United Ijaw * Welcome to United Ijaw on the web. Our preference is national self determination, the independence of Ijawnation as a Sovereign State. A state that promotes sustainable economic and social development, democratic principles, liberty, free enterprise, equal rights and justice. This is our story, this is our struggle. **** On Kaiama Declaration We Stand **** United Nations Under Secretary-General, Dr. Antonio Maria Costa, in Abuja condemned the theft of Nigeria's assets by past corrupt leaders. He said that kleptomaniac leaders stole more than 400 billion dollars from the Nigerian treasury between 1960 and 1999. **** IJAWNATION THINK! THINK. **** Almost $170 billion of the country’s wealth disappeared and ended in the private accounts of individuals between 1999 and 2003 alone... Priye Torulagha ****Nigeria has failed Niger Delta – Nnamani **** Resource Control: Niger-Delta governors are traitors – Evah **** Only the fear of a volcanic social eruption from below can stop barbaric behaviour by holders of political power – Gani Fawehinmi ***** “ if the Confab and Nigerians are not willing to heed to Resource Control, they will take it by force” - Oronto Douglas We Dare To Be Different.
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The Need for Manpower Development and Cultural Awareness


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Honoring Ijaw Heroes and Heroines:  Celebrating Isaac Boro's Day
by Priye S.Torulagha

The fact that Isaac Boro and other heroes and heroines of Ijawland paid the ultimate price so that the Ijaw nation shall be free reminds every Ijaw son and daughter the significance of dedicating and committing patriotically and unselfishly to the effort toward ethnic emancipation.   It is the only way in which true freedom can be achieved.   Therefore, as you gather to celebrate and honor their heroic deeds, promise to make a difference by contributing positively to the effort.

In this regard, at the present juncture of the Ijaw struggle, it is heart-warming to realize that the Ijaws have achieved some victories.   First, one of the greatest victories achieved is the reawakening of ethnic consciousness.  In the past, the ethnic group was highly disjointed and disorganized, so much so that many Ijaw citizens were ashamed of identifying themselves as Ijaws.  Some actually felt at home claiming to belong to other ethnic groups.  Due to the reawakening or what might be characterized as the IJAW RENAISANCE, the different parts of the nation have come together.  Thus, Ijawland is no longer the three-headed monster.  Instead, the Eastern, Central, and Western zones are mere geographic expressions of the same nation.  A second very important milestone in the metamorphosis of Ijawland is the establishment of the Ijaw National Congress and the Ijaw Youth Council.  A third milestone in the annals of Ijaw consciousness is the creation of Bayelsa State.  A fourth glorious achievement is the conscious application of the resources of power to influence, lobby, and effect a change favorable to the ethnic group, instead of waiting for others to act favorably to the Ijaws.  A fifth glorious victory is the realization that the resources of power must be appreciated, mobilized, and applied constantly without slacking down until total victory is achieved.  The sixth element of victory is the growing inclination to speak with one voice on national issues that affect the ethnic nation.  The seventh means of success is the increasing establishment, development, and growth of professionally structured civil society organizations capable of educating the public about critical issues and helping to influence both national and international opinion. The eight area of success is the germination and cultivation of respectable and recognizable national leaders who are capable of speaking with authority, vigor, and boldness.   For these successes, congratulations Izon otu!

Despite these glorious successes, it is still premature and strategically self-defeating to sit back in a self-congratulatory or adulatory manner.  The work is not finished yet.   There is still so much to do.  Isaac Boro was a tireless fighter for justice, therefore, there can be no greater way to honor him and other heroes and heroines of the land other than to either do or become aware of the following:   

1.  Set up a fund (THE PATRIOTS FUND) or a program to assist the children and immediate families of those who sacrificed their lives for the emancipation of Ijawland.  During the civil war, many heroic fighters (Isaac Boro, Capt.  Nothingham Dick, Capt Amangala, Lt Ekpebu, etc. gave their lives.  As soon as they passed away, their children were neglected or abandoned or forced to take care of themselves.  Since the Kaiama Declaration, many Ijaw youths on all the geographic zones have given up their lives.  Again, their off-springs and immediate families are left to fend for themselves.    Following the failure of the Maj. Gideon Orkar’s coup, many Ijaw patriots, including Capt. Empere and others paid with their lives.   It should be reminded that they participated in the coup because they wanted to change the status quo in Nigeria. There is no doubt that their immediate families and children have been abandoned to their fate for lack of ethnic support or assistance.  In the ongoing Warri conflict, thousands of Ijaw families are left to wander for lack of assistance.    There is also no doubt that many Ijaws have lost their lives or maimed for demonstrating against the oil companies.   Ethnic assistance to the victims has either been nonexistent or very negligible.   As the mothers, wives, sisters, aunts etc. increasingly become active participants in the demonstrations and pickets against the oil companies, many of them have been physically harmed and some even killed.  Again, the ethnic response to those in need has been very negligible. 

Active participation in politics in the Fourth Republic, for the purpose of impressing upon the nation, the Ijaw question, has resulted in the deaths of many Ijaw citizens. The most notable are Chief Marshall Harry and Dikibo.  There is a high probability that their families are being left to fend for themselves.

