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National Confab: Why Oil Rivers State Must Be Created

OIL RIVERSA memorandum has been prepared and from all indications it will be sent to the National Conference during its sitting. The memorandum contained reasons why Oil Rivers State must be created. The proposed state has its capital at Isaka or Bakana or Degema.

The 44 page memorandum which was jointly signed by some prominent leaders of thought from the core Ijaw ethnic nationality gave the motto of the proposed Oil Rivers State as “Justice, Unity and Progress”.

The estimated population of the proposed state is 2, 344, 945. The following Local Government Areas will form the proposed Oil Rivers State namely: Abua/Odual, Ahoada West (Egenni), Akuku-Toru, Andoni, Asari-Toru, Bonny, Degema, Ogu/Bolo, and Port Harcourt South which include: Borikiri, Abuloma, Amadi-Ama, Ozoboko, Ukukalama, Okuru-Ama, Azuabie, Fiemie-Ama, Port Harcourt Township, UTC-Old GRA, Abonnema Wharf Areas etc.

They recalled that the creation of Oil Rivers State has been recurrent for decades and is made on the grounds of equity and justice.

According to them the people in the proposed Oil Rivers State regard the failure of the past administrations to create the proposed state as not only leading to inequity and social injustice but also retarding the promotion of national unity and integrity of the Niger Delta people, “this is the time to redress these abnormalities”.

They tied their demand for the creation of the proposed state for political unification and self-determination of the Ijaws within the existing federal structure.

The memorandum recalled that, the creation of Rivers State on May 27, 1967 was not in response to the yearning and aspirations of the Oil Rivers people, rather it was to meet the exigencies of the Biafran challenge, adding that “not only did the configuration of the state fall far short of the desires of the Oil Rivers people, it further exacerbated the misgiving and frustration of the people.”

“Beginning from the three to four regional structures in 1963 when the Midwest region was created, to twelve states structure to nineteen, twenty-one and to the present thirty-six, every available opportunity has been used to demand for the Oil Rivers State. The demand became more strident and wide spread beginning from the entire nationality started putting its act together at a national convention in Patani in November 1991” the memorandum reads in part.

They declared that common knowledge shows that a meaningful solution to the Niger Delta crisis lies in the political option, not infrastructure development. The creation of Oil Rivers State, they expressed optimism would provide the missing link in the quest for peace, tranquility and stability in the Niger Delta geo-political region.

The State agitators said that the Niger Delta environment is the most degraded in the world, stating that, “the critical issue in the Niger Delta is therefore survival. A state of our own will provide ample opportunities for us to give the needed attention to issues of proper auditing and regenerating the environment.”

They argued that the Ijaws who constituted the fourth largest ethnic nationality in Nigeria have only one homogenous state, Bayelsa that has less than one third of the Ijaw population, lamenting that since states constitute the federating units and basis for representation, at the federal, executive and legislative arms of government, the Ijaws are perpetually under represented.

Creating additional state like Oil Rivers State will go along way in redressing the issue of under-representing”.

“Despite the immense contributions of the Ijaws to national growth and development, there is virtually no federal presence in the entire length and breadth of the Ijaw country, no roads, no electricity, no pipe borne water, no hospitals, no telecommunications, not a single tertiary institution, indeed nothing. The proposed Oil Rivers State will redress this unacceptable neglect and injustice”, they asserted.

They further postulated that the proposed Oil Rivers State is well endowed to generate substantive internal revenue to meet her developmental programmes, nothing that, “in addition, amongst the approximately 2.34m people of the proposed state are numerous seasoned technocrats, professionals, experts in various fields who have served Rivers State and Nigeria in diverse capacities. They are willing and ready to contribute to the administrative development of the new state.”

“We therefore, call for the creation of Oil Rivers State as a strategic approach to the final resolution of the Niger Delta crisis by the amendment of the first Schedule, Part 1 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by adding Oil Rivers State,” the state agitators concluded.  ###

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