- Demands fairness, justice, equity
Ijaw National Congress, INC, the umbrella body of the Ijaw nation, yesterday announced that it had unflinching faith in one united Nigeria, but demanded fairness, equity and justice for all.
The group’s position was made known in a statement jointly issued by its national president, Alatubo Charles Harry, and spokesman, Victor Burubo, which it said was arrived at after due consultations.
INC stated that it supported the peace overtures of militant group, Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, which it said was commendable even as it called on the federal government to fast-track its bid for dialogue with NDA.
“Congress receives with cautions optimism the recent bold offer of ceasefire made to the Federal Government of Nigeria by the Niger Delta Avengers, a move geared to afford all sides a direly needed chance to dialogue.
“It should be noted that Ijaw National Congress had hitherto made several calls for dialogue after a ceasefire has been agreed. This call by the Avengers is commended. Congress strongly calls on the federal government to buy into another chance for dialogue. We also call on the military and the Agitators to show good faith at this point,” INC said in the statement.
It noted that in taking this position, INC affirmed that the recent renewed upsurge of attacks on oil facilities in Niger Delta could not be resolved by force of arms, adding that “our long traumatised people should not be subjected to more destruction of innocent lives, further destruction of the already devastated environment and desolate ecology, not to talk of the perennial tension hanging over Nigeria. Government and the armed groups must adopt that ceasefire now. There is too much at stake in terms of lives and fortunes hanging in the balance for this chance to be frittered away.”
On the reported rebuke of Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark, INC stated, “The attention of congress has been drawn to the verbal attack on Chief Senator Edwin Clark by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, in which he was berated in unflattering terms for the meeting of Niger Delta leaders he called in Warri which, according to MEND, did not meet the expectations of the group.
“While MEND cannot be denied any right to be heard, we in congress and the generality of our people take a dim view of such open and needless attack on the person of Chief Clark. By the venerable age and accomplishments of Chief Clarke, he is deserving of respect.”
INC also called on all to treat former President Goodluck Jonathan with his deserved respect, saying “since he left office in May 2015, having traded his ambition to buy Nigeria respite from acrimony, violence and bloodshed, INC, Ijaw people, all Nigerians and indeed the world have viewed with unspeakable shock the various attempts by officials of the succeeding government under President Muhammadu Buhari to tarnish the image of former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan GCFR.
“There is a constant and well-programmed diatribe and instigation of animosity against the civilised personage of former President Jonathan and his comparatively successful tenure under a barrage of attacks and vilifications. We view with consternation the government’s unethical refusal to afford him any credit or plaudits for his honest, patriotic and pan-Nigerian approach to governance. Regardless of that however, Dr. Jonathan remains a core democrat and an International Statesman who currently enjoys a sterling image on the world stage.
“Ijaw National Congress frowns at the cheap, disingenuous and petulant attempt by officials to finger him as a sponsor of any armed group anywhere in the world. We hereby warn the Minister of Information, Mr Lai Mohammed, who has issued a mish-mash of pointless conjecture and innuendo such as belief in certain quarters that the former president is a sponsor of the Avengers has refused to go away. How crass can one get in Goebellsian double-speak!
“The studied silence of former President Jonathan and the equanimity of Nigerians in the face of such irresponsible provocation cannot be allowed to continue. Let the word go forth from now: the continued vilification of Dr Goodluck Jonathan, GCFR, former president of Nigeria, is unacceptable to us and must stop. Nigeria has a far greater weight of grim and crucial issues to deal with rather than this petty fixation with rubbishing the image of a former president who saved the nation from certain calamity.”
Other aspects of the statement read: “While congress has constantly spoken in favour of dialogue and the cessation of the destruction of oil facilities in the Niger Delta, we view with trepidation the militarisation of the zone and heightened movements of combat troops, Apache attack helicopters and other military hardware in the creeks of the Niger Delta. This cannot be good for the enhancement of a conducive atmosphere for dialogue.
“INC therefore urges President Muhammadu Buhari to withdraw the troops, ease the tension and let dialogue be the only item on the table. As a responsible congress, we have in a press conference held in Port Harcourt on Wednesday, August 17, 2016, asked for 30 day MORATORIUM ON ALL MILITARY ACTIONS IN THE NIGER DELTA.
“Let the federal government give a 30-day moratorium on their action and we will certainly get a ceasefire from the creeks. No government should use attrition, especially violent attrition, as the first way of resolving a problem within its own borders,” the congress concluded.