IJAW PASTORS & MINISTERS FELLOWSHIP (IPMF) TWENTY (20) YEARS DEVELOPMENT AGENDA/PLAN FOR IJAW NATION, 2020-2040.
Bishop (Dr.) AmbP Samson Amajene
Pst. Bestman Ebiowei
A BRIEF INTRODUCTION OF THE IJAWS:
The Ijaws are the people indigenous to the Niger Delta region inhabiting the following states in Nigeria namely Bayelsa, Rivers, Delta, Edo, Ondo, Akwa-Ibom and the coastal parts of some African countries.
The Ijaw tribe is the fourth largest ethnic group in Nigeria with an estimated population of over 15 million. They speak more than (9) nine distinct Ijaw dialects. There are prominent groupings of the Ijaw people in Nigeria for easy administrative purpose, Western, Central and Eastern zones.
The Ijaw ethnic nationality consist of over 100 Clans and about1000 indigenous communities. Almost half of the communities are made up of mangrove forest, which gives way to fresh water swamp and thence to low land rain forest.
OCCUPATION OF THE IJAWS:
The Ijaw people are predominantly fishermen occupying the coastal areas in the Niger Delta that live by fishing supplemented by farming of paddy Rice, Plantain, Cassava, Cocoyam and trading on smoked fish, Timber, Palm iil, Gin, Palm Kernel oil, Canoe making, etc.
The Ijaw communities hold the largest Crude oil and gas resources in the Niger Delta, over 80% percent of the country’s on shore crude oil lies on her shores, which have significant quantities of natural gas deposit.
CHALLENGES IN IJAW NATION:
Beyond these resources, the Ijaw tribe is faced with great developmental challenges which include poverty, idol worship, massive unemployment, inadequate infrastructure, low socio-economic base, a degraded environment, an unfriendly construction terrain and environmental degradation as a fall out of years of oil exploration and spill.
Environmental issues such as soil degradation, oil spills and flooding have encroached and damage her lands tremendously.
There’s a deficit of genuine, sincere and godly leaders who live above board in Ijaw nation before and right now and until we get it right at the leadership level, nothing great can truly happen in our Ijaw nation. Leadership is a key component in driving and implementing this plan, and where we lack great leaders who put the people’s interest first, there will be miscarriage in the project. May God raise visionary, and servant leaders who shall take care of Ijaw nation in Jesus name.
At the heart of leadership is your ability to deny self aggrandizement, and putting the people’s interest above your personal interest. For Ijaw nation to grow and become what God ordained her to be, there must be leaders who are ready to live above “board” in character and lifestyle, but as long as the motivation for leadership is premised on selfish interest nothing great can happen.
DWINDLING ECONOMIC ACTIVITIES:
Fishing and agriculture that historically formed a large part of the Ijaw people’s economic activities is fading away due to the discovery of oil and gas resources by International oil companies in our land that have destroyed the ecosystem causing low production, dwindling economy with no sustainable livelihood as a result of a destroyed environment.
INADEQUATE SOCIAL AMENITIES:
Social amenities are grossly inadequate because in some instance federal, state and LGA government presence is completely absent with no development projects. A high level of poverty is evident alongside poor health facilities and high child mortality rate. High level of unemployment particularly among the youths contributes to the unrest, agitations, conflicts, and low GDP in our nation.
ECOLOGICAL DAMAGE DUE TO OIL:
The exploration and exploitation of oil involves a number of activities that directly affect the lives of oil producing communities. This impact is not only limited to the physical environment with its fragile ecosystem but also the social and economic life of the people.
DIMENSION OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS REQUIRED IN IJAW NATION FOR THE NEXT TWENTY (20) YEARS 2020 -2040.
1. THE NEED TO SPREAD THE GOSPEL:
Though there exist predominantly Christianity as a major religion since the advent of the missionaries with so many denominations in existence in our towns, villages, some communities however still worship some lesser deities to the Almighty God which in a way has hindered development in no small measure as they invoke darkness in our communities.
The word Izon means TRUTH, it is one of the outstanding tribes on earth that has the attributes of Jesus Christ and the Almighty GOD as their Tribal name, John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the Way, the Truth, and Life: Numbers 23:19 says God is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man that He should repent. Therefore her relationship, worship and service to and with the Almighty God should be a conscious deliberate effort by all and sundry to make it our life style as people, that have a unique and divine covenant with God, as part of the descendants of Abraham, cannot be overemphasized.
