By Our Correspondent
The Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri, at the weekend, called on politicians from Ijaw extraction to defend the unity and interest of the Ijaw ethnic nationality at all times.
Governor Diri, who made the call at a one-day Ijaw Unity and Sensitization Town Hall meeting organized by the Ijaw National Congress (INC), Central Zone, in Yenagoa, said the collective interest of the Ijaw nation was more important than the political ambition of any politician.
Represented at the event by his Deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, the Governor reminded the politicians that they are first Ijaw people before becoming members of political parties
He therefore insisted that the corporate interest of Ijawland must continue to supersede the personal interest of its sons and daughters anywhere in the world.
Governor Diri noted that the existence and survival of the Ijaws as a people in Nigeria is being threatened, and urged all stakeholders of the Ijaw nation to stand up, speak and defend the truth.
The Bayelsa Chief Executive, who decried the disrespectful attitude towards political and traditional rulers in Ijawland, however, called on community leaders to complement government’s security efforts by promptly reportimg crime and criminality in their various domains to relevant authorities for action.
Encouraging the youths to see dignity in labour as launch pad to success, Governor Diri advised them to venture into profitable and legitimate activities to become self-reliant and earn a decent living, rather than go cap in hands begging for handouts.
His words: “I want to encourage our politicians to believe, play and remember that, first of all, we are Ijaw people before we became . members of our various political parties. We have to take this seriously.
“It is only then, we can protect the Ijaw interest and not our partisan interest because we cannot work within the remits of our political interests to achieve our collective goal as a people.
“The Ijaw struggle is like the community goat that everybody is expected to feed. If it comes to my doorpost, I feed it. If it comes to yours, you also feed it.
“It is by so doing that the goat will be fattened enough to give birth to healthy kids to prosper the community. We must in the spirit of protecting the Ijaw integrity and pushing the Ijaw agenda, tell ourselves the truth
“To our traditional rulers, we must report crime and criminality in our domains to relevant authorities for action. For our youths, a hero is not the one who kills his brother. But one who faces and conquers external aggressors.”
In his address, the President of the Ijaw National Congress (INC), Professor Benjamin Okaba, explained that the sensitization meeting of stakeholders from the Central Zone had been necessitated by an existential threat to the legitimate interest and resources of the Ijaw nation.
According to the INC top brass, the Ijaw people had never been and would not be part of any Biafra or Oduduwa Republic, warning that the Ijaws have what it takes to stand as a country in the event of any breakup of Nigeria.
In his paper, “Nigerian Security Situation and the Ijaw Nation”, King Bubaraye Dakolo, attributed the high level of insecurity in all parts of the country, including Ijawland to the abysmal failure of the current All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government.
King Dakolo, who is the Ibenanaowei of Ekpetiama Kingdom, and Chairman of the Bayelsa State Traditional Rulers Council, however, emphasised that the Ijaws are being undermined because of their lack of unity in projecting the overriding interest of the Ijaw nation.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Chairman of the INC, Central Zone, Dr Doodei Week, said the meeting was convened to bring critical stakeholders together to brainstorm on contemporary issues bordering on the unity, security and prosperity of Ijawland.
He said the meeting would also provide an opportunity to sensitize the Ijaw people on the planned digital national population census, arguing that the current population figures did not reflect the true population of the Ijaws, being the fourth largest ethnic group in Nigeria.