Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR)
Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Senator Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa,
Executive Governor of Delta state.
AN OPEN REPLY ON THE ITSEKIRI ENCYCLOPEDIA OF LIES CONCERNING THE AMNESTY PROGRAM AND THE BLACKMAIL OF THE IJAW PEOPLE:
In an open letter addressed to Mr. President, His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) by the Itsekiri National Youth Council (INYC) they claimed that the Ijaw of the Niger Delta have arrogated everything in the Niger Delta to itself. The letter was a fraud as it contained tissues of blatant and obvious lies. The letter having been made public through the social media deserve our unapologetic reply. In wanting the President to appoint an Itsekiri as the next Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty program (PAP), they decided to blackmail the Ijaw people to Mr. President. But, facts are sacred and truth is sacrosanct beyond alteration. Itsekiri cannot change the facts and alter the truth.
(1) The Chairman of the Niger Delta Nationalities Forum. was a pioneer media aide to the Presidential Amnesty Proclamation Panel in 2009, then headed by General Godwin Abbe, but he worked directly under the Media Coordinator of the Program, Dr Timi Koripamo Agary and during the window between June 25 and Oct 4th when the militant youth dropped their arms in Ondo, Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa Ibom, he was actively involved throughout as the Itsekiri did not take part, claiming that they reject criminals and militants. They said the Itsekiri was too civilized to carry arms.
(2) It will be unnecessary and time consuming to impugn on all their claims and submissions paragraph by paragraph, but, it will be necessary to highlight the obvious lies and fabrications therein.
(3) The Niger Delta does not have 184 LGAs. It is a geopolitical region with 6 states made up of 123 LGAs. However, for the purposes of the Presidential Amnesty Program (PAP), Ondo state in South West geopolitical region was included, because there were youth restiveness in the two oil producing LGAs and riverine communities. Imo and Abia state belong to South East geopolitical region and were not necessarily captured under the PAP. More so there was no restiveness in those states as it was in the Niger Delta then, but youth of those states possibly participate in activities in the Niger Delta as was in some parts of Rivers state at the time. The two states are however captured under the NDDC act as oil producing states. However, the fact sheet is that oil is not compulsorily produced in all the LGAs of the Niger Delta. Delta and Rivers state does not have more than 9 LGAs each producing oil, while in Akwa Ibom state, all her oil is offshore. Cross Rivers state does not even produce oil. Therefore, the issue of Ijaw being visible in only 24 LGAs in the Niger Delta is an attempt to belittle, denigrate, demean, and vilify the Ijaw nation and her people.
That assertion is not true. The Ijaw are the only ethnic group in the Niger Delta that live contiguously along Epe in Lagos, Ondo, Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa Ibom, all through the river belt. They, the Ijaw are however visitors/strangers in Epe, Lagos. But, aboriginal to all the Niger Delta states, including Ondo state. There are other big ethnic groups in the Niger Delta, but, they are localized in a single state. E.g. the Binis in Edo state. Urhobos in Delta, Ibibios in Akwa Ibom and of course Ikwerres only in Rivers. Itsekiri are in only three LGAs in Delta state ie Warri North, Warri Southwest and Warri South. Even in Warri where they are supposed to be most visible, the population distribution is such that in every 10 persons you meet, 5 are Urhobo, 3 are Ijaw, 1 is Itsekiri and the last person is a visitor /stranger. They, the Itsekiri are less than 370,000 in population. Only larger than the Yakurr tribe in Cross Rivers state and even smaller than Ogoni in Rivers state with a population of 500,000. The total number of unemployed graduate youth of Ijaw origin in the Niger Delta is more than the total Itsekiri population.
Every Local Government Area in which the Ijaw inhabit in the Niger Delta from Ondo, Edo, Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers is an oil producing LGA. Mr President can rightly confirm that.
