EPZ: Ijaws Are Not Calling for War, Says Gbedekama
By Our Correspondent
Spokesman, Gbaramatu EPZ Major Stakeholders Community, Godspower Gbedekama has debunked media reports by the Itsekiri ethnic nationality alleging that the Ijaws were calling for war due to the botched ground breaking ceremony of the multi-billion dollar gas city project by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Speaking with journalists in Warri, Gbedekama said Ijaws were not calling for war as alleged by their Itsekiri neighbours because war does no one any good .He described the Ijaws as peace loving people who are only against being relegated in the naming of the EPZ project.
Gbedekama said the ground breaking ceremony was shelved for the sake of peace, noting that issues raised by both the Ijaws and the Itsekiris were still being discussed.
“Nobody can stop the president, if after ground breaking the project does not see the light of the day, it will not augur well and that can scare investors.
“During the Escravos Gas To Liquid (EGTL) project, the then governor of the state, Chief James Ibori set up committee for the ethnic nationalities involved to pursue their interests. That gave peace to the project, he said”
Expressing optimism that the crisis will soon be over so that the project can take off, he said taking the project out of the state will be unfair to the Ijaws.
Making reference to the re-naming of Delta Steel Company, Ovwian- Aladja and the Ogbolokposo Modern market, Gbedekama said re- naming the project to reflect all stakeholders should not be a problem
While blaming the NNPC for the current crisis, Gbedekama an Ijaw Chief, said despite their representation to the NNPC for inclusion in the naming of the project, they never got any favourable response as they were asked to direct their complaints through the Itsekiri interface committee as directed by the Delta State government.
Speaking further, the spokesman said the Ijaws were not claiming ownership of Ogigigben, but only were saying that t the project was being cited between Opuses and Ogidigben creeks both in Ijaw and Itsekiri enclaves.
“If we were invited to the stakeholders meeting in November 11,2013,why the present exclusion? Is someone somewhere pursuing an ethnic agenda?
“We are the Aborigines. In Nigeria, you do not own a land through court cases, you own a land because you are the first to get there and stay there. The Effurun people own Effurun because they were the first to get there and stayed there.
“They (Itsekiris) claim we are their tenants. How much rents have we paid to them? If they have been doing it to our forefathers, we have awakened now. When Nigerians became awakened, we drove the Europeans away because it was not their land so the Ijaws are also awakened now,” he added.
He called on the people vilifying the president to desist from such acts, saying: “The saving grace in Delta State is because the president is an Ijaw man. We do not want to do anything that will dent his image. We are enduring because what is happening is enough for anybody to fight. But we have decided not to fight so as not to disturb Mr. President. If they are saying that we are agitating because the president is an Ijaw man, are they also killing themselves in Ugborodo because the governor is an Itsekiri man? Gbedekama queried.
He however advised the Itsekiris to give peace a chance as the project is a blessing to verybody.
“Live and lets live we are brothers and sisters,” he said.