Renewed Delta Hostilities: Acting The Script of Kaiama Declaration
By Its? Harvey ?se R?d?n
LAGOS JUNE 21ST (URHOBOTODAY)-The Niger Delta region has returned to international headlines as the hotbed of violence less than one year that power has changed hands in Abuja. The bad image makers and perpetrators of these renascent assaults have carried on with pomp and swagger as though they are the absolute owners of this region.
While this attitude is abhorrent, it is not entirely surprising to serious observers in the region as these miscreants always sprout from the Ijaw ethnic nationality. A look at the Kaiama Declaration leaves nothing to doubt that the Ijaws falsely believe that they are the owners of the region –Iwere homeland inclusive. It would be therefore correct to say that these crops of militants –whether Avengers or whatever nomenclature they choose to adopt, like their predecessors, with all intents and purposes have been acting out a twisted version of the Kaiama script.
As the bombing of oil facilities in the Delta reach a crescendo, INEW had recourse to study the so called document being a compendium of declarations reached at Kaiama town in 1998 by some over 40 Ijaw clans.
Before now, it had not been all that important to study the spirit of the Declaration as it affects our homeland but as we write, what our neigbours interpret as the “Ijaw territory or homeland” is very much mischievously misleading.
Hear them here: “the degradation of the environment of Ijawland by transnational oil companies and the Nigerian State arise mainly because Ijaw people have been robbed of their natural rights to ownership and control of their land and resources.”
It wouldn’t have concerned us much if the bombardment of oil facilities belonging to the Federal Government and multinational companies are coordinated in the Ijaw dominated LGAs of Patani, Burutu and Bomadi. If the Itsekiri homeland is not erroneously perceived as part of “Ijaw territory” by these mischief makers, why are all their recent assaults, from the Delta end, all in the three Warri LGAs –from Dibi fields, Ugborodo tank farm, Olero Creek, Abiteye, Okan to Uton-Nana and many other Itsekiri settlements?
In the third paragraph of the preamble of the said document, they cried thus: “That the division of the Southern Protectorate into East and West in 1939 by the British marked the beginning of the balkanisation of a hitherto territorially contiguous and culturally homogeneous Ijaw people into political and administrative units, much to our disadvantage. This trend is continuing in the balkanisation of the Ijaws into six states-Ondo, Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa Ibom States, mostly as minorities who suffer socio-political, economic, cultural and psychological deprivations.”
INEW finds the above submission a malicious padding of fact. The people of the Niger Delta are so heterogeneously intertwined that it becomes difficult to peacefully demarcate your boundary without leaving out some of your land or people or taking some of the land or people of other ethnic nationalities.
Ironically, If Itsekiris are not one of the ethnic nationalities suffering regional marginalization, why was our land willed to the Goodluck Jonathan-led Federal Government for the siting of the first Maritime University at Okerenghigho without our consent? Why was the 13 billion naira contract awarded to an Ijaw chief to prepare an Itsekiri land? Why did the Federal Government go through Chief Government Ekpemukpolo alias Tompolo instead of the Omadino people whose land was unlawfully acquired for the institution?
In an attempt to provide answers to the above questions, the reader will understand that it is our Ijaw brothers that have continually tried to establish their lordship over the region. We advise here that if the Federal Government decides to reopen the University, it should bear the name of the community that rightfully own all of the earmarked land –Omadino. The Itsekiris have never been known to oppose development.