While Ijaw national agenda is proceeding at an appropriate speed, the internal situation still presents a major challenge. The lack of political responsibility, accountability, transparency, development and performance, in terms of delivering goods and services to the people is leading to questions, both internally and externally, about the capability of Ijaw political leaders to captain the ship of development and modernization. Indeed, as 2008 begins, it is appropriate at this time to note that the Ijawnation is facing credibility problems.
Increasingly, the notion that the Ijawnation stands for truth, justice, honesty, and rights is being contradicted by actions and inactions taken by various Ijaw citizens. Similarly, the notion that the Ijaw ethnic nation is a victim of
As the least developed part of the country, the Ijaw nation would have been leading the nation in terms of creativity, innovation, development and modernization, just as the Arabs in the Persian Gulf Region are turning deserts into very luxurious oases and creating island towns out of the
1. So far, Ijaw governmental leaders have not done much better than the Hausa-Fulani, Igbo and Yoruba political and military leaders whom the Ijaws have persistently accused of exploiting and marginalizing them. It should be noted that
a. For a riverine state, Bayelsa Government has not provided any public transportation system to the Ijawnation. Public transportation includes both land and water means of moving people from one location to another. This means that Ijaw people basically rely on private transportation to go from place to place while the state continues to receive money from the Federation Account on monthly basis. It is indeed very expensive for the average Ijaw citizen to travel from one destination to another due to high cost of transportation and fuel. This is quite different from the days of the
b. At one time,
c. The Rivers State of Diete Spiff created parastatal organizations to provide loans to indigenes to conduct businesses.
2. It appears that most elected Ijaw public officials (both elected and appointed) in Eastern, Central, and
3. The rate of corruption in Ijawland is incredulously high. It is very disheartening that Ijaw elected officials would turn against their own masses and join the outside forces in fleecing their own people dry. This is most obvious in Bayelsa and
4. There is too much concentration of political power and official authority in Ijawland. Elected and appointed public officials, starting from the governor and ending with the most rudimentary level of authority across the breadth of Ijawland seem to think that their official positions are God-given to them. As a result, official functions are highly personalized to the extent that there are no clearly stipulated standard official procedures for conducting official business. Across the Niger Delta states, if a citizen wants to conduct official business with a state or a local government director, access seems to be granted only to those whom the officials know personally or are in business relationship with. Other Ijaws are shut out of the governmental process. In other words, you have to know the minister or director or permanent secretary personally for the person to grant you access to see him or her. It is not uncommon for government officials to make a citizen wait endlessly before granting official access to discuss official business. Concentration of power and authority also affect members of other ethnic groups in various states in the Niger Delta. Again, this is quite different from the days of Diete Spiff, Melford Okello, Samuel Esuene and Samuel Ogbemudia. Even Ada George, the former governor of
A major reason for the concentration of power could be the need to maximize the ability to exploit the public purse without public awareness of the process. Hence, only very trusted individuals are allowed to gain access to those in power. Those considered to be outsiders are discouraged by every means possible from getting
too close to the scene of action. Common expressions often used to dramatize the concentration of power are “he is my boy or she is my girl, let/him/her come in; without me he/she is nobody; and I made him/her what he/she is today; who are you?.”
5. Elected and appointed Ijaw officials behave as the masters of the people and not as the servants. Judging the mannerism, attitude and behavior of the officials, it appears that both elected and appointed public officials expect to be worshipped by the people. They forget that the government belongs to the people and they are merely temporary caretakers of the government for the people. Unfortunately, they operate more like gang bosses and expect everyone to worship them. Their personal assistants act like personal body guides, instead of as civil servants working for the state. They have a tendency to create obstacles that make it impossible for ordinary citizens to gain access to government officials. This means that Ijaw public officials, across the entire ethnic territory, do not care about public opinion. One could recall that in