I want to start by thanking and congratulating Ijaw youths, particularly, the founding fathers of the Ijaw Youth Council, whose ubiquitous idea for a coordinated agitation against the profligate Nigerian state. In spite, of Ijaw people’s noble contributions as the INC’s President, Prof. Benjamin Okaba has repeatedly said severally, more recently at the twin conferences (the symposium held in honor of Dr S.Y. Mamamu and the All Ijaw Summit, in Yenagoa) Ijaws are grossly undermined and treated with negative vibes of criminal neglect, exploitation, dehumanization, balkanization, etc.
Hence, I think there could never be a better time to commend the signatories to the lofty idea of the outstanding Kaiama document likewise commiserating with the families of those who fought and died in the liberation quest. Furthermore, I will contextually explain true federalism as enforced by the Nigerian state of what leadership coach, organizational development expert and author of Strategic turnaround: Story of a government agency, Dakuku Peterside espoused as “The State governments, especially in the South, seem to be forcing a new form of federalism on Nigeria by looking inward at the existing Constitution and enforcing their rights in areas hitherto seen as the exclusive preserve of the federal government,” for political, economical, environmental and cultural development which has become ubiquitous for Nigeria to move forward. The IYC is birthed for self-determination and self-actualization and it has been at the forefront of agitating for true federalism.
i State creation is a must, and this will be an adequate political participation for Ijaw people, who are behind the Hausa, Yoruba, and indeed the Igbo as the largest ethnic nationalities in Nigeria, having Bayelsa as the only homogeneous state.
ii As Ijaw people we want to manage and control our resources, for us to develop economically, and harnessed our cultural heritage. Managing our resources will empower us to strategically have our own laws, have an infrastructure plan (a plan I have severally advocated for and described as a developmental master plan).
iii This also will leverage on how Ijaw intellectuals and strategic think tanks will formulate policies on our environment to take prompt action on environmental remediation.
To retrospect, the Kaiama Declaration was borne out of the shared interest of the Ijaw Nation as Ijaw youths met on December 11, 1998 to revitalize and expand the historic alliance of self-determination and resource control and overcome the daunting challenges of marginalization, coupled with exploitative tendencies of our environment, which has ostensibly led to underdevelopment, creating a vicious cycle of poverty in Ijaw Communities.
In summarizing the Kaiama vision: Wherein over four thousand Ijaw youths in 40 Ijaw clans met for the Kaiama Declaration by Ijaw youths for true federalism, or as some pundits would say fiscal federalism, control of oil mineral resources, while at the same time insisting for justice on the degradation of the environment of Ijawland by transnational oil companies cannot be wished away.
Given FGN’s negligence by not acceding to true federalism, snowballing to the establishment of various interventionist agencies such as the Niger Delta Basin Development Board, 1959; Niger Delta Development Commission, 2000 [which replaced Oil Mineral Areas Development Agency, OMPADEC] and the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, 2008 that were all created by the recommendations of the Henry Willink’s Minority Commission Report characterizing the Niger Delta, predominantly Ijaw aborigines (original inhabitants) as infrastructurally and generally poor, backward and neglected. As it stands the interventionist agencies created to address the developmental challenges have become obsolete. In other words, the core objectives of these agencies have been defeated as we see elsewhere in the NDDC of a strange name [sole administrator for NDDC, and interim administrator for Amnesty!]
We don’t need a clairvoyant to say for Nigeria to develop beyond its capacity public servants [policy formulators], must measure idealism as necessary for public progress in the three main areas of function of government, such as resource control, security and finance, the central government should restraint on strangling and controlling power over the states.
Equally so, we need one to tell the FGN a sustainable and inclusive economic growth will be driven by the pillars of an equitable, fair and just Nigeria, which will address the disproportionate impacts on women, youth, underrepresented groups, and restructuring agitators. Even the separatist groups. No one, not even myself can put it better when policy and leadership expert, Dakuku Peterside in an essay suggested, “The truth about ‘true’ federalism, Nigerians should jettison the pseudo feudal system in which most affirmative processes favour only a few morally bankrupt elite in majority of the States, who equate their personal socio-economic growth to that of the whole State or even regions, whilst most of the people languish in abject poverty of global proportions.”
In conclusion, fiscal federalism or true federalism is a matter that cannot be wished away, and what a time and if not now when the IYC marks 23, because it has given a contextual framework to one of the most discussed subject in the history of Nigeria: That is if truly there will be a Nigeria in the next 100 years. I am not a separatist agitator, but the odds do not favour the unity of this great republic in diversity if we do not heed to the IYC’s motto of Resource Control and Self-determination by any Means Necessary.”
…Pukon is the Secretary-General of the Ijaw Youth Council Worldwide…