867 views | Akanimo Sampson | June 4, 2021
Are the current crop of Eastern Nigeria political leaders inept? The likes of the late Sam Mbakwe of the Second Republic Imo State will not act the way the governors of today are acting as far as the Biafra agitation is concerned. Is like the governors lack initiative, courage or are just scared.
For some years now, May 30 has a cult-like obedience in Igboland just like June 12 is in Western Nigeria. Before President Muhammadu Buhari declared June 12 Nigeria’s Democracy Day, governors of Western Nigeria courageously declared the day a public holiday and lavishly celebrate the symbol of that struggle, MKO Abiola.
But in Eastern Nigeria, the ‘conquered’ governors have been struggling to hide behind their finger instead of showing solidarity with their political sovereigns to honour millions of Ndigbo who were killed during the war. It is a shame. Perhaps, they need to be told that freedom is not freely given.
In the Niger Delta area for instance, the Kaiama Declaration became a political bible of sorts of the Ijaw youths’ uprising after the Nigerian state visited Ogele, the peaceful protests of the unarmed Ijaw youths with violence. In support of the youths agitation for resource ownership and control, every notable political figure of Ijaw ethnic group, openly declare support for the Kaiama Declaration.
The then sitting governors immediately after the abortion of military dictatorship in 1999 like Victor Attah, Diepreye Alamieyesiegha, James Ibori, became the front line apostles of the resource control battle. In spite of the victimisation of Abuja and the demoralising politics of some of the fifth columnists in the oil and gas region, the apostles forged ahead in raising the demand of the vastly polluted oil region at any given opportunity.
Just like the June 12 struggle made it possible for the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidency, the Goodluck Jonathan Presidency was allowed to appease the freedom fighters of the Niger Delta. Sadly, the Niger Delta Affairs Minister, Godswill Akpabio, appears to be rubbishing the gains of the heroic struggle of the Niger Delta youths.
His Akpabiorisation agenda in the oil region does not seem to be going down well with oil governors and the active social formations in the region. Already, forrmer Deputy National Publicity Secretary of his All Progressives Congress (APC), Timi Frank, called on leaders of the Ijaw Youth Congress (IYC) and all Niger Delta stakeholders to shun an emergency meeting called by Akpabio in Abuja this Friday.
Frank urged them to avoid any such meetings until the ultimatum given by High Chief Government Ekpemupolo (aka Tompolo) for the reconstitution of a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is complied with by the Buhari administration. In a statement, he warned that the meeting summoned by Akpabio in Abuja is not in the good interest of the region.
Frank wondered why Akpabio should summon Ijaw leaders in particular and Niger Delta leaders in general to meet him in Abuja under the purview of another minister instead of holding such a parley in any of the oil states, insisting that the proposed meeting in Abuja is an insult on the people of Niger Delta, “particularly our father, Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark and members of the IYC and INC.”
Adding, the activist said, the purported meeting with our people in Abuja by Akpabio is a deliberate ploy to undermine and deceive the Ijaws and Niger Delta people as well as the Federal Government over his selfish and sinister agenda. ”The action of Akpabio is based on his plans to divert Nigerians’ attention from the ultimatum handed down by Tompolo where he called for the urgent reconstitution of a substantive board for the NDDC.
”The insincerity of Akpabio is responsible for his call on Niger Delta leaders to meet him in Abuja. Why did he fail to call this type of meeting before now, if truly, he is sincere and his purpose altruistic? If any such meeting is to be convened at all, it has be held in any of the Niger Delta states. Akpabio cannot be sitting comfortably in Abuja and summon our elders and leaders like mere errand boys.
”The proposed meeting is an insult. If the purpose is genuine, he should have called for the meeting in any of the Niger Delta states. I therefore call on the INC and the IYC, including all Niger Delta stakeholders to shun the call for a meeting by Akpabio. Whoever attends this meeting will be doing against the interests and aspirations of the peoples of the Niger Delta.
”I am using this opportunity to call on the Federal Government to respect the ultimatum given by Tompolo as nothing will change the positions of Chief Clark, Niger Delta governors and other stakeholders who have demanded the sack of the illegal sole administrator of the NDDC and the immediate reconstitution of the board of the agency.”
While advising the Presidency not to accept any position paper from Akpabio which he intends to use to cover the illegalities he has so far perpetrated in the NDDC and the region, he adds, ”we therefore, insist and stand by the demands of High Chief Government Ekpemupolo as stated in his ultimatum concerning the reconstitution of the NDDC Board. In the same vein, warn that all genuine and concerned sons and daughters of the Niger Delta region must ignore invitations already extended by Akpabio for a meeting with Niger Delta leaders on Friday in Abuja as he did not consult the governors of the region or Chief EK Clark, who is the father of the region.
”Akpabio only invited those on his payroll to the kangaroo meeting. Anybody who attends the meeting as called by Akpabio would be counted as one of the enemies of the good people of the Niger Delta region”, Frank said.
In the mean time, following the success of the sit-at-home ordered by Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) to commemorate the 54th anniversary of the declaration of the Sovereign State of Biafra, South-East Governors’ Forum Chairman, Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State says May 30 will be set aside as a day to remember millions of Igbo that lost their lives during the civil war.
Governor Umahi who stated this during a television interview, said there was need to set aside a date to honour Ndigbo who died during the three-year war, insisting there was nothing wrong with it. He said if a proposal to do so comes before the South East governors, they would give it consideration.
Explaining the reason May 30 should be set aside in Anambra, Abia, Enonyi, Enugu and Imo states as a day to remember the dead, he said if the country can recognise June 12 as Democracy Day to honour MKO Abiola, winner of the 1993 presidential election, there was nothing wrong in setting aside a day to remember five million Igbo, including children who were killed during the war.
”People are beginning to say that even beyond the issue of sitting at home, there is a need to set aside a date to honour our brothers and sisters who died during the civil war and there is nothing wrong with doing that. If it comes before the South East governors, we would give it consideration and put conditions and one of them would be that if anyone decides to do otherwise, you must allow the person to exercise his or her rights.
”Children, who didn’t know the reasons for declaring the war were killed and we are saying we should have a public holiday for people like that. We are saying if our leaders bring such proposition to us and speaking for myself, we would grant that day as a public holiday but there must be a proper request for this in one of our meetings. I believe it would even be deliberated upon in our next South East governors’ meeting.
“We have June 12 dedicated to MKO Abiola, we also have a date set aside for our fallen heroes, so, there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a day set aside to mourn our dead but it depends on the motive because such a day is supposed to be a day of reflection.
”The South-East leaders would be willing to set aside May 30 every year to honour our dead. The significance of that day, if set aside, is for each and every one of us to reflect and ask if we should have done things differently. Yes, we were being killed and we were being maltreated but maybe there would have been an alternative. What is done is done and the man who led us said there shouldn’t be a second war and that is where we are,”, Umahi said.