, more Igbos, more northerners than the Ijaw people in that place. We have lost our focus, now you have come to redeem it. You can count on me. You have a lot to do. The Ijaw people will stand by you. God will give you the strength. They have relegated to us to the background.”