The Ijaws worldwide have a form of godliness inherent in us. It is therefore time for Ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to aggressively propagate the true Gospel message all around our respective communities, within these next twenty (20) years to draw many souls to our Lord Jesus Christ, have a solid grip over the Ijaw nation.
2. EDUCATION/COMMUNITY AWARENESS:
Education is the foundation of any developed society, in other to secure a sustainable community, people must be informed and educated about sustainability and its processes. This procedure will be tailored to the targetted population to partake in both formal and informal process through technical schools, colleges and universities. Community advertising combined with specific simple profile projects that will be employed to significantly influence community attitude positively should be encouraged in the next twenty (20) years.
To build a system where quality, available, accessible, and affordable educational institutions are established in Ijaw communities for all our children of school age as well as adult seeking to further their education or gain new skills.
To develop an educational sector that can provide human resource requirements that will meet the twenty (20) years vision enunciated in the sustainable development strategy, in other to increase levels of educational achievement and higher skills.
3. THE DEVELOPMENT OF IZON DIALECT:
The mother tongue as been said, is the first point and means of identifying a people, Ijaw as a large tribe in Nigeria should establish a system where the language is taught in our schools as a subject and also device a system that would accommodate a general Ijaw dialect as a means of communication among the Ijaws, as well as writing of Ijaw folk tales/stories in Ijaw dialect and determine to have an Ijaw Bible etc.
To systematically employ the use of the Izon dialect as first and frequent language of communication in our homes, meetings and public functions. The Ijaw nation need to establish a strong mechanism that sustain the Izon dialect for the next 100 years.
4. PROVISION OF BASIC HEALTH-CARE FACILITIES:
Taking quality health care to the door steps of every citizen and inhabitants of Ijaw nation and their communities, making the region the hub of excellent medical services thereby also promoting health tourism.
Reduce child mortality rate which is a basic problem confronting our communities.
Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases.
Achieve universal social health care insurance.
Improve private public partnership in health delivery in our villages and communities.
Promote effective and efficient primary health Care thereby enhancing accessibility of medical care in rural areas. Let us start now to implement our various laudable ideas and plans for the Ijaw nation, so that in twenty (20) years time and beyond the Ijaw nation will be known among the committee of nations of the world.
5. ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY:
The exploration and exploitation of oil involves a number of activities that directly affect the lives of oil producing communities such as soil degradation, oil spill, air pollution, flood etc.
The sustainable development approach would employ the use, conservation and enhancement of our natural resources in such a manner that the ecological process that under pin the quality of life are not comprised but managed to maintain the total quality of life.
Environmental considerations should be embedded in all aspects of government, community and business planning within the Ijaw communities.
On this, our traditional rulers and leaders at all levels have key roles to play to safeguard our environment.
6. DEVELOPMENT OF TOURISM:
For the coastal nature of the Izon environment, there is an urgent need to develop tourism attraction by first establishing a comprehensive inventory and evaluation of all sites and festivals with tourism potentials.
Develop a tourism master plan, including policy, laws and standards of operation governing hotels, restaurants, tour operators and all facets of tourism.
Develop a system of ensuring compliance, seeking international training opportunity to remain current with trends in promoting tourism and determine to achieve international best practices.
7. ENERGY DEVELOPMENT:
To identify all available sources of power and potential partners through Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement in the provision of power for our communities in next twenty (20) years.
To efficiently deploy the appropriate technology for the benefit of the Ijaw coastal region and citizens. To provide unhindered access to electricity for all the inhabitants of Ijaw towns, villages, and communities with affordable petroleum products for wide spread public use while developing Green Energy alternatives.
To encourage the use of renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and biomass that is environmental friendly to the Ijaw region and communities.
Liaise with the Federal government and international agencies in manpower and technical development in the energy sector.
Establish operational gas turbines with distribution network in all the Ijaw coastal communities that can afford it.
Coordinate all electrical and other sensitive developmental projects by various agencies to avoid duplication of effort.
Promote an indigenous commercial company to develop at least 20% of the oil and gas resources within the Ijaw region and with the oil producing communities as stakeholders.
Expand and strengthen the state governments participation in the oil and gas industry within the state where the Ijaws occupy.
To ensure that the Ijaw communities attain a sustainable, healthy clean, pollution/toxic free stable environment,
8. SOCIAL ADVANCEMENT:
The Niger Delta especially within Ijaw communities has slowly eroded the social cohesiveness of the region, therefore, a transparent and comprehensive stakeholders participation to strengthen the social fabric of communal life to better spread the opportunity and benefit of peace and security for sustainable development should be emphasised.
