The Ijaw National Council (INC) has said the people of the ethnic nationality will not be intimidated by the antics of former President Olusegun Obasanjo to keep silent on the issues affecting their people and Niger Delta region at large.
The INC also condemned the former President’s outburst against the National Secretary of the congress, Engr. Ebipamowei Wodu, while presenting the position of Ijaw people during a forum organized by the Global Peace Foundation in collaboration with Vision Africa in Abuja recently.
Wodu had said at the forum: “For us as Ijaws, we have been treated as second class citizens, I don’t have any reservations about that. Ijaws today produce the bulk of the resources from oil and gas in this country that is the mainstay.”
In the broadcast, Obasanjo was said to be seen tackling Wodu in an ungentlemanly manner over his views on issues bordering on the age-long neglect, suffering and general underdevelopment of the Ijaw territory and the people by the Nigerian state.
The National President, INC, Prof. Benjamin Okaba, said at a press conference in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, on Friday, that the Ijaw people were not surprised by Obasanjo’s hatred when he ordered armed soldiers to invade Odi in Bayelsa State and massacred innocent people in 1999.
He said: “After a careful watch and critical analysis of the trending short video clip/broadcast by GEE TV Africa on 13th December 2021, the Ijaw National Congress frowns at the blatant emotional outburst, crude and rude disruption and attack of former President Olusegun Obasanjo on the National Secretary of the INC, Engr. Ebipamowei Wodu while presenting the Ijaw position at the forum organised by the Global Peace Foundation in collaboration with Vision Africa at the Transcorp Hilton Abuja.
“The event was themed, ‘Inclusive Security Dialogue: Unbundling Barriers, A Strategic Meeting for Key Influencers’.”
Okaba, therefore, urged the former president to retract his misplaced anger and apologize to Ijaws and the Niger Delta people over his several actions that tended to show hatred against the people.
He stated: “Obasanjo’s Land Use Decree remains the most obnoxious and catastrophic piece of legislation designed and religiously implemented to undermine the Ijaws and other minority ethnic nationalities in Nigeria and deny them their inalienable right to benefit from their God-given blessings.
“Obasanjo has not visited any oil and gas-related polluted sites across Ijaw land and Niger Delta region to appreciate firsthand the enormity of environmental degradation and calamity suffered by the people with attendant epidemics, health challenges and lack of access to social amenities.
“The ‘Odi Massacre’ as known in the annals of Nigeria political history will remain unforgettable in memories of the generation of Ijaw people.
“The recent developments in the country, particularly the Petroleum Industry Act, non-constitution of the Niger Delta Development Commission Board, non-inclusion of Ijaw terrain in the proposed NNPC roads rehabilitation project, the exclusion of Ijaws for the top NNPC managerial appointments and the balkanization of Ijaws into political irrelevance, are lucid pointers to the deliberate play to hold Ijaws and Niger Delta people hostage and be subjected to poverty and a state of arrested development.
“We, therefore, demand that Obasanjo retract his misplaced anger and apologise to the Ijaw and Niger Delta people, who undeniably, had been feeding him, his state and the Nigerian state over the years.”