Muhammadu Buhari, (GCFR),
Federal Republic of Nigeria,
The Three Arms Zone,
AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI CALLING ON HIM TO CONSIDER APPOINTING THE NEXT CORDINATOR OF THE PRESIDENTIAL AMNESTY PROGRAMME FROM THE ITSEKIRI ETHNIC NATIONALITY.
We have watched over the years, how the Ijaws have unrepentantly created an erroneous impression that Niger Delta region is synonymous with the Ijaw ethnic nation and as such, whatever comes to the region is their exclusive preserve.
Ironically, some persons who ought to be better aware have fallen for this deliberate falsehood. No thanks to the silence by vast majority of people from other ethnic nationalities that make up this oil and gas rich region.
For those who vehemently refuse to be trapped in this abyss of gullibility, once the “Niger Delta Struggle” is tinged with violence, they cave in to the gullibility. No wonder this has provided some sort of meal ticket and “hustling pattern” for some self-styled Ijaw's “generals”.
Your Excellency, for the purpose of clarity and putting the records right, a cursory look at the demography, geography, economic relevance and the history of the Niger Delta struggle will suffix.
Reproduced hereunder is the number of LGAs where we have Ijaws in the Niger Delta.
Abia (17 Local Government Areas)
Isiala Ngwa North
Isiala Ngwa South
Akwa Ibom State (31 Local Government Areas)
Eastern Obolo (Ijaw has presence here)
Ika, Akwa ibom
Ini, Akwa ibom
Itu, Akwa ibom
Mbo, Akwa ibom
Okobo, Akwa ibom
Oron, Akwa ibom
Bayelsa (8 Local Government Areas, dominated by Ijaws, with Isoko and Urhobo presence)
Cross River (18 Local Government Areas)
Delta State (25 Local Government Areas)
Ika north East
Patani (Ijaw, Isoko and Urhobo)
Warri south west
Edo State (18 Local Government Areas)
Esan North East
Esan South East
Ikpoba Okha (Itsekiri, Ijaw and Benin)
Ovia North East (Benin, Itsekiri and Ijaw)
Ovia south west
Ondo State (18 Local Government Areas)
Akoko North East
Akoko North West
Akoko South West
Ese-Odo (Illaje, Ijaw)
Imo State (27 Local Government Areas)
Rivers State (22 Local Government Areas)
Ahoada west Akuku Toru (Ijaw)
Port Harcourt (Ijaw)
Below are some of the other ethnic nationalities that make up the above states:
• Imo State -Igbo, etc
• Abia -Igbo , etc
• Akwa Ibom -Anang, Andoni, Okobo, Oron, Ibibio, Ibeno, Eket, Efik etc
• Bayelsa -jaw, kolokunu, Ekpetiama, Igbriran, Atissa, Biseni, Isoko, Urhobo etc
• Cross River -Yakurr, Uyanga, Ukelle, Olulumo, Ododop, Nkum, Nkim, Ikorn, Etung, Mbembe, Mbube, Ekoi, Yalla, Efik, Iyala, Bette, Anyima, Akajuk, Boki, Agbo, Adun, Adim, Abayon and Bahumono
• Delta -Enuani, Ndokwa, Ukwuani, Ebunkpa, Okunzu, Ebus, Ijaw, Itsekiri, Urhobo, Ika, Isoko, Ukwani, Ndoni, Okpe etc
• Edo -Binis, Esan, Afemai, Etsako, Owans, Akoko Edos, Igbira, Ijaw, Urhobo, Itsekiri and Ika etc
• Ondo -Akoko, Akure, Ikale, Ilaje, Owo and Ijaw (Apoi)
• Rivers -Abua, Andoni, Babbe, Billie, Ekpeye, Eleme, Engenni, Etche, Gokana, Ibani, Ikwerre, Kalabari, khana, Kula, Ndoni, Nkoro, Nkoroo, Ogba, Egbema, Okrika and Saro
Deducible Sir, from the above illustration are the following inevitable facts:
That out of the 184 local government areas in the Niger Delta region, the Ijaws barely have presence in about 24 local government areas which approximately is about 13.0% of the total demographic strength in the region.
Besides the Ijaws, there are over 80 other ethnic nationalities in the Niger Delta Region that voluntarily elect to fulfill their destinies as Nigerians in this region.
From the foregoing Mr. President, it is evident that in an electoral process of choosing a President and Commander-In-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for instance, with particular reference to the Niger Delta region, votes come from all the ethnic nationalities of the region as no one ethnic nationality literally leaves its geographical/demographic boundary to ascribe votes from other ethnic nationalities to itself. As such, whatever democratic dividends that are due to the Niger Delta region and her people should not be enjoyed by just a single ethnic nationality to the exclusion of others.
