By Enekorogha Godbless
The allegory of the emancipation and liberation of the Niger Delta started with a dogged and fearless elder statesman in the Ijaw nation named Harrold Dappa Biriye.
First of all, it is pivotal to assert that the first set of Europeans that visited Nigeria were the Portuguese during the slave trade and they traded mostly with the aborigines of the Niger Delta, especially the Ijaws. Since the route of transportation then was the sea and the locals of the Ijaws are found along the Coast.
Sequel to the demise of the slave trade globally, the Portuguese left the country and then, Britain in search of raw materials and saw the need to come to Nigeria after the Berlin Conference held to ‘Partition Africa’.
When Britain came to Nigeria, they also traded first with the locals of the Niger Delta mainly the Ijaws. They signed lots of treaties with the aborigines of the Ijaw nation and the region then was described as the Oil Rivers Region. The Ijaws then were only producing Oil ( Palm Oil) even before crude oil emerged in the area.
Lord Lugard became the first Governor-general of Nigeria in 1914 after the conjunction or amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates by him. He was sent from India to Nigeria to conjoin the federation because he was an expert in the amalgamation.
Clifford succeeded Lord Lugard in 1922 and after the reign of two others for a short epoch, Richard succeed Clifford in 1946. That was the genesis of the problem of our federation – when Richard recognized and made Three Regions along with the three ethnic groups whom he called the Majority ethnic groups and left 247 as minority ethnic groups.
The Hausa-Fulani were the majority ethnic group in the North, the Yorubas emerged as the majority ethnic group in the west and the Igbos became the majority in the east.
While the Ijaws became the fourth largest ethnic group under the Igbos in the east. The Igbos marginalize, subjugated and oppressed the Ijaw ethnic group in the east, this led to the agitation of the Ijaws in Nigeria and also restraining the Ijaws from collecting Comey subsidy made them continue the agitation until the British sent the then vice-chancellor of Cambridge University in London, Sir Henry Willink to look into the fears and grievances of the minority ethnic groups in Nigeria.
When the Willink Commission instructed aborigines to submit their Memorandum, it was only the Ijaws, the Tiv and Birom in the North that surrendered their memo, other ethnic groups refused to submit their memo because they were being carried along with administrations of the NCNC by Nnamdi Azikiwe and the Action Group by Obafemi Awolowo.
The Willink Commission found out that the agitation of the ethnic groups was genuine, though the Ijaws demanded the creation of the state. However, Willink argued that the creation of a state wouldn’t solve the problem of the Niger Delta. It is pivotal to assert that all nomenclature should bring two Delegates to deliberate on the issues pressing the federation.
This was when the elder statesman left King’s College and formed the first vanguard of the emancipation and liberation of the Ijaw nation. Biriye installed student bodies INIKIO and also installed others in the University NUIS. The creation of Rivers state metamorphosed into the emergency of NURSS.
Major. Isaac Jasper Adaka Boro and other dignitaries in the Ijaw nation were part of the student bodies. The students’ union was brainstormed and enlightened by Harrold Dappa Biriye.
Though, Isaac Jasper Adaka Boro left the university of Nsuka, Nigeria as the student president of the university to fight to emancipate and liberate the Ijaw nation since the government had failed to hearken to statesmen like Biriye who has used constitutional means to liberate the Ijaw nation.
Isaac formed a group known as NDVF and declared twelve days of revolution against the federal government. Though he was defeated and sentenced to death, the King and elder statesmen pleaded on his behalf, thus the maximum punishment was sentenced to life imprisonment.
However, the scenario which occurred in 1967 where the federal government (Gowon) fought with the Indigenous People Of Biafra ( IPOB) led by Ojuwku made the president of the federation, Gowon to release Adaka Boro to fight to liberate his dream state.
This to be included the emergency of other heroes in the Ijaw nation which includes, Bailbond Asaba, Oweizide alias Tompolo, Ateke Tom, John Togo et al to fight and liberate the Ijaw nation.
Thus it is pivotal, sacrosanct, essential, cardinal, crucial, vital for all aborigines or natives of the Ijaw nation not to forget these personalities for their selfless, self-sacrificing, benevolent, philanthropic, public-spirited, compassionate and humanitarian services unveiled to the Ijaw nation.
It is on this note that I send a special happy birthday message to the gatekeeper, general officer commanding, Warlord, a philanthropist and a highly esteemed man of valour general Oweizide, alias Tompolo.
May you experience the greatest birthday celebration of your life today, because you have toiled and laboured selflessly for the Ijaw nation.
The dependable leader.