Ibani Furo Awo
2003 Boro Day
Nigeian Elections 2003



  Click here for highlights of the 2009 "Boro Day" Event in USA, held on May 30th at the Sheraton Newark Airport Hotel !!!

WELCOME ADDRESS: Presented by Dr. Matthew O. Sikpi at the 2003 “BORO DAY OBSERVANCE” & 5th Annual INAA “Service & Devotion Award”.

The keynote speaker Professor Ebiegberi Alagoa, Ambassador Mrs. Kurubo; distinguished panelists- Professor Peter Ekeh, Attorney Oronto Douglas, and Mrs. Umoh; the delegates of the Ijaw organizations represented here; and distinguished ladies and gentlemen.

On behalf of the Ijaw National Alliance of the Americas (INAA), I welcome you all tonight, to the “2003 BORO DAY OBDERVANCE” and the 5th Annual INAA Service and Devotion Award Ceremonies. On this occasion, we honor and celebrate the lives of two illustrious Ijaw sons- Isaac Jasper Adaka Boro and Brigadier-General George Kurubo.

Isaac Adaka Boro died about 35 years ago, but remains, arguably, the icon of the struggles and yearnings of the people of the Niger Delta for fair and just treatment by the Nigerian Government.

In 1966, Isaac Adaka Boro, a young Chemistry graduate of the University of Nsukka, carried out a revolution in Nigeria so that all Nigerians, irrespective of their ethnic origin, are treated fairly and has the opportunity to succeed in life. In his quest for justice and fairness, Adaka Boro confronted the then Government of Nigeria to change the inequities and injustices in the treatment of its own citizens in the Niger delta. Isaac Boro risked his life to challenge the government so that all Nigerians, including those of minority tribes, are treated justly and fairly.

Isaac Boro’s revolution, arguably, resulted in the creation of states, and subsequently greater autonomy and self-determination, for the people of the Niger Delta. I must say that, many of us
here, including myself, benefited one way or the other from the actions of this man in 1966.

Every year, from May 16 to May 23, Ijaws and others in Nigeria and abroad who cherish the tenets of justice, celebrate the life and legacy of Isaac Adaka Boro. Today, we, like thousands last week, observe “Boro day” that is dedicated to honor this courageous and visionary son of the Niger Delta.

On this occasion, we shall also present the 5th Annual INAA Service & Devotion Award, which recognizes individuals and/or groups that have made personal and selfless sacrifices to advance the Ijaw people. Past honorees of this Award include Isaac Adaka Boro; Chief Dappa-Biriye, a pioneer in the struggle for self governance in the Niger Delta; and Chief Alfred Diete-Spiff, the first governor of Rivers State. Today, INAA presents this prestigious award to another Ijaw son Brigadier-General George Kurubo. Since a significant portion of this occasion shall be devoted to the Award presentation, I shall not comment any further on General Kurubo.

The “Boro-Day Celebration” and the “Annual Service and Devotion Award” are very important components of INAA’s strategic plan. The organization celebrates the life of Adaka Boro and other Ijaw sons like George Kurubo, so that their contributions to Ijaw land and the Niger Delta are not forgotten. But more importantly, the organization uses this occasion to bring together people of the Niger Delta, particularly Ijaws, to reflect on Boro’s vision for the people of the

Niger Delta, to reckon our progress and shortfalls, and to plan for the future. To this end, INAA sponsors a conference, amongst other activities, during the celebration each year. As indicated in the program, a symposium entitled “The Ijaw, the Niger Delta, the Nigerian 3rd Republic”, follows after my presentation.

My fellow Ijaws and Nigerians, more than thirty-five years after Isaac Adaka Boro’s efforts, the problems in the Niger Delta and in the Nigerian system that led to his actions have been solved. Unfortunately, they still linger. Obviously, the political landscape has changed since Boro’s revolution. Today, we have several states in the Niger Delta. However, the Federal and State governments have failed to address the fundamental issues that caused the revolution. In fact, in many areas, the situation has worsened.

In the Niger Delta, environmental degradation has worsened as a result of increased oil exploration and exploitation by the Cheveron, Texaco, Exxon-Mobil, and other multinational
Companies. Our lands are barren and our rivers devoid of fish because of continued pollution. For a people whose primary occupations are farming and fishing, the major source of livelihood for the people of the Niger Delta is almost completely destroyed. Without any research to determine the health and other effects, either directly or indirectly from the pollution, only God knows how the activities of these oil companies have affected the lives of our people.

Further, the cornerstone of Boro’s revolution for a greater control of the resources from their land by the people of the Niger Delta remains unfulfilled. Thus, the main resource- crude oil- that God has endowed on Ijaw land and the rest of the Niger Delta is controlled by the central government. And while the Niger Delta wallows in poverty, the enormous wealth derived from the area is used to develop other parts of the country.

The present conditions in Ijaw land and the rest of the Niger Delta, and in Nigeria for that matter, are not acceptable. The Niger Delta and other regions of Nigeria must have the freedom to determine their future without interference from the Nigeria government. The Boro’s and SaroWiwa’s are gone. And others like Chief E. K. Clark’s, Chief Dappa-Biriye and Senator David Dafinone, who are leaders in the struggle for fairness and justice for the people of the
Niger Delta, are getting old and getting weaker by the day. It’s now our turn to take the mantle and continue to advocate for changes that will make life better for the Ijaw and other Nigerians. That much, we owe to our children and grandchildren.

My fellow comrades in the Diaspora, INAA do not have the recipe or the magic wand to solve all of our problems. However, as we face the challenges now and in the future, we must be united in our efforts to help in the development of Ijaw land and the Niger Delta. As the saying goes, “United we stand, divided we fall”. To my brothers and sisters who are here to represent the various Ijaw organizations, I must emphasize the need for unity. We must be united in our resolve to improve the conditions of our homeland even if we belong to different organizations and may differ in our approach to achieving our goal to help improve Ijaw land and the Niger Delta. Organizations such as the Ijaw National Congress must work more closely with other organizations in Nigeria and those in the Diaspora. We must coordinate our activities and be more focused in our efforts. I believe that the meeting of all Ijaws held earlier today, is a step in the right direction. But let it be the beginning of stronger ties amongst Ijaw organizations in the Diaspora and between organizations in Nigeria and those of us in the Diaspora.

As the Ijaw National Alliance of the Americas honors Isaac Adaka Boro and George Kurubo, the organization would also like to pay tribute to Chief Harold Dappa-Biriye, Ken SaroWiwa, Chief Edwin Clark, Senator David Dafinone, and all those who have fought or are still fighting to defend fairness, justice and equity. INAA as well as people around the world cherish their efforts
because ideals like service, devotion, justice and equality are fundamental to human existence. Their steadfastness stimulates us all. Indeed, the Ijaw needs the stimulation to move beyond the present.

In conclusion, I would like to thank you all, once again, for making out the time to come out today to celebrate with the INAA family. Some of you came from as far as Nigeria and England. We are truly grateful.

God Bless the people of the Niger Delta. God Bless Nigeria. God Bless the United States of America.

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