by By Maobuye Nanagi Obu
Haa Izon! Izon Keme mi.
For those who may not know, the word “Izon” means “TRUTH”. Therefore, I shall be on the path of truth hereon. I know I will be attacked for this, but, before you start batting an eyelid and before you start displaying your verbal cholera, just look around your environment (in any part of IJAW Land) and tell me one tangible investment you can find? Without much ado, to say the IJAW NATION is sinking daily is even an understatement, we are almost going into extinction. Today I write concerning the welfare, vision, mission and way forward of the IJAW Youth Council (the IYC) since it’s inception. Having perused through the “Mina-Ama Declaration” and others including the “Kaiama Declaration” of December 11 1998 at Kaiama, I find it nebulous to believe if the activities of the IYC today is still in tandem with the succinctly put “Kaiama Declaration’ of 1998? Truth is, one cannot forget in a hurry, the sincere inputs of the illustrious Sons and Daughters of the IJAW NATION who thought it wise then to set up the IYC.
However, one still wonders if the Youth Council is in upward growth or in downward decline ever since its inception? Today, the average IJAW Youth have the impression and believes that the IYC is synonymous to “gbege (protest, fight, witch hunt, lawlessness etc)”. In fact, some Nigerians depicts the IYC as a collection of ‘never-do-wells, the den of militants, as charlatans, street urchins, a group of gangsters, a fora of political thugs, and an association of restive and gullible Youths, etc’. I can go on and on, but truly it is no one’s fault that as IJAWS we have not conducted ourselves with pride and dignity. So, anyone can have the temerity to say anything about us. We lack sincere leadership and direction. Regardless of how, If we must change this perception and be taken seriously as a group, we must contemplate a new thinking that will reposition our yearnings and aspiration as a people.
On the other hand, It is either our Elders (the INC) are ‘always’ fighting over who becomes the next National President of the group or they’re greedily arguing over who takes the bigger share of what they were able to grab from the Government. Sometimes it is either they’re busy arguing over nonsensical issues like “Real IJAW, Main IJAW” etc or they have allowed themselves to be used by one politician or a political group to make unnecessary press release filled with empty threats. The IJAW NATION is so divided that ’some’ tribes see themselves as ‘main IJAW’. To such people, the Kalabaris, Bonnys, Opobos,Ogbias, Epies, Andonis, Okrikans, the Arogbos or the Apoi Ijaws are not real Ijaws. To them if you’re not from Patani, Bomadi and Bayelsa State, you are not a true Izon. This disparity and dichotomy amongst us contributes to our continuous state of disorderliness and randomness
Similarly, it is either the Youth Council (the IYC) is always fighting and killing each other over which merchant amongst them should be the next Chairman/President or they’re seen protesting along the Uniport axis of the East-West Road over non-payment of one ‘yeye contract’ to a lazy bunch, etc. I have never seen the Youth Council (the IYC) engaging the Nigerian Government on salient issues that will transform the environment, the people and the Region or the Country. The IYC is never seen to be discussing National issues and relating it to how it affects the IJAWS, rather, they’re only interested in “gbegeing” (protesting) and chanting the usual “we no go gree” and barricading the gates of SHELL, AGIP, CHEVRON, TOTAL/ELF, ExxonMobil etc demanding monetary compensation for the despoliation and exploitation caused by these multi-Nationals. For how long would we continue in this fruitless journeys? What is our gross and how have we articulated and channeled our grouse?
That aside, the ‘ONLY’ thing the IYC is known for is protesting over no potable water, no accessible roads, no jobs, no healthcare facility, no Schools etc, at best, but without clear-cut plan and sticking by their demands even. In recent time, the IYC is seen as a group that is never willing to engage any government positively on developmental issues as it affects the IJAW ethnic nationality, instead, some of the leaders will go behind and sell the group for any amount. In fact, talking about ethnic nationalities or nations that made up Nigeria, the Niger Delta is one region that have been bearing the economic burden of this Country for many years now. No wonder great men like “Kenule Bison Saro-Wiwa” fought for the liberation of his people, the Ogonis. Although Kenule mentioned the Niger Delta at some points, but his main focus was on the Ogonis. The visionary step and decision of this man have today placed the Ogonis as the most organised, most focused, most united, most committed, most consistent and most visionary ethnic group not only in the Niger Delta but in the Country. Can we say the same for the IJAWS?
