By Binebai Princewill
The Ijaw People’s Development Initiative (IPDI) have vibrated following the alleged protracted and long overdue conduct of the inclusive Ijaw National Congress (INC) elections.
IPDI particularly accused the Ijaw Affairs Commissioner in Bayelsa State, Elder Patrick Erasmus of playing politics with the system by allegedly making dark and sinister moves to undermine the collective will of the Ijaw people.
The revered Ijaw group made the accusation via a statement issued to newsmen in Warri recently, signed by Comrade Ozobo Austin, National President Ijaw People’s Development Initiative, IPDI, a copy of which was sent to The Liberator Newspapers.
Ozobo had warned against the idea of conducting fresh election for the INC against the idea of conducting elections to fill in the remaining positions of the INC, stressing that conducting a fresh election would be more capital intensive and could give birth to more litigations.
The statement reads in full below:
January 13, 2021
BAYELSA IJAW AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER! STOP PLAYING POLITICS WITH THE ELECTORAL PROCESS OF THE IJAW NATIONAL CONGRESS
Our attention has been drawn again to some dark moves the Commissioner of Ijaw Affairs Bayelsa State, Elder Patrick Erasmus is perfecting to impose his will on the will and resolution of CITRE concerning the inconclusive Ijaw National Congress Election. After the election in 2018, CITRE met to resolve that the inclusive election should be conducted against the idea of a fresh election. And since then Bayelsa Government in the times of Hon Henry Seriake Dickson refused to fund the rest of the unconcluded INC election. Ijaw nation is waiting to see the election concluded so that it will not remain without voice in Nigeria. Rather than working towards achieving that Hon Patrick Erasmus the new Ijaw Affairs commissioner, who was once known for honesty, accountability and justice in the INC circle has now allowed himself and his thoughts to be manipulated by some dark political cabals in the state to follow the wrong course against the spirit and will of Ijaw nation. If the commissioner is truly appointed to handle Ijaw affairs he should respect the collective will of the Ijaw people through the resolutions held by CITRE to conduct the inconclusive Ijaw National Congress Election waiting for more than a year to be concluded.
It will be recalled that the INC election in 2018 was disrupted by the same desperate men who were bent on imposing their preferred candidates on Ijaw nation without passing through appropriate democratic channels. Such desperations are now playing out again in the Ijaw affairs leadership of Hon. Patrick Erasmus. If Ijaw Nation does not rise to discourage this selfish and retrogressive style of politics it will not speak well for the nation. It is our candid advice that let all aspirants who have been screened by ELECO for the election be allowed to test their popularity and acceptability in Ijaw nation. Ijaw nation should say no to any inimical move against peace and unity in Ijaw land.
What is happening now is a testimony of the fact that all is not well with Ijaw nation. That leaders have not learnt their lessons, it goes to show that there are people who have power but are determined to position themselves over and above the destiny of Ijaw nation. People now play and trade with Ijaw unity, no genuine Ijaw leader will pursuit personal agenda to the detriment of the collective dreams and aspirations of the Ijaw nation. The Ijaw commissioner may be denying these issues IPDI is raising against him but the end will either expose him as an Ijaw nationalist or an Ijaw foe. He will stand to be rejected as Ijaw Affairs Commissioner by IPDI if he manipulates his ways to restructure the duly constituted existing structures by CITRE.
Bayelsa State, the sole funding state of the Ijaw National Congress should not allow ideas that will waste the finances of the state foolishly from selfish stakeholders of INC. It is easier and financially less expensive to conduct the inconclusive election for the remaining positions than conducting a fresh INC election. This is because conducting fresh INC election is not only capital intensive but may further likely give birth to more litigations and counter litigations as people who have been openly declared winners in the 2018 inconclusive election cannot be stopped from going to court to protect their stolen mandates. When such a conflict arises strongly Ijaw National Congress will continue to remain dead as it has been for over seven years now. Commissioner Erasmus cannot hold Ijaw nation to ransom. He should not lead or mislead Bayelsa State to spend more money to host fresh INC elections. He should listen and use his own ears and voice in the genuine interest of Ijaw nation rather than offering himself as stooge to some cabals bent on disorganizing and destroying Ijaw nation for their selfish interest. We warn that if Bayelsa government and its Ijaw Affairs commissioner do not respect INC structures on ground, Ijaw nation will sing a new and appropriate song by sourcing for funds from other states to conduct an election that will not be manipulated.
We call on His Excellency Senator Douye Diri, the governor of Bayelsa State and the governor-general of Ijaw nation to release funds for the conduct of the inconclusive INC elections and remain and maintain neutrality as he did during the election of the National Executive of Ijaw Youths Council. Any Ijaw man that emerges as president of INC will surely strengthen your pride as governor of Bayelsa, a state in Ijaw land. Do not allow the selfish interest of Ijaw Affairs Commissioner to bring distrust to Bayelsa Government which has good intentions for Ijaw nation. We pray your Excellency will rise to the occasion to give life once again to, the INC, the apex sociopolitical body of Ijaw nation in Nigeria and in the diaspora.
Comrade Ozobo Austin
National President Ijaw People’s Development Initiative, IPDI.