By Wisdom Oniekpar Ikuli
Since the inception of the Nigerian State, Ijaw people have been the highest victims. Despite the large population of Ijaw people who were deliberately balkanized into Akwa Ibom, Ondo, Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Abia outside the ones in Lagos, Kogi, Adamawa, Benue, Plateau and other states in Nigeria who ordinarily would have been put into a single seperate Ijaw region, our neighbours connived with the British Colonial Masters and created only three regions: Western, Northern and Eastern excluding the Niger Delta region which would have been for Ijaws and perhaps other groups.
In order to show their superiority, they came up with the divisive and deceptive concept of ‘WAZOBIA’ which is coined in the languages and greetings of Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo in a country with over 250 independent ethnic groups and tribes meaning the 247 other ethnic groups and tribes are slaves.
At the London Conferences, Ijaw people and other groups mostly in the then Eastern region protested against their inclusion in the Nigerian State because of their ill-treatments mostly by Igbos, but they were persuaded and prevailed upon to remain in the union.
From the initial three regions and later an additional Mid-Western region, many states have been created for Yorubas, Igbos and Hausa-Fulanis but Ijaws have only one homogeneous Ijaw state.
Since the discovery of Crude Oil and Gas at Oloibiri-Otabagi in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State in 1956, Ijaw people have continued to shoulder the economic burden of Nigeria without commensurate rewards and compensations.
Ironically, all the oil Wells, Locations, Marginal Oil Fields and Blocks in Ijaw land and other Niger Delta territories have been shared among Yoruba, Hausa-Fulani and Igbo Leaders excluding the real owners of the crude Oil and Gas.
While those who do not know the colour of crude oil are living in affluence and stupendous wealth, our great people who are the original owners of the natural resources are living in misery and abject poverty not as a matter of choice, but due to conspiracy among the Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa-Fulanis.
Whenever Ijaws protest the ill-treatments that are meted out against our great people, Igbos, Yorubas and Hausa-Fulanis who are fighting Supremacy Battle amongst themselves, quickly unite and gang up against us. They often use complaints and Agitations of Ijaw people as a Unifying Factor.
The entire Nigerian State which are beneficiaries of our abundant natural resources have been unfair to Ijaw people and other groups in the Niger Delta, yet the Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa-Fulanis pretend as if they are not aware of the hell the people of Niger Delta are going through especially the instigated ongoing Environmental and Economic Genocide in the region.
While we stand on our avowed believe in the indivisibility and indissolubility of Nigeria, we demand a Restructured Nigeria where the Component and Federating Units shall control the resources in their respective domains, territories and states, and then pay Royalty to the centre as practiced in the United States of America and other Federal States (countries) that practice True Federalism.
When Ijaws out of frustration of the unabated ill-treatment, marginalization, deprivation, oppression, suppression and repression of our great people, declared Niger Delta Republic on the 23rd February, 1966, the whole country united under General Johnson Thomas Umunakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi; the then Military Head of State to fight and overpower our great people. Unfortunately, all the issues that forced us to declare Niger Delta Republic have not been addressed.
It is therefore Important to resound the fact that Ijaws at the present material time still believes in a United One Nigeria. Ijaw people in the 1959 Pre-independence London Conference accepted to be part of Nigeria and not any other arrangement even though all the issues that led to the Constitution of the Sir Henry Willink Commission have remained unattended.
The Ijaw nation will never be part of any Secessionist movement, same way it will never be part of any other arrangement outside the Nigerian State we all agreed to form but anything outside the above, Ijaws have the abundant human and natural resources including large population to live on her own like what it was, before the Amalgamation of Southern and Northern Protectorates.
Ijaws at various areas and levels are resounding this so that those who are drumming for war, will not shout that Ijaws never joined them. We do not want war even though we are known warriors who have never been conquered.
Ijaws believe that all the prevalent issues that have led to the various Agitations can be resolved. It is on good record that Ijaws are the first people who led resistance against the British Imperialists and also the first who led a Secessionist Struggle in the independent Nigerian State but our brothers joined forces to compel us to remain.
We therefore urge to all to believe in the Nigerian project while using dialogue and other nonviolent means to express their grievances.
Most Senior Comrade Wisdom Oniekpar Ikuli, Mirror and Conscience of Society
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