Your Excellency will recall that besides the contribution to the Internally General Revenue (IGR) profile of the Nigerian state through the Koko and Warri Sea Ports (that are both located on our Itsekiri homeland) and other sources of our contributions, the Itsekiri ethnic nationality also contributes not less than 35% of the total revenue generated from crude oil and gas to our National economy.
No wonder, the Itsekiri ethnic nationality stands out today as the highest producer of crude oil and gas in Delta and Edo States and the second largest producer of crude oil and gas in Nigeria.
The economic implication of the aforementioned fact is that the Federal Government of Nigeria hardly funds or execute projects and programmes through any of her Ministries, Departments and Agencies in the region without huge economic contribution from the Itsekiri nation.
THE NIGER DELTA STRUGGLE:
Your Excellency, Sir, although the Niger Delta struggle has gotten its twists and turns, yet, anyone who is well familiar with the struggle will agree that no particular ethnic nationality in the region can claim monopoly of it.
Where the difference actually lies is in the style and approach and we stand to reason that whatever approach any ethnic group deploys is a matter of choice.
Whereas, the Itsekiri ethnic nationality in our nobility over the years have chosen to approach the struggle by advocating adherence to rule of law and not rule of might. We pursue all agitations through intellectual and other civil means that are laced with facts, figures and empiricism. This may not be the style of others.
In fact, no historical account of Niger Delta struggle will be complete if the contributions of notable sons and daughter of all ethnic nationalities in the region are not recognized.
Recently, Asari Dokubo spewed in an outburst in their usual characteristic manner that the Niger Delta Presidential Amnesty Programme is Ijaw‘s. Juxtaposing this claim with all the injustices and deprivation that the Itsekiri ethnic nationality has been deliberately subjected to since the commencement of the programme, we have no choice than to conclude that the Ijaws have been aided to believe that the Niger Delta region is exclusively theirs.
Since the creation of the office of the Special Adviser on Niger Delta during Timi Alaibe’s era as Special Adviser to former President Olusegun Obasanjo to Late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua when the office was restructured to take charge of the Niger Delta Presidential Amnesty Programme, all subsequent occupants of the office from Kingsley Kuku, General
Paul Boroh (Rtd) and most recently, Professor Charles Dokubo are all Ijaws.
Your Excellency, Sir, there is hardly anyone in this country today that is not aware that besides the Ijaws, the only other ethnic nationality whose disarmament exercise was televised and granted amnesty was the Itsekiris through the Itsekiri National Youths Council (INYC).
To continue to encourage only the Ijaws to sit on and appropriate an average of over Seventy Billion Naira (70B) annually of the region since 2009 when this programme commenced to the exclusion of other critical ethnic stakeholders is unfair, selective and strikes a discordant note.
For example, there are over 200 members of staff on special salary and allowances in that office, none is Itsekiri. Also, of the over 40,000 beneficiaries enlisted into the programme thus far, not more than 200 Itsekiris have successfully been trained.
As at today it is on record that amongst all the amnesty beneficiaries studying at various higher institutions in this country, only those of Itsekiri ethnic nationality have been deprived of the payment of their statutory in-training allowance (stipends) thereby abandoning them to languish in pain or be forced to drop out of the programme.
Worthy of mention is the fact that; of the over 30,000 contracts awarded in the office since inception, none has been awarded to any Itsekiri. Since the inception of the programme till date, all the Heads of Departments: Education (Onshore), Education (Offshore), Vocational, Data, Re-Integration, Procurement and heads of other critical administrative units, Chief of Staff and Political Aides have all been Ijaws. All the vocational centers established by the office across the region are in Ijawland as if the program was designed exclusively for the Ijaws.
In the face of all the aforementioned marginalization, no single Itsekiri has re-integrated into the society from all the opportunities available.
Yours Excellency, if this was how every other opportunities and privileges are appropriated in Nigeria, to the exclusion of others, we make bold to state that His Excellency, Goodluck Jonathan, GCFR, former President of Nigeria, an Ijaw man, would not have ascended to the exalted position of the President of Nigeria. It is on the strength of all the aforementioned and to address the lopsidedness in the interest of equity, justice and fairness in the administration of the Niger Delta Presidential Amnesty Programme that we wish to appeal that Mr. President should appoint the next Special Adviser/Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme from the Itsekiri ethnic nationality.
Comrade Agbateyiniro Weyinmi Isaac
Comrade Afejuku Appearance
Comrade Lucky Futughe
Director of Media/IT,INYC
Friday, April 3, 2020
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