To work towards social inclusion.
To ensure sustained improvement of the welfare of women, children, physically challenged persons, widows, ophans, the aged and the vulnerable in our communities.
To focus on building the stability and development of the family as a social unit. Promote child and maternal health through public awareness and health education programs.
Sponsor strategic poverty alleviation schemes in socially depressed areas of Ijaw communities to promote rural stability and development.
Reduce social factors and practices that are inimical to the welfare of women, children, physically challenged persons, and the aged, widows, ophans etc.
Promote family economic welfare through sensitization and empowerment of youths, women and physically challenged persons.
Harness and foster the potentials of women, youths, and physically challenged persons and the vulnerable in our communities.
9. PROVISION OF COMMUNITY SECURITY:
There is need to put in place a security architecture in the entire Ijaw nation to stop evil aliens from encroaching upon our land. Militia groups such as Boko Haram, Fulani Herdsmen, and other terrorist organizations are moving gradually to infiltrate communities, towns and villages in the South South. We must deliberately make efforts to gather intelligence in whichever way we can to secure our land.
In the past Ijaws are known for leaving their lands and territories wide open for non natives to encroach upon but this should not be allowed to continue in next twenty (20) years.
There should be local vigilante groups working with our traditional rulers, Government functioneries to ensure our land is well secured and protected.
The activities of the present federal government freely allowing people from the northern part of Nigeria to take undue advantage of the generosity of indigenes to rob, rape, and even kill people because the President allowed them to excercise their freedom of movement, association and residence should not taken for granted.
This monster must not be allowed in Ijaw nation as people can no longer sleep with their two eyes closed.
10. SPORTS DEVELOPMENT:
Sports development is another important aspect of our twenty years (20) development program that will positively engage the youths in sporting activities that is aimed at taking them to the International stage.
We must make concerted efforts to search for talented young people throughout Ijaw nation that will represent Nigeria in both local and International competitions.
Efforts must be made to engage private individuals, Communities, Politicians, private and public sector to collaborate in Sport development in Ijaw Nation.
There are many talents in Ijaw Nation that need to be developed and harnessed, they should not be left undeveloped and waste away.
11. THE IJAW PLACE IN ENTERTAINMENT:
The entertainment industry is presently dominated by the western and easthern regions of Nigeria. Ijaw nation is blessed with so many talents that can compete with any region if our talents are properly harnessed.
How can we have a road map in the next twenty (20) years on how our artists, actors, musicians, poets, script writers, film producers etc can be thrown up to national and international stage in the industry ?
I believe we can do it if both the public and private sectors will collaborate in efforts to design programs that will encourage talent hunt and development for the youths.
The Ijaw Nation is blessed with fashion that can be developed to International standard. Our dress, attire, dishes, culture and music is unique and people really need it abroad. Organizations in Ijaw nation should collaborate efforts to promote our rich cultural heritage that is free from Satanic worship and ungodliness.
13. POLITICIANS, POLITICS, PARTIES & ELECTIONS:
Every Ijaw son and daughter seeking elective office should have it at the back of their heart that the development of Ijaw nation is the primary assignment for which they are supported and elected into office which has been in the contrary in the past several years of governance. Kings, Oppinion and community leaders should be bold enough to call their representatives in government to question if they are not doing anything to develop their communities while in office.
Ijaw national organizations should not be submerged into political parties thereby making government to believe that Ijaw nation is a political party affairs. Under the dynamics of the circumstances we find ourselves, we must separate Ijaw National affairs from politics and parties. It is only then we can have a voice.
The coming of Pan Niger Delta Forum is a welcome development, but Ijaw national issues should be addressed separately and not be submerged in the bigger picture of PANDEF because we have issues confronting us that must be addressed head-on as a nation.
Concerted efforts must be made to ensure that elections conducted are transparent, free, fair, credible and peaceful throughout Ijaw nation. Election should not be seen as a do or die affair in Ijaw nation because no political ambition is worth the blood of anyone in our land.
We must desist from engaging the youths in political tuggery, making trouble and causing problem because of elective office.
14. CREATING JOBS/INDUSTRIES
The leadership must do everything possible to create a peaceful environment suitable for investors to come over and invest otherwise development will elude us, God forbid.
Our youths should have skills that employers will be in need of and until our youths are trained in formal education and skills, investors will continue to see our youths as potential danger to their business outfits.