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Ijaw summit: Leaders, youths reaffirm moves for self-determination, resource control

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Following the perceived continuous marginalization, subjugation and neglect by Nigerian state, the Ijaw nation has convened in Bayelsa state at the weekend to reaffirmed their commitment and demand for self-determination and resource control, adding that nothing would stop them from actualizing freedom from the oppressed Nigerian State.

This was contained in a communique issued after the one-day All Ijaw Summit tagged: ‘’The Nigerian State and the Ijaw Question’, which was held on Saturday in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, by the Ijaw National Congress (INC).

The President of INC, Prof. Benjamin Okaba, who read the communique before the public at the Ijaw House, stated that the Ijaw people had inalienable right to self-determination, access and control of their resources which was backed by several international laws.

The angry Ijaw people said the Nigerian Government had poorly and unsatisfactorily managed the country’s ethnic diversity, which had resulted in agitations over marginalization, and ignited separatist tendencies among major ethnic nationalities.

The communiques maintained that the Nigerian federation had been an aberration as it does not conform to all known principles of federalism, which emphasize the division of powers between the central government and the constituent units on a coordinated and independent basis.

INC groaned: “the Ijaw ethnic nationality can no longer bear the grave injustices, impunity, flagrant nepotism, marginalization, neglect, oppression and enslavement by the Nigerian state.”

The INC posited that the Ijaws would stop depending on the Federal Government for the protection of their environment, noting that an environmental protection strategy would be evolved to safeguard sustainable Ijaw land for future generations.

The communique further stated: “The Ijaws resolve from this summit to employ all peaceful, diplomatic, non-violence and other tools of disobedience to pursue and actualize our right to self-determination as a distinct people of common historical and cultural affinity and geographical contiguity.

“The Ijaw people shall stop at nothing until self-determination is achieved.

“The Ijaw nation shall continue to engage the Federal Government of Nigeria on its critical challenges as well as the enthronement of a new federal constitution, and this is without prejudice to our resolve to seek self-determination.”

Among notable leaders that were present at the summit were Justice Francis Tabai (rtd), the Governor of Bayelsa State, Douye Diri, his deputy, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, Edwin Clark, represented by a retired federal permanent secretary, Godknows Igali, former Minister of Police Affairs, Broderick Bozimo and former deputy speaker, Delta House of Assembly, Funkekeme Solomon.

Others included the Speaker, Bayelsa House of Assembly, Abraham Ingobere, Secretary to the State Government, Konbowei Benson, Commissioner for Ijaw National Affairs, Erasmus Patrick and the chairman, Bayelsa council of traditional rulers, Alfred Diete-Spiff.

The Ijaw apex body stressed that all Ijaws wherever they are in the world would affirm their Ijawness by signing a reaffirmation accord, abide by faith and commitment to advancing the quest for a united and egalitarian Ijaw nation.

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