Nigerians and the rest of the world are perplexed as to why there is constant agitation and upheavals in Ijawland. Well, we agitate and call your attention mostly because we are being treated like third-class citizens. And unless there is real justice and fairness, you will continue to hear our voices, and witness our deeds. For there can be no peace, prosperity and freedom for you when we the Ijaws — on whose land nature situated oil and gas — live in abject poverty and fetid environmental conditions. Oh no!
Anyone who has ever been to Ijawland can see and smell and sense the filth, the poverty and the isolation of the area. It is a region that is enveloped by misery and awash in criminal neglect. Every man, woman and child will tell you of the insidious sense of abandonment, exclusion and marginalization that is commonplace. Much of the land is not fit for human habitation, anyway. For instance, most drink from the same river they bathe and defecate in. And if you’ve never seen lands and waterways that have been criminally debased, go to Ijawland. The environmental neglect is criminal. It is pitiful.
Yet, it is from this land that Nigeria extracts about 70% of her revenues. For how long did the government and the people of Nigeria think the Ijaws were going to remain silent while their resources are being carted and their environment despoiled? Nigerians are getting rich and richer, fat and fatter from our native-resources. Lagos, Abuja, Minna, Kano, Kaduna and other places are benefiting from the oil while the first owners of the resources are being treated like third-class citizens. The Government must sit up and see to it that we, the first owners, benefit from what nature endowed our ancestral land.
For a start, the federal government should situate a Federal University of Science and Technology and other federal institutions along with other political goods and services on Ijawland. A noticeable and measurable federal presence will achieve several goals: (1) it would jumpstart that part of the country so it can catch up with the rest of the country in terms of growth and development; (2) it will calm the restless spirit of the youths; (3) the Ijaws would be contributing not only oil and gas, but also brainpower to the development of the nation; (4) cries and complains about neglect and abandonment would be muted; and (5) it is just the right thing to do: the moral, ethical and legal thing to do — to see that every part of the country feels the love and presence of the federal government.
And since we give much more to the federal purse, we deserve much more. We want more. We demand more. When the North had groundnut, they controlled their own destiny and controlled the groundnut revenue; when the West had cocoa, they controlled their destiny and controlled the revenue.
In addition, the federal government must pass laws that regulate how the oil companies do business. These companies are reckless and careless in the way they do business. They have no regard for law and order; and are condescending in their attitude towards us. Sometimes they treat us like trash; and at other times like beggars. The oil companies and related businesses must give set-aside scholarships to Ijaw indigenes to acquire business, oil, science and technology related education i.e. petroleum engineering, oil and gas law, accounting, computer science. In addition, the oil companies must set aside and meet yearly quotas of Ijaw indigenes who are employed — not just as drivers and cleaners and messengers — but in mid and high-ranking positions.
Ijaw land is a cathedral of riches. And the world wants what we have. Obasanjo & Family, Umaru Dikko and the Kaduna Mafia, Bagandiga and his boys, Abacha and Sons and thousands and thousands and thousands of others — including thousands and thousands and thousands of foreigners and oil companies got rich and are getting rich at the expense of the Ijaws. Our parents did not give birth to us so we can be the doormat of exploiters. As far as I can see, as far as I can tell, time is running out for the federal government and the people of Nigeria to make right what is wrong and iniquitous.