By Samuel Oyadongha
YENAGOA— IJAW youths have described as ‘provocative,’ attempts by the pro-Biafra groups, Movement for the Actualisation of a Sovereign State of Biafra, MOASSOB, and Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, to include Ijaw territories in the map of Biafra without proper consultations and consent of the Ijaw ethnic nationality.
The Ijaw struggle for self determination, justice and equity within the Nigerian federation, it argued, predates the Igbo agitation for Biafra.
Spokesman of the Oweilaemi Pereotuno-led Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, worldwide, Daniel Dasimaka, in a statement distanced the IYC and Ijaw nation from the fictitious map claiming Ijaw territories as being part of Biafra, noting:“There was never a time we were Biafrans.
“The old Eastern region was also a contraption that so much enslaved the Ijaw people that was created by those who created this miscarriage of a state called Nigerian.
“It should be noted that the Ijaw are not in any way against the genuine aspirations of all people, including the IPOB, to attain self determination or secession as the case may be.
“Ijaw are a distinct ethnic nation even before the 1914 amalgamation that had its own dreams, wishes and aspirations that should not be submerged as footnotes in any other people’s struggle.”
“We Ijaw people are not Biafrans. Therefore, if or when any Ijaw person or group feel a sense of allegiance to Biafra and speak in its favour, let it be known that such statements are the personal opinions of such persons, which do not reflect the thoughts, views and wishes of the entire Ijaw nation and the Niger Delta people.”
“For the records, the Ijaw struggle for self-determination predates the Biafra agitation. It is a known historical fact that a year before the world got to hear of the term Biafra Republic, Ijaws led by late Major Isaac Jasper Adaka Boro of blessed memory declared a Niger Delta Republic in pursuit of the emancipation of the Niger Delta people which the progenitor of Biafran Late Col Ojukwu of blessed memory fought against as the then Governor of the Old Eastern region when the going was good with him in the Nigerian State.
“It is also on record that a year before MOASSOB was founded, the IYC through the Kaiama Declaration affirmed ‘our commitment to joint struggle with the other ethnic nationalities in the Niger delta area for self-determination.
“We expressed our solidarity with all peoples’ organisations and ethnic nationalities in Nigeria and elsewhere, who are struggling for self-determination and justice. In particular IPOB, the struggle of the Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC, the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni Peopl, Mosop, Egi Women’s Movement etc.’ Thus our struggle cannot be submerged into the Biafra agitation that came after ours.
“Our position has not changed. We Ijaws stand for self determination in the Nigerian federation. We stand for the convocation of a Sovereign National Conference of equally represented ethnic nationalities to discuss the nature of a democratic federation of Nigerian ethic nationalities or a referendum to decide our future in this amalgamated marriage.
“As our founding fathers noted in 1998, ‘but for the economic interests of the imperialists, the Ijaw ethnic nationality would have evolved as a distinct and separate sovereign nation, enjoying undiluted political, economic, social, and cultural ‘autonomy’. Thus, we call on our Biafran brothers to respect our identity. Any attempt to lump Ijaws into Biafra without the genuine consent of Ijaws is not only an insult but a futile attempt at replicating the oppression in Nigeria Biafians claim to resist.”