The Ijaw people have renewed their commitment to the struggle for self-determination and resource control, declaring that nothing will prevent them from achieving emancipation from the hold of the Nigerian state.
They declared this in a communique issued following the Ijaw National Congress’s one-day All Ijaw Summit, titled “The Nigerian State and the Ijaw Question,” which was held on Saturday in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State (INC).
Professor Benjamin Okaba, President of INC, who read the communique in front of reporters at the Ijaw House, stated that the Ijaw people’s right to self-determination, access, and control over their resources is inalienable and protected by multiple international treaties.
Okaba claimed that the Federal Government has badly and ineffectively managed the country’s ethnic diversity, leading to agitations over marginalization and the igniting of separatist impulses among key ethnic nationalities.
He claimed that the Nigerian federation was an outlier because it violated all recognized norms of federalism, which emphasize the separation of powers between the central government and the component regions on a coordinated and autonomous basis.
Okaba said, “the Ijaw ethnic nationality can no longer bear the grave injustices, impunity, flagrant nepotism, marginalization, neglect, oppression and enslavement by the Nigerian state.”
He also stated that the Ijaws would no longer rely on the Federal Government to defend their environment, emphasizing that an environmental protection policy would be developed to ensure sustainable Ijaw territory for future generations.
The communique read in part, “The Ijaws resolve from this summit to employ all peaceful, diplomatic, non-violence and other tools of disobedience to pursue and actualize our right to self-determination as a distinct people of common historical and cultural affinity and geographical contiguity.
“The Ijaw people shall stop at nothing until self-determination is achieved.
“The Ijaw nation shall continue to engage the Federal Government of Nigeria on its critical challenges as well as the enthronement of a new federal constitution, and this is without prejudice to our resolve to seek self-determination.”