Ijaw youths are angry over the proposal by the National Conference to create 18 additional states in Nigeria saying it is skewed to favour some nationalities at the detriment of Ijaw people.
The youths described their delegates at the National Conference as “docile without an agenda”.
Rising from an emergency meeting in Yenagoa at the weekend, the youths under the aegis of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide, threatened to block oil exploration insisting that “our oil won’t be used to develop the proposed new states”.
The youths said the conference had undermined all the requests and agitation of the Ijaw people including their demand for the creation of Toru-Ebe and Oil Rivers State.
“The Ijaws made a request for the creation of two additional states, Toru-Ebe State from the present Delta, Edo and Ondo States and Oil Rivers State from the present Rivers and Akwa Ibom States”, the Spokesman of IYC, Mr. Eric Omare, said.
“However, the conference committee on Political Restructuring and Forms of Government recommended creation of additional 18 states across the country without considering the Ijaw requests.
“It is totally unacceptable for the Conference to recommend the creation of additional 18 states without considering the requests of the Ijaw ethnic nationality which is Nigeria’s fourth largest tribe.
“The conference recommendations are geared towards empowering some ethnic nationalities to have more political control to the detriment of other ethnic nationalities in Nigeria and in total disregard to the political marginalisation and oppression of the Ijaws of Delta, Edo and Ondo states”, he added.
Omare recalled that the Ijaws were the first to demand a region of their own even before independence in 1960 when Nigeria had only three regions.
He said despite the creation of the existing 36 states in Nigeria, the Ijaws who first demanded a region, has only one state, Bayelsa.
“If Confab recommendations are implemented, there would now be 54 to 55 states out of which the North would have 28 states; Yoruba: 9 states; Ibos: 9 states, with additional two to three in south-south.
“But Ijaw that is the fourth largest tribe that requested for a region of their own even before independence and their leader Major Isaac Boro declared a 12 Day Republic partly because of state creation would have only one state: Bayelsa State”, he said.
He said the Ijaw youth leaders would meet to reconsider the roles of the Ijaw delegates at the ongoing conference.
He said: “The IYC would not and will never allow Ijaw resources to be exploited to fund and develop other states to the detriment of the Ijaws.
“And without creation of Toru-Ebe and Oil Rivers State to liberate the politically oppressed Ijaws, the Ijaw people would have no other option than to reconsider their position in Nigeria.
“In the coming days, Ijaw Youth leaders would meet to take a position especially to consider the role of Ijaw delegates at the ongoing National Confab, who have been docile without an agenda.”
Also, the Centre for the Vulnerable and the Underprivileged (CENTREP), knocked the confab for recommending the creation of additional states and the return to the old National Anthem.
The Executive Director, CENTREP, Mr. Oghenejabor Ikimi, noted that the recommendations were not borne out of patriotic or nationalist consideration.
According to him the conference was set up by President Goodluck Jonathan to discuss the problems that had retarded the growth of the country and to proffer solutions to them.
He insisted that National Anthem had never posed any problem to the country neither had it retarded the growth of the country.
He said the idea of returning to the old National Anthem which “we had claimed in the past to be a colonial relic is unacceptable as same would be likened to a dog going back to his vomit”.
“We make bold to say that creating new 19 additional states to the existing 36 States in the Federation is senseless, and the said recommendation should be jettisoned.
“The present scenario where two third of the 36 existing States in the Federation are not financially independent and viable as they depend solely on monthly allocations from the purse of the Federal Government for their survival, is pitiable and indeed very sad.
“Many State Governors have had to complain in recent times of short falls in their monthly revenue allocations due their various States, which the Federal Government has attributed to dwindling level of crude oil revenue.
“Therefore creating an additional 19 new States to the existing 36 States would no doubt be chaotic. The above recommendation as in the instant case is what a country gets, when its leaders adopt the same mentality and methodology with which they used in creating a problem, to trying to solve the same problem”, he said.
He said problems besetting the country would be solved if the leaders broke away totally from the past insisting that state creation was no longer a viable option.
He said until the country abandoned the present corrupt, fraudulent and corrosive structure of government, peace, stability and growth would continue to elude Nigeria.
He said: “We therefore call for true federalism and regional autonomy as the only structure of government that would usher in peace, stability and growth in our polity.
“True federalism and regional autonomy would help to check official corruption, mismanagement of public funds, massive youth unemployment, public infrastructural decay, insecurity and incessant strike actions and many other social challenges facing us presently as a Nation.
“This is because each region would grow at its own pace while contributing a quota of her earnings to the Central Government. Therefore six regions of South West, South East, South South, North West, North East and North Central would be a viable option.
“The roll call of Nigerians who have kicked against and described regional autonomy as retrogressive are actual beneficiaries of the present fraudulent, corrupt and corrosive structure of Government were nothing except corruption works”, he said.