Ijaw Nation writes Tinubu, demands own country

Set June,2024  deadline for referendum

By Ologeh Joseph Chibu and Ogunsona Samuel

Members of the Ijaw Nation Organization, (LINO) have written to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu demanding for exit of the Ijaw people from Nigeria. The group wants the Nigerian Federal Government to invite the United Nations, African Union and the Economic Community of West African States, to send observers to the negotiation meetings. 

The group appears to have taken after a similar letter written by Yoruba Self-determination group led by Professor of History, and Senator in the Second republic Banji Akintoye.

The members in a letter addressed to the President said they are leading the Ijaw self-determination struggle for the Ijaw sovereign state separate from Nigeria.

The group said the letter was on behalf of millions of Ijaw people at home in Ijawland in Nigeria and in the Ijaw Diaspora in almost all countries across the world. 

‘We send this letter most respectfully to Your Excellency as a follow-up to our earlier Suit for Referendum in Abuja High Court on Ijaw Republic which was delivered during the government of your predecessor, President Muhammadu Buhari, in his exalted position then as President of Nigeria. The central message  was for Nigeria to negotiate our exit as a Sovereign Nation of our own due to the fact that Nigeria expired since 2014 according to the Documents as written by the Amalgamator of Nigeria, Lord Lugard himself’ the group said.

The letter was signed by General Ditari Ebi the group’s President, Lovers of Ijaw Nation Organization (LINO) Representing Central Ijaw in Bayelsa and Ahoada West, Minjiye Joseph Sukubo, Vice President, Lovers of Ijaw Nation Organization, Representing Eastern Ijaw, Rivers and Akwa-Ibom Ijaws, Botu Pius Ogusuware, National Secretary LINO, Representing Western Ijaw, representing Ondo, Edo Delta Ijaws.

The group said the Ijaw  people were unjustly balkanized into six States in Nigeria eventhough they are fully together and not scattered by God from Apoi West Clan in Ondo, to Ibeno Clan in Akwa-Ibom consisting of the Ijaw people of Ondo State, Edo State, Delta State, Bayelsa State, Rivers State and Akwa-Ibom State.

It said that the Ijaw amount to an estimated total population of over fourty-million and desire to exercise and assert self-determination as an indigenous nation, and therefore to constitute their whole homeland in Nigeria into an Ijaw sovereign state separate from the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

It referred to a suit earlier filed calling for a referendum in Abuja High Court under President Mohammadu Buhari.

The group called for the authorisation of Nigeria and the President to facilitate peaceful and orderly negotiation with Ijaw nation with a view of reaching a mutually agreed and peaceful route for separation from Nigeria.

The group stated that along the lines of our peaceful approach and respect for the Government and laws of Nigeria, they expressee their wish to engage in negotiation with the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, with a view to reaching a mutually agreed and peaceful route for the completion of our realization of our Ijaw nation’s self-determination and establishment of an Ijaw sovereign nation-state, with desire to accomplish as expeditiously as possible.

The group made the following proposal:

That the Nigerian Government shall, within the next two months, but not later than June 30 2024, inform us that they have graciously agreed to our proposal for negotiation and that they have set up a negotiation team that will meet and dialogue with our Ijaw nation’s representatives.

That as soon as we receive the communication from the Nigerian Government in response to this request of ours for negotiation, we shall forward the list of our negotiation delegates to the Nigerian Government.

That the Nigerian Government negotiation team and our negotiation team shall meet to appoint co-chair persons, to agree on a date for the first negotiation meeting, the negotiation procedure, and the negotiation venue.

That ECOWAS, the African Union and the United Nations shall be invited to send observers to the negotiation meetings”.         

To our grave disappointment, Your Excellency,  President Buhari and the Nigerian Federal Government  have never favoured our Ijaw nation with any response, or even an acknowledgement, to our Suit for Referendum in Abuja High Court, under  President Buhari.

We hereby, again very respectfully, send to you, Your Excellency, a copy of our Suit for Referendum in Abuja High Court Documents which we applied for under President Buhari tenure in his position as President of Nigeria. We assert that we stand totally and absolutely with all the points, and with every point, that we made in the Suit and we respectfully urge you, Mr. President, to do the duty of your high position as President of Nigeria and favour us with an official response not later than the  last day of June 2024.  

Your Excellency, in order to further enable, enrich and strengthen your understanding and consideration of our request for separation from Nigeria, we consider it very important that we should furnish you with the following further information concerning our request.

