|2004 Boro Day Event in USA - May 22|
A MEETING OF IJAWS IN THE DIASPORA HELD AT THE HILTON HOTEL,
WOODBRIDGE, ISELIN, NEW JERSEY, USA, ON SATURDAY 24TH MAY 2003 AT THE INSTANCE
OF THE IJAW NATIONAL ALLIANCE OF THE AMERICAS DURING ITS 5TH ANNUAL BORO
Ijaws in the Diaspora under the aegis of Ijaw National Alliance in the Americas (INAA) met for two days in Woodbridge, Iselin, New Jersey, United States of America to celebrate the life of the Ijaw revolutionary and leader, Major Isaac Jasper Adaka Boro who died in May 1968 defending true federalism in Nigeria.
The occasion was also used to honour the former Nigerian ambassador
to Russia and premier Chief of the Nigerian Air Force, the late Brigadier-General
George Tamunoiyouwunam Kurubo for his distinguished service and devotion
to the fatherland. The annual service and devotion award is given by
INAA to well-deserving Ijaws who serve Nigeria and humanity and have
by that become good ambassadors of the Ijaws to the world.
Also present at the occasion were the scholar-academic Professor Peter Ekeh of the Urhobo Historical Society; the development specialist Mrs. N. Umoh of the Africa Research Center, Albany, New York and Nigeria's well known environmental and human rights lawyer and scholar, Oronto Douglas among others.
The event which included paper presentations also attracted Nigerians from other ethnic groups including the Igbo, Urhobo, Ibibio, Edo and Yoruba, among others.
Ijaws in the Diaspora were represented by the Ijaw Peoples Association of Great Britain & Ireland, Bayelsa Center (USA), Council of Ijaw Associations Abroad, Ibani Furo Awo (USA), Ijaw American Caucus of Minneapolis (USA), Ijaw International Alliance (Dallas, Texas, USA), Ijaws of Northern California (USA), Izon Association of Southern California (USA), Ijaw United Fund (Texas, USA), and Izon Ebi Association (Washington, DC, USA).
The Conference resolved as follows:
1. The Ijaws in the diaspora have agreed to develop a framework that will help to represent and re-articulate the position of the Ijaw people for peaceful coexistence, democracy and good governance. The conference therefore resolved to work towards a broader framework of joint action with all our people in the United States and elsewhere in the world.
2. The conference agreed to establish an Ijaw Resource Center in USA, to serve as an Information Bank. Conference noted the deliberate misinformation, demonization and victimization of the Ijaw people in Nigeria. The use of a section of the press to instigate a large-scale military occupation of our homeland was noted. Conference appealed to the press (the Ijaws have no national newspaper of their own) not to advance ethnic prejudice in its presentation of issues but to work for a united people in a united country and for peace in Africa and the rest of the world. The Ijaw Washington Center will also help to build inter-ethnic and inter-regional relationships between the various peoples of the Niger Delta and Nigerians and the rest of humanity.
3. Conference called for the implementation of True Federalism in the Nigerian polity. The present representation of the Ijaws in the Nigerian political structure is oppressive. Conference therefore demanded better and equitable representation of the Ijaws and other ethnic groups similarly affected in the Nigeria project, saying that the balkanization of our people into pockets of oppressive states and local governments is not in the interest of the Ijaws and Nigeria. In this regard, THE IJAWS IN THE DIASPORA call for the immediate convocation of A SOVEREIGN NATIONAL CONFERENCE to be represented by all Ethnic Nationalities in Nigeria to restructure the country as a TRUE FEDERATION that guarantees self-determination, fairness and equity to every ethnic nationality, and to entrench an inviolable democracy.
4. The fragmentation and subjugation of the Ijaws, one of the four most populous ethnic groups in Nigeria, in different States must be redressed by the creation of two (2) more States for the Ijaws: one State for the Ijaws east of Bayelsa State and another for the Ijaws west of Bayelsa State. If the Yorubas have six (6) States and the Igbos have five (5) States, the Ijaws deserve at least three (3) States based on population size, territorial size and geographical peculiarities.
5. Conference endorsed the Kaiama Declaration and urged the Nigerian State to embrace dialogue on the issues raised in that historic document.
6. Conference resolved to encourage good governance in Ijawland and as a first point of action, conference resolved to track all Ijaw resources from the local governments through the States to the Federal level. To this end, local, states and federal leaders who are confirmed to have illegally siphoned resources belonging to the Ijaws and other ethnic nationalities to offshore and other locations will be made to account.
7. The need for the Ijaws and her neighbors to live in harmony was discussed and it was resolved that a meeting of representatives of people from all the ethnic groups from the Niger Delta who are resident in the United States be convened as soon as consultations with the groups are concluded. It is the view of the Conference that such a pan-Niger Delta conference take place in Washington DC, the nations capital and that representation be equal irrespective of population. Conference proposed representation to be between 5 and 10 persons per each ethnic nationality of the Niger Delta.
8. Conference noted the role and importance of oil in current world discourse but urged that oil should not take the place of livelihood, human security and peaceful co-existence. Conference therefore urged the United States and the international community to work with the Ijaws and other nations in the Niger Delta who are genuinely interested in peace, good governance and regional stability.
9. THE IJAWS IN THE DIASPORA strongly condemn the unrelenting and ruthless oppression of the fourteen (14) million peace-loving IJAW PEOPLE of the Niger Delta by the Nigerian Federation and urge the Nigerian government to seriously and sincerely engage the Ijaws in dialogue to achieve a peaceful resolution of the IJAW QUESTION.
GOD BLESS THE IJAW NATION AND THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA.
Dr. Ebipamone Nanakumo
Dr. Matthew Sikpi
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