By Etop Ekanem
President of Federated Niger Delta Ijaw Communities, FNDIC, Chief Bello Oboko, has said political control by Ijaw of Delta State in 2023 will properly distribute development resources largely derived from their areas, and fast-track reconciliation/integration of the estranged Ijaw people.
Oboko, who spoke in Warri as the Ijaw of Gbaramatu Kingdom marked the now annual Gbaramatu Freedom Day on May 15, insisted “the political concession to secure Ijaw loyalty is not too much, as constitutionally advised, to reassure a people who resisted oppression with many paying the supreme price of death for our collective good.”
May 15 every year was recently declared “Gbaramatu Freedom Day” by FNDIC and Gbaramatu Rebirth Initiative, GRI, organisations Oboko, said, are trusting in God to change the Gbaramatu-Ijaw plight/narrative.
According to Oboko, the Gbaramatu Freedom Day was instituted “to condemn the scourge of slavery and sensitize authorities to uphold acts of freedom and peace, following the May 13 to 15, 2009 bombardment of the Gbaramatu Ijaw Communities by the military Joint Task Force, JTF”
Oboko explained: “The Ijaw were in agitations for equal political space/inclusion, resource control and environmental remediation when we came under heavy fire from the military on premise of protecting U.S Oil Concerns, and ended up killing Ijaw citizens and destroying Gbaramatu Ijaw Communities left since 2009 to lick their wounds.
“While the Military High Command, Amnesty International and highly placed leaders of the people including Chief Edwin Clark reportedly condemned the pogrom-size illegal killings/destructions, the Federal Government was yet to apologize to the Ijaw people of Gbaramatu Kingdom in Delta State and remained adamant to the court-ordered payment of N99billion judgement debt for the military repression of the area in 2009.”
Oboko, the Ebiyedouwei of Gbaramatu Kingdom, lamented that “only Okerenkoko and Kurutie benefitted from the little intervention/rehabilitation efforts by Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, and Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan-led Delta State Government whereas several more communities, namely Oporoza, Kunukunuma, Benikrukru, Kokodiagbene, Igoba, Azama, Inikorogha, Opuedebubor, Tebujor,.etc, all in the Ijaw Gbaramatu Kingdom in Warri South-West LGA of Delta State, were destroyed during the national disaster called the JTF creek war in 2009.”
Oboko stressed that “the sad treatment given to the Ijaw of Delta State especially the oil-rich Gbaramatu Kingdom has since estranged the Ijaw people from the Nigerian nation and weakened their loyalty to it”, adding: “It would be fine for the Federal and Delta State Governments to pan out a political patronage in 2023 that lets Ijaw control the levers of power already enjoyed by other ethnic groups in Delta State so that they can possibly put up plans for significant improvement of the Ijaw area and hence, feel sense of belonging.”
Oboko expressed gratitude that “in promotion of peace, the good peoples of Warri, namely Ijaw, Itsekiri and the Urhobo, have conceded to zoning political power at the lower rung as evident in Warri South-West, Warri North and Warri South Local Government Areas” while praying “that same spirit be applied to elections at higher rungs in the state.”