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INC and Politics of Nation Building

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The Ijaw National Congress (INC), a social-cultural organisation and the umbrella body of the Ijaw ethnic nationality has been a very vocal voice among the 250 ethnic nationalities in Nigeria. Found in six states of the federation.

They are Bayelsa, Akwa IBom, Delta, Edo Rivers and Ondo States  that make up the geographical entity called Nigeria.

The organisation which pioneered the agitation for resource control, neglect,  marginalisation of the Niger Delta People and South South president became a formaidable rallying point to demand for better treatment from the federal government. They condemned environmental degradation caused by multinational oil firms that explore and exploit the natural resources which God put in their soil that was meant to be used to tackle the difficult terrain of the area.

In other words, God deliberately created the people of the region, put them in the difficult environment and buried black gold that would be utilized to surmount the developmental challenges of the people. This led to agitations, following many years of unfulfilled promises to uplift the worsening condition of living of the Niger Delta region.

Consciously, the Federal government under successive administrations, presided over the wealth form the area through the crude oil resources that produce over 90 per cent of the country’s earnings.

However, the genuine struggle of the Ijaw ethnic nationality and indeed the entire people of the region began to attract international sympathy as the issue of indigenous notn working in the companies operating in the locality came to the fore. Thus, youth unemployment rose to the high heavens and the resultltant effect was the hijacking of the struggle by the youngmen who created illegitimate economy to survive and ciriminality creeped into the reasonable agitation for improvement in the living conditions of the people.

There is no doubt, the struggle of the Ijaw ethnic nationality can be described as successful, considering the emergence of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, as Vice President and subsequent election as the first President of Nigeria from the Ijaw extraction.

Although, today, the activities of INC appear to have nose dived in recent times as alleged in-fighting and penetration of partisan politics into the ranks of the organisation may be diminishing the success recorded by the body.

Recently, the National President of  INC Dr. Atuboyedia Obianime was suspended from office laying credence to the existence of internal squabble in the once vibrant Ijaw National Congress.

Perhaps, the inactive posture of the organisation may be a new strategy adopted by the body so as not to confront the federal government led by an Ijaw man, from Otueke, in Bayelsa State. But the Acting President of INC, Chief Joshua Benamaisia Ibiakpo, denied insinuations that the organisation is in disarray rather admitted that their activities have slowed down a little.

Chief Ibiakpo, who spoke to The Tide Political desk, said disagreements abound in every human organisation, including family set up but it does not translate to affecting the workings of the congress.

Though, the Ijaw struggle did not start today some achievements have been recorded, emphasising that the demand for resource control and self determination remains the reason for their support for restructuring of the country which is already before the National Assembly.

He restated the demand for the creation of two states, for the Ijaw race namely Oil Rivers out of Rivers and Akwa Ibom States, Toru-Ebe out of the present Delta, Edo and Ondo States, insisting that they are against any balkanisation of the Ijaw people in the country and called on the federal government to intervene in the problem in Edo State where the Ijaws are being denied their place in the scheme of things.

As expected, INC proactive steps is to assist President Jonathan’s administration to succeed by giving him maximum cooperation which perhaps accounts for the slow pace of their activities. According to the Acting President the bomb blasts in the country are acts of terrorism by some unscrupulous Nigerians to distract the President who was voted into power as a unifying factor in the country.

To that extent, he argued that Nigeria is together and would continue to be one indivisible entity, emphasizing that what Nigeria needs at the moment is restructuring which would be achieved through the convening of an ethnic national conference. The present 1999 constitution is flawed for retaining military programmes in form of decrees and cited the land use decree as being in effect under a civilian regime.

Obviously, the only constitution INC would support is the one where the people will participate in its formulation so that various interests would be considered for the over wellbeing of the country.

On the position of Ijaw National Congress, on the proposed removal of Petroleum subsidy, Chief Ibiakpo, said “fuel subsidy has always been there since the military era and the system has remained porous which made the subsidy not to benefit the poor masses. For instance kerosene is subsided for N50.00 but today it sells for between N150 and N200 per litre, thereby making the ordinary people not to feel the impact of the subsidy.”

