President Tinubu urged to address historic injustice against Itsekiri

By Ologeh Joseph Chibu

President Bola Tinubu has been urged to tackle the historic injustice suffered for centuries by Itsekiri indigenous ethnic group.

The itsekiri are some 1.5m people found in Delta and Edo States.

The Itsekiri for centuries have lived in the Niger Delta, often classified as minorities, undermining their access to political, economic and social oppurtunities.

In a letter addressed to Tinubu on Tuesday and signed by General Secretary Popoola Ajayi said after an extensive meeting of Pan Yoruba groups, the Alliance of Yoruba Democratic Movements AYDM said that for more than 1000 years, the Itsekiri have asserted themselves as a unique people with a rich civilization and have made tremendous contributions to African cultural and economic growth

AYDM said they have received little or nothing in return for the enormous resources successive governments exploit on their ancestral territories.

AYDM is a coalition of 121 Pan Yoruba groups spread across Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, Ondo, Ekiti, Osun, Edo, Kwara, Kogi and the West African Coast.

In the letter signed by the AYDM General Secretary Popoola Ajayi and Secretary for Mobilization, Chief Kunle Oshodi, AYDM said the Itsekiri produce 35% of Nigerian oil and gas but get little or nothing in return.

There are no economic landmarks, no industries, no commensurate employment opportunities in the oil companies on their and while they are given crumbs when it comes to political appointments at the Federal level

“No Itsekiri man has ever led the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC. No Itsekiri man has ever emerged as the Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC. No Itsekiri man has ever been made a f
Federal Minister since 1999. This is ridiculous” the AYDM said.

The group observed that even in the face of repression, oil pollution, and exclusion the Itsekiri are one of the few ethnic groups in the Niger Delta that have never resolved into violence, vandalisation of oil pipelines , bunkering or oil theft adding that the Presidency should demonstrate that there is reward for peaceful conduct and not just reward for groups that threaten violence and armed insurrection at all times.

AYDM said the late Pa Alfred Rewane was the financial backbone of the resistance against military rule, a dangerous assignment that eventually led to his assassination in November 1994

“We commend President Tinubu for recognizing the role of Pa Rewane. As the then Governor of Lagos State, he named one of the longest streets in Lagos after Pa Rewane for his contributions to democracy and justice without which the military would have remained in Nigeria.

“We call on President Tinubu to correct this historic injustice to a great people whose land provides immense resources to Nigeria.” AYDM said.

The coalition said President Tinubu can do this by recognizing the Itsekiri ethnic group through significant industrial investments in their homeland, Federal appointment that will give the people a deep sense of belonging, a step that will justify their non-violence to the long chain of repression they have suffered.

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