By Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The Ijaw community in Abuja, Wednesdaycelebrated the heroics of Maj. Isaac Adaka Boro 50 years after his demise.
Boro, born on September 10, 1938 was an undergraduate student of Chemistry and a Student Union President at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, before he left school to lead an armed protest against the exploitation of oil and gas resources in the Niger Delta areas which benefited mainly the Federal Government of Nigeria and Eastern region at the expense of the Niger Delta people.
He believed that the people of the area deserved a larger share of proceeds of the oil wealth, and this prompted his decision to form the Niger Delta Volunteer Force, an armed militia with members consisting mainly of his fellow Ijaw ethnic group.
The group declared the Niger Delta Republic on February 23, 1966 and fought with federal forces for 12 days before being defeated, and Boro and his comrades were jailed for treason.
The administration of General Yakubu Gowon granted him amnesty on the eve of the Nigerian civil war in May 1967, and later enlisted and was commissioned as a major in the Nigerian army.
He fought on the side of the federal government but was killed under mysterious circumstances in active service on May 9, 1968 at Ogu (near Okrika) in Rivers State.
Speaking at a rally held in his honour in Abuja, the Chairman Ijaw Youth Council, Abuja Chapter, Ebizimor Preye, said Boro gave an Ijaw man a true definition in the entire Nigeria, saying that the rally was aimed at marking his 50th remembrance.
When asked if what he died for has been realised today, he said: “Basically, those are the questions we are asking today as Ijaw nation. If what Boro fought for has been really achieved. Today, we use this as a point of contact to reach out and to still remember what he fought for and place ourselves strategically because the era of armed struggle is beginning to fade off and the society is changing. It is time the Ijaw youth place themselves strategically to see how these things can be achieved.”
Preye noted that the Abuja chapter of the council has established the Ijaw Youth Consultative Forum, a developmental arm, to come up with a working document to engage the government in addressing the problems facing the Ijaw nation.
Also, the Chairman of Ijaw Youth Community, Abuja, Chief Onimim Batubo, said the rally was aimed at celebrating their legend and the founding father of the Ijaw struggle.
He stated: “Today is a day of mourning and celebration because Boro has given hope to an average Ijaw man that has a voice today in Nigeria context. That is why we are all here to make sure of that.”
Batubo believed that 10 per cent of what he fought for has been realised, stressing that part of his struggle made former President Goodluck Jonathan to become the president.
“My expectation is for the federal government to look more into the plights of the people of Niger Delta because we produce what is making this country work and we should be able to benefit from what is coming out of our soil,” he said.