Fortunately, rather than criticise, the INC leadership took a step further by going to the Minister of Petroleum Resources to make inquiry and have gotten the full analysis which informs its position on the issue. The question that readily agitate the minds of Nigerians are not far fetched, who are the beneficiaries of the subsidy on Petroleum products?, why are the four refineries not working? What is responsible for the lack of political will to checkmake those obstructing the realisation of this programme over the year.

Answers to these questions would keep our minds pondering in different directions but the political class must embark on soul searching venture to purge itself of the enigma if the country must achieve its dream of being one of the best 20 economies in the world by 2020.

Even as the Ijaw nation continues its struggle which dates back to the colonial era and the achievement of some degree of success by the organisation, the present leadership of the organisation is being watched by many to see how the vision of the founding fathers of the body would be actualised in the years to come.

The perceived in-fighting in INC should be resolved quickly to enable it provide the needed cover for their kinsmen President Jonathan. Therefore Ijaw elders must rise to the occasion to proffer workable solution to the issues involved, otherwise the impasse may degenerate to factionalisation of the congress and that would lead to unsavouring consequences for a pace-setting ethnic nationality.

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…Urges Ondo Gov To Shelve N2bn Gov’s Lodge Project

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has advised the Ondo State government  to shelve its plans to build a new governor’s lodge at the cost of N2 billion in the interest of the state.
Mr Fatai Adams, the state PDP Chairman said this when he spoke with newsmen at the state party secretariat in Akure, yesterday.
Adams expressed concern over mass resignation of doctors in the state due to poor remuneration.
“We are seriously alarmed by the unfortunate resignation of over 109 doctors from the state public service over the inability of the government to pay their due salaries and hazard allowances as at when due.
“I’m sure you will all recall that Ondo State was the destination for medical tourism in the South West because of the first class service delivery found here under the PDP administration.
“According to the Nigerian Medical Association records, no medical house officer has been employed by the state government since 2019, a situation that is responsible for the poor services rendered in the hospitals.
“The present administration has a backlog of unpaid salaries of workers, it is proposing to build a N2 billion new governor’s lodge in Akure. This is not only ridiculous but the surest evidence that the government has completely lost direction,” he said.
Adams added” “Dr Olusegun Mimiko, Oluwarotimi Akeredeolu’s predecessor built a very befitting governor’s Lodge in 2013, a few years before Akeredolu assumed the reins of government.
“To spend N2 billion of tax payers money on another lodge at this time is the height of callousness and wastefulness,” he said.

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Senators Rate 9th National Assembly High

