The Ijaw Question: Military or Diplomatic Solutions?

by Sabella Ogbobode Abidde

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.

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Anonymous January 18, 2006 - 8:02 am

Below is an article taken from the BBC website on the 18th of January and highlights the kind of animals that live in Ijawland. Sabella I hope you are proud of your people and how they threaten the lives of innoocent children. GIVE YOURSELF A BIG PAT ON THE BACK!!!

Nigerian militants who say they have kidnapped four foreign oil workers and attacked on a Shell oil platform say they have carried out more attacks.

The group says it attacked platforms run by the Total and Agip oil firms. Both companies have denied the claims.

The increased tension in the Niger Delta region has pushed up oil prices to more than 67 (£38) a barrel.

The four foreign workers, who are said to be in good health, have been held hostage for close to a week.

In a statement, the rebel group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, said its ultimate aim was "to prevent Nigeria from exporting oil".

"We will attack all oil companies, including Chevron facilities," it said. "Pipelines, loading points, export tankers, tank farms, refined petroleum depots, landing strips and residences of employees of these companies can expect to be attacked."

"We know where they live, shop and where the children go to school," it added.

The group want local Ijaw people to benefit more from the region's oil wealth and are demanding the release of separatist leader Mujahid Dokubu Asari, being held on treason charges, by Friday.

Anonymous January 18, 2006 - 6:24 am

To the writer of Comment 4:

Please do not get personal as my comments were directed at someone who thinks that violence against human beings are justified. Terrorism has no place in this world and anyone who would subscribe to such a thing is a bonified THUG!

Reply December 28, 2005 - 5:03 am

Must our oil republic (sic banana republic) resort to war before these selfish leaders wake up It would seem easier to destroy a country than to build one! There are no winners in any war, please wake up people and stop calling on God to resolve our petty issues. You must find out what you have done or not done to help move forward any issues/problems. Please wake up before it all go up in flames again!

Anonymous December 26, 2005 - 12:19 pm


It is very unfortunate that you,an ibo man of all people would make such a statement.You are encouraging people to go back to the history books Which history books are you talking aboutBiafran propaganda books!Where everyone except the Ibos are demonized.

If you were born before the civil war you are just being wicked and trampling on the truth.People like you make curses upon iboland to be ceaseless.Because your only aim is to mislead people.Obasanjo and his brethen have copied the ibo man´s lifestyle of oppresing others and they fail to know that there is a reward for oppression.Today the ibos are crying marginalisation because of their crimes against humanity in the former eastern region.They prevented the minorities from going to school by using the government resources to finance their children´s education while at the same time they prevented those

whose parents sent them to school with their personal

resources from attending classes.To worsen the whole wickedness, a fisherman´s nets down to his machete and canoe and paddle were taxed by these ibo´s to suck out the very existence out of his life. Now today are they betterThe answer is NO.They said they would not allow the minorities to get educated now God in his wisdom has made it that the rulers of ibo land are the most uneducated chaps,some can only thumb print.

Its the case of the BLIND leading the OPEN EYED.

Today the yorubas are repeating history.Obasanjo refused to approve accreditation for the Niger Delta University for over five years meaning that it would seem as if all the years these young students put to their studies is in vain.People ask what has ALAMS done at least it is a well known fact that he built the Niger Delta University and it is also a well known fact that Obasanjo prevented the people of Bayelsa and indeed the whole Niger-Delta from having the kind of education they should have had.While at the same time he was encouraging education in his home base.He gave approval for at least three Universities in his home state of Ogun.

If we did not contribute to the nation´s coffers it could have been a different story but right from 1954

oil has been drilled in the Niger-Delta,then it was controlled by the ibos.But today it seems as if it is the exclusive right of the yorubas and a select few.The ibos abused the priviledge just as the yorubas are doing today and i can assure you,the yorubas would surely pay for their crime.


I think if was to talk in military and political terms the strategy was right.Bombing Abeoukuta,Lagos

and Kano would not in any wise disturb Obasanjo .Since he is a rouge that is money-centerd.

What was his reaction when the whole of Rivers state was engulfed in violenceNothingIt was untill Asari threatened to blow down oil installations that he came back to his senses.

No comment

I say AMEN!To what you said.I and Sabella(I believe) are tired of being from the same country with folks like you.Do you know how embarassing it is to be from

Nigeria abroad.Who are those tarnishing the name of the country abroadAre they not predominatly ibos and yorubas.Are foreign jails not full of ibos and yorubasIs´nt it ibos and yorubas that are involved in Credit card theft,Drug peddling,Smuggling,Identity

theft,Fee Advance Fraud(419),Economic Asylum.e.t.c.I would be extremely happy if you guys find your way.

Last but not the least fellow N-Deltan in all do not hate them.Love them but do not give up the fight.It is the way Gandhi,Dr Martin Luther KIng and Mandela won their battle against oppresion.Please always remain prayeful the Almighty GOD would have his way when we cry to him.

