By Gabriel Enogholase – Benin
APEX socio-cultural organisation of the Ijaw ethnic nationality, the Ijaw National Congress (INC), has reiterated its commitment to sustaining the struggle for the emancipation of the Niger Delta people from the chains and shackles bonded on them by the Nigerian state.
This was contained in a statement made available to Vanguard in Benin, weekend, by the Publicity Secretary of the INC, Engr.Ezonebi Oyakemeagbegha
He insisted that no matter the distraction, discouragement from within and outside, the Ijaws would be dogged in its struggle for emancipation.
He stated that the recent remark by Governor Wike of Rivers, that the Ijaws were like the Fulanis of the North was his personal opinion, and did not represent the truth.
He said that his organisation would not join issues with the Governor on the matter
He said that it would not be in the interest of the Niger Delta region to escalate the issue and make it look like there was distrust, misunderstanding and division amongst the people, particularly at this time when all the ethnic nationalities in the Niger Delta region should be working together to fight a common oppressor.
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Ezonebi further stated that rather than liken the Ijaws to the Fulanis, the Ijaws should instead be likened to the Israelites because an average Ijaw man would not oppress anyone and would fight oppression at all cost.
He said,”The Ijaw struggle and agitation is not a selfish one, but to advance development and progress in Ijaw nation and Niger Delta region in all ramifications.
“It is on record that the Ijaw struggle and agitation dates back to the colonial era. The Ijaw nation has been in the forefront of the progress and development of the Niger Deltan region.
“The Akasa war, Twelve days revolution, Resource control and presently self-determination struggle are largely championed by the Ijaw nation in the Niger Delta.
“It is worthy to note that the President of ethnic nationalities in the Niger Delta presently is the current President of INC, prof Benjamin Okabe.
“Moreover, although the Ijaws are widely spread in southern Nigeria, found in Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Rivers, Ondo, Akwa Ibom, Abia etc, the Ijaws have not claimed to be landlords over any ethnic nationality in the past and present”.
The Publicity Secretary applauded the contributions of the past and present heroes of the Ijaw nation, particularly Harold Dappa-Biriye, Ernest Sissei Ikoli, among others, who fought for the Niger Delta culminating in the constitution of Sir Henry Willinks Commission between 1957 & 1958 to alley the fears of the minority tribes in the country.
He assured the Ijaws and Niger Delta people that as long as the marginalisation of the minority continued, the Ijaw man would not be quiet.