YENAGOA-President of Ijaw National Congress, INC, the umbrella socio-cultural, politically non- partisan organisation of the Ijaw ethnic nationality, Prof. Benjamin Okaba, has said that the opposition by the Ijaws and Niger Delta to the re-introduced Water Resources Bill was that it would “enslave the Ijaw people and indeed the people of Niger Delta, who have suffered and are still suffering severe exclusion, deprivation and underdevelopment.”
According to Okaba, the land, water resources, river basins and adjacent marine and coastal environment contained in the bill describe in totality, lands and homesteads of the Ijaw people and other ethnic nations situated along the coasts of such rivers and would adversely be affected by bringing their homesteads under the control of forces, which Federal Government may seek to carry out as an ethnic expansionist agenda.
He urged the National Assembly to forthwith halt the legislative process surrounding the bill and throw same overboard for being obnoxious, unjust, oppressive and unconstitutional.
The INC leader, in a statement in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, yesterday, said the re-introduction of the bill in the twilight days of the Buhari-led administration and at such a critical time in the history of the nation with the various recurrent challenges, really called for circumspect on the part of well-meaning Nigerians, and indeed the Ijaw nation, which appears to be targeted at controlling the coastal environment of the Ijaw nation.
Okaba said: “Accordingly, INC, hereby, unequivocally rejects this sinister bill, which is aimed at further enslaving the Ijaw people and indeed the people of Niger Delta, who have suffered and are still suffering severe exclusion, deprivation, devastating health condition, underdevelopment, ravaged ecosystem and a general state of sociopolitical discontent with the forced union called Nigeria.
“We hereby urge the House of Representatives and indeed the National Assembly to forthwith halt the legislative process surrounding the bill and throw same overboard for being obnoxious, unjust, oppressive and unconstitutional.
“The Ijaw nation will resist, using all available legal machinery, any attempt to foist this satanic bill on the people of the Ijaw ethnic nationalities of the Niger Delta of Nigeria under any guise. Those who take our hospitality, magnanimity of heart and peaceful disposition for granted do so on their own peril.”
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