…We support them –ACF
From NOAH EBIJE, Kaduna
Itsekiri Leaders of Thought, a socio political group in Delta State has vowed to resist the creation of new states in the country, particularly out of Delta State in the ongoing constitution amendment debate. The group also kicked against tenure elongation for the president and governors which is speculated to be included in the amended constitution.
Speaking during a visit to members of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), the leader of the group, Chief Isaac Jemide described those calling for state creation out of Delta State and the South-South geo-political zone as oppressors who are bent on wiping out Itsekiri people from the zone. Jemide said the Ijaw people of Bayelsa State have dominated the Itsekiri people to the extent that other Nigerians see them (Ijaws) as the main habitants of the Niger Delta and South–South region, adding that the Itsekiri have been oppressed over the years by the dominant tribes in the area.
In his response, the ACF Chairman, Aliko Mohammed said the Forum has already taken its position against creation of new states in the country, and it would stand by the Itsekiri people to achieve their demand. Jemide said: “We are opposed to tenure elongation under any guise either by the ongoing constitutional amendment or by any presidential committee. In the proposed Toru-Ebe State, lands owned for a long time through court decisions by the Itsekiri in Delta State, Benin in Edo State and Ilaje of Ondo State are included.
We are unable to accept a situation where the Ijaws premise their existence in the Niger Delta on the denial of the existence of other ethnic groups in the same region. We have the Ijaw ethnic nationality that is seeking to create what they call Toru-Ebe State because they believe they are dominant figures in the Niger Delta. Sometimes they create the impression that Niger Delta and South-South are their personal property. And leaving our destiny in their hands in the name of Niger Delta and South –South will not do us any good.
So these are some of the areas we are seeking for cooperation and support and know where we stand on such matters.” In his response, the ACF Chairman said, “If the North does not agree with the issue of state creation. It will not happen because we represent 19 out of the 36 States, and if this side of the country does not accept state creation, it will not happen. I will also like to say that ACF has already published its position about state creation.
We do not believe that at this stage of Nigeria, we need any more states. The 36 states we have are enough, so if you increase it more than this, it means there won’t be a place to even sit down and talk. So we have our position clear that for now Nigeria does not need more states. We are going to convince our Governors and Legislators not to accept creation of more states. Lets maintain the ones that we have for now, and later we may consider more.”