More than 100 Ijaw elders under the auspices of the Ijaw Elders’ Consultative Forum, have resolved to convene an All Ijaw Summit to tackle the numerous challenges facing the Niger Delta region.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the meeting which held on Tuesday at Hotel Presidential, Port Harcourt, drew participants from the various zones and chapters, including Ijaw sons and daughters in the Diaspora.
The Ijaw elders resolved that an all Ijaw summit that would be attended by selected prominent Ijaw sons and daughters – irrespective of political affiliation or creed be held in the first quarter of 2021.
The resolutions were contained in a communique signed by Efiye Bribena for the forum.
They agreed that an 11 man-interim planning committee chaired by retired Rear Adm. Y.W. Iyanga and Dr. Felix Ida Waboso as Secretary be constituted.
“The meeting discussed various issues concerning the state of the nation, especially as it pertains to the proposal for the amendment of the constitution and took the position that:
“The Ijaws as the fourth largest ethnic group, indigenous in six states of the federation continue to suffer large scale under-representation in terms of number of states, number of local governments and under-representation in the National Assembly, as well as appointments at the federal level.
“The Ijaws also suffer disadvantage as it pertains to the existing fiscal regime and revenue allocation which is at total variance with the original allocation formula adopted by our founding fathers at the inception of Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Ijaws continue to suffer large-scale environmental degradation and the loss of livelihood of our people and the ecosystem especially the age-old mangrove swamp.
“That the region suffers militarisation of its territories, towns, villages and fishing ports; a situation which continues to build tension and fear amongst our people,” the communiqué stated.
They maintained that the proposed constitutional amendment is insufficient to adequately address the fears and protect the interests and well-being of their people, especially as it pertains to equity, fairness and justice.
They demanded for a mechanism to be urgently put in place to ensure a fundamental overhaul of the basis of the union and the federation.
The forum discussed the state of security in the Niger Delta and hereby reiterates the commitment of the Ijaws to work with other neighbours, ‘to protect our territories’ at the South-South regional level.
They intend using community and people based initiative which had worked effectively in times past.
The meeting frowned at the increasing trend at which Ijaw sons and daughters, occupying public positions who have distinguished themselves in the performance of their duties were summarily removed from office without any known cause.
“The cases of Julie Donli-Okah, Director General, National Agency for the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), and Elvis Oglafa, Secretary of Independent Corrupt Practices Commission were discussed as few cases in point.
“The meeting discussed the dearth of critical infrastructure in the region particularly the non completion of the East-West road, and the abandonment of the sea ports, namely Burutu, Sapele, Warri, Port Harcourt and Onne Ports.
“This is to draw the attention of the Federal Government that the hen that lays the proverbial golden eggs can no longer accept to be treated with such neglect,” the elders stated.