MORNING SESSION: OPENING REMARKS.
(By Prof. J.
My Name is Professor Joe Ebiware and I am the Vice President of the
INAA. Mr. Tonye Whyte (General Secretary of INAA) will be taking notes.
It is very important to take notes because of the Importance Attached
to this and the Subsequent Session on Sunday.
Our challenges are unique for many reasons and it’s not for
me to chronicle them now because I believe that we are all aware of
them. Besides, another fundamental challenge we have is how, those of
you whom we are grateful to have here today, believed to be in a
position to influence policy directly or indirectly in Ijawland, could
effectively, I repeat the word EFFECTIVELY, collaborate with Diaspora
Ijaws to make Ijawland a better place.
To be frank, those of us here in Diaspora, are quite frustrated, seeing
what is going on in most of our communities, our States back home.
That’s why, for many years, INAA has taken the initiative to
provide such a forum, not to talk of the hoops gone through to make
sure that a significant number of you from Nigeria and from the
Diaspora are here to talk.
Since becoming “Acting” and later becoming
“President” of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I
have observed the number of times our brother, our son, President
Jonathan, has used the phrase “good governance” in
speeches he has delivered at various forums.
That’s the more reason why “good
governance” in our communities, our States, should be the
mantra for people of the Niger Delta. It’s the raison
d’etre for the efforts and sacrifice by the man
we’re honoring today.
It is no coincidence that the underlying message in the presentations
we will be listening to momentarily is the need for “good
governance” and best practices to harness resources to pave
the way toward humility, integrity and accountability, the predicates
for good governance.
INAA sincerely believes that we can do it. But the
Organization is not naïve about the obstacles that litter the
path. INAA believes that we are all very serious and sincere about
making Ijawland a better place for all and not just a privileged few.
We can do it with a changed mindset. The changed mindset includes
courage, the fear of God and the noble character to tell the truth and
shun hypocrisy. Let us all try!
As you can see from the order of presentation on the program, Dr.
Obianime, INC President will be the first presenter. He will be
followed by Dr. Chris Ekiyor, IYC President, Dr. Reuben Jaja, Ijaw
Foundation, BOD President, Mr. Felix Oboro, Nigeria’s
Ambassador to Venezuela and Dr. Abio Sokari. They all have specific
time limits to make their presentations so we can effectively utilize
the three-and-one-half hour period we have for this session. I will
time them and give them a signal at the last remaining minute.
Questions/comments, from the audience will follow after all the
presentations are made. As moderator, I will exercise my prerogative to
interject or interrupt when questions or comments are a repeat of what
has been said or asked. This is for the interest of time just as the
presenters have time limits. The ultimate objective is for us to
maximize the time, be very frank with ourselves as members of one big
family, build consensus on some of the thorny issues to enable us move
forward. We may disagree without being disagreeable or
impolite. We may touch upon sensitive issues and
that’s why this session excludes the large number of
non-Ijaws whom you will see at the other events planned for the rest of
Please raise your hand to be recognized to ask a question or make a
Towards the end of the session, His Royal Majesty Charles Ayemi-Botu
who is chair of this session will make brief remarks to end this
But a couple of house-keeping information:
• We will break at 12:30 to have
lunch at the hotel cafeteria. And behind the hall, we have coffee, tea
and some snack. So, feel free to help yourself.
• We will also spend part of the
few remaining minutes to take care of some business (Presentation of
Plaque to Ebi Nanakumo)
• At 2 O’Clock, we
will gather for the SEMINAR, here in this same hall for the panel
• The MC will announce the
subsequent sessions/events as listed on the program. I now call on Dr.
Obianime, President of INC to deliver the “State of the Ijaw
Gallery - Cross Section of Attendees