PRESIDENT of Ijaw National Congress, INC, Prof. Benjamin Okaba, has said the Ijaw people have resolved not to lament anymore but seek and pursue self-determination through the mechanism of peaceful engagement, diplomatic and other non-violent means.
Okaba, who stated this in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, said Ijaw nation would not be intimidated to keep silent on the issues affecting their people and Niger Delta at large.
He described the recent outburst and erroneous assertion against the Ijaw nation by former President Olusegun Obasanjo as a flight of fantasy and a joke taken too far.
His words: “Obasanjo’s claim that “as long as Nigeria is together, whatever that is under the ground is giving to all Nigerians by God” and that “we are to manage it together” smacks of the wicked script of the Nigerian state against the Ijaw and their resources, which he also perpetuated during his eight years of misadventure in power.
“Also, Obasanjo’s Land Use Decree remains the most obnoxious and catastrophic piece of legislation designed and religiously implemented to undermine the Ijaw and other minority ethnic nationalities in this country and deny them their inalienable right to benefit from their God-given blessings.
“We consider his claim on resource ownership pernicious, provocative, oppressive and wicked, just as it negates the decade long derivation principle, which was pegged at 100 per cent in 1946.
“It remained so until Nigeria’s independence when it was whimsically reduced to 50 per cent.
“And callously and drastically reduced to a paltry 1.3 per cent and later a meagre 23 per cent when oil and gas replaced cocoa, groundnut and palm oil as the dominant economic mainstay of the country.
“The inequity around the oppressive derivation principle, we all know only changed when oil and gas became the major foreign exchange earner for the Nigerian state.”
He challenged the former president to speak up on the ownership and mindless mining of gold in Zamfara and other parts of the North, the bitumen in Ondo and other minerals extracted as private commercial ventures in states and communities outside Niger Delta.
According to him, “Recent development in the country, particularly the Petroleum Industry Act, the non-constitution of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, board, non-inclusion of the Ijaw terrain in the proposed NNPC roads rehabilitation projects, the exclusion of the Ijaw for top NNPC managerial appointments, and the balkanisation of the Ijaw into political irrelevance are Lucifer pointers to the deliberate plot to hold Ijaw and Niger Delta people hostage and be subjected to poverty and a state of arrested development.”