There is a need to create an ethnic based program to provide a means of rehabilitating the needy during crises or emergencies.   This will help to mobilize more people for the struggle.  Moreover, such a program can actually help to strengthen the resolve of the ethnic group to fight harder politically, legally, and otherwise. A fund or a program intended or designed for educational scholarships, small business investments, housing, medical care etc. would go a long way in alleviating the suffering that the children and immediate family members encounter due to the sudden death or physical incapacitation of their love ones during a struggle for ethnic emancipation.

2.   A program, such as the “IJAW RED CROSS” or the “NIGER DELTA RED CROSS’ can help to mobilize personnel and resources during crisis or emergencies, instead of waiting on the Nigerian government for immediate assistance.  The Ijaw Red Cross can be an effective tool for instituting a culture of self-reliance, self-maintenance and ethnic sustainability.

3.  A third means for initiating a self-supporting and self-perpetuating fund or a program is for all Ijaw citizens and organizations to wholeheartedly support the IJAW FOUNDATION.  The Ijaw Foundation is a programmatic major effort to set up and mobilize financial resources for various Ijaw needs.  The Ijaw nation had never had such a comprehensive financial scheme before.  If people donate generously to the Ijaw Foundation, the Foundation would be able to respond in times of need such as the ongoing refugee situation in Warri, after the Buguma, Bakana,  and Okrika intra-communal feuds, during boat accidents, or help to build man-power needs such as educational programs and business investments.

4.   Ijaw sons and daughters on all the three geographic zones should start to develop and cultivate the habit of donating money, resources, and talent for important community-based causes in their localities.  So much can be achieved for rural road construction, pipe-borne water, water purification, small business development, the building of local libraries, town halls, and schools etc.

5.  Ijaw public officials, both at the state and national levels ( governors, ministers, legislators, directors, military and police officers, and civil servants etc. can contribute more to the Ijaw cause by being a little more proactive.   It is not an exaggeration to say that Ijaw public officials tend to be EXCESSIVELY NICE, TOO CONDESCENDING,  TOO COOPERATIVE, AND TOO PASSIVE.   Their eagerness to go along with national schemes even when opposition is sometimes more preferable, renders their effectiveness as representatives of their people very questionable.  It should be noted that Ijaw sons and daughters have occupied some of the most important and critical governmental positions in Nigeria, including being the heads of the Navy and the Airforce, high-level naval and army commands, ministers, directors of important parastatal agencies etc.  Yet, their impact on the people have been very negligible due to the failure to create opportunities for others to follow in their footsteps.     Ijaw public officials do not create coat-tail effect on the Ijaw population.   On the hand, the Hausas, Fulanis, Yorubas, Itsekiris, Igbos etc. are very effective in opening doors for their people through the coat-tail process.  This is why even though the oil companies operate in the Niger Delta, most management and technical level employees of the oil companies are Yorubas and Igbos.   Likewise, the two ethnic groups also dominate the national bureaucracies.   Ijaw sons have had the opportunity of heading the NNPC, yet, not many opportunities were created to allow other Ijaws to join the NNPC and the oil companies.

Political officeholders from the ethnic group tend to behave as if they are beholden to some outside godfathers, hence, rarely speak forcefully on issues that affect their people.   Due to the unwillingness to speak boldly on critical issues, Ijaw representatives are barely seen and not heard at all.   Due to the GREAT SILENCE, the oil companies and the security forces are not afraid to use maximum force against any Ijaw citizens.  This contributes to the high number of Ijaw deaths.   If oil companies and security forces were to use excessive force in the North or West or South-East, at the slightest provocation, the representatives of these regions would speak very loudly to condemn the action.  Ijaw public officials rarely make critical comments against federal government action.   Instead, there is always an eagerness to negotiate from behind the scenes with the national players and the oil companies.   It is obvious that the unwillingness to challenge the status quo greatly affects the Ijaw ability to influence national policy, to a large extent.  The national players tend to view Ijaw public officials as ‘safe candidates,” that can be easily purchased or ignored without much political cost or financial expenditure.  This accounts for the willingness of the national players to assassinate Ijaw leaders.  They know they can get away with it by inviting some Ijaw big shots to Abuja for tete-a-tete and a promise of some Ghana Must GO Backs to make up for the execution.

It is generally those outside the government who speaks loudly and condemn actions that are violative of the peoples rights.   Thank God, Ijawland have Chief Dappa Biriye, Dr. Sam Ebiye, Chief E. K. Clark, Comrade Evah, Festus Keyamo,  Oronto Douglas, Felix Tuodolo, Samuel Owunaru and a host of other nongovernmental personalities who are not afraid to speak fearlessly, forthrightly, and loudly against governmental misadventures in Ijawland.   It is necessary for Ijaw public officials to change their tactics and speak more frequently on issues.  In this regard, it must be noted that Gov. Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa State is now speaking more often.  This is very crucial to forcefully express the Ijaw side of the matter in any national policy issue.

