As Ijaws everywhere celebrate the life and times of one of our greatest heroes and champions of the struggle for the emancipation of the Ijaw Nation and Niger Delta from deprivation and poverty, the Late Major Isaac Jasper Adaka Boro, we the executive council and entire membership of Ijaw Youth Council do felicitate with the Boro family, his gallant comrades-in-arms, the Government of Bayelsa State and the entire Ijaw nation.
We believe that this year’s Boro Festival celebration affords us not only another opportunity to celebrate the labours of our heroes past, both dead and living, but also an occassion to reflect on the state of the Ijaw Nation, as well as a time to think through strategies for surmounting our major challenges as a people.
There is no gainsaying the fact that many decades after Boro’s sacrifice, the Ijaw Nation has still not recorded any quantum leap in terms of development. In Boro’s day, majority of Ijaw towns and villages were not connected to the world by good roads and were in pitch darkness despite the fact that the oil and gas which flow under them lit many cities elsewhere. Majority of Ijaw communities lacked access to portable water and qualitative and affordable healthcare. All these have still not changed today. He gave his all to ensure that qualified, willing and able Ijaw people are gainfully employed. Today, that is still not the case, as majority of Ijaw youths are unemployed due in part to the continuous siting of the administrative headquarters of the International Oil Companies (IOCs) outside the Niger Delta and Ijaw land which is the main area of their operations. This has contributed to their adoption of policies and taking of decisions that are in the main inconsiderate of the fallouts of oil and gas exploration and exploitation in the Niger Delta on our people such as pollution, environmental hazards and degradation leading to the dislocation of our local economy. This is why since our assumption, the National Executive Council of IYC led by Barr Pereotubo Oweilaemi has been in the forefront of canvassing for and calling on the Federal Government of Nigeria to speedily implement the relocation of the IOCs as directed by the Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo. It was against this backdrop that starting from May 4, 2017, we have issued statements condemning the leadership of the House of Representatives for turning down a symbolic motion sponsored by Hon. Goodluck Opiah praying the House to direct the multinational oil and gas companies to relocate their administrative head offices to the Niger Delta Region. It is our belief that for there to be peace, stability and progress in our land and country, Ijaw youths have to be positively engaged.
It is also in line with this conviction that we commended the 8th Nigerian Senate and the Presidency for the passage of a bill for the establishment of Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State and for the setting up of a committee to implement a presidential directive that the institution commences academic activities before this year ends.
The above are just two examples that capture our approach to goal attainment as an IYC EXCO. We commend those that do good things and condemn those that do badly. As the leadership of the IYC, our mission is to restore the council to its original vision and prestige. It is a known fact that the set of Ijaw youths that founded the IYC, such as Dr Felix Tuodolo, Elder T. K. Ogoriba, Late Barr Oronto Douglas, Dr Patterson Ogoun, among others, were young people who were respected internationally for their track record of service. Like Boro who inspired them, these youths placed service above self. However, over the years, due to a cocktail of factors, the institution they built –the IYC – has lost its prestige and sympathy. As leaders of Ijaw youths, the IYC ably headed by Barr Pereotubo Oweilaemi believe that it is our duty to remedy this situation.
In order to achieve the above stated objective, we have developed new tools of engagement and a different approach to solving the developmental challenges of our people.
As a council, our actions so far have been guided by an approach that emphasizes non-violence and collaboration with the relevant authorities at all levels – local, state and federal government and their agencies – as well as the IOCs and international development agencies that mean well for the Ijaw Nation in finding lasting solutions to our problems. We believe that violence cannot resolve the Ijaw question. Violence has never been the best approach to development.
Given the foregoing, in the spirit of this year’s Boro Festival we are calling on Ijaws, especially the youths, to join us in this non-violent approach to solving problems. We want to objectively engage the Federal Government and IOCs. Even when we are agitating for things that ordinarily ought to come to us without asking, we should go through peaceful channels in order to negotiate better deals for our people, rather than take destructive routes like shutting down production which negatively impact on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the Nation and the government’s ability to meet the needs of our people. We must engage the government and the IOCs objectively rather than becoming violent and threatening national security and the peace and economic wellbeing of the nation. As a council we want to contribute to national development in Ijaw land, Niger Delta and Nigeria.
Thus, as a council, we are resolved to supporting the government and oil companies with security and also manpower-wise.
It is our hope that this creates a better understanding between our people and those who this new IYC view as our development partners, namely: the Government and the IOCs. We hope that this approach would give our development partners enough space and time to implement whatever development roadmap they have for the Niger Delta and Ijaw Nation.
Ha aaaa Izon!!!!
Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide