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THE SOLILOQUIES OF THE ELDERSTATESMAN.
I have before now been indifferent to the ongoing tribal but verbal hostilities between my people and the Ijaws. The little contributions I have made on the matter have been at most passive interjections here and there. This is largely because not only have I many cherished friends from Ijawland but I know as a fact that many Ijaws of today are unequivocally of Benin descents. The Engenis,The Akugenes,the Degemas,the Ogobiris,the Kiagbodos,the Ogbias and many of the Kalabari sub-tribes. Of their origins Isaac Obasogie wrote;
"...There is no single written record or traditional and historical knowledge which tells of the history of any contiguous area in the reverine or coastal region now occupied by the IJAWS,their migration stream went into the creeks and riverine/land areas and untimately founded a settlement after the initial migration from Benin kingdom.The whole area was under the direct control and within the suzerianty of the Oba of Benin whose empire extended over the whole bight of Benin to Eko(Lagos) Dahomey now republic of benin.
The IJAWS rulership normally in the 13th-14th century received their symbol and insignia of office as PERE'S from the OBA of BENIN KINGDOM.
In support of these my unique painstaking research and visitation.the IJAWS migrated from Benin kingdom and their descendants from Benin.
The present Pere ,HIS Highness P.O Kalanama vll of Akugbene in his welcome address on 17th march,1982 to Omo 'N' Oba uku AKPOLOKPOLO Oba Erediauwa of blessed memory, The Pere said that the Origin of the Kalanama Pereship (Kingship) could be trace to Benin in brief,he said Kalanama migrated from Ogobiri where he had lived with his father,Mein and founded Akugbene along the Forcados river..."
This is further collaborated by
Mr. D.B. Partridge’s reports who wrote as follows in paragraph 18 of his colonial report;
"...18. This theory of an eastern origin for the western Ijaw conflicts, however with other versions of history which trace the origin of western Ijaw people, or certainly of some of their components clans, to Benin. These accounts are found mainly in the government assessment reports of the 1930’s. for example, S.E Johnson in his intelligence report on the Gbaramatu clan wrote:” it is thought that Kabowe, Kumbowe and Gbara peoples are all full brothers and use the same juju which originated in Benin” thus implying that the common stock’ of the Ijaw is Benin. Another pointer in the same direction is given by fellows in his intelligence report on the Benin (Ibeni) clan, where he records: “A man called Ijaw lived at Benin a very long time ago. As there were many wars at that time he left Benin and came down to abo on the Niger”. And yet another pointer in the same direction is given by Main in his intelligence report on the main clan where he says that the original fetish of the Mein clan was “an ivory elephant tusk” brought “from Benin by Mein” who must have migrated through Aboh. In the same report, Main develops the theory of a Benin origin when referring to the Mein clans, must have come from Benin and that his grandchildren, beginning with one Kalanama, went to Benin to obtain their insignia of office as Peres..."
I am provoked to write this because of the effrontery and false claims of Ijaws across the Niger Delta Creeks. They have openly threatened war on the Benin/Edo people boasting that they will overrun Benin if Gelegele is not designated as an Independent Ijaw Kingdom inside Benin Kingdom. This is very laughable. Would the Ijaws have been so bold to make such a threat before the advent of colonialism? It is the wall that fell that makes the goat walk over it.
WHAT IS BENIN RELATIONSHIP WITH THE IJAWS IN HISTORY.
