The Governor of Bayelsa State, Henry Seriake Dickson, has called on all Ijaws to support the ongoing reconciliation efforts to strengthen the two umbrella organizations in the Ijaw ethnic nationality, the Ijaw National Congress and the Ijaw Youth Council.
Dickson stressed that both organizations were critical to the effective coordination of the people’s struggle against emergent challenges in the national space.
The Special Adviser to the Governor Media Relations, Fidelis Soriwei, quoted the government to have made the call while speaking at a consultative meeting with Ijaw leaders and elders in the Eastern Zone of the Ijaw Nation comprising Rivers and Akwa Ibom States, in Port Harcourt on Tuesday.
The Governor’s comment was a reaction to some concerns raised by four-time Minister, Alabo Tonye Graham-Douglas, who hosted the meeting, on the issue of the unity of the organizations entrusted with the responsibility of promoting the cause of the people in the Nigerian Federation.
He said, “Our leader raised the issue of the Ijaw National Congress which is also one of the main reasons I am here. We cannot afford a divided and fragmented INC; we cannot afford a fragmented IYC.
“These are essential organs of the Ijaw struggle and movement. Just as I raised these issues while consulting with Pa Edwin Clark, I am here to consult with you on the way forward.”
Speaking also on the burning issue of restructuring, Gov. Dickson stressed that the ijaws were united in the demand for a restructured Nigerian Federation that would guarantee economic justice and freedom.
He said that the Ijaw ethnic nationality was strongly desirous of a Nigerian system where they would be availed the right to organize themselves to benefit from the natural resources found in their soil.
“I want to talk on restructuring because we all know where the Ijaw Nation stand on that issue.
“Our position is to fight for a restructured, just, equitable, egalitarian democratic Nigeria, where all of us have the respect that we rightly deserve and our people have the necessary freedom to organize ourselves and to benefit from the endowments that nature has put in our soil.
“We are all united about this and there is no argument about it in the entire Ijaw Nation, and to advance these things, we need to be on one page. So again, I call for unity, forgiveness, and I call on all of us to support a reorganized, virile and cohesive Ijaw Nation.”
The Governor commended the people for the prevalence of peace in the communities and urged them to continue to give the necessary support to their governors and indeed all levels of leadership in their respective states.
Dickson also expressed delight at the emergence of a son of the area, Prince Uche Secondus, as the National Chairman òf the People’s Democratic Party
He said that he visited the Eastern Zone with a high-powered delegation of both governmental and non-governmental leaders to felicitate with them on the new year and formal consultations as he did to Chief Edwin Clark and leaders of Western Ijaws in Kiagbodo.
“I thank you for keeping the peace, for maintaining the peace and stability in spite of the challenges, some of which can be historical,y, others economic. But generallly speaking, our Ijaw communities in the Eastern flank are generally rally peaceful in spite of the challenges. I Urge you to do more.
“I also urge you to continue to give more support to all levels of governance in your states.
The well-attended meeting of the leaders and elders agreed to establish a think tank on modalities for mobilization and for restructuring. The tank is saddled with the responsibility of monitoring and evaluating developmental efforts in business politics, economic and socio-cultural endeavours.
In his remarks, the host, Graham-Douglas, said that the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC had failed in its statutory duty to uplift the development of the impoverished oil bearing communities of the Niger Delta.
According to him, the NDDC contrary to the law and expectations had focused development activities on the state capitals to the exclusion of the oil producing areas.
Present at the meeting were former Deputy Governor òf Rivers State, Sir Gabriel Toby, KHM Dr Kroma Eleki, former a President òf the INC, Barr. Boma Obuoforibo, Speaker of the Bayelsa State House òf Assembly, Rt Hon. Konbowei Benson, retired Federal Permanent Secretary, Amb. Godknows Igali, AVM Larry Koinyan (Retd).
Others include the Dappa Amakiri of Opobo, HRM Prof. D.M.J Fubara, Chairman PDP Bayelsa State, Mr Moses Cleopas, Secretary to the Bayelsa State Government, Barr Kemela Okpara, Prof. Mrs, Mildred Amakiri, Professor Steve Azaiki, the Pro Chancellor òf the Niger Delta University, and others.