Why Binis are after Ijaws in Edo State ―Ijaw leaders write Buhari
ELDERS and leaders of the Ijaw ethnic nationality under the aegis of the Ijaw Elders and Leaders of Thought have fingered the ‘inordinate’ ambition to control the oil and gas resources in Ijaw communities as the reason the Benin kingdom and the Edo State government are after the Ijaws.
This allegation was made in a lengthy letter addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari and copied the leadership of the National Assembly, Bayelsa and Edo states signed by the national leader of the group, Chief Edwin Clark and 33 others drawn from Edo, Delta, Ondo, Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Bayelsa states.
The Ijaw leaders, while reacting to the raging conflict between the Binis and Ijaws in Edo State, averred that the selfish ambition to control the oil and gas resources “in form of rent, royalties and tributes, lay at the core of the oppression, marginalization and intimidation of the Ijaws of Edo State.”
According to them, the Benin Traditional Council (BTC) “has remained resolute in the obsolete idea of subjugating the Ijaw-speaking people of Edo State under their feudal control despite the marked differences between Benin and Ijaw traditions.
“All over the world, regardless of social or cultural differences, small and big nations co-exist side by side, sharing common boundaries.
“There are numerous examples of such cases across the world. It is therefore out-of-place to treat the Ijaws of Edo State as second-class citizens, aliens and intruders who must be wiped away from their God-given land.
“We want to use this opportunity to challenge any Bini man or woman to prove that the Ijaws of Edo State have not lived in their present location for over 700 years.”
Clark and his Ijaw group, while flaying Governor Godwin Obaseki of betraying his oath of office, noted that its findings revealed that the Edo State government had excluded the Ijaws from the board of the EDO STATE OIL AND GAS PRODUCING AREAS DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION (EDSOGPADEC), an interventionist agency, set up to address underdevelopment in oil-producing communities in the state.
“This policy of non-inclusion of the Ijaws in Edo State is reflected in virtually every facet or hierarchy of the political and leadership structure in the State.
“As opposed to their counterparts in other states of the Niger Delta region who are adequately carried along in the system of governance by means of appointments into key strategic offices, the Ijaws of Edo State have not been fortunate to be so treated.
“The only time there was an attempt to appoint an Ijaw in Edo State into any position of significance was during the Military Administration of Navy Commander Anthony Onyearugbulem when an Ijaw man in the person of Mr Elijah Nimite was appointed as Commissioner for Finance. This appointment was vehemently opposed by the Binis,” the group stated.
The Ijaw Elders and Leaders of Thought, therefore, appealed to President Buhari to initiate processes to call both Governor Godwin Obaseki and the Benin Traditional Council to order, adding “their divisive utterances, hate speeches and official conduct are provocative and capable of causing a breakdown of law and order in Edo State.”
The group, which pledged Ijaws’ unwavering recognition of Oba of Benin as the overall paramount ruler in Edo State, reiterated unequivocally that no amount of threats, blackmail, or intimidation from both Governor Godwin Obaseki and the Benin Traditional Council can make the Ijaws in Edo to evacuate from a land they had lived for over 700 years or treated as second-class citizens.
The group, however, called on Ijaw youths spoiling for a showdown over the statement issued by the Edo State government for the arrest of Pere of Olodiama, Godwin Ogunyeibo, Alagba Benafa III, Agadagba of the Olodiama Kingdom, whose recent coronation orchestrated the current tension in the state, to sheathe their swords.
Nigerian Tribune reports that five kingdoms: Olodiama, Furupagha, Egbema, Gbanran and Okomu, are Ijaw kingdoms in Edo State.