As adverted above,some of these Ijaws have pure Edo blood. The rest are clearly descendants of Benin slaves. Have you ever wondered why you only find Ijaws along Benin creeks. I say Benin creeks because,Ondo,Delta,Bayelsa,Lagos,Rivers were described in documented European records as lands that once belong to the great Benin empire. This is where you find Ijaws today. In those days,Benin empire gives the most humiliating jobs to the lowest of the lowest servants and some of those jobs included; tending to riverine commerce,espying strangers incursion through Benin waterways,acting as guides to visitors coming in and from the empire,providing fish and scouting for cowries for the Edos and packing and shipping faeces( shit) of nobles and kings and disposing them into the rivers as food for fishes( Agbekpos we call them).These are the main duties of the Ijaws in the old Benin empire and history has it that,it was Ogiso Owodo,the father of Oduduwa that gave many of them freedom and allowed them to build makeshift settlements along the creeks their duty posts. The point here is very clear,the creeks might be important today as a result of the discovery of oil but in those days,the creeks and swamps( current homeland of all Ijaws) are the worst kind of settlement. It is where people without base or land squat. This is why the Ijaws have no land of their own. They are scattered along the creeks of people who were once part of a larger Benin empire. They call themselves aborigines of Niger Delta. What an irony. How can aborigines occupy the worst part of an area and those that are not aborigines are living in the best part of those areas. Remove oil from those creeks and nobody will buy 1000 hectares for N5000. Let me reproduce an excerpt of a treatise by Okoligie Akens here for better elucidation on their criminal travesty.
THE IJAW QUESTION.
How come the best part of Edo was occupied by the Edos yet the Ijaws are claiming aborigines?
How come they Ijaws were relegated to the creeks, the worst part of any habitat, were they less than the Royals then? Royals found other lands but the Ijaws have always been in the creeks, why?
The least any community normally settle for were farming camps, in these camps they farmed and went back home, how come the ijaws had no home but the creeks where they were asked to habit after been freed by Ogiso Owodo?
The rhetorical question now will be, why will modern day Ijaws want to claim all the places they were allowed to habit as settlers? The most recent been trying to create an argument that they were once upon a time land owners, who owned land in the medieval time but decided to Inhabit the swamp or creek?
Why are the Ijaws fighting for land in the 21st century when it was in the beginning that all land were allotted to the Royals chosen by God?
Fast-forward thousands of years and here we have the offspring’s of the divine workers tribe of Izon calling themselves freeborn, the latest is that they even attempt fighting with all and every community that ever harbored them and allowed them reside in the swap that they were the original owners of that swap, their argument has always been that they have lived in the swap for thousands of years and for that reason, they are the original owners.
Lately, the Ijaw peoples Development Initiative, IPDI has started using the word “Aborigines” In the case of Bini the natural and divine lords of the Izon clan, there is an area giving to the Hausas in Benin City, it called The Hausa Quarters, it is located in Aduwawa axis of Ikpoba-Okha LGA, are we saying 100 years from now, the Educated children of the cattle merchants of the Hausa tribe in Aduwawa will start a narrative that they are the Aborigines of that community and that the Benins meet them there?
Freedom of speech is trendy but freedom of foolishness should never be allowed to become a trend a situation where a house maid that was given a boys quarter apartment as accommodation has served his master, had children in the apartment given to him, his children grew up in that same apartment, went to school from that same apartment and because the original master that employed their father which was the landlord was dead and even the parents of the servant educated children were also dead, one day comes and tell the children of their fathers employer that the boys quarters belonged to their father will be foolishness. For a fact, the servant has been in the boy’s quarters for decades, he even married, had kids and trained them in that place, now that he is dead, does staying in that apartment make it their own?
The old saying of when you want to know a man, give him power have played out, some Ijaws (izon) started to flex muscles when they suddenly found out they could be pirates and saboteurs yet profit from it.
Today they are pushing all kinds of narratives, from the narrative of been the clan with the highest population in the South-South of Nigeria to the narrative of been the Aborigines of anywhere they settle. They are claiming to be the once that knows how to shot while in a speed boat most in Nigeria, they even pride themselves in better than the Nigerian Navy in the seas. They are bracing up to become bullies, they know when two people fight over a piece of land, when the third person comes, he proposes to give a part to the one crying oppression for peace to reign, modern day Ijaw workers are smart negatively.
IJAWS FALSE PERCEPTION.