 First, Your Excellency, Nigeria’s economy has collapsed.  Nigerians, including our Ijaw people, are living a life of wrenching poverty and hunger. No reasonable roads for years in our Ijaw homeland when we produce over 86 percent of Nigeria’s Crude oil and gas both onshore and offshore.

Electricity supply has been increasingly fizzling out for years. For decades, businesses have been failing or fleeing from Nigeria – mostly from our Ijaw homeland,  Though Nigeria is one of the largest producers of petroleum in the world, Nigeria has depended on imported gasoline and has left its own refineries in disrepair, and the price of gasoline has been rising steadily in Nigeria for years. In the past nine months, the price of gasoline has jumped beyond the reach of most Nigerians. 

Important holders of knowledge of the economy (such as a former Governor of the Nigerian Central Bank, C. Soludo, the new Minister of Finance,  Wale Edun, the new National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu, and others) are telling the world that the Nigerian economy had collapsed before President Tinubu took over from President Buhari – that Tinubu inherited a ‘bankrupt country’. Therefore, the value of the Nigerian currency, the Naira, has fallen abominably, causing inflation to skyrocket, and pushing the prices of food staples beyond the reach of most citizens.  In all regions of Nigeria, huge numbers of hungry people have protested in the streets, crying of hunger, condemning the Nigerian government and calling for the dissolution of Nigeria. The collapse of the Nigerian economy today is the end outcome of six decades of perpetual and truculent twisting, distortion, corruption and degradation of Nigeria’s economic and political life.

Even if President Tinubu, by dint of knowledge and resoluteness, and with the help of the capable assistants whom he has brought into the government, succeeds in healing Nigeria’s economy to an extent, Nigeria’s economy will certainly return to its downward trajectory after him. The forces pushing Nigeria’s economy  downwards, including Nigeria’s enormous culture of public corruption, are just too powerful. There is no other country in the world about whom Nigeria’s kind of story can be told – the story of a country that earned for many years some of the largest revenues in the world from petroleum and that has continued to earn much of such revenues, and that has yet ended up as the number one home of ‘extreme poverty’ in the world, with millions of its citizens cursed by starvation, dilapidated infrastructures, failure of electricity supply, and many more. Trying to lift up Nigeria’s economy sustainably is a futile venture.

The collective psychology of our Ijaw people is fundamentally riveted to development, progress, prosperity, and a constantly improving quality of life for all citizens.  Therefore, Your Excellency, it would amount to extra evil on the Ijaw people for us their prominent sons and daughters  to consciously accept to continue to include the Ijaw people in a country that is obviously producing economic collapse, and threatening terrible devastation for all

Secondly, Mr. President, as you know very well, and as the whole world knows, we Ijaw are a considerably very strong people and will defend what we believe in with all forms of patrioticness to our homeland Ijaw  .

God gave us Crude Oil as compensation for our difficult terrains but all in the name of one confederation like country called Nigeria that expired since 2014, they take their resources and take Ijaw own too.

 We are sure that the only viable solution is to have a separate country of our own, a country in which we can build the national economy as competently as we are able to do, a country in which we can seriously and quickly revive our people’s economy, a country that can attract back our exiles from all over the world. Your Excellency, we Ijaw seriously expect to have your sympathy and cooperation, and the sympathy and cooperation of the Federal Government of Nigeria, in this serious and noble enterprise.

Thirdly, Your Excellency,  Ijaw youthful adult population  accept, up to this point, the peaceful and law-abiding approach to the self-determination process that the leaders of the struggle have been diligently promoting from the beginning.  It is of uttermost importance that the Federal Government of Nigeria should relate to this process and leadership. There are already signs, though only faint signs for now, that educated Ijaw youthful adults in the Ijaw homeland in Nigeria, and their brethren in the Diaspora, may be becoming more and more radical in the struggle for Ijaw self-determination. If the Federal Government continues to make the mistake of neglecting response to the current peaceful process and leadership of the Ijaw struggle, a seriously undesirable situation could develop among the generation of Ijaw youthful adults – a situation that could generate much violence and that could violently shred and rip Nigeria apart, cause  floods of blood, and take countless lives.

This message must therefore be seen by you, Your Excellency, as a patriotic and humane warning to Nigeria.  Government is threatening fire and brimstone against all advocates of self-determination are very unhelpful – totally unhelpful. 

