Any war involving Igbos will cost them N3tn in properties, assets, Okorocha warns IPOB agitators
Amby Uneze in Owerri and Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide mondayÂ dissociated itself from the agitations by the Nnamdi Kanu-led Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), describing the map allegedly released by the Biafra secessionists as â€˜fictitiousâ€™.
The body, comprising all youths of Ijaw descent, noted that though it had nothing against the struggle for self-determination by some elements from the South east, it was nevertheless worried by the attempt to co-opt Ijaw land into the struggle by Kanu and his followers.
Describing the proposed Biafra map as â€˜maliciousâ€™, the IYC maintained that drawing up territories by groups like the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and IPOB without proper consultations and consent of the Ijaw people was unacceptable.
â€œThe Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide distances itself and the Ijaw nation from that fictitious map claiming Ijaw territories as being part of Biafra. There was never a time we were Biafrans,â€ a statement released by the IYC spokesman, Daniel Dasimaka, stated.
According to the group, even in the old Eastern Region, the â€˜contraptionâ€™ then only succeeded in â€œenslavingâ€ the Ijaw people.
â€œWe, Ijaw people are not Biafrans. Therefore, if or when any Ijaw person or group feels a sense of allegiance to Biafra and speak in its favour, let it be known that such statements are the personal opinions of such persons which do not reflect the thoughts, views and wishes of the entire Ijaw nation and the Niger Delta people,â€ the IYC insisted.
It warned IPOB zealots to stop insulting elders of the region, including Annkio Briggs, and called on the â€œdrivers of IPOB to call their followers to order because such acts of bigotry will no longer be tolerated.â€
The IYC stressed that the Ijaw struggle started way before Biafra was born, noting that any attempt to force Biafra on Ijaw land without its consent will be resisted.
â€œFor the records, the Ijaw struggle for self-determination predates the Biafra agitation. It is a known historical fact that a year before the world got to hear of the term Biafra Republic, Ijaws, led by late Major Isaac Jasper Adaka Boro of blessed memory declared a Niger Delta Republic,â€ the group said.
The group averred that while Ijaw people were pursuing the emancipation of the Niger Delta people, â€œthe progenitor of Biafra, late Col Ojukwu of blessed memory fought against it as the then Governor of the Old Eastern region.â€
â€œIt is also on record that a year before MASSOB was founded; the IYC through the Kaiama Declaration affirmed our commitment to joint struggle with the other ethnic nationalities in the Niger Delta area for self-determination,â€ the IYC argued.
According to the group, while the ijaw people identify with the agitations of other ethnic groups, â€œour struggle cannot be submerged into the Biafra agitation that came after ours.â€
The IYC said it still stood by its demand for the convocation of a Sovereign National Conference of and thereafter a referendum to decide the future of the Ijaw people in Nigeria.
â€œThus we call on our Biafra brothers to respect our identity. Any attempt to lump Ijaw into Biafra without the genuine consent of Ijaws People is not only an insult but a futile attempt at replicating the oppression in Nigeria Biafrans claim to resist,â€ the IYC concluded.
Meanwhile, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State has warned the agitators of Biafra Republic to desist from their plans as any form of war involving Igbos, would cost them N3 trillion both in properties and in assets.
Okorocha who spoke when he gave 16 newly recognised traditional rulers in the state their respective Staff of Office and certificates of recognition, noted that Igbo were being deceived by the IPOB that they would drive away Nigeria and bring Biafra.
He regretted that even when the cloud was gathering storm over IPOB activities, those who should be talking like traditional rulers, leaders and pastors chose to keep mute.
The governor also hinted at the event that pensioners in the state would be paid their arrears in full next week, stating that his administration would continue to work and take steps that would ensure that pensioners in the state were paid as at and when due.
According to him, â€œOn IPOB, the cloud is gathering storm, nobody is talking even our traditional rulers, pastors and leaders; this is bad for our people. If you would remember vividly that few years ago, during the civil war, it was a similar story. That was how it all started. At that time, we believed that the Ohafia warriors will be able to fight and decimate the North.â€
He continued: â€œNow we are been deceived that IPOB will drive away Nigeria and give us Biafra. Even our pastors, men of God and some leaders in the rural areas, nobody is speaking out against this action, and the song of war is coming gradually like a desert encroachment. We fought the war and it was believed that the Igbo will learn from it but they still went ahead developing the resources of other regions.
â€œThere are five million Igboliving outside the shores of Igbo region. Any form of war will cause the Igbo over N3 trillion loss in properties and assets. No sane person will spread the message of division and war because it does not benefit the Igbo in any way. I urge you traditional rulers to speak against it and educate your people on the true state of things. Igbo need to build bridge of unity across the nation.
â€œOne of the challenges I have in my government is the issue of pension and it is not my intention not to pay pension. I want to say to you, when you go back, help us in this regard to identify the genuine pensioners because you know them more than they are been known in the wards.
â€œI have decided to pay with the help of the Paris Club refund of N7.1 billion to the pensioners. Our pension is about 9 billion naira. I want to clear this pension. Last time I saw the pains of our pensioners, some of them especially those from levels 1â€“7 were paid full pensions.
â€œNow I am making frantic efforts to make sure we pay all the pensions we are owing, 100 per cent of their money. As I am doing this, I will like to seek the help of the Community Government Councils in identifying the fake pensioners; I still donâ€™t believe that Imo State will be the only state in Nigeria paying 1.5 billion naira as pension where states like Lagos pay N250 million. What I am paying as pension is more than what 15 states put together pay as pension. Something is wrong. I am partnering with a Chinese company now to solve this problem,â€ he said.
The governor mandated them to go home and tell the pensioners that â€œyou met the governor and he will address their matter and ensure that they get 100 per cent of their pension arrears. If in any way we are not able to continue paying in future we shall come back to them and also tell them that we cannot afford to pay, we are using the whole Paris Club to pay 100 percent pension to our dear pensioners.â€
Okorocha told the new traditional rulers to work for the progress and development of their communities, stressing that any community that is not developing the people of that area should hold their traditional ruler and the CGC responsible.