Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
The leadership of Ijaw nation has met with the British government seeking support to leave Nigeria and end the suffering of the people.
A delegation of the Ijaw leadership led by the President of the Ijaw National Congress (INC), Prof Benjamin Okaba made this known during a meeting with representatives of the British High Commission led by Mr John Kekeh, at the Ijaw House in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
Okaba who presented a seven-page address on behalf of the Ijaw nation to the British High Commission delegation lamented that the British government abandoned the Ijaw people after deceiving them to join Nigeria with the assurance that they would be well taken care of.
The Ijaws in their summation said the people are no longer at ease with the contraption called Nigeria.
“Again in the light of truth, good conscience, fairness, equity and justice would the British people and her government be perpetually silent and feign ignorance to the excruciating plight of the Ijaw people.
“Furthermore, perhaps the once colonial masters would with all intent and purpose act to rescue the ugly situation- may we ask if not now then when?
“We are indeed eager and anxious to know: is your intervention coming when we are completely ripped off our God given Oil and Gas natural resources and abandoned to our fate in a wallowing and criminally degraded environment without remediation.
“In all honesty, would that not be a crime against humanity where the British government would be seen as accomplices,” he said.
Okaba while reiterating that the Ijaw people would leave Nigeria peacefully and legally called on the British government to come and undo what they did decades ago by forcing them into Nigeria.
“The visitation is about us telling them that you (British) brought us into Nigeria and they should play their role to take us out of this country. The British have the moral duty to take us out. We were deceived to join Nigeria; they abandoned us and deceived us. Let them do the needful. As Ijaw people we are tired of this country. We have suffered in this country; we have carried the burden of this nation on our shoulders for too long. We have placed minimum conditions. The first condition is the restoration of true federalism. Number two, we have to be placed not as balkanised people. We cannot be scattered into different states and make us minorities and slaves. We cannot be slaves in a place where our resources are used to sustain the people. It is unacceptable. So Ijaw people are saying to the Federal Government that if this minimum requirement is not met, we are no longer committed to the Nigerian project. And that if we are leaving as Ijaw republic, we shall do it peacefully and legally. This is the message we are sending to the British High Commission and to the British Government to come and undo what they did.”
Kekeh in his response promised to deliver the message back to the leadership of the British High Commission