6.  As the Ijaws celebrate and honor Isaac Boro and other heroes and heroines of the ethnic nation, it is also important to use this occasion to honor the living who have contributed so much to the Ijaw cause.  The list is long but a few will do to remind everyone of the good deeds done by people like Chief E. P.Okoya, Chief E. K. Clark, Chief Dappa Biriye,  Chief Diete Spiff, Chief Melford Okilo,  Samuel Owunaru, Dr. Fiberesima, the former Commissoner of Health in the Rivers State who helped to stop the embezzlement of state funds by a military governor, Mr. Oronto Douglas, Mr. Nengi James,  Comrade Evah, Mr, Bello, Felix Tuodolo, Mr. Titoe Miriki, Edwin Sawacha, Mr. Benatari Benaebi etc. the leaders of the Kaiama Declaration,  Nabo Graham Douglas,  Miss Ibiba DonPedro, Rowland Ekperi, the members of Supreme Egbesu, the Federated Niger Delta Ijaw Communities (FNDIC), the Ijaw Peoples Association of Great Britain, and a host of individuals, communities, and organizations etc. 

7.  This is a great moment for Ijaw people to reflect and commit to some change in their behaviors concerning jealousy.  Jealousy is a human psychological phenomenon.  It exists in every human society.  It seems to be a major problem in Ijawland.   There is a tendency for people to become jealous, hateful, antagonistic, and wish harm or negativity to those who have succeeded in live or in society.  In other words, it is common for jealousy to raise its ugly head whenever a son or a daughter of the land succeeds in accomplishing a goal.  Instead of wishing the person well or more success, there is a tendency to wish harm to the person through very sarcastic commentary and actions.  This destructive psychological phenomenon affects relationships among individuals, families, villages, towns, and clans. 

Jealousy and the fear of harm are two major reasons that have prevented many successful Ijaw sons and daughters from going home to build houses and invest in their villages and towns.  There is always the fear that the effort to help by providing money to family members, villages, and towns would be rewarded with harm as those who get jealous of the successful individuals might try to bring them down through sarcastic comments and various negative means.   As a result of the unpronounced fear of exposing the self to unwarranted harm, many successful Ijaws live and work in the urban areas of other ethnic groups and are very fearful of returning home.  They are afraid of exposing themselves to harm.

Those who are very jealous often fail to realize that if the most successful ones in society are brought down, then the entire ethnic group cannot move forward because progress requires that the successful ones continue to move forward.  By continuing to move forward, they enable the entire society to rise up also.   Some Ijaws, due to a high degree of jealousy, even go as far as forming alliances with the outside detractors to bring down the progressive elements in Ijawland.  During crises, some of those who have uncontrollable jealousies, often volunteer to serve as spies to the outside forces and enjoy having their brothers and sisters arrested, detained and or killed.   When Isaac Boro launched his rebellion, there were many Ijaws who wished him not well.  Some even pray for his death.   There were those who even prayed against the ancestral forces.  And when he died, millions of Ijaws cried for the betrayal.  Millions of Ijaws are still mourning. 

So, please, search your minds and clear them of any jealousy. This celebration should be used as an occasion to expunge this poison from the mind, so that the Ijaws do not become their worst enemies.  

8.  This occasion should also be used by the dedicated patriots to fine-tune their strategies and tactics so that their efforts are not hijacked by the plutocrats, sycophants, and  oligarchs in Ijaw society.  It is a fact that the phenomenon of “monkey dey work and baboon dey chop is still very prevalent in Ijawland.  In other words, those who sacrificed so much to spearhead the struggle are often sidetracked by the opportunists when the moment of victory is at hand.  As a result, it is always those who are not truly committed to the cause that often end up becoming leaders.   Basically, using military terms, one can say that Ijaw activists are like generals who lead forces to the battle.  They do everything right until when victory is near, then they become uncoordinated and are unable to achieve victory.  It is important for patriots to be able to pursue the cause of the struggle to a very successful end without allowing or surrendering to the plutocrats, sycophants, and oligarchs.    It is important for a struggle to be led and coordinated to the very end by those who initiated the effort from the beginning so that the level of commitment can remain very high. 

9.  Finally, in honor of Isaac Boro and all those who have paid the ultimate price for the freedom of Ijaw people, a permanent way to celebrate this occasion would be to launch an autobiographical book titled THE HEROES AND HEROINES OF IJAWLAND.  This should be a collective effort so that information can be obtained from every corner of the ethnic group.   The book should be comprehensive, going far into history to seek out all those who have contributed, including those who resisted colonialism, fought against oppression, and contributed intellectually and creatively to the ethnic nation.   The easiest way to accomplish this is to form a committee under the aegis of the Ijawnation website and let the committee gather information from the sons and daughters of the land.  The Ijaw Foundation by-laws were written through this approach.  The Vitamin A project too was started in this fashion.   Those who have pertinent information can send brief write-ups with pictures or drawings.  The book should be updated either annually or every two years.      

This book will be particularly useful in socializing and making the young become aware of their heroic ancestors.  It will help tremendously in strengthening ethnic solidarity.

May God bless the Ijaw Nation.

Strategic factors and Options:   The Need for Manpower Development and Cultural Awareness

By Priye S. Torulagha

One of the biggest challenges facing political activists in the Niger Delta in general and Ijawland in particular is keeping the people politically awake so that the struggle for resource control, infrastructural development and modernization is not sidetracked by unnecessary and irrelevant events.  The task of keeping the people focused is very daunting.  It is indeed unfortunate that despite a number of successes, many Ijaws are still not very conscious of the strategic significance of the region and the willingness of the power-wielders to do anything in order to control the flow of oil.  So, they allow themselves to become easy targets for liquidation.


