Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Ijaw leaders on Tuesday after a crucial strategic meeting at Kiagbodo, country home of its leader, Chief Edwin Clark, have vowed to only support presidential candidates who genuinely believe and support a restructured Nigeria.
The meeting of the Ijaw leaders is coming on the heels of a recent meeting of Ijaw monarchs in Yenagoa presided over by first military governor of old Rivers state and Amanayanbo of Twon Brass, King Alfred Papapreye Diete- Spiff, where the monarchs threw their weight behind the national restructuring proposal, especially its components of resource control and fiscal federalism.
The leaders, while deliberating on restructuring among other issues at the meeting, which lasted four hours, said candidates in other elections that believe in restructuring would get the votes of the Ijaw people.
According to them President Mohammadu Buhari needs to show political will and ensure that Nigeria is restructured before the 2019 elections.
They said a restructured country within the context of a corporate and united Nigeria that guarantees equal right for all Nigerians is a precondition for peaceful co-existence in the country.
Governor Henry Seriake Dickson, who also attended the meeting, shedding light on the decisions taken by the Ijaw leaders in a briefing shortly after the meeting, said the 2019 election will be a referendum on restructuring with the concomitant derivatives of resource control, devolution of power, state police and indeed fiscal federalism.
“Restructuring is about our existence as a people,” he said.
“It is not about APC or PDP. We as Ijaws want a Nigeria that is fair, just and equitable and this is what restructuring represents.”
A press statement signed by Felix Tuodolo, Special Adviser on Ijaw Affairs, indicated that a committee has been set up to present a coherent position on the restructuring plan from the Ijaw point of view.
A communiqué issued after the meeting reads:
““Leaders of Thought òf the Ijaw Nation held an emergency meeting at the country home of Ijaw National Leader, Chief Edwin Clark, Kiagbodo. We have discussed a lot of issues ranging from the need for peace and stability in the Ijaw communities; the Niger Delta and the Nigerian Federation. We have also examined the subject matter of restructuring. People shouldn’t play politics with the issue of restructuring. It is about the survival and well being of our people, it is about the stability of Nigeria. It is far more beyond politics; the Ijaws are passionate about it.
“We commend all Nigerians from wherever they come from who are in support of his issue of restructuring.Concerning the recommendations of the APC committee, we call for sincere commitment, we call on the President to lead the charge to restructure the country which will lead to an equitable just and fair Nigeria.
Prominent Ijaw leaders that also attended the meeting include Deputy Governor of Delta State, Kingsley Otuaro, Alabo Tonye- Graham Douglas, Chief Brodericks Bozimo, Ambassador Godknows Boladei Igali, Prof Dagogo Fubara, Profs Nimi Briggs, Joe Ajienka, Chris Dime, Steve Azaiki, Dr Pius Sinebe, Chief Wellington Okrika and Commissioner Dressy Dressman.