The Ijaws have denounced and rejected the alleged infusion and inclusion of the ethnic nationality into the proposed map of Yoruba’s Oduduwa Republic.
A national daily had, last weekend, published an interview with elder statesman and chieftain of the Yoruba socio-cultural organization, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, stating that the Yoruba were ready to break away from the Nigerian contraption if the country is not restructured.
But this disclosure as well as the alleged annexation of some parts of Ijaw territories in the proposed map of the Oduduwa Republic did not go down well with the acting secretary of the Gbaramatu Traditional Council, Chief Godspower Gbenekama and a coalition of civil society groups, the Pan Niger Delta Civil Society Groups.
In separate statements issued by Chief Gbenekama and the coalition of the rights groups and made available to journalists in Warri on Tuesday, they said Ijaws should be excluded from the proposed map of Oduduwa Republic.
In an angry tone, Chief Gbenekama retorted, “…we are not and cannot be part of any Oduduwa Republic.
As Izon people, we are distinct and uniquely different from the Yoruba people.
In a bid to break away from Nigeria, no tribe or group no matter how well connected and powerful it is should think they can annex us to make themselves economically viable should there be a break-up in Nigeria.
A careful study of the said Oduduwa Republic map shows that most Izon land from Ondo State to the boundary of Bayelsa State has been included in the Oduduwa Republic map.
This is an insult to the Izon nation which has its own distinct identity with no affiliation with Oduduwa people except for the Lord Lugard’s forced union or contraption called Nigeria which brought us together.”
While describing the publications as malicious, wicked and capable of causing disharmony among neighbouring ethnic nationalities in the Niger Delta, Gbenekama declared that “we are not breaking away from Nigeria with any other group or nationality.”
According to him, in the event of the dissolution of the federation, the Izon people, given their population and land mass, will stand on their own.
Speaking in the same vein, Dickson Bekederemo, President, NIGER-DELTA Security Watch organization (NDSWON); Comrade Austin Ozobo, National President, Ijaw People’s Development Initiative, (IPDI) and Alaowei Cleric Esq., National President, Foundation For Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Crusade, (FHRACC), in the joint statement, described the purported inclusion of some Niger Delta territories in the map as a misapplication of facts.
“While we do not oppose anybody seeking to break away from Nigeria as such is our unalienable rights, we wish to question the rationale behind annexing other people’s territories to form your republic?
The map therein captured the various kingdoms in Delta State, Warri precisely and part of Bayelsa State.
We believe that this is a misapplication of fact as Niger Delta region was never and can never be part of the purported Oduduwa Republic.
We will not allow anybody seeking to secede from Nigeria to use the Niger Delta as the battle ground to prosecute his intention.
We have clear and undisputed boundaries with our neighbours in the country and we are able and up to the task to assert our rights when the need arises.
Niger Deltans will resist with all vigour, any move to use the region as the launch pad by the Yorubas or any other region to secure their aims.
Our people have made our points known to the Nigerian government through the declarations of the various ethnic nationalities in the region.
Niger Deltans pledge their allegiance to the Ogoni Bill of Right, the Kaiama Declaration, the Ikwerres, Isokos, Uhrobos, Itsekiris and all other Declarations by the various ethnic groups in the region.
We say no to the Yorubas’ forceful annihilation and annexation of the Niger Delta region,” the groups vowed.