The lack of profound consciousness, especially, by some of the recognizable major leaders, is a major flaw that must be corrected or the Ijaws might end up with nothing tangible to show for all their efforts.


The purpose here is to highlight six crucial strategic factors that must be addressed very quickly to make the people more aware and help develop Ijawland.  The six factors are: (1) the falsity and danger of the national player syndrome, (2) the continuing intracommunal and intercommunal disputes, (3) the need to upgrade the state of knowledge in Ijawland, (4) the need to build the economic base of Ijawland, (5) the need to utilize available cultural resources for ethnic enhancement, and  (6) the recognition of the machiavellian nature of Nigerian politics, and (7) the exercise of caution in selling lands.


1.  The falsity of the national player syndrome to the people of the Niger Delta.  Many indigenes of the Niger Delta, particularly, among the Ijaws who have made it through politics or business or military or government service, tend to assume that since they have made it, they have been accepted by the power-wielding clique in Nigeria and leave themselves very vulnerable to the vultures of Nigerian politics.


a.  Although, not truly accepted, these leaders allow themselves to believe that they are national players and have been accepted into the inner sanctum of Nigeria’s National Power-Wielding Clique.  By so doing, they increasingly identify with the aspirations of the national power-wielders and ignore the fact that they are not wanted and are marked for liquidation for being representatives of the most significant region in the country.


b.  Thinking that they have crossed the invisible barrier that separates the power-wielders from the pretenders, they ignore the aspirations of their people and engage in behaviors that are reminiscent of the power-wielders.   Some embezzle money meant for the development of their localities, lie, establish foreign bank accounts, purchase houses in overseas and establish businesses in foreign lands while their own people suffer at home. 


c.  Thinking that they can make and unmake things in Nigeria due to their new found power positions, some make secret political and economic deals with the plutocratic power-wielders, become very trustful of their anointed outside godfathers and godmothers, and unsuspectingly leave themselves very vulnerable to assassinations. 


The Ijaws must realize that as far as oil is a major economic resource in Nigeria, they can never be fully accepted as members of the inner sanctum of the power-wielding clique.  Those from the Non-oil Producing Areas would never allow any Ijaw political leader to become too prominent for fear that such a leader could help to change the dynamics regarding who controls and makes money from oil.    The power-wielding groups view the Ijaws as a national security risk since too much power in the hands of the Ijaws could, they believe, automatically stops the flow of oil money into their pockets and foreign bank accounts.    Right now, they are accumulating huge sums of money from official and unofficial oil deals. They are building their lives around the flow of oil.  Some of them have already promised themselves to become billionaires through oil transactions.  These imply that they will not hesitate to kill any Ijaw person who is viewed as having or commanding some political, economic, or military influence in the nation.  This fact must be taken to heart and utilized as a cautionary mechanism.  In this regard, Ijaw leaders ( traditional, political, business, military) must be always very conscious of their security at all times, regardless of their positions in the nation.  It is not a coincident that Col. Zidougha, Marshall Harry and Dikibo died mysteriously.  The same warning should go to the Edos, Igbos of the oil-producing areas, Efiks, Ibibios, Ikwerres, Ilajes, Isokos, Itsekiris,  Urhobos Ogonis etc.  In many cases, the power-wielders would not hesitate to use these ethnic groups against each other in a divide and conquer tactics to divide the Niger Delta and make it vulnerable to outside control.


The stakes are enormous, therefore, if you an Ijaw politician or a military officer or a high government official or a successful business man or woman, etc. be very cautious about your security.


2.  Intracommunal and intercommunal  conflicts:  Many Ijaws are still not conscious of the enormous political task needed to disentangle the Niger Delta from the tentacles of political and economic oppression.  As a result, they incite and engage in intracommunal and intercommunal conflicts for purpose of selfish ends.  These conflicts in Ijawland create opportunity for the power-wielders to penetrate and sow further seeds of disunity.  Disunity in Ijawland favors the outside forces that do not want a change in how the oil flows from the region.  People in Peremabiri, Bakana, Buguma, Okrika, Ologbobiri, Ekeremor etc. have experienced unnecessary heart-wrenching conflicts that tore at the core of the effort to create a united political front.


Any conflict in Ijawland provides an opportunity for detractors to sow the seeds of violence, destruction and destabilization.   The detractors use such violence, destruction, and destabilization to paint the Ijaws as troublemakers that deserve to be severely punished.  So, Ijaw sons and daughters, why do you betray yourself by feeding into




3.  Upgrading the state of Knowledge:   One of the major reasons why conflicts tend to grow like wild flowers in Ijawaland is due to the lack of institutionalized knowledge generating facilities that could help to spur the sense of oneness and the need to strategize before acting uncontrollably. 


To solve this problem, it is of great urgency that the Niger Delta University be finally clothed with infrastructures and permanently located in its designated piece of real estate.  Right now, the NDU is like a naked homeless child that constantly limbs around looking for a permanency in its life.  Money needs to be generously budgeted for the construction and completion of the university.  Ijaw youths are getting tired of having to fight constantly for every piece of item.   The NDU should have all the modern facilities that the faculty, students, administrators and the people need to produce future leaders of the ethnic group.


