By Esther Eugene, Port- Harcourt
The Publicity Secretary of the apex socio-cultural organisation of the Ijaw ethnic nationality, the Ijaw National Congress (INC), Engr Ezonebi Oyakemeagbegha, has reiterated the commitment of the body to sustaining the struggle for the emancipation of the Ijaws and Niger Delta people from the chains and shackles bonded on them by the Nigerian state.
Ezonebi stated this in Port Harcourt over the weekend at an interactive session with newsmen.
The INC spokesman maintained that no matter the distraction, discouragement from within and outside, the Ijaws would be dogged to its struggle for emancipation without fear or favour.
He stated that the recent remark by Governor Wike of Rivers, that the Ijaws were like the Fulanis of the north was his personal opinion, and did not represent the true position of Ijaws, but this organisation would not join issues with the Governor on trivial matter.
According to him, joining issues with Gov. Wke would not be in the best interest of the Niger Delta region to escalate the issue and make it look like there was distrust, misunderstanding and division amongst ourselves, particularly at this time when all the ethnic nationalities in the Niger Delta region should be working together to fight a common oppressor.
Ezonebi further stated that rather than liken the Ijaws to the Fulanis, the Ijaws should instead be likened to the Israelites because an average Ijaw man would not oppress anyone and would fight oppression at all cost.
His words, “The Ijaw struggle and agitation is not a selfish one, but to advance development and progress in Ijaw nation and Niger Delta region in all ramifications.
“It’s on record that the Ijaw struggle and agitation dates back to the colonial era. All this while the Ijaw nation has been in the forefront of the progress and development of the Niger Deltan region The Akasa war, Late Major Isaac Boro’s Twelve days revolution, Resource control and presently self-determination struggle are largely championed by the Ijaw nation on behalf of the Niger Delta.
“It is worthy to note that the President of ethnic nationalities in the Niger Delta presently is the current President of INC, prof Benjamin Okaba.
“Moreover, although the Ijaws are widely spreaded in southern Nigeria, found in Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Rivers, Ondo, Akwa Ibom, Abia etc the Ijaws have not claimed to be landlords over any ethnic nationality in the past and present and wondered why Gov. Wike likened the Ijaws to Fulanis who are land grabbers”, he said.
The Publicity Secretary applauded the contributions of the past and present heroes of the Ijaw nation, particularly Harold Dappa-Biriye, Ernest Sissei Ikoli, among others, who fought for the Niger Delta culminating in the constitution of Sir Henry Willinks Commission between 1957 & 1958 to alley the fears of the minority tribes in the country.
The INC Spokesman assured the Ijaws and Niger Delta people that as long as the marginalisation of the minority continued, the Ijaw man would not be quiet and, therefore this champion this agitation until the goal is achieved, irrespective of blackmail and intimidation within and outside the Niger Delta region .