Yenagoa—The Ijaw National Congress (INC) Monday stressed the need to restore fiscal federalism and devolution of power and repeal all oppressive, obnoxious and discriminatory environmental and resource-related laws in the country.
INC President, Prof. Benjamin Okaba,
said this when the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar visited the group at Ijaw House in Yenagoa, before heading to the Ox-Bow Lake Pavillion, venue of the PDP presidential campaign in Bayelsa state.
Okaba averred that the Ijaw nation as the 4th largest ethnic group in the country has sustained the socio-economic well-being of Nigeria, contributing over 65 percent of the country’s oil and gas export.
“Sadly, Ijaw communities bear the brunt and adverse effects of oil and gas exploration and exploitation, while the humongous revenue accruals are appropriated by the Nigerian State and shared like bazaar among the federating units.
“Our people, unfortunately not only lack basic social amenities but have also been systematically turned into slaves and beggars in their own land and over their own wealth by successive administrations.
“In the midst of the environmental pollution and other hazardous consequences resulting from the extractive activities of the international oil companies, the Nigerian Government has deliberately instituted obnoxious and repressive laws, policies and regulations, particularly the Land Use Act (1978) and the Petroleum Industry Act (2020), to deny us our right to the legitimate ownership, control and management to our God-given resources that are deposited in our environment,” he said.
While condemning the proposed National Water Resources Bill, Okaba maintained that it is a medium to further suffocate and stifle the Ijaw people out of existence.
According to him, the Ijaw agenda of self-actualization has been premised on resource and environmental justice as well as a good conscience.
The INC president urged Atiku to re-enact the old order of derivation that was operational in the country if voted into power.
Okaba stressed that Ijaw people across political party affiliations have resolved to support and cast their votes for the political party and presidential candidate that is genuinely committed and disposed to addressing their existential challenges and concerns.
He outlined the challenges cum conditions to include, “restoration of fiscal federalism, devolution of power and repeal of all oppressive, obnoxious and discriminatory environmental and resource-related pieces of legislation (Land Use Act, PIA), etc.
“Restoration of Ijaw territory as non-balkanized administrative and political federating units for re-assurance and promotion of Ijaw developmental pursuits by creating at least two additional homogenous states, more local government areas and wards for the Ijaws.
“Remediation of our massively polluted and endangered ecosystem; enforcement of adherence to international environmental best practices by international oil companies operating in the Ijaw territory.
“We demand the relocation of the corporate headquarters of all oil companies and their subsidiaries to their operational bases in Ijaw land and indeed the Niger Delta.
“Proper funding and management of all interventionist agencies (NDDC, Presidential Amnesty Programme, etc) set up by the government to aggressively deal with the challenges of sustainable peace and development of the Ijaw territory and indeed the Niger Delta.
“Ensure fair balance in appointment at the federal level (civil service, military, oil companies) and equitable distribution of critical infrastructure to reflect the principles of federal character.
“Halt all negative actions by Akwa Ibom and Edo State governments intended to deny our kith and kin, ownership and management of their God-given land, economic potentials, cultural identity and heritage.”
In his speech, Atiku, who appreciated the INC leadership for the warm welcome, promised to work closely with the sociocultural group as well as restructure the country if he wins the presidential race.