This institution is very critical to the advancement of knowledge in medicine, science and technology, law, politics, arts, and linguistics.  Ijawland needs professionals of all cadres to provide services and minimize reliance on the outside for every basic thing that a modern society needs.  The NDU needs to be fully functional so that Ijaw linguists, dramatists, movie-producers, strategic thinkers, agriculturalists, farmers, doctors, scientists, engineers, technologists, lawyers etc. can have a home of their own to explore, challenge, practice, and advance the horizons of knowledge for the betterment of Ijawland and the human race. 


In short, NDU should be treated as a National Security issue for the Ijaw nation.  The Yorubas have gained tremendously today due to the foresight of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo.  The Igbos are every where due to the efforts of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe to establish the University of Nigeria Nsukka.  The Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba languages are being offered at the university level, both in Nigeria and in other parts of the world, due to the efforts of these groups to advance their intellectual capacities.  It does not energize the Ijaw struggle when the fourth largest ethnic group in the country cannot even afford to showcase one single university in its heartland.


The Warri wars have demonstrated clearly the need for an Ijaw intellectual base or think-tank so that the archeological, anthropological, historical, political, and theological  facts concerning the ethnic nation are systematically documented.  For instance, the Federated Niger Delta Ijaw Communities (FNDIC) regularly publish reports concerning the Warri situation.  Recently,  the Ijaws of Egbema clan released a very well documented historical narrative of the  Ijaw history  vis-avis other ethnic groups around the Western Niger Delta region.  Not too long ago, an informative article was done on the Kalabari.  Mr. Binaebi Benatari continues to excite the mind with rare historical and spiritual facts about the Ijaw nation. Felix Tuodolo regularly offers an information-rich catalog of events that affect the ethnic group and the Niger Delta.  Dr. Ebiegberi Alagoa, the giant pillar of Ijaw history continues to write and educate.  All these creative intellectual activities need a home at the NDU. 


 There is a vast amount of information concerning the Ijaws but there is no concentrated and systematized means of putting the information together.  NDU will offer an opportunity to produce volumes of anthological books or series on various topics.

Likewise, NDU needs to be fully operational so that volumes of works produced by Ijaw sons and daughters are published in journals that can be distributed throughout the world.   The historical narrative compiled by the Egbema clan needs publication in an international historical journal because of its depth.  It also needs to be deposited in British and American (Library of Congress) libraries, as well as sent to the United Nations.


It is very crucial for Ijaw political leaders in Bayelsa to commit fully to the establishment and development of NDU in order to enable Ijaw scholars, educators, trainers, dramatists, historians, scientists, engineers, students etc. stopped being intellectual refugees in other institutions where their ability to focus on Ijaw studies is restricted.  In fact, NDU needs the same or a higher level of energy, determination, and commitment that were put in place to create the College of Science and Technology (CST) in the Rivers State.   Likewise, well-to-do Ijaw men and women should be more forthcoming in donating generously to the development of the Niger Delta University.  Anyone who can afford to sponsor any building or infrastructure should do so unhesitatingly.  When an individual sponsors a building or a structure or a project, the building or the structure or the project should be named after the sponsor or donor.   In short, the well-to-do among the Ijaws should become more proactive toward contributing to the enhancement of the ethnic group and not just sit on the sidelines.


NDU, the only higher educational institution in Ijawland, needs an ultra modern campus, equipped with facilities that can help to transform Ijawland.  So far, the pace of construction and development are too slow.  In order for NDU to gain both national and international recognition, there is a need to commit to its development.  Money allocated for NDU should be treated as an ethnic security issue and anyone who tempers with it should be treated as an enemy of the Ijaw people.  


Those who have labored to turn NDU into a living reality should be congratulated and honored as HEROES and HEROINES of the land.  They have been toiling unselfishly, despite the difficulties and hopelessness of working as professionals in an environment where there are no buildings, office spaces, equipped classrooms, and laboratories.    


The other part of the educational package involves the creation of major middle level technology-based educational institutions to train and professionalize  Ijaw youths in engine mechanics, electronics, electricity, building construction, oil-field operations, banking and finance, human resources, nursing, water purification technology, carpentry, trucking, transportation etc.  At least, two should be immediately created, if none exists at the present time.  They should be located away from Yenagoa to enable every qualified applicant the opportunity to acquire some technical expertise without having to congregate in the town.


The development of technical man-power is very critical.  Right now, the Ijaws on all  geographic locations, seem to live on a borrowed time.  Almost all technical and professional services are provided by non-indigenes because of a lack of indigenous expertise and money.  Currently, in Bayelsa, money generated through economic activities are recycled out of the state, hence, the people are unable to generate sufficient capital to support credible economic growth.  Ijawland needs auto-mechanics, electricians, plumbers, builders, transporters, modern agricultural farmers and fishermen and women, traders, road builders, contractors, computer programmers, computer technicians, geologists, marine biologists, oil company workers, boat builders etc. to generate a modern self-sustaining economic system.    


