Niger Delta Resurgency, Ijaws Declare War On Books

By Ovoko Williams

“A book must stir you up to do something. To be, we have to think.” ~ Ken Saro-Wiwa"

For decades, the Niger Delta has been engaged in agitations over the exploitation and neglect of the region by the Federal Government of Nigeria. The region is responsible for over 90% of the revenue that accrues to the Nigerian State.

Isaac Boro, an Ijaw Nationalist is a forerunner of the Niger Delta struggle. Being a man of conviction, youthful passion and exuberance, he led the region into an historic declaration of the Niger Delta Republic characterized by arms bearing which has since defined the Niger Delta struggle.

But things are changing in the Niger Delta, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, an Ijaw man became President of Nigeria and the zone was pacified.

The former President who launched a National bring back the books campaign and oversaw a Niger Delta amnesty programme that witnessed a lot of emphasis on education and training seems to have set an agenda for his people unsuspectingly.

Mr. Udengs Eradiri, the President of the Ijaw Youth Council who was preceded by the fiery Asari Dokubo and Kaima declaration signatory, Mr. Felix Tuodolo has taken up the charge and has decided to declare a war on books in an attempt to change the course of the struggle in changing times.

What is not lost upon him is the simple quote ‘Knowledge is Power’ and Mr. Eradiri has taken this message to the Niger Delta youths as the new alternative to violence, arms bearing and insurgency.

Eradiri’s IYC has sent a strong message to impress this philosophy with the launch of a Library and Information Communication Technology (ICT) Centre at the Ijaw House in Yenagoa, Bayelsa state. He said ‘First of all, they must be educated’ and added that the initiative was set up ‘to create an environment to develop young people’, he said the motives of ‘a library and an ICT centre’ is primarily ‘to change the perception of our young people’ while it o provide costless means of studying and quality research through internet-linked laptops and computers.

Mr. Eradiri, said that the center will be used as a resource and also a training hub for youths while noting that it shall develop programmes and ‘enter into agreements to encourage learning among the youths’.

Mr. Eradiri’s IYC has entered into partnership with Books to Africa, a UK based international Non-governmental organization, which donated about 1000 books that formed the first stock of the library and ICT center which has dozens of Computers. The NGO is known to give books from donors majorly in the UK to need areas in Africa.

The library was named in the honor of the late Dr. Oronto Douglas, a renowned intellectual and writer who has traversed the globe in pursuit of the Niger Delta struggle.

The Ijaw Youth Council pledged to contribute its quota to ‘ensuring that it (the forum) becomes a breeding ground for leadership.’

‘And how do you breed leaders?’ asked Eradiri who intimated the people present at the launch of the facility of the Educational Endowment which his leadership has instituted. He challenged other eminent indigenes and business interests in the Niger Delta region to contribute to the endowment funds.

Meanwhile the fortunes of Oil which the bedrock of the agitation is in steady reversal. The instruments of the impending Ijaw resurgence will be data not bazookas.