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Ijaw leaders caution against halting amnesty scheme



Boma Obuoforibo

INC members to meet with Buhari
PERTURBED by the possible resurgence of violence in the Niger Delta, leaders of the Ijaw nation drawn from 78 clans and traditional institutions in Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Ondo, Rivers and Akwa Ibom, have cautioned the Federal Government against alleged plans to end the amnesty programme.

At a two-day retreat and stakeholders summit convened by the Ijaw National Congress (INC) in Warri, Delta State, the leaders lamented that the 2016 budget did not make adequate provision for the amnesty programme in particular and the Niger Delta in general.

As a result, they vowed to send a delegation to President Muhammedu Buhari soon to address issues concerning the development of the Niger Delta Ijaw and other matters capable of promoting purposeful partnership among the Ijaw, the presidency, the United Nations and the state governments with Ijaw ethnic nationalities.

Former Minister of Information, Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark, who was chairman of the INC stakeholders summit but was represented by the former Minister of Police Affairs, Chief Broderick Alowei Bozimo, said the Niger Delta was entering “extremely trying times” just as he urged all Ijaw to consolidate on the gains the nation had made.

Clark’s position was corroborated by the INC President, Boma Obuoforibo when he said: “ All has not been well in the Niger Delta – the Ijaw nation and indeed Nigeria, perhaps due to critical fears and challenges imperative of national security, peace, unity and sustainable development in Nigeria. Thus there is the urgent need for all stakeholders particularly the Ijaw people to understand the happenings in the INC which led to the democratic change of officers of the organs of the congress by the national reconciliation committee.”

Earlier, Dr. Bibobra Bello Orubebe, the INC secretary had urged all delegates to eschew violence and conflict in the region in their quest to address the marginalisation of the Ijaw, stressing that peaceful dialogue was imperative to achieving the overall objective of the retreat to avoid needless conflict in Nigeria.

In a statement at the end of the summit, the Ijaw prayed for the continued peace and progress of the nation and urged the Federal Government to deal with whatever issues that could lead to restiveness.

According to them, Nigeria is made up diverse ethnic nationalities with varying histories, motivations and aspirations and that these ethnic nationalities should form the basis of a true Nigerian federation.

The summit , while noting that the oil and gas bearing communities in Ijaw land suffer the effects of oil exploration, however, regretted the inability of the Nigerian state to address the negative impact on the health, economy, culture and environment, which neglect , they lamented was leading to the gradual extinction of the Ijaw people.

The Ijaw also urged the Federal Government to quickly resolve issues bordering on the takeoff of the Federal Maritime University at Okerenkoko, Delta State, amongst others.

Though it could not be confirmed as having been addressed at the meeting, there have been growing concerns among the Ijaw following an Abuja-based newspaper’s report recently that Buhari was in a dilemma over what to do about his predecessor President Goodluck Jonathan, a prominent Ijaw.
It was also not clear whether such concerns would be raised by the delegation whenever it meets President Buhari.

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