Finally, the NDU and the technology-based middle level institutions would help tremendously to reinvigorate various Ijaw cultures and dialects as Ijaw youths go to school and mingle together at home.  It should be recalled that for decades the Ijaws had to leave their homes in the heartland and seek higher education in other places.  Thus, living and growing up elsewhere resulted in the fact that most educated Ijaws are not capable of speaking their dialects fluently.  Likewise, most are uneducated about their cultures.  Many have never been to their home towns and villages.  The implication being that a vast number of the Ijaw intelligentsia are actually strangers in their homelands.  In short, they are not grounded ethnically, culturally, and intellectually.


4.  Building a Modern Economic Base:  The NDU and the middle level educational institutions would tremendously assist in developing and enhancing manpower capabilities and skills necessary for Ijaw people to start building up their economies. Right now, the Ijaws are merely renters of other people’s goods and services in their own territory.  This is the case, whether in Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, Ondo, or Edo or Akwa Ibom State.  Currently, if an Ijaw person wants to build a house, he/she must rent a sand hauling truck from a non-indigene, if he/she wants to travel from Port Harcourt to Bayelsa or Delta State or Lagos, he/she has to enter a bus owned by someone else, if he/she wants a loan to invest in a business activity, he/she must go to a bank owned by others.  The Ijaws cannot even get jobs in the oil sector for lack of opportunity and skills.   This dependence must be eradicated through a committed effort to make the Ijaw a competitive and modern economic player.  No society can sustain itself without solid economic foundation to support a growing population.


The task of developing a modern economy should not be the sole responsibility of the government.  Those who have accumulated some wealth should take some risks and create economic opportunities.  For instance, one or two well-to-do individuals can establish a bank or create a small loan granting institution to enable people borrow money for investment.   It is also important for those who have accumulated some capital to take some risks by investing in the heartland rather than look for quick riches in already developed parts of Nigeria.  Yes, it is excellent to invest in Port Harcourt, Warri, Lagos, etc.  However, it is very critical to invest in Bumodi, Odi, Amassoma, Nembe, Odoni, Abonnema, Buguma, Okrika Town, Andonni Town, Opobo Town, Elemebiri, Ekeremor, Bonny, Oloibiri, Akassa, Okpoama, Opukuma, Gbaramatu, Koluama, Biseni,  Ojobo, Ukubie etc. in order for these areas to develop.  Consequently, it should be the duty of everyone to try to invest in the heartland if the Ijawnation is to compete favorably with other ethnic groups in the country.


Internal economic development would help to reduce the level and frequency of conflict since most youths would be occupied either educationally or occupationally.   The lack of educational and employment opportunities contribute to the frequent occurrence of conflicts among individuals and communities.  On the other hand, meaningful opportunities would most probably contribute to a drastic reduction in delinquent behaviors.


In particular, Bayelsa State must endeavor to make it a duty to provide contracts for major capital projects to Ijaw contractors.  This is necessary to develop skills for massive construction management experience and technical  know-how.   It is necessary for the Ijaws to become major contractors and establish international business relationships.   Right now, in Nigeria, there is not a single Ijaw construction firm that can compete for a major construction project.  There is probably not a single Ijaw-owned oil prospecting company capable of competing nationally for contracts.  These kinds of businesses are needed due to their massive capital and employment generating nature.  These businesses generate multimillion naira services that can help to spur the Ijaw economy and at the same time increase the number of Ijaw venture capitalists.


Of course, there are those who might oppose favoring the indigenes in the award of contracts, insisting that contracts should be awarded to the most qualified and most capable.  Yes, it is true that due to lack of experience, there might be some financial waste as well as the incapability to successfully complete a project.  Nevertheless, if efforts are not made to develop internal expertise, how will the Ijaws develop such skills?    However, contracts that require high technical skills and heavy equipment can be awarded to outside firms.  Such outside firms, nonetheless, must be compelled to assist in the development of internal manpower  by requiring them to make sure that about 10 to 20 percent of subcontracts and about 20 to 30 percent of employment go to the indigenes.  Thus, by subcontracting to local companies and generating local employment, internal expertise can be developed with the assistance of major contracting companies.


As part of the strategy to develop a self-propelling economy, riverine transportation problems can be reduced by encouraging the modernization of the Amassoma boat-building skills.  It should be recalled that throughout Ijawland, the Amassoma people were the most prolific commercial boat builders. They used to compete with the people of Ayetoro, near Epe, for the building of water transportation vehicles.   Modernization would require some financial investment so that flying boats, steel-reinforced boats, fiber-glass boats, house boats, and barges can become part of the products and services.  If possible, Bayelsa can arrange a deal with either Dutch or Miami, Florida based companies to exchange expertise and plans.  Likewise, Bayelsa can visit the Opobo boat-building facility and see whether it can be revived with the assistance of Rivers State.   If the boat-building effort were to become successful, Ijawland can easily become the major boat-building and boat repairing center of Nigeria.   Such a venture can lead to the establishment of two or three boat-building and boat repairing facilities – one in Western Ijaw near Warri,  One in Bayelsa (located around Brass or Igwema or Akassa) and one in Rivers State.  If the facilities are well managed, they can easily become the main boat-building and boat repairing centers of the oil industry.  Even the Nigerian Navy could easily be persuaded to send its boats for refurbishment at the facilities. 


