By Emem Idio, Yenagoa
GOVERNOR of Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri, has taken a swipe at the Arewa Consultative Youth Movement, describing them as the most ignorant of what is happening in the Niger Delta for saying that he was over politicizing the Nembe oil spill.
Diri, who was speaking as the guest of honour at the All Ijaw Summit, organised by the Ijaw National Congress,INC, in Yenagoa the Bayelsa State capital, weekend, averred that he will never play politics with the health and development of the people but will continue to defend the territory and people who elected him as governor no matter whose ox is gored.
The governor who stressed that he is particularly vexed with the proportion of the Nembe oil spill said he does not need to be a petroleum engineer to comment on the spill, and challenge environmental activists to come to Nembe to see the level of pollution and environmental damage done to the flora and fauna of the Ijaw people.
He warned that no one should take the hospitality of the Ijaw Nation for granted or doubt the determination of the state government to protect the sanctity of communities and the livelihood of the people, adding that the people and state will not swallow this flame in the name of decorum.
His words: “I laughed this morning when my attention was drawn that Arewa Youths are opposing my statements and my views, I laughed at it. But for me, they are not only opposing me, they are opposing Bayelsa State and the Ijaw Nation.
“I have never played politics with the health of our people, I have never played politics with the development of our people and if Arewa Youths think that what I said is to over politicized the situation in Nembe, then I want to believed that Nigeria and indeed Arewa Youths are the most ignorant people of what is happening in the Niger Delta.
“Merely presupposing that the Governor is not a Petroleum Engineer, I don’t need to be a Petroleum Engineer to defend my people. If they have forgotten that our own President of the country is not also a Petroleum Engineer he is the President of Nigeria. That I am only a Political Scientist, yes I accept, a political scientist and an educationist and I have been elected to defend the territory and people of Bayelsa State.
“On the heels of very recent conference of political parties, what has been tagged as “COP 26”, I was in Scotland, United Kingdom to represent Bayelsa State, and in that event, there is already a global action to curb pollution. And recently in the UK as I said, I was and we will remain particularly vexed with what is happening in Nembe and that is why I will not stopped to call on all environmental activists to come on to Nembe to see the level of pollution and environmental damage done to the flora and fauna of the Ijaw people.
“Whereas we appreciate the oil and gas sector, current continuing in future importance to our country, there should be no doubt about our own commitment to stop the impunity that threatens the present and undermined the future survival of our people. No one should take our hospitality for granted or doubt our determination to protect the sanctity of our communities and indeed the livelihood of our people. We will not swallow this flame in the name of decorum.”
He commended the INC for providing a touch to illuminate the path of the Ijaw people under the present circumstances in country noting that all is not well in country
He stated further, “For too long we have only operated a pseudo-federalism in reality what we have in our country today is a unitary system of governance and dressed in the borrowed robes of federalism.
“We cannot procrastinate in returning the terms of engagement where the regions or state expropriate their own resources and pay taxes to the centre more and more, we are creating a cast where the categorization of subordinate and super-ordinate is entrenched. Not surprising, states and ethnic nationalities are increasingly clamouring for self determination or even in outright cases secession that is in very extreme cases.
“I am proposing without insisting that the idea and ideal situation would be the devolution of powers from the centre to the state such that the federal government would be responsible with the issue of currency, foreign policy, national security, commands in the military, appointment of ambassadors and any other matter that have common bearing on all states. But I am willing to abdicate my views if there is a superior collective counsel arising from this summit.”
In his welcome address, the President of INC, Prof Benjamin Okaba, said the crossroad Ijaws find themselves in the Nigerian federation is the most compelling reason confronting the convocation of the All Ijaw Summit, with the theme: “The Nigerian State and the Ijaw Question.”
He said the Ijaws need to agree on a common direction, adding that, “We need to evoke common understanding of our perculiarities and determine common panacea.”
The Summit which was chaired by HRM Justice F. Tabai, retd, was attended by prominent Ijaw sons and daughters across the country.