Anonymous December 24, 2005 - 6:21 am

Now you are talking Sabella, but with regards to the 'wrong targets being bombed' it is a mater of choice . We are living in a country that hard currency rather human lives count . Even if the whole of Kano state was massacared so long as Mr.President's dirty deals and "foreign reserves" increase he would not even pretend to know the Niger-Delta exists . While we wish that the "oil mats" that have soiled our waters and lands will be cleaned-up it is only the oil that attracts attention to the region and not the people otherwise when Odi was wiped out we would have heard international condemnation of the Obasanjo regime, but that was not the case .

COMMENT 1 : We can see how well 'schooled' you are .

GODDY : Why the Chukwumerije styled prose you are talking from all the corners of your mouth without saying anything in paticular . If I may ask apart from the Oil producing Niger-Delta didn't the other regions get 50 derivation With regards to the Yorubas using Cocoa dont we have historical and statistical proof that it was only after AWO became finance minister, and paid Easterners 20pounds irrespective of their monetary wealth before the war , that the Yorubas reached the peak of their educational pursits Lets hear please , who is decieving who now .

none of your business December 23, 2005 - 9:02 pm

The last comment on Tam David west was ignorant. Have you been to Tams house in PH That house cost nothing less than 10 million naira in those days..u think say that one na professsor salary ANywaz, Niger Delta like Lagos deserve a fair share of their contribution but they dont help matters by bombing their communities or supporting a thief like Alams or moreso encouraging chaos like Sabella. The road to equity is not revolution, it is dialogue. We have been to war before and the Ibos are still paying that price till this day, it will be idiotic to go down that path again. Let the Niger Delta justify the 13 percent and continue to agitate for more and they will get it. I am sure the South West and South East will be too happy to have a proper derivation across board.

Weri Timi December 23, 2005 - 8:54 am

How uncivilised Nelson Mandela must have been! How uncivilised the IRA! Yes how very uncivilised!!!

Just two things still continue to baffle me sha- Why is it that although Tam David West enriched his family, when he was investigated and tried, it was only for drinking tea and accepting a gift of wristwatch! Please, in the last list of roads that were to be constructed in Nigeria by the federal government, how many were allocated to Ijawland Or those other states with more federal investement do not have their own allocation I am just wondering! But sef, how come Ijawland, this people that do nothing to help themselves are the only ones that have impeached its corrupt governor while Dariye is there up in Plateau! Oh, so Cocoa was used to build and sustain Lagos, Abuja, etc Hmnn but that 3rd Mainland bridge built with Cocoa money is fine o. Anyhow, why is that the West was developed with Cocoa, its resource, but the Niger Delta cannot be developed with Oil, its own resource. Curious. Very very curious! Anyhow, what do I know, after all, I am an ignorant unschooled Niger Deltan, part of the unschooled Niger Deltans in Lagos referred to as area boys!

Goddy December 22, 2005 - 5:18 pm

While I don't agree with the indecent language employed by the writer of the first comment, he or she does has a point in the argument.

It's common for writers to state erroneously that it was the Oil wealth that was used to build Lagos etc. And I can understand if all of those writers were born from the 1980s. But even then, they need to go read their History books again.

While I'm not a Yoruba, we all know that the entire West os South West was built and developed long before Nigerians knew anything about Oil. That is why they have cocoa house and not Oil house. And the industrial estates have been there while leaders from other regions were only thnking about enriching their families.

One must admit that the military guys neglected the Niger-Delta but why is it that nobody is asking the Ijaws and the rest Niger-Deltans about their own negative roles in the destruction of their lands

They were known for back-biting eachother while begging for appointments under the military guys. When prof. Tam David-West was minister of Petroleaum, what did he do for the Niger-Delatans Nothing! He did help his own immediate family though.

Politically, what role did the the Niger-Deltans play In 1979, they all voted for the Hausa/Fulani-controlled NPN much against all conventional wisdom. What did they gain from that action Nothing! They did the same thing in 1983… gain nothing!

Economically, what have they been doing with OMPADEC, DIFFRI, NDDC etc The few privileged ones among them have been smiling to their banks. And guess what, those privileged Niger-Deltans have been joining my own people in the South East to further develop Lagos and other parts of the South West. Is anyone forcing them to do this No sir!

Also don't forget Alamiyesieagha and other modern day thieves in Niger-Delta. Is it Obasanjo or the Yoruba and the Northerners who are using juju to make some few Niger-Deltans loot the wealth that belong to the majority of the people

Besides all that….why are the people themselves NOT going to school and why are they not being productive Go see the long lines of Niger-Deltans who collect hand-outs from Shell and other oil companies. Please stop passing the bulk! What the Niger-Deltans are doing to themselves is worse than what the other parts of Nigeria are doing to them.

Anonymous December 22, 2005 - 1:04 pm

Lol..sbaella it is better for you to stick to writing articles on life in general..humor is not appreciated in politics especially in Nigeria. I see your point, but your analysis is not indepth nor is it objective enuf to qualify for a stellar political write up except in matters of national importance like the crisis bedevilling the Niger Delta.

Anonymous December 22, 2005 - 8:11 am

How can any civilised human being sujjest that armed robbers should steal from anyone at all or even exist or that terrorists should be more selective about there targets. The Ijaw people should got to school and get jobs like everyone else, nothing is a birth right. Why should they get preferencial treatment because of their origin, all should be based on merit. I agree that Nigeria should be broken up because I am ashamed to be from the same country as someone as VILE as you!


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