Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has stated why he took a neutral position in last weekend’s election of the Ijaw nation’s foremost youth group, the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC).
Governor Diri said rather than interfere, his administration was more concerned about de-politicising the umbrella bodies that represent the Ijaw nation, particularly the IYC and the Ijaw National Congress (INC).
He spoke on Tuesday at the Government House in Yenagoa when former INC and IYC leaders visited him to introduce the newly elected IYC National President, Peter Timothy Igbifa.
The election held in Oporoza, Delta State, was described as free and credible without any interference from the Bayelsa governor, whose state is regarded as the Jerusalem of the Ijaw nation.
He noted that his decision was hinged on his administration’s deliberate principle of non-alignment and non-interference in the organisations and organs of Ijaw unity and development.
Senator Diri emphasised that having played key roles in the history and progress of the INC, he was not ready to midwife a repeat of what had divided the Ijaw people in the past.
He said soon his government would convene an all-Ijaw leadership summit.
His words: “What this administration is doing is to depoliticise the Ijaw Youth Council and the Ijaw National Congress. That is the only way we can move forward in the environment that we find ourselves in the current Nigerian state.
“We cannot afford to have an acrimonious IYC. We cannot afford to continue to have a divided, factionalised and acrimonious INC. Therefore, this is the beginning of the depoliticisation of our supra-Ijaw organisations.
“This brings me to the current factionalised and fractionalised INC. Let me state that this government, which is the government of the Ijaw people, is thinking and planning an all-Ijaw leadership summit.”
The governor said he looks forward to an INC that is as vibrant as it was in the days of Chief Joshua Fumudoh, who led the delegation, and when the Ijaws spoke with one voice and was a force to reckon with in Nigeria and globally.
“That was when the world began to realise that the Ijaw nation was not only limited to the old Rivers State but that we were also in five other states.
“We want that old time religion to come back. That is why this administration will not interfere but rather assist in forging the unity of the Ijaw people and bring about the much needed development. We can only develop if we are united.”
While congratulating the new IYC president, the governor urged him to build it to an enviable height and not assume the role of a strong man. According to him, “strong men don’t last but strong institutions do.”
Earlier, the pioneer INC President, Chief Joshua Fumudoh, said the just concluded IYC election was the most free and most credible election of the organisation witnessed in recent years.
Fumudoh noted that the desire to have an inclusive IYC across the Ijaw clans saw the emergence of Comrade Igbifa from Akaba in Andoni Local Government Area of Rivers State as president.
He commended Senator Diri and his deputy, Senator Lawrence Ehwrujakpo, for their neutrality in the election.
The delegation had past IYC presidents, including Mujaheed Dokubo-Asari, Oyinfie Jonjon and Dr. Chris Ekiyor among others.