(4) Unlike their claim, the Niger Delta does not have 80 ethnic groups. But, about 22 ethnic nationalities, including the Itsekiri group which ordinarily should not be included, because, they are actually a sub tribe of Yoruba and Bini. The Itsekiri are strangers in the Niger Delta region. It is a known and documented fact that even the foremost Itsekiri historian, William Moore wrote in 1969 that, the Progenitor of the Itsekiri sub tribe, IGINUWA the 1st, was the heir apparent of the King of Bini, Oba Olua, who banished his first son, IGINUWA from the palace and he IGINUWA escaped with 39 Chiefs in 1480 AD. That, the escaping Prince was thereafter ferried by Ijaw canoe men from the Ologbo water strip in present-day Edo state through to AMATU (an Ijaw town) in present-day Gbaramatu clan in Warri South west LGA with Headquarter in Ogbe Ijoh, an Ijaw town in present-day Delta state. IGINUWA who escaped with some Chiefs to an Ijaw town without any female was giving in marriage to an Ijaw woman named DIRIMO-ERE. The Ijaw refused to allow the rest of the Chiefs to marry their daughters and this affected their growth in procreation. The Itsekiri are still angry with the Ijaw.
(5) The writers claim that the Amnesty program is a dividend of democracy, which must be enjoyed equally by all Niger Deltans. But, the fact however is that the PAP was a Covenant between 30,000 aggrieved militant youth of the Niger Delta, most of whom and not less than 90% of them being Ijaw youth and the Federal government. The agreement was to drop their arms and embrace the Amnesty program, such that they can be reintegrated into civil society. It is therefore a security program. And because, the majority of the beneficiaries are of one tribe, the leadership selection process have to take cognisance of communication between the coordinator and the vast majority of the beneficiary to make it local, fluent and personalized. A program in which Ijaw youth constitute over 90%, what makes the Itsekiri think that an Itsekiri Coordinator is more beneficial to the Ijaw youth, except the Itsekiri are sourcing for further crisis in the Niger Delta.
(6) Itsekiri demanding to coordinate the PAP program is akin to setting up a program or commission for herders in the Northern Nigeria and the Igala or Gwari people demanding to coordinate the program, because for them, they are also Northerners. whereas the world know the role of the nomadic Fulani in this context.
(7) On economic Relevance, the writers claim that Itsekiri contributes not less than 35% of the total revenue generated from the crude oil and gas to our National economy. This again is another palpable lie from the pit of hell. As at 2019, this is the NNPC bureau of statistics report on state by state production quota of crude oil.
Akwa Ibom. 31.4%
Now, from the table above you can see how deceptive and disingenuous the Itsekiri can be. They fabricate and deceitfully push out fictitious figures from their encyclopedia of lies. Delta state where they hail from does not even produce up to 25%, yet, in their letter to the President, they claim to produce 35% in total to the National economy. They are a distant second to the combined Ijaw communities of Burutu and Gbaramatu. Forcados oil terminal in Ijaw community is one of the two major oil outlets in Nigeria. Bonny, another Ijaw community is the other. The Isokos produce. The Urhobos also produce. All of which is from the Delta quota of 21.56%. The total Itsekiri enclave production is even less than 7%. Akwa Ibom state with the highest production quota is not even up to 35%, yet, this desperate and dishonourable people wants to deceive Mr President just to curry favour of appointment.
(8) Mr President Sir, as the Itsekiri adopt various tricks at you, they may soon inform you that all the types of crude oil in Nigeria have their origin in Itsekiri land, therefore we need to alert you that, of the four types of crude oil in Nigeria, three of them have their main origin in Ijaw communities.
Bonny light, Nigeria’s best is in Ijaw community Bonny in Rivers state.
Brass River crude oil is in Nembe Brass, Bayelsa state, an Ijaw community.
And of course Forcados crude oil Ogulagha, another Ijaw community.
The fourth which is Qua Iboe crude oil is produced from offshore fields in the Bight of Biafra. The International entry mouth into Nigeria from the Eastern end.
(9) On Gas, the Nigerian Liquified Natural Gas (NLNG) has it’s base in Finima Bonny and Brass Nembe, all Ijaw land and Nigeria was bailed out from Gas sales profit from that source. While Nigeria is said to have 202 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of proven gas reserve, most of which is in Ijaw land, shell had just discovered another 1.5 Trillion Cubic Feet (TCF) of Gas in another Ijaw community- Gbaran-Kolo creek -Opu field area on behalf of NLNG. The Gas projects in Delta state Odidi 1 and 2 are also Ijaw communities in Warri South West. We will not forget to mention the Gas project in Itsekiri enclave, Ogidigben in the Export Processing Zone (EPZ) awaiting take off.
