Jonathan, Clark, Other Ijaw Leaders Shun First IYC Summit
…As Uduaghan Bankrolls Summit With N75m
SAN FRANCISCO, October 09, (THEWILL) - Against all expectations, the much-flaunted first Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide, Summit kicked off on Monday on a shabby note with the absence of prominent Ijaw leaders, including President Goodluck Jonathan and other stakeholders who were expected at the summit, held at PTI Conference Centre, Effurun, near Warri, the commercial nerve centre of Delta State.
Also absent at the opening ceremony of the summit was Ijaw foremost leader, Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark, who was expected as the father of the day as well as First Lady of Nigeria, Dame (Dr.) Mrs. Patience Jonathan, who was also expected at the event as Mother of the Day.
All invited Niger Delta Governors, including Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State, Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State, Liyel Imoke of Cross River State and Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, who were highly expected at the event didn't turn up except the Governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, who sent his Commissioner for Environment, Hon Frank Omare, an Ijaw son as well as his counterpart in Bayelsa State, Mr. Seriake Dickson who also sent his Commissioner for Culture and Ijaw National Affair, Dr. Felix Tuodolor, to represent him.
The Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Sir. Bassey Dan Abia, who was expected to deliver a keynote lecture on; 'Creating Opportunity through Agriculture for the Youth,' one of the major reason for the summit, as well as the Group Managing Director of NNPC, expected to present a paper on 'Providing Conductive Environment for Businesses to Thrive (Using the Export Processing Zone (EPZ) project to be sited in Ogidigben, Delta State as a case study) to enlighten the people, were conspicuously absent.
Also, all the absentee invited guests didn't send representatives or send a word as to why they couldn't make it to the epoch-making ceremony . Sources however said that the invitees may have shunned the event following fear that Ijaw youths are hot-blooded and as such, the summit would be marred with violence but the ceremony turned peaceful and orderly amid scanty presence of security personnel.
THEWILL learnt that Governor Uduaghan who hosted the event had bankrolled the summit following its high expectation with a whopping sum of N75million which sources said was only approved but yet to be released.
The theme of the summit; 'Partnering for Prosperity and Sustainable Development, ' according to the organisers, is to set a new agenda by redirecting the focus of the youths of the Niger Delta on agriculture, job creation, promoting small and medium scale enterprises (SME), empowering, educating and enlightening the young minds to take advantage of the opportunities available in the agro and allied sector to create better livelihood for themselves and the society.
Meanwhile, despite the absence of President Jonathan and other top government functionaries, achievements of the Jonathan-led Federal Government dominated the first part of the ceremony as Jonathan's kinsmen urged Nigerians particularly members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and other opposition political parties to adopt him in the 2015 presidential election.
Firs to mount the podium was the President of the foremost Ijaw youth organization, Mr Udengs Eradiri, who said that it would be hard to unseat Jonathan as incumbent saying that what Jonathan has done so far would help his retention of the seat couple with his incumbency power.
'In 2015, there is no other candidate apart from Goodluck Jonathan. That is why all the opposition political parties must adopt him. They should stop wasting money and resources. In the world over, it is difficult to unseat an incumbent, not to talk of Nigeria where there is mago mago (cheating),'' Eradiri declared.
While welcoming guests to the occasion, Eradiri urged the Ijaw youths to ensure they increase their capacity to be able to key into new political and economic opportunities when they arise.
According to him, Ijaw people should continue to contend for political power, but first, he urged them to seek economic power which will put them in a position to negotiate for positions.
”The aim of the summit is to network and build capacity in the area of agriculture, entrepreneurial skills and job creation for the Niger Delta youth,” he said.
He declared that the Ijaw man must remain relevant in the scheme of things in the country and in states where Ijaw indigenes are found, adding that they were already consulting on candidates to support during next year's governorship polls.
Eradiri, who said the IYC was against the imposition of governorship candidate on the people, also said the council would continue to agitate for the creation of Ijaw state.
He added that IYC would network with other ethnic nationalities and politicians to achieve a successful election, urging the Ijaws to organise themselves and project one governorship candidate in Rivers State.
Eradiri also said that they were determined to ensure that an Ijawman is installed as governor of River State but lamented that too many Ijaw people, including those without economic power were already jostling for the position.
'An Ijaw man must be governor in Rivers State, but we must help ourselves. Even now, those who can't even afford the form have started jostling to be governor. It is the youths that vote and we must be relevant at all times,'' he said.
Speaking however, the host governor, Dr. Uduaghan urged the Ijaw ethnic nationality to rally round President Jonathan to secure his 2015 re-election.
Uduaghan, who spoke through his Commissioner for Environment, Omare, urged the people to get their voter card ready ahead of the general election, saying; 'Jonathan's government is the only leadership that has provided financial freedom and economic comfort hence the need to support his re-election.'
Uduaghan, who doled out the sum of N75 million to sponsor the event, however assured the participants of their safety and comfort throughout the period of the summit
The governor urged the people to support the ongoing Federal Government Export Processing Zone (EPZ) project in Ogidigben, Warri South-West Local Government in Delta, noting that it would boost employment generation.
In his remarks, the Bayelsa State Governor, Dickson, commended Uduaghan's commitment to the re-election of President Jonathan.
Dickson, who was represented by the Bayelsa Commissioner for Culture, Tuodulor, urged the Ijaws to conduct themselves in a manner that would attract other ethnic nationalities to key into the Jonathan's Transformation Agenda.
Other dignitaries who were expected but did not turn up at the event included the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Dr. Steve Oru; Minister for Youth Development, Alhaji Boni Haruna; Minister for Sports, Dr, Tamuno Danagogo; Minister for Petroleum Resources, Dr. (Mrs) Diezani Allison- Madueke, Minister for Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajia Zainab Maina; Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Hon. Kingsley Kuku; Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDG, Dr. (Mrs) Precious Gbeneol.
Other are Director General, NIMASA, Mr. Patrick Ziakede Akpobolokemi; and MD, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Sir. Bassey Dan Abia. Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, Engr. Ernest Nwapa, however sent a representative to the summit.