On Thursday the leadership of the pan-Ijaw youth group, Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) Worldwide, has flayed the remarks credited to the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, against the Ijaw nation.
In a statement, issued to newsmen from Port Harcourt, the President of IYC, Peter Timothy Igbifa, said it was sad that Wike, while making his speech during the Ogoni Day celebration, remarked that the Ijaw were behaving as if they owned the Niger Delta.
“We don’t know where he got his impressions from. But whatever he said does not represent our noble ethnic group. Ijaws died in the 2015 elections that saw the emergence of Nyesom Wike as the Chief Executive Officer of Rivers State”, the IYC boss said.
Igbifa wondered what the Ijaw Nation had done to Wike to warrant such public outbursts against the ethnic group that had supported his administration from inception.
He recalled that an Ijaw man and former President Goodluck Jonathan; an Ijaw woman and former First Lady Patience Jonathan, alongside other Ijaw leaders picked Wike and made him the governor of Rivers against all other Ijaw aspirants including the ones they promised tickets.
He said: “We are disappointed that Wike could stand on a public rostrum and throw tantrums at the Ijaw nation. His remarks were, to say the least, unfortunate.
“The Rivers Governor should have exercised restraints in his public utterances despite his misgivings against the Ijaw as a mark of respect for former President Goodluck Jonathan, his wife, Patience and other Ijaw leaders, who railroaded him into the governorship seat of Rivers State.
“It was by virtue of these leaders that Wike first became a Minister and then a governor of Rivers State. His comment is an insult against these leaders and an ungrateful demonstration that he didn’t value the roles they played in his life”.
Igbifa described as wrong Wike’s claims that the Ijaws were behaving as if they owned the Niger Delta following the way some Ijaw persons expressed themselves in public.
But he said: “The governor has boasted time without the number of the powers of Obio/Akpor in the making of the governor of Rivers State making many people view him as arrogant. But is Wike truly arrogant? No, but he is vocal and this is exactly how he should view the Ijaw people.
“Does that also mean that Ikwerre is claiming ownership of Rivers State? No? We are calling on the governor to change his perception about Ijaw people because we are known for our hospitality anywhere we find ourselves.
“It is wrong for a governor who has always carried himself as a democrat to make such negative remarks against a patriotic nation agitating for the common good of the entire Niger Delta.
“It is the constitutional right of all citizens despite their location to hold peaceful demonstration unless Wike is saying that the constitution has barred the Ijaws from holding protests in Rivers State.
Igbifa added: “We want to remind Wike that though the Ijaws have never said they owned the Niger Delta, we remain grateful to other ethnic groups that joined in making the Niger Delta region outstanding. The vocal voice, contributions and agitations alongside our Ogoni, Ikwerre, Urhobo and Itsekiri brothers have been the reason why the Niger Delta has received global attention.
“These efforts are the main reasons for the creation of the NDDC, Niger Delta Ministry and the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) which have renegotiated the fortunes of the Niger Delta.
“Our contributions in the Niger Delta cannot be downplayed or wished away through the reckless utterances of any leader. We deserve respect from the likes of Wike whose kernel was cracked by benevolent spirits using Ijaw people hence, His Excellency should be humble.
“The governor should remember that God made it possible for him and if God says Ijaw will be the next in line, His will, will Prevail. Your assertion is contrary to my new year message to Ijaw politicians as I called on them to consult with other ethnic groups in Rivers and Delta with effective grassroot mobilization as politics has gone beyond the ethnic divide. Why will I give such counsel to our politicians if we claim to own Niger Delta?
“The Rivers State Governor owes us an apology for his unwarranted and unprovoked attack against the Ijaw nation. His remarks were to say the least provocative and insensitive”.