Gentlemen of the Press, together with the Executives of the Ijaw National Congress, I welcome you to this Press Conference.
Who is Mr. President Listening To?
We have observed with keen interest the activities of your administration. Our interest sterns from the facts that you are one of us. It is our mandate at the Ijaw National Congress (INC) to serve as watchdogs, monitoring the activities of all Government officials from Ijaw extraction. Also, you are a Nigerian for who the peoples’ vote counted. This implies that many Nigerians have faith in you irrespective of the bureaucracy and politics of Government. Nigeria and the world at large is watching. The people whose votes brought about your ascent to office will also at the end of the day, judge how well you fared. On our pat however, we cannot afford to shot our eyes on you nor cease in words of advice.
Sir, you are very well acquainted with our struggle and agitation as a people. The Ijaw man and the Niger Delta region have been undermined in so many areas for many decades. This is the basis for the clamour for emancipation and restoration by our people. In the wake off this awareness, Government responded with the Amnesty programme. Militants having laid down their arms are being taken care of but our lands and people still languish. Multinationals plunder us everyday and our peoples’ health fail from devastating effects of environmental contamination.
There are so many reviews going on in the petroleum Sector today, yet we are not carried along! We were in utter shock when the list of palliative government offered Nigerians during the subsidy removal protest excluded provisions for the riverine areas – a place where Ijaws inhabit. Different communities have been instituted at various levels to appraise the Petroleum sector. These Communities have no representation of the Ijaw nation in them as they are made up of the bourgeois and politicians serving their own personal interest. Who would then give the insider account of the events that have plagued and still plague the Ijaw man and the Niger Delta region?
We are compelled to believe that there is deliberate attempt to milk our regions dry and also exclude us from derivable benefits.
Sir, many Nigerians see your election as compensation to the Ijaw who has long been trampled under foot. Putting aside sentiments, we expect that your administration would be sensitive to the plight of the Ijaws, Niger Deltans and the Nigerian masses. It would be considered devastating if this opportunity to ‘see the light’ again eludes our people who have for decades been traumatized, displaced and harmed on the account of a national capitalist system which is more concerned with making profit in spite of their people hurting.
Our attention has been drawn to the Gele-Gele land tussle between the natives (Ijaws) and Benin, Gele-Gele became economically attractive to Benin after a part of it was last year earmarked for development as a sea port. Since then, Benin has claimed ownership of this aboriginal home of the Ijaws. Ijaws will neither be intimated nor forced out of their ancestral homes. Your Excellency, we wish to request that Government nips this hostility and looming crisis in the bud. As a nation, we have so much on our plate already.
It is time to revert and have regions of Nigeria to practice the principles of true federalism. In our extent intervention on Constitution Review to the House Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution (HCRC), we recommended ten regions as follows:
|1.||Northwest Region||Hausa / Fulan||Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina, Kano (+ any new state)|
|2.||Upper Northern Region||Kanuri / Shuwa / Arab||Yobe, Borno, Bauchi, Gombe (+ any new state)|
|3.||North Central Region||Busa / Kambari / Nupe||Kebbi, Niger (+ any new state)|
|4.||North East Region||Margi / Chamba / Daka / Bata||Adamawa (+ any new state)|
|5.||Middle Belt Region||Jukun/ Tiv/ Idoma / Igala||Plateau, Taraba, Benue, Kogi, Kwara (+ any new state)|
|6.||Western Region||Yoruba||Oyo, Ekiti, Osun, Ondo, Lagos, Ogun (+ any new state)|
|7.||Mid West Region||Edo||Edo, Part of Delta (+ any new state|
|8.||Niger Delta Region||Ijaw||Bayelsa, parts of Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Delta, Edo and Ondo (+ any new state)|
|9.||Eastern Region||Igbo||Anambra, Enugu, Imo, Abia, Ebonyi, parts of Rivers and Delta|
|10.||Cor Region||Efik / Ibibio||Cross River, Akwa Ibom (+ any new state)|
As a people, we request for total control of resources within our region. Let every other region also control their own resources. This would help us advance as each region will develop their areas with what they have. The situation where strangers take control of other region’s resources and yet destroy those areas should cease. People should profit from what they have to offer!
Again, the insinuation by the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Mallam Sanusi is an interview with region media that Boko Haram may be fighting against the low Federal Government allocations is worth looking into. Mr. President, Sir, we quote him.
“According to official figures, the leading oil producing state, Rivers, received N1,053 billion between 1999 and 2008 in federal allocations. By contrast the North-eastern states of Yobe and Borno, where Boko Haram seat was created, received N175 billion naira and N213 billion respectively. Broken down on a per capita basis, the contrast is even starker. In 2008, the 18.97 million people who live in the six states in the north-east received an average N1,156 per person. By contrast, Rivers State was allocated N3, 965 per capital, and an average the oil producing South-South region received an average N3,332 per capita. This imbalance is compounded when the cost of an amnesty programme for militants in Delta is included together with an additional one percent for a special development body for the Niger Delta. To boot the theft of oil be profiteers in the region diverts tens of millions more weekly from federal coffers”.
However, for us as the Ijaw National Congress, Mallam Sanusi Lamidi Sanusi has now come out in HIS TRUE COLOURS. This is very good for us as we have the clear lines between patriots who genuinely want to fix Nigeria and those who stroke the dires as well as embers of disintegration.
Now Mr. President, you must be extremely careful having earlier propounded the doctrine of infiltrators of your Government.
The havoc perpetrated by these faceless hoodlums have caused Nigerians much grief. If their activities have a political tilt like Mallam Sanusi suggests, then elites and politicians from the North have a question to answer! They have to tell us who Boko Haram is. There is far more need for investigation into the identity and goal of this group.
It has also become imperative that Government assemble all geo-political zones for a sovereign national conference. We must sit at the table to determine our future – way forward! It is also our hope that these issues will be trashed out for the betterment of our nation. The statement credited to the National Assembly leadership in the Guardian Newspaper of Wednesday, February 29, 2012 that “National Confab is call for Anarchy says Senate” is very regrettable and a clear sign of disconnect with Nigerians. The Channels Television public opinion result on the National Confab question duly reflected the views of Nigerians.
Consequently, while all other powers shall be devoted, the exclusive functions of the Federal Government will be limited to the following;
- Defence and Defence matters;
- Foreign and External Affairs
iii. Customs Duties
- Currency, Coinage and Legal Tender;
- Immigration into and emigration from Nigeria;
- Citizenship, Naturalization and Aliens;
vii. Banking, Bills of Exchange and Promisory Notes;
viii. Aviation Policy and Regulations;
- Ownership and control of Federal tertiary educational institutions and research institutions;
- Formation and regulation of minimum standards for tertiary education;
- Nuclear energy.
In closing, in our search for a united, strong, virile and prosperous Nigeria where no one is oppressed, may we refer the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) to the words of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo:
“In a capitalist society, whether it is ferderation or not, it is dishonest in the extreme to insist on sharing another state’s wealth on any basis other than that which rules of the capitalist game allow. In this kind of society, every state is entitled to keep whatever accrues to it either by sweat of its brow, by cunning or unaided bounty of nature. And to accuse a rich state of lack of fellow feeling or patriotism simply because it insist on keeping practically whatever accrued to it is unrealistic and untenable.”
Long live INC!
Long live Nigerian.
Chief Joshua Ebiakpo Benamiasia
Acting President, Ijaw National Congress