So far, the Ijaws have not been able to make an effective use of their strategic geographic location.  Being a litoral territory, the Ijaw ethnic group should have cornered and dominated the fishing industry by now but this is not the case.   Nevertheless, it is not too late for the Ijaws to try to develop a major fishing industry with the hope of capturing the entire Nigeria’s marine food services market.   One could recall how the North used to supply dry fish all over the country from catches in Lake Chad and other water holes.   The Ijaws, through the assistance of Bayelsa state and working with some international companies, can develop both deep sea and inland water fishing capabilities. 


For these economic activities to be feasible, Bayelsa’s political leaders and administrators must be very patriotic, foresighted, and committed to the development of Ijawland.  They must not and cannot do business the way in which business is done in Nigeria, which is to do nothing and embezzle the money allocated for development.  


5.   Failure to utilize the cultural and religious resources of the land:  Ijawland is going through a spiritual crisis.  There is a battle between those who believe that the traditional religious system is ungodly and those who believe that the traditional system is godly.  As a result, many Ijaws consciously and unconsciously try to avoid contact with their traditional cultures and religions for fear of being ungodly.   This battle is an unfortunate product of the colonial heritage.  It should be recalled that during colonization of Africa, the colonizers made sure that the African people rejected their own cultural heritage so that foerien cultural and religious values could be easily transplanted.  As a result, the educational institutions established by the Islamic and Christian missionaries bombarded the people with information about the need to reject their own cultures and religions.  This is why youths who attended school in the upper North became Moslems and those who attended school in the lower South became Christians.


Ijawland is paying dearly for this intrusion.  As a result, Ijaw people are not making full use of their cultural and religious resources.   If the Egbesu phenomenon were to be in Yoruba or Igbo or Scottish or English or German land, do you think that they would shun it?   Quite contrary, they would embrace it and use it to advance their cause.   The Westerners( Americans, British, French, Germans etc.), despite Christianization, always pour libation in the form of breaking a bottle of one of the finest alcoholic beverages before launching a new ship, in honor of their ancient cultural traditions.   The British sometimes refer to Britania, the goddess of the sea.  Ijawland is blessed with rich ancestral spiritual entities, yet, there is a tendency to shy away from them for fear of offending the transplanted religious deities.  This is a sign of intellectual weakness, indicating cultural and religious confusion.


Due to the failure to fully utilize the cultural resources of the land, Ijaws subconsciously expect the police to find out who killed Marshall Harry and Dikibo when they know that such will never come to pass since the deaths were politically motivated.  On the other hand, the cultural resources of Ijawland can easily identify the perpetrators of the murders, if the truth is desired.   Why not find out the truth by using the resources of your own land instead of waiting for someone else to do so?   Why not protect the land and the people by using the resources that have been made available by the ancestors?  The Jews are not afraid to utilize the religious resources of their ancient traditions.   The British have steadfastly held unto their traditions, despite the need for change.  Thus, they do not allow change to destroy their traditions.  They created a state church that is uniquely English (the Anglican Church) rather than kowtow to the will of the Catholic Church, when they needed a prince to take over the English throne.  The leaders of the Anglican Church are members of the House of Lords in the British parliament.  Despite Christianity, almost every European country continues to reinforce their traditional pre-Christian cultural values.   Even though the US is a transplanted nation, the Americans dutifully celebrate the Halloween, which is an ancient pre-Christian religious celebration

every year.


As far as determining godliness, it is impossible for any one or religion to determine which religion is godly and which is ungodly.  The reason is very simple.  Every race, ethnic group, tribe, and sub-group has its own concept of God and religion.   Likewise, every race, ethnic group, tribe, and sub-group believes that its brand of religion is the true path to God/Allah.   This being the case, it means that no religion can claim exclusive authority to God.  Likewise, it also means that no religion can claim to have a full comprehension of God since all human created religions tend to explain God through their partial religious experiences.   Some religions have assumed a universal status through military conquests.  They spread their faith through serious propagation of their own concept of God/Allah.  This being the case, it is not improper for people to identify with their own cultural concept of God. 


 Thus, godliness is much suited to be defined by ones deeds rather than by ones doctrine or faith.  He or she who plans to harm or harms or prevents the success of another would be considerd to be ungodly.  This is the best way to determine whether one is godly or not.  In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus indicated clearly that deeds or actions, rater than mere faith or doctrine was a condition for godliness.    It is, therefore, pretentious for anyone to pass judgement on another based on his/her own faith.  Just as there are many races, ethnic groups, tribes, sub-groups, languages, dialects, and skin tones in the world, there will always be many religions, to reflect the multidimensional nature of the human race.  Such is the natural order of the world.  It is improper to accept the multiplicity of human race and yet conclude that there must be only one religion.


Likewise, it is universally a fact that every race, ethnic group, tribe, and sub-group has its own concept of creation.  Therefore, Adam and Eve is the Jewish concept of creation and does not represent the totality of the mythology of creation.  No concept of creation is greater than the other since the mythology of creation is based upon the unique experiences of each race, ethnic group, tribe and sub-group.   The Ijaw mythology of creation is quite different from the Chinese and the Chinese is quite different from the Mayan and the Mayan is quite different from the Igbo and the Igbo is quite different from the Norwegian and so and so forth.  So, Ijaws of all religious denominations, do not waste your time figuring out what is godly and what is not godly through another person’s cultural interpretation of reality.    The Jews have never wavered in continuing to worship God through their cultural and religious ways.  In fact , if the Jews had not stuck to their traditions, they would have lost being Jews today, after more than two thousand years of suffering inflicted by those who wanted to convert them. 