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Senators on Wednesday at plenary commended the 9th National Assembly at the mid-term assessment of its performance in the last two years.
The lawmakers, who spoke during a special session to mark the second year anniversary of the 9th Senate, commended the various legislative interventions of the National Assembly, especially on  security, economy and governance.
The lawmakers, who spoke included the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi (APC-Kebbi); Deputy Leader, Ajayi Boroffice (APC-Ondo); Deputy Whip, Aliyu Sabi (APC-Niger), and Adamu Aliero (APC-Kebbi).
Others were Yahaya Oloriegbe (APC-Kwara); Gabriel Suswam (PDP-Benue); Chukwuka Utazi (PDP-Enugu); Solomon Adeola (APC-Lagos), Olubunmi Adetumbi (APC,-Ekiti), Ibikunle Amosun (APC-Ogun), and Suleiman Umar (APC-Kwara).
The rest were Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo (APC-Bayelsa); Nicholas Tofowomo (PDP-Ondo); Istifanus Gyang (PDP-Plateau); Sam Egwu (PDP-Ebonyi); Teslim Folarin (APC-Oyo); Nora Daduut (APC-Plateau); Jibrin Isah (APC-Kogi); Abdullahi Adamu (APC-Nasarawa), and Francis Fadahunsi (PDP-Osun), amongst others.
Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, in a speech delivered at the special session, said 742 bills were introduced by the ninth Senate in the last two years.
According to him, out of the total number of bills introduced during the two sessions of the Assembly, 58 have been passed, while 355 bills have gone through first reading.
Contributing, Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, said the realignment carried out on the budget cycle by the National Assembly was to insulate businesses and the economy from going into recession.
Deputy Whip, Sen. Aliyu Sabi, said: “As we celebrate two years, we are guided by the legislative agenda.
“The unity of purpose which we have worked for, has enabled us to achieve those great strides.
“The Production Sharing Contract (PSC) is a testimony on how the National Assembly has been able to work in unity in the interest of the nation.
“We need to work together to find common grounds to problems that beset the country,” Abdullahi said.
In his own remark, Sen. Garbriel Suswam, said: “Inspite of challenges and shortcomings, the 9th Assembly had taken major steps to achieve some of its legislative agenda.”
He said that the executive has been intransigent in implementing the resolution of the National Assembly.
He appealed to the Senate President to ensure that the Electoral Bill presently before the National Assembly was passed transparently, while accommodating provisions for the use of electronic card readers and electronic transmission of results during elections.
Senator Chukwuka Utazi, on his own part, described Executive-Legislative relations under the ninth Assembly as a good one.
The lawmaker, who  called for the introduction of State Police, to curb rising insecurity in the country, also advised that the constitutional review exercise, be used to bring the South East region at par with other parts of the country.
Sen. Solomon Adeola similarly said that the Senate had on two occasions rescued Nigeria from a looming economic crises when it slid into recession.
He added that such a prompt response was extended by the National Assembly to the issue of insecurity amid its recommendations to the Executive arm of government, which were aimed at tackling the spate of insecurity faced by the country.

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PDP Inaugurates E-Registration Committee

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Wednesday inaugurated e-registration Committee to facilitate electronic registration of its members nationwide.
The committee is Chaired by the Governor of Edo, Mr Godwin Obaseki, while Gov. Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State is the Vice Chairman.
The party’s National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, at the inauguration of the committee in Abuja, said that the e- registration was a project dear to the party and had been on the card since 2010.
Secondus said that the party decided to digitalise its membership for proper database, due to its size, reach and to move with time.
“When we say that PDP is the largest party in the continent, we are not grandstanding but stating the obvious.
“There is no nook and cranny of this country that you won’t find PDP members.
“In 2019 general elections, the PDP was the only political party that fielded candidates in all the positions: Presidency, Governorship, Senate and House of Representatives and in all the 36 states’ Houses of Assembly.
“Even in states where we are not in power, our members still out number even the ruling party in such states.
“We are the only party since inception in 1998 that has been consistent in name, motto, manifestos and logo,” he said.
Secondus said that reports available to the party across the country showed that many more Nigerians want to join PDP and that the exercise would provide them such opportunity.
Secondus advised members of the committee to use their wealth of experience to deliver on the mandate assigned to them.
“In appointing you as the Chairman of this project, the party took into consideration your background and your love for data and record keeping.
“We have absolute confidence that you and your team will deliver in this assignment that is expected to update the database of our party across the country.
“Membership registration into our party is a continuous programme, what we are embarking on is to digitalise it for proper analysis of issues.
“The place of women and youths in our party cannot be over-emphasised and this programme is going to help toward proper planning in our party,” Secondus said.
Obaseki, in his remarks promised that the committee would reach out to PDP members across the nation.
He promised that the exercise would be all inclusive to the men and women, especially youths who were living in the digital world.
Obaseki said the committee would leverage on the existing platform of the party and produced a membership register that the party would be proud of .
“It is very worthy that our party being a big party has decided to digitalised membership and position the party to take over in 2023,” he said.
The party’s National Organising Secretary, retired Col. Austin Akobundu is the Secretary to the Committee, while the National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan; Agbi Emmanuel, Prof. Wale Oladipo, Sani Kutigi, Cyril Maduabum and Hon. Austin Opara will serve as members. 

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