(10) The writers also claimed that the Niger Delta struggle is about style and approach in which, they the Itsekiri prefer an intellectual approach. But, we can now confirm by their letter to Mr President that the intellectual approach is the production of an encyclopedia of lies, falsification of facts, character assassination of Niger Delta leaders who are not Itsekiri and the blackmail of other tribes, especially the Ijaw people, then cry wolf where there is none. Meanwhile, the Ijaw is taking the bullets on behalf of all.
(11) We already know that Itsekiri is the only sub tribe in the Niger Delta that petitions and protests all positive developments, yet keep quiet where there are negative issues. See the sequence
When Delta state was to be created, the Itsekiri protested. They wanted to stay back at their ancestorial root in Edo state.
When the capital of Delta state was to be sited in Warri, they protested, claiming that the major tribes will swallow them and they will loose their grip on Warri. IBB took advantage of that protest and moved the capital to Asaba. It was not because of his wife, but Itsekiri.
When the headquarters of Warri Southwest was to be sited at Ogbe-Ijoh, they protested.
When the Nigeria Maritime University was to be sited in Okerenkoko, an Ijaw town, they protested
When the Ijaw youth decided to start an arms struggle against the state, they protested, claiming that Itsekiri is too civilized to carry arms, but today you are fighting to belong.
When the FG gave a go ahead for the Maritime University, they protested again, saying that the name of the community or town should be changed to an Itsekiri name.
Not long ago, they protested that the Maritime University was not employing Itsekiri. They now want employment in that same university?
Today the Itsekiri is protesting that the head of the PAP program should be Itsekiri. The same program that the Itsekiri detested.
(13) Why didn’t they the Itsekiri protest against the naming of the oil spillage cleanup, named after OGONI CLEAN UP? Are there no spillages in Itsekiri land?
(14) When the military turned in a report that over 500 militant camps are spread across the Niger Delta region especially Ijaw communities, why didn’t the Itsekiri protest against their exclusion from the military list.
(15) When several Ijaw communities, including Odi, Oporoza, Agge, Izansa, Ayakoromo, Ogodobiri etc and over 200 Ijaw youth were killed, why didn’t the Itsekiri protest against their exclusion from brutality?
(16) When about 26,000 youth who dropped their arms were ordered to proceed to Obubra in Cross Rivers state for biometrics data capturing and de radicalization activities, no Itsekiri youth took part, why didn’t the Itsekiri protest their exclusion?
(17) After about 2 or 3 years into the successful implementation of the PAP, you the Itsekiri blackmailed President Goodluck Jonathan that he refused to include Itsekiri youth into the program and you protested to the National Assembly. President Jonathan was compelled to order Hon Kuku to give you the Itsekiri 500 slot. Today, you the Itsekiri are on your way once again to blackmail President Muhammadu Buhari.
Your Excellency Sir, we would like you to ask the Governor of Delta state, Senator Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, who the Itsekiri and the Ijaw are? Who is telling a lie or the truth, but we would like to warn you about the Itsekiri, we know them as Vultures who usually come to the dining table after the lion have taking a brute from the prey. The Itsekiri are strangers in the Niger Delta that is why whenever the Yoruba remember their Oduduwa Republic, they don’t forget to say, their children are in the Niger Delta region. Yes, this is true and that is why the Itsekiri is always playing the spoiler’s role in the Niger Delta region. They are termites in our house. Locusts in our farm. They are a virus of disunity in the Niger Delta. Whosoever that sow and invest in them do so at the risk of an avoidable crisis in the Niger Delta. The present peace in the Niger Delta is as a result of the quiet efforts of well meaning political leaders, community leaders and concerned pressure groups talking to the youth to keep the peace. Don’t allow the Itsekiri to ignite another round of crisis in the Niger Delta region, where the silver lining is glumly fragile.
Niger Delta Nationalities Forum
Director of Mobilization
Niger Delta Nationalities Forum