Today,the Ijaws have been given a kind of prominence over other tribes in the Niger Delta by the Nigerian State controlled by the exploiters of oil from the north. They have been ascribed a population figure far above how many they really are. Their population is manipulatively put at 12-15 million while that of Edo is put at a little bellow 7 million. This figures are clearly inconsistent with commonsense and logic. In 1921,the British took a population census of the people living in Nigeria. Their record shows Edo as the fifth most populous Nation in Nigeria with a population of over 472,000 people while the Ijaws was put at 9th with a population of about 174,000 people. Common sense will show that,even if Ijaws from 1921 started having more children than Edo people,there is no way their population could overturn that of Edos who were trice their numbers in 1921. They only way it can be possible is,if it is proven that since 1921,Edo people stopped giving births and allowed Ijaws to continue to populate. This is clearly not possible because over 80% of Edo people living today were born after 1921. Another colonial census in 1931 also confirmed that Edo is trice the size of Ijaw in population.
Now let us apply logic to the situation. Bayelsa is the main state of the Ijaws and their population is less than 2000,000. Even on voters register,they are less than 800,000. Delta Ijaws is the next in population and here they have only 3 local government areas. Their population is less than 1,500,000. Rivers is next.The Ijaws in Rivers are less than 500,000. In Ondo state,they are less than 40,000 and in Lagos less than 10,000. In Edo,they have no local government areas but only 2 wards. i.e,they can only boast of 2 councillors in any political arrangement.Their population here is not up to 15,000. Now,where the heck did they get 15 million Ijaws? This is the biggest fraud in Nigeria and the Ijaws are enjoying it to the hurt of other Niger Delta tribes.
THE COLONIAL ASSESSMENT OF THE PEOPLE OF SOUTHERN NIGERIA.
If you noticed,I mentioned above that,the Ijaws prominence is not a colonial creation. It was a fraud by the Nigerian government in a bid to suppress the other more vibrant and populous tribes in the Niger Delta. I think I better post an except from the colonial record to clarify this point.
. 1. GEOGRAPHICAL AND HISTORICAL NOTE.
The Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria is situated on the northern shores of the Gulf of Guinea. It is bounded on the west and north by French territory and on the east by the former German Colony of the Cameroons. A small portion of the Cameroons (31,150 square miles) has, for purposes of administration; been placed under the Nigerian Government. It is proposed that it shall be administered by Nigeria under a mandate which will be granted to Great Britain...The population of Nigeria is approximately 16£ millions, which is larger than that of any British Dependency except India. There are about 3,000 Europeans temporarily resident in Nigeria, chiefly in the employ of the Government, and of mercantile and mining companies. The country is not suited for European settlement. Of the native inhabitants the greater number are of them are of pure negro race, but in the north there are Berber and negroid tribes. Of these,the Yorubas, Ibosand Benis are the most important, and of the latter the Fulani, the Kanuri and the Hausa-fr speaking tribes, generally called Hausas. The Yoruba occupy the* south-west corner of Nigeria and from an early date possessed an organised government. The Benis may appear comparatively small now but Benin was formerly a very powerful kingdom and its influence extended over a considerable area. The Ibos are a large unorganised tribe who occupy most of the land east of the lower Niger..."
NOTE THIS: "...Of these,the Yorubas, Ibosand Benis are the most important..."
Where were the Ijaws mentioned here as an important tribe? Nowhere! Facts are sacred moreson indubitable historical facts.
They Ijaws have threatened to fight the Edos over Gelegele and very confident that they have the wherewithal to secure victory. I want to send a clear message to them that this will be suicidal to them. They are descendants of fishermen and Agbekpos. What do they know about fight and wars. Benin people are descendants of warriors and warrior kings and this fact is not disputable. If the Nigerian government would peradventure allow us to test our strength,I can assure you we will put them squarely in their place. Like we did Tsoede of Nupe,Attah of Igala,Ogedengbe of Ijesha and the first batch of the British army in 1895, we will show them our might and seal their ogogoro- induced courage forever. They don't have the population,they don't have the acumen and they certainly do not have the spiritual and physical Arsenals to withstand Edos in an all out war. The Nigerian state may have given them a fake certificate describing them as elephants but we all know they are nothing but rats where Edos are concerned. I hope they are properly advised and apply caution. This is certainly a fight they cannot not survive.
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