A POSITION PAPER PRESENTED TO HIS EXCELLENCY MR. GODWIN N. OBASEKI, GOVERNOR OF EDO STATE BY THE ELDERS AND LEADERS OF THOUGHT FROM THE FIVE IJAW KINGDOMS OF EDO STATE AND THE LEADERSHIP OF THE IJAW NATIONAL CONGRESS, EDO STATE CHAPTER ON FRIDAY, 5 JANUARY, 2018.

We, the elders and leaders from the five IJAW kingdoms of Edo state, namely; Egbema, Olodiama, Furupagha, Okomu, and Gbaran, have come in response to the Governor's gracious invitation for dialogue concerning the crisis generated by the derogatory press statement made by the Edo State Government and the Bini Traditional Council on the coronation of the Pere of Olodiama Kingdom.

Before, we begin, we want to make it bundantly clear that we adopt in their entirety all the publications made by various IJAW groups and the entire IJAW Nation as representing our position on the plight of the Ijaws of Edo State.

Firstly, we would like to thank your EXCELLENCY for the invitation and wish your EXCELLENCY and your Government Happy, peaceful and prosperous 2018.

Secondly, we "appreciate" your Excellency for the statements on the coronation of the Pere of Olodiama Kingdom, because those statements have brought to the limelight the injustice, marginalization and oppression the Ijaws of Edo State have suffered over the years in the hands of successive Government of Edo State and the Bini Monarch.

As a matter of principle, we desire to live and co-exist with our neighbors peacefully based on love and mutual respect for one another.

However, in Edo State we the Ijaws have been balkanized into three (3) Local Government Areas with the intention of making us politically irrelevant as we find ourselves as insignificant minorities in each of the three (3) Local Government Areas namely; Ovia South West, Ovia North East and Ikpoba Okha Local Government Areas into which we have been balkanized.

Beyond that, we have been derogatorily and variously referred to as migrants, settlers, strangers and tenants in our God given ancestral lands.

Attempts are being made to deny and deprived us of our inalienable right to choose and install our traditional rulers in our ancestral lands.

Successive Governments acting on the prompting of the Bini Traditional Council have deliberately denied the Ijaw kingdoms in Edo State their right to development.

We are therefore not surprised that Barr. Osarodion Ogie the current Secretary to the Edo State Government became the mouth piece of the Bini Traditional Council on the issue of the Coronation of the Pere of Olodiama Kingdom.

OUR POSITION:

The position of the five IJAW kingdoms of Edo State is as follows-:

1. We have been living in our ancestral lands centuries before the amalgamation of Northern and Southern Nigeria in 1914. We are the aborigines of Edo State; we are no slaves to anyone; we not migrants neither are we settlers nor tenants to anybody. WE LIVE ON OUR ANCESTRAL AND GOD GIVEN LAND.

2. We are linguistically, culturally and geographical distinct from the Binis. We have our own traditional rulers to whom we owe allegiance and loyalty. Our communities and kingdoms had no links whatsoever to the Benin Kingdom until recently.

OUR DEMANDS

1. We demand for the Edo State Government recognition of the traditional institutions of the Five IJAW kingdoms of Edo State such that the traditional rulers be recognized and given staff of office.

2. We demand in the interim for the immediate creation of three (3) Community Development Areas respectively as it is in Lagos and Bayelsa States.
3. We demand that these three community Development Areas once created should be made a house of Assembly Constituency in Edo State.

4. We demand for the creation of a separate Local Government Council Area and amalgamation of all the five IJAW kingdoms to be administered by the Local Government Area instead of the present three Local Government Areas into which they have been balkanized. After all, these kingdoms are all contiguous one to another especially by river transportation.

These demands are in line with the Federal Government Constituent Assembly report of 1988-1989, vol 2 page 492, where it was recommended that the Ijaw people in Ovia Local Government Area deserve a Local Government Area based on the criteria of (I) Riverine location (ii) Inaccessibility (iii) Not truly assimilated by the Bini (iv) Denied development ( inland based government) (v) Very rich in natural resources (vi) High Population.

The issue of non assimilation which was identified in the Constituent Assembly report of 1988-1989 is still the same reoccurring factor responsible for the friction between the Ijaws of Edo State and the Binis up till now and the only solution still remains the creation of separate administrative units for the Ijaws of Edo State.

We are Ijaw people and we detest and firmly reject any attempt by the Oba of Benin to appoint and / or impose persons with alien or strange tittles such as Odionwere, Enogie and Okao etcetera, as representatives of the Oba of Benin in our communities.

The Oba of Benin cannot appoint any person to represent his interest and the Bini Traditional institutions in any of the Five IJAW Kingdoms in Edo State.

We must put on record that the Ijaw nation has hierarchy in leadership. Therefore, we are surprised that your Excellency decided to invite your political appointees as representing the Ijaws of Edo State in a matter as serious as this.
For the avoidance of doubt, the Ijaw National Congress and IJAW Council of Traditional Rulers, Chiefs and Elders are the highest level of leadership and Youth Council as the youth mouth piece.

Be that as it may, we the Ijaws of Edo State are law abiding citizens and will continue to maintain that status.

Long live the Ijaws of Edo State
Long live the Ijaw Nation
Long live Edo State

Signed:

Rev. Prof. C.A. Dime
Mr. Edmund Doyah-Tiemo
Rev. Dr. (Col.Rtd) Joel G. Jibor
Chief Macaulay Ayiwe
Hon. Godwin Wuluku
Chief Sunny Ajele
Hon. A. P. Ebello
Chief Gaius Uruopa
Barr. Chief Robinson Esite
Chief Robinson Ogunkoru
Engr. Pius Donyegha
Hon. Engr. Donben Donyegha
Dcn Ebifagha Kiyah

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Replies to This Discussion

Osaretin Godfrey Irorere Can d whole world see the Ijaws who didn't allow the Isoko in Bayelsa to appoint Ovie as their traditional head because Ovie means a king because d Isoko people were tenants in Bayelsa now want to appoint a king in Bini kingdom. What you don't want others to do to you,don't do it to others too ,I expect their Ijaw brothers in Bayelsa to call their brothers in Bini kingdom to order before they use their hands to dig their graves and before they enter into a fight that will extinct them from Bini kingdom. I want any Ijaws from Bayelsa to deny my claims against them.

Brisbourne Iyamu It was not until the 15th century during the reign of Oba Ewuare the Great that the kingdom's administrative centre, the city Ubinu, began to be known as Benin City by the Portuguese, later be adopted by the locals as well. Before then, due to the pronounced ethnic diversity at the kingdom's headquarters during the 15th century from the successes of Oba Ewuare, the earlier name ('Ubinu') by a tribe of the Edos was colloquially spoken as "Bini" by the mix of Itsekhiri, Esan, Ika, Ijaw Edo, Urhobo living together in the royal administrative centre of the kingdom. The Portuguese would write this down as Benin City. Though, farther Edo clans, such as the Itsekiris and the Urhobos still referred to the city as Ubini up till the late 19th century, as evidence implies. The Ijaws have no claim over any portion of land in Benin Kingdom.

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