Having been persecuted, the Ijaws need to work together, utilizing every available cultural and religious to protect and enhance their survival, instead of fighting each other, in an attempt to figure out whose god is a reality.  It is a waste of spiritual energy, time, and effort for Ijaws to fight each other, in an effort to claim a higher godly or moral authority.   Consequently. Let the Ijaw Christians pray using their own means and let the traditionalists pray using traditional means.  The two should not pray to counteract each other spiritually, for that will result in a calamity for the land.  Instead, they should pray to God in their own ways to reinforce the survival and freedom of the ethnic group. 


6.  The Machiavellian Nature of Nigerian Politics:  The Ijaws need to understand very clearly that Nigerian politics is very Machiavellian.  This means that it is amoral and centered on doing anything or taking whatever action deemed necessary to win.  It means that Nigeria’s political players do not consider the issue of “right” or wrong” in attempting to influence, manipulate, control, and dominate or win power.    Evidently, lying, stealing, killing, manipulating, intimidating, brutalizing, and engaging in medicinal concoctions in order to influence, control, and poison etc. are parts of the stratagems of Nigerian politics.   Therefore, the Ijaws must understand that the battle for political and economic equity is going to be rough and sometimes bloody.  The Ijaws must realize that Nigeria’s power-wielders will never accept any oil deal without constant political pressure and a united front.   Ijaw leaders must watch out for their own security and not trust the Nigerian system to safeguard them since the system can be turned against any Ijaw person at any time.


The Ijaws need to understand that many ethnic groups in Nigeria are not restricted by the same degree of traditional morality that is so prevalent in Ijawland.   In many ethnic groups, the idea of cheating, exploiting, manipulating, and killing for money are perfectly acceptable.  In addition, the accumulation of wealth through magical concoctions is also acceptable.  Generally, these kinds of behaviors and activities are morally unacceptable in Ijawland due to the sacred nature of the traditions.   Therefore, to participate in the Nigerian political system, an Ijaw person must employ the resources of the Ijaw ancestral traditions to protect him/her against the Machiavellian tactics that are so prevalent. 


7.  Land Dispossession:  Again, the Warri situation has demanded of the Ijaws the need to be very careful in the dispossession of lands.   First of all, every clan should come up with a program to document all their lands.  Second, land should only be sold in areas that have been designated as “federal territory.  All other lands must remain within the community.  Third, any land sold must be well documented, with photographs, maps, and receipts.  Fourth, the Ijaw National Congress and the Ijaw Youth Congress should develop an ethnic policy on Land.  After the policy is drafted, approved, and accepted, the people must be educated about the land policy, so that a common strategy is adopted.   The era of giving lands freely is over.  Likewise, the era of allowing people to settle without documentation is also over.  Warri is an excellent historical laboratory. 


It is strategically important to develop a land policy because of three important factors:  (1) the nearness to the sea, (2) oil, and (3) marginalization.  (1) There are those who might want to drive the Ijaws out of their territory so that they can have an access to the sea.   (2) There are those who might want to relocate the ethnic groups in the Niger Delta so that they can freely get the oil without having to explain to anybody.  History has shown that governments and power-wielders have removed indigenous people from their lands in order to make way for those in power to reap the bounties of the land while shipping the indigenes to unproductive lands.  During the Apartheid era, blacks were shipped out of their territories.  In Zimbabwe, the same happened to allow British farmers to obtain land.  In Sudan, the government has deployed brutal means to remove the indigenes from the oil—producing areas so that the government can lay total claim to the oil.  In Iraq, under Saddam Hussein, the Shiites and the Kurds were totally deprived of the right to make any decision while the government then reaped the oil benefits.   In addition, Saddam Hussein tried to destroy the Marsh Arabs of Southern Iraq through dredging and land reclamation.  (3)  Being a politically and economically deprived group, it is important to hold unto  the land in order to avoid total marginalization. Poland offers an excellent example to Ijaw people.  The Polish people are increasingly apprehensive about losing their lands to other Europeans as they join the European Union.  The Germans and other Europeans who are financially more endowed than the Poles are threatening to literally buy off large tracts of Polish territory through the European Union  and thereby render many Poles landless in their own territory.   Faced with this paradox, while they celebrate their membership of the European Union, they are also scrambling to find ways to prevent the wholesome purchase of their lands by other Europeans who have the money to spend.


Ijaws, therefore, think very deeply before acting out.  Think deeply of all the possibilities before inflicting damage on your own communities through shallow thinking, destruction and violence.   Think deeply of the consequences before signing any deal with anybody.  If you want to participate in Nigerian politics, know that you are a marked person and take the proper precaution and not expose yourself unnecessarily.  Finally, do not trust too quickly while playing Nigerian politics since others do not play by the same moral rules.  Remember, two prominent Ijaw leaders (Marshall Harry and Dikibo) died recently for believing that they were contributing to the nation building process in Nigeria, forgetting that as Ijaws and as indigenes of the Niger Delta, they were marked for execution by the power-wielding clique which do not want any Ijaw person to acquire any substantive power in the country.