BESIDE the discovery of crude oil and gas at Otabagi-Oloibiri in 1956 that put the Ijaw Nation on the world map even though there is no significant impacts from the oil in our area, and the excellent and very brilliant performance of High Chief Harold Dappa-Biriye during the 1957 and 1959 pre-Independence London Conferences that led to the designation of the Ijaw Nation as the fourth largest ethnic group in Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is the next that put the Ijaw Nation on the world map.
At the beginning, God created everything in twos: male and female. Every coin has two sides. We have light and darkness, good and bad, justice and injustice, truth and lie (falsehood), success and failure, advantage and disadvantage. We can go on and on. Thus in talking about the person and personality of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, we should be magnanimous and gracious enough to remember his good deeds to our people.
Again, we should be truthful and conscious that we mismanaged our golden opportunities otherwise, the Ijaw Nation would have experienced tremendous, unprecedented growth and development in all areas. Haven appropriated our lands through the obnoxious, infamous and inglorious “LAND USE DECREE” by General Obasanjo then as a Military Head of State, Chief Obasanjo wanted to correct that ill by all means through different and several means. Some of the means cannot be printed. He really wanted to change the ugly story of the Ijaw Nation. It was for this singular reason he even picked an Ijaw son to run as the Vice Presidential running mate to Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
It is the emergence of President Goodluck Jonathan that publicized and concretized our presence on the world scene and map. Our culture was not left out. Today, all over the world, people now know our beautiful mood and way of dressing especially our traditional Hat.
Few years back, some federal government jobs and appointments were very far from our people but today, we have our people in most places. Hundreds and Thousands of our people especially our great Youths have benefitted from the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP). We have our outstanding Youths who are flying aeroplanes as Commercial Pilots. We have Medical Doctors, Engineers and other Professionals courtesy of PAP.
Today, Ijaws have gotten some Political Space in the Nigerian State even though we are still demanding for more. What we need most now is Economic Space, which we shall surely get.
Those unrepentant critics of Obasanjo do not actually know the value of Obasanjo. Without Obasanjo, our brothers from the north would have overrun the entire South especially the Niger Delta. Obasanjo is a master of the northern politics and he always knows how to handle them. When they look south ward, it is Obasanjo they see and his presence has kept them under a great check. Today, Obasanjo has built another strong pillar in the person of former President Goodluck Jonathan. No matter our seeming grouse with Jonathan, we now have an eye and a voice at the national level. We have one hero who have seen and also known the hidden secrets of this great country. We now have someone who now sits with the other Wisemen in the National Council of State Meeting to decide and also determine the fate and destiny of this great country.
Let our great people look beyond the mistakes of Obasanjo and let us appreciate his genuine love, benevolence and goodwill towards us. If it is possible, let us build him a house here in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State the traditional headquarters and Jerusalem of the Ijaw Nation. We worry each Gov. Henry Dickson Seriake travel to Ijeobu-Ode which he claims as his second home, we should be happy that Obasanjo now sees Bayelsa State as his Second home. It is indeed a great blessing and a rare privilege that out of the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja he now frequents Bayelsa State. I am very optimistic that his presence will definitely bring something positive. There is no doubt they are working out something beneficial for our people.
May Almighty God continue to bless, prosper, guard, guide and protect our Leaders so that they may serve us aright and may they give young people opportunity to also grow in politics the way they were also given by others.