Mr. President, another crucial matter that we Ijaw must bring before Your Excellency is the horrific and seriously disturbing character of the attitude and the utterly disrespectful approach of one of the nations of Nigeria, namely the Fulani nation, to the Federal Government and the sanctity, integrity and dignity of the Nigeria state and the public order. Since 2015, the Fulani have been killing widely among the other peoples of Nigeria, including us Ijaw, destroying farms, villages and other assets, kidnapping men, women and children, extorting large amounts of money as ransom from friends and family of the kidnapped, and repeatedly asserting their intention to seize the homelands of all the indigenous peoples of Nigeria for the purpose of turning all into a Fulani homeland. In the Middle Belt, horrendous blood-letting is going on, very many families have been forced into Internally Displaced People Camps, and many of their villages have been seized by the Fulani and renamed as Fulani villages. In our Ijaw homeland, our people are resisting somewhat better,  but the Fulani attacks and killings and kidnappings are unrelenting and are coming daily, leading to horrific instability, and forcing most of our farmers to abandon farming altogether – thereby dooming Ijaw people to years and years of famine.

 All these actions by the Fulani are, to us Ijaw a sufficient reason for our seeking to separate our Ijaw nation from Nigeria. Most of us Ijaw have no confidence in the ‘Restructuring and our reason is that we know that Restructuring cannot keep the Fulani marauders away from our homeland – since, after Restructuring, the Fulani would still be Nigerians like us, and would still have full citizens’ rights to come in large numbers, and with weapons and intent to kill and destroy and seize land,  to our homeland. Their spokespersons have said again and again unambiguously that their Fulani nation has prepared all its citizens to fight their current war of subjugation and land seizure for decades and even centuries to come.  Ijaw does not underestimate the Fulani; we must not condemn the Ijaw people to Fulani killings, destruction, raping, kidnapping and extortion of ransom for decades or centuries to come. The Ijaw nation may not survive such prolonged battering.

Your Excellency, since your inauguration as President of Nigeria in May 2023, the Fulani have stepped onto such a higher level of national devastation as to add mightily to our reasons for seeking to separate the Ijaw nation from Nigeria. We ask you to witness, Your Excellency,  the two declarations of war by the Fulani against the President and the Federal government of Nigeria and against  the entire Nigerian polity. 

First Fulani Declaration of War, January 24, 2024:  

In this first Declaration, the Fulani:

 Demand “immediate release” of the leader of Miyetti Allah, Bello Bodejo,  who was arrested for illegally creating an armed Fulani force which he intended to deploy to all states of Nigeria. The Fulani declaration commands: “We hereby reiterate our demand for the release of  – – –  Bello Bodejo. We hereby give 72 hours notice. Failure to release him, the Nigerian Government will hear from us”.

Threaten that because the Fulani elders had failed to secure a Fulani successor or a person who would “protect Fulani interests”, to succeed President Buhari in 2023, the Fulani have decided that their response is “Inevitable Jihad”. “It is now obvious we have no option than to relaunch our campaign – – – (and we) have started in earnest. Henceforth the Nigerian Government will hear from us in every town, every village, every city, every community in the South and Middle Belt. Our campaign will be swift and decisive and nobody will be able to help Nigeria. The Fulani can never have a country where they are second class citizens. That is unacceptable”.

Warn that “the arrest of any Fulani man in connection with the Jihad is a crime against our (Fulani) collective interest. We warn the Nigerian Government not to make the mistake of arresting any Fulani leader or person, never again”.

Your Excellency, the above, plus all the matters raised by us in our Suit for Referendum in Abuja High Court during the tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari a copy of which documents we hereby respectfully attach to this letter,  is the fullness of our respectful message to Your Excellency.

Your Excellency, we the Lovers of Ijaw Nation Organization (LINO). acting for and on behalf of over 40-million Ijaw people worldwide unjustly balkanized into more than six States when we are fully together and not scattered by God, from Apoi West Clan in Ondo State to Ibeno Clan in Akwa-Ibom State,

And all other Ijaw groups in Ondo State, Edo State, Delta State, Bayelsa State, Rivers State and Akwa-Ibom State all together constituting the Ijaw Nation in Nigeria, hereby most humbly place our crowning request before Your Excellency as follows:

That the Nigerian Federal Government shall, within the next two months, but not later than last day of June 2024, inform us the Lovers of Ijaw Nation Organization (LINO). that the Nigerian  Federal Government have graciously agreed to our proposal for negotiation and that they have set up a negotiation team that will meet and dialogue with our Ijaw nation’s negotiation team.

That as soon as we receive the communication from the Nigerian Federal Government in response to this request of ours for negotiation, we shall forward the list of our negotiation team to the Nigerian Federal Government.

That the Nigerian Federal Government’s negotiation team and our negotiation team shall meet to appoint co-chair persons, to agree on a date for the first negotiation meeting, to the negotiation venue, and to the negotiation agenda and process.

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