Since the days of Kenule up to the time of his elimination by the tyrant (dictator Sani Abacha), there hasn’t been any splinter group amongst the Ogonis. In spite of the few encumbrances that may have hampered their progress, they are still united and focused unlike the INC of today. We were once proud IJAWS at some point in our history and the INC then also lived up to expectation during the time of Chief Joshua Foumudoh, Prof.Kimse Okoko and a few. The INC died after these great IJAW men left the scene. But, the Kenule’s Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) did not die due to his death, though there may exist some challenges, but they’re still on course unlike the IJAW National Congres (INC) which is now acting like a political party hijacked by some greedy IJAWS always seeking power. Although Ogoni Youths are not the best organised Youth groups in the Country, but certainly they’re far organised, far united and more focus than the IJAW YOUTHS COUNCIL (IYC) of today. They have been consistent with their demands no matter who is in government unlike the 60 and 70year olds in the IYC today refusing to leave the scene for the Younger generation or even willing to adhere to a ‘new-thinking’. The IYC, like their parent body (the INC) is now seen by outsiders as a conglomeration of political merchants, most of whom are traitors to the IJAW NATION
Thing is, I even find it difficult to say if the Youth Council (the IYC) is moving from a degree of disorderliness and randomness and to a more catastrophic, self-destructive and directionless state OR I should say it is a group that have decided to take the directionless and visionless path. It pains me that as IJAWS, we have not learnt from the injustices of today’s Nigeria’s justice on us, our land, and our future etc. Today, the IJAW Ethnic Nationality is not only the fourth largest Nation in Nigeria, we contribute the mainstay of the economy. We have blown up all our chances to develop ourselves, our land and our region. For example; I was so shocked that our people were so visionless to have shared the money for ODI development instead of using it to rebuild an entirely different world-class city for the ODI people. This is so crass, so uncivilised and very pitiful. In case you do not know, watch and see how the North-East will be transformed into another London and Dubai under President. Instead of fighting Boko Haram, there will be massive development of that area. This can only happen because the North knows the importance of power and how to use it unlike the IJAWS who will use their position/office to intimidate fellow IJAWS.
Still moving. The INC as body failed to wade in and settle the rift between the former President (GEJ) and Chief Timipre Sylva, the former Governor of Bayelsa State. They allowed these illustrious Sons to take themselves to the cleaners at the detriment of the IJAW NATION. Again, the INC failed to settle the ‘cold-war’ that existed between the former President and Chief Ndutimi Alaibe. In fact, some close associates of the former President in the INC were even reported to have fuelled the cold-war with lies to both parties coupled with the fencing of others from reaching the former President. Then again, the INC also failed to wade in the case of Henry Okah and others. Although I am totally against any form of gun runs etc, but today Henry Okah whose crimes were committed in Nigeria (the Niger Delta region precisely), is being tortured and incarcerated in far away South Africa.
Today, even as Dr.Goodluck Ebele Jonathan lost his re-election as President, the INC is yet to organise herself and give a clear-cut direction and set an agenda for the IJAW NATION. If I may ask, what are we asking for this time? The Nigerian State is indeed tired of hearing our obsolete “Resource Control” mantra that is almost becoming a senseless hackneyed phrase. The Country does not take us (the IJAW NATION) serious for anything. I am also indeed shocked that I am yet to see the INC pay official courtesy visit to President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House to officially congratulate him and discuss our agenda. This has not happened. Instead, I see a pool of ‘supposed’ INC members calling for secession. Now lets be realistic. Why do we have too many ‘parrots’ speaking for us as IJAWS? Where is the INC? You are talking about secession, how many IJAWS have investments of any kind in the first place? How many IJAWS have their investments in IJAW Land or in any part of the Niger Delta? How many IJAWS built their Porsche Houses in IJAW land or in any part of the Niger Delta? How many IJAWS live around the Niger Delta? It is either all our investments are in Lagos, Abuja or abroad. IJAWS (even those who have stolen from Government coffers) are busy developing the economy of Lagos and Abuja, yet some ‘supposed’ INC members are calling for secession? Who amongst the IJAW big-Boys and Girls is willing to forfeit his/her mansion(s) and uncountable investments in Abuja and Lagos should we secede? In fact, who will lead this revolution (be it bloodless or disastrous)? Please my Elders, wake up from your slumber and take leadership. Our future is in our hands.
And again, it discombobulates me that the INC have not read the body language of President Buhari, even his speeches. Since Buhari came in as President, he has not said anything good or anything developmental about the Niger Delta area other than threatening the region of fighting OIL looters, kidnappers and bombing militants. In as much as this may seem laudable to some, it is anti-people and anti-Niger Delta. On the issue of Boko Haram, he has always maintained that the Government (his Government) will rehabilitate the North-East region apart from the ‘amnesty’ he wants to grant them soon. But, he has consistently said his Government will go after the kidnappers, fight militancy and OIL lifting in the Niger Delta, he has not talked about the rehabilitation of the impacted Communities in the Niger Delta like he intends to do with the North-Easterners.
Yet my fathers in the INC are still quiet, none is saying anything. In as much as I will not support militancy, kidnapping and OIL lifting, it is in our best interest as IJAWS to engage the President positively on these issues than allowing him to unleash catastrophic terror on our people in the coming months. Another thing is; the IJAW NATION should be expecting some IJAWS being detained, and others serving jail term for one fraud or the other. Just recently, Col.Sambo Dasuki confessed how he helped his Brother (President Buhari) to win the Presidential election. To me his arrest and other arrests made so far in the North is just another facsimile of an impending terror on the Niger Delta region or should I say; it is a calculated attempt to distract and validate the real tsunamic arrests that will soon be made in the South (especially on Niger Deltans). IJAWS should wake up and start closing ranks than always fighting each other.
Before I draw the curtains on this, I want to categorically state that; IJAWS are always reactionary and we most times act like cry-babies instead of nipping in the bud. We have made ourselves the endangered species in this Country, we have presented ourselves as the most gullible group. We need to wake up and face reality. In my considered opinion, I think the IYC has outlived itself, it should disbanded and restructured if need be. And, the INC should stop sleeping.