Sunday, January 7, 2018 8:01 pm
The Ijaws in Edo State, have demanded that the State Government create a separate local government area for them as a measure to end the tension that has built up between them and the Benin people.
This is even as they expressed dissatisfaction for being referred to as migrants, settlers, strangers and tenants in their present domain, just as they reject what they termed an attempt by the Oba of Benin to appoint or impose persons with strange titles such as Odionwere, Enogie and Okao as representatives of the Oba of Benin in any of their communities.
Elders and Leaders of Thought from the five Ijaw kingdoms of Edo State, namely, Egbema, Olodiama, Furupagha, Okomu and Gbaran, and the leadership of the Ijaw National Congress (INC), Edo State chapter, made the demand over the weekend, in a paper signed by Rev. C. A. Dime and 16 others, presented to Governor, Godwin Obaseki in Benin City, when both groups honoured his invitation for dialogue on the crisis generated over the press statement made by the State Government and the Benin Traditional Council, BTC, on the coronation of the Pere of Olodiama Kingdom.
Recall that the Ijaws in the State and the Benin people have been at war path, following an alleged installation of Pere of Olodiama Kingdom, a Paramount ruler of the Ijaws.
But the groups said the amalgamation of all the five Ijaw Kingdoms should be administered by the LGA, instead of the present three LGAs into which they have been divided as all the kingdoms are all contiguous one to another, especially by river transportation.
They also demanded that the State Government should recognize the traditional institutions of the five Ijaw Kingdoms of Edo State such that the traditional rulers will be recognized and given staff of office.
They further requested that in the interim, there should be an immediate creation of three Community Development Areas (CDAs), namely; Egbema, Olodiama and Kufutoru, as it is in Lagos and in Bayelsa States, adding that when created, the CDAs should constitute a Constituency in the State House of Assembly.
The Ijaws said their demands are in line with the Federal Government constituent assembly report of 1988-1989, vol. 2 page 492, where it was recommended that the Ijaw people in Ovia LGA deserve an LGA, based on the criteria of riverine location, accessibility, not truly assimilated by the Benin, denied development (by inland based government), very rich in natural resources and high population.
They reiterated that the issue of non assimilation which was identified in the constituent assembly report of 1988-1989 was still the same re-occurring factor responsible for the friction between the Ijaws of the state and the Binis up till now stressing that the only solution still remains the creation of separate administrative units for the Ijaws of the state.
The groups said they detested and firmly rejected any attempt by the Oba of Benin to appoint or impose persons with strange titles such as Odionwere, Enogie and Okao as representatives of the Oba of Benin in any of their communities.
They said the Oba of Benin cannot appoint any person to represent his interest and the Bini traditional institution in any of the five Ijaw Kingdoms in the State as it is on record that the Ijaw nation has hierarchy in leadership.
They said the Ijaw National Congress and Council of traditional rulers, chiefs and elders are the highest level of leadership while the Ijaw Youth Council is the mouth piece.
They however expressed dissatisfaction for being referred to as migrants, settlers, strangers and tenants noting that they have been living in their ancestral lands centuries before the amalgamation of the Northern and the Southern Nigeria in 1914 adding that they are the aborigines of Edo State as they were no slaves to anyone or migrants.