Wabiye Idoniboyeobu, one of the aspirants to the presidency of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), canvasses for a change in focus, relying on the intellectual strength and vast network of its people. He spoke with TAIWO AMODU.
WHY are you in the race for the leadership of the IYC?
The real question should be, why shouldn’t I be in the race? For clarity, I will start by reminding you that the Ijaw Youth Council, as the name implies is a pressure group of Ijaw youths from around the world. The group was set up to coordinate the struggle of the Ijaw people for self-determination and justice. This has been the driving force of the group for years. Though we have achieved a lot since the group’s inception in 1998, a lot more could have been achieved if we put a little more focus on our intellectual strength. If properly nurtured and managed, the IYC could rise to be a global voice. The Ijaw nation has been blessed beyond comprehension; not just with oil, but with fertile lands, rich aquatic life and, most important of all, a strong and resourceful people. Most of our resources have been bastardised due to the country’s over dependence on our oil. This has broken us in pieces, economically, politically and even socially. It is time to remind the world that the Ijaw nation has much more than oil. This is what motivated me to join the race. I believe we Ijaw Youths have not started harnessing our potentials. We have so much intellectual resources at our disposal, but we choose to be used as political pawns.
There are so many of you in the race. What is your unique selling point?
There were 78 presidential candidates in the 2019 general election. I won’t call, 12 out of the millions of Ijaw Youths out there as “so many.” I have studied all the candidates, some of which are my friends and I can tell you that we all have plans and the passion to pilot the affairs of the IYC. But the reality is that only capacity can bring a good plan to life. The IYC has gradually lost relevance and this I believe was a political strategy to weaken us. I did a survey on how people perceive the IYC and more than 70 per cent of the responses were negative. The world doesn’t see the successful Ijaw son that is in the top ranks of the Nigerian banking industry. The world is blinded to those of us breaking records in the entertainment industry. What they see is our brothers and sisters mounting a roadblock at the Mbiama Junction or picketing defaulting companies. That doesn’t define us, but that’s what the world sees. The problem is communication. How we make our points, how we sell our ideas and how we lay our complaints are very important in maintaining a good image.
The IYC needs a new face, someone who can change the current perception. That is the only way we can get our voice back. By the grace of God, I have built capacity in the field of communications. I can bring out the good side. I can tell the world the Ijaw story and bring the much-needed attention to the resources that matter. By understanding leadership communications through the Harvard University and Persuasive Communications from MIT, I have not only understood how to communicate at various levels and through vigorous circumstances, I have also understood how to speak the global language. That is what the IYC needs right now. This is 2020; if we must stand up to current issues, we must be able to match current realities and take our place in the world.
What will you do differently to add value to the IYC leadership?
In the days to come, I will gradually roll out my manifesto. It will clearly show my focus on human capital development, strategies of communication with governments and other establishments, harnessing our tourism potentials and the entertainment industry. In summary, my administration would focus on grooming and projecting other resources of the Ijaw Nation alongside standing firm with the declarations made at Kiama in December 1998.
The IYC has been as a platform that isn’t about service but to court favour of government. How do you react to this?
It is true the IYC has occasionally been political maneuvered; but so have all other groups in the country, at some point in their existence. Politicians even take their gimmicks into religious bodies. That is a problem Nigeria is still trying to solve; a leadership that is focused on the welfare and uplift of its people will never derail. Though I am perceived to be an underdog, with no political feathers, my nest is full of feathers gotten from my cordial relationships, self-development and personal achievements, no matter how little. I don’t see winning the presidency of the IYC as a personal achievement; I see it as a task to help write history. The IYC shouldn’t be a platform to build for future political ambitions. If it is, then every decision of the president would be political and self-serving. This will take the president higher but leave the Ijaw nation stagnant.
Ijaws are spread beyond the Niger Delta to even riverine areas in South-West states. How do you intend to forge common unity?
The easiest way to promote unity is to develop a common goal; a goal that will benefit everyone. Unity is two ways: something has to attract the unity and someone has to be attracted to the unity. The only way to do this is to focus more on what unites us. The Ijaw people are unique people and wherever we are found, from the creeks of Arogbo in Ondo State to the Olodiama Kingdom in Edo State, we are one and the same. Our rich cultural heritage is one of our major similarities. Focus on this centre attractive ideas around it and Ijaws from all corners will key in without sentiments.
YOU SHOULD NOT MISS THESE HEADLINES FROM NIGERIAN TRIBUNE
MONDAY LINES: Almajirai’s Expedition To The South
COVID-19 may be composing a requiem for Nigeria. Or do you sincerely think the country would be the same again if the North’s unhealthy conducts explode in unimaginable deaths as is gradually evolving before our very eyes? The South’s zest for life or what the French call joie de vivre, won’t let them allow the … Read full story
CACOVID, NCDC To Support Oyo Govt On Coronavirus Battle With N350 Million
The Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) are set to donate the combined sum of N350 million to support Oyo State’s containment efforts against COVID-19. The State’s Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Akinola Ojo and a member of the COVID-19 Task Force… Read full story
Forex Repatriation: Emefiele Assures Investors Of Investment Safety
The Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, has assured investors of the security of their investments in the country despite dwindling revenue from the sale of crude oil globally. Speaking at the weekend in Abuja, Mr Emefiele said investors interested in repatriating their funds from the country… Read full story
Coronavirus Or Not, African Migrants Desperately Push On In The Desert Towards Europe
Many Africans are managing to evade coronavirus lockdown barriers in Niger, the Sahel’s migrant crossroads, as they press on with their perilous desert trek to the Mediterranean Sea and ultimately Europe. The migrant flow has slowed down but not dried up despite tight checks in the capital Niamey, and an increase of desert… Read full story
COVID-19: Bauchi Locks Down Three LGAs To Check Community Transmission
Bauchi State Government has declared a total lockdown of three LGAs of Giade, Katagum and Zaki as a measure to curtail community transmission of COVID-19 pandemic in the state. The total lockdown which takes effect from Tuesday, May 12, 2020 is for an initial 10 days to monitor how the situation will be controlled… Read full story
Woman, Three Men Arrested For Allegedly Torturing Her 16-Year-Old Housemaid To Death Over Theft Of N2,000
A woman and three men were on Sunday arrested by men of the Lagos State Police Command following the torture to death of the woman’s housemaid over allegation of theft of the woman’s N2,000. According to reports from the state police command, the woman, Shade Moke, brought in three men to torture her housemaid… Read full story
Oyo Speaker In The Eye Of The Storm
IN recent weeks, the Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Honourable Adebo Ogundoyin, has been in the eye of the storm. Just as the nation began battling COVID-19, so did some caucuses in the Assembly began to scheme against the leadership of the state legislative for alleged lack of transparency in running affairs… Read full story
Leaders And Limits Of Sentiments
Leaders sometimes run into troubled waters as a consequence of their failure to see issues as they really are. When leaders have a wrong perception of an issue, the issue will be wrongly diagnosed, wrong solutions will be prescribed and wrong results will be achieved. Leaders who fail to see issues as they are actually see… Read full story
Managing The Economy After The Pandemic
Last week, a Citizen Dialogue event was hosted by the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Budget to examine the fallouts from Covid-19 and the implications for the budget and management of the economy. The outcomes from that exercise seem to have passed largely unnoticed by the informed public. I have always taken the… Read full story
Leadership: Lessons I Learnt Along The Way
A very dear friend who has followed my work for a while asked me recently at what point in my life I decided to focus on leadership development and practice. I found it a little difficult to answer at first because even though there were certain landmark experiences that reinforced and helped to properly crystallize what I had… Read full story