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AN OPEN LETTER TO NIGER DELTANS RE: THE NEED TO UNITE WITH THE EAST ;Legborsi Emmanuel

AN OPEN LETTER TO NIGER DELTANS
RE: THE NEED TO UNITE WITH THE EAST
Good morning, fellow Niger Deltans, great people of inestimably valour and vision. I come to you as a brother, a son, a comrade, and a servant-leader. I am Russell Idatoru Bluejack, a native of Bonny and Nkoro, both Ijaw littoral towns in Rivers State. I am a proud Ijaw son by tribe, but my nationality, I dare say, is BIAFRA. I am a Biafran because nationality is by choice. I was born a Nigerian, like most of us, but the consciousness I have in me agrees with the nationality of my brothers and sisters in the East.
Fellow regional and would-be national compatriots, I come to you with a broken heart, cap in hand to talk to you about something very important to us as a people. I am writing you in respect of the welfare of our children and their own children. My appeal is that we pull down whatever walls that divide the Niger Delta and the East and forge ahead together as one people bound by love, solidarity, and understanding. This appeal is driven by the ominous cloud that awaits us should our eastern brothers go alone, leaving us - Orashi, Ikwerre, Ogoni, Ijaw, Urhobo, Itsekiri, Efik, Ibibio, Annioma in Rivers, Akwa/Cross, Bayelsa, Delta states - as potential preys for sustained religio-economic and political PARASITISM. My dear brothers and sisters, what awaits us will be worse than the 1945 and 1966 pogrom.
Beloved, I know some of our people here feel our eastern relatives hurt us in the past and as such committed unforgivable sin. Well, we are mortals, and we must note that a very significant attribute of our mortality is IMPERFECTION. As humans, we become truly so when we err or falter. We become the spark of divinity when we forgive those that transgressed against us. You can see that I have dropped my philosophical disposition by assuming our Igbo brothers actually committed the alleged crime in the past. I believe we can forgive them and move on. In any case, have we not already forgiven them, since we intermarry, cohabit, do business together etc? All around our major South-South states are our eastern brothers and sisters. We, on our own part, freely visit Imo, Abia, Enugu, Ebonyi and Anambra. Are we not friendlier than those we call friends because of politics? I see no concrete barrier between Niger Delta and the East.
Beloved Niger Deltans, my own people, maybe we have failed to look at our brothers and sisters in the East from a crucial angle - our economy. The economy of South-South is the worst in Nigeria! Are you shocked by that fact? We have no indigenous company, our billionaires in the past are not millionaires, our employment quota system has dropped, and the natural resources in our backyards are not within our reach.
The South-East is home to the most luxuriant indigenous industries, which makes it the economic soul of Nigeria, yet it remains one of the worst economies in Nigeria. A jaunt to Aba will make tears course down your cheek. I was in Umuahia the other day. I noticed that a lot of industries had become insolvent and moribund. What about the environment? Sometimes I find it hard to believe that people live in these squalid environments in the two regions - South-East and South-South. So much for the money Nigeria makes from us!
Beloved Niger Deltans, our sister regions are the real mainstay of Nigeria. The monolithic nature of Nigeria's economy is sustained by the oil from Rivers, Delta, Cross Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Abia, Edo, Ondo, and Imo states without recompense. These mammary glands from which oil is sucked by the entire country constitute the worst developed states in Nigeria. I was in Edo and Ore (Ondo) over a year ago. I saw no difference between an abandoned village and the major towns in these oil-rich communities. We provide the natural resources, but the Igbo own the businesses in Kaduna, Kano, Lagos, Port Harcourt etc that contribute so much as tax revenue to the government. Our sister regions are on the receiving end of SUPPRESSION, OPPRESSION, ECONOMIC, POLITICAL and ENVIRONMENT UNDERMINING. Should we still bear grudges for each other?
Beloved Niger Deltans, let me make it clear to you all that the malice shown by some of us to the agitation for Biafra Republic is most gratuitous. We must realize that politics in Nigeria is behind the environmental degradation of our regions. Our Ijaw Youth Congress (IYC) and Ijaw National Congress (INC) that were supposed to give voice to our people have become political appendages. What this means is that these supposed tribal associations are not spared by our retrogressive politics. The governors in our states, driven by selfish gains, have become the extended arms of our external oppressors. Yes, our politicians are in cahoots with our economic plunderers - the reason they check the activities of the IYC today. This is the kind of egregious damage selfish politicking has done to our region. Is it not clear that the Igbo are our best partners?
Dear brothers and sisters, we have become the region with the most restive youths. Who should we blame for the brigandage and arson that have become second nature to our region? The politicians, of course! They allow the structure of Nigeria to impoverish our youths by denying us jobs, making us susceptible to potential use for devious purposes. Yes, our youths become veritable tools for political violence during elections, an act that snowballs into cult clashes with their concomitant loss of lives. Crime has become the order of the day in the South-South, with the politicians aiding and abetting same. As a tutor from this region, I can boldly say that the youths in the South-South are hardly inspired to acquire transformative education. I have taught more Igbo than my own people. This is shameful indeed! How many first class products do we have today? What serious plans to our governments have for the education of our people other than awarding contracts for school buildings from which they share in the kickbacks? Is this a problem caused by the Igbo, too? Do we even know whom to hate? Do we?
It is an indubitable fact that politics has bred more criminals in Niger Delta. It means our real problem is politics, for it has made us cower to the dictates of those who contribute nothing to the State. The calibre of persons that tend to our government houses in Niger Delta are inordinately desperate to remain in power. Rivers State, for instance, has always had governors who always run to the Emirates and Sultanate to submerge us more in their bid to remain politically relevant. I was one of those who fought Amaechi with the strokes of my pen, but I can see that the difference between Amaechi and Wike is just a matter of name, not political mien, since Rivers State is now an annex to the Sultanate. Elsewhere in Edo, the incumbent governor said Edo people should marry more Muslims so that killings by Fulani herdsmen will cease. You can see the kind of political administrators we have in Niger Delta. Are the Igbo still our problem? I think working with our Igbo family is the solution, because the politicians are leading us astray. We must take bold decisions today.
My dear Niger Deltans, the time has come to look away from politics. We, the youths that are the real victims, must decide today to say no to bad elders and political administrators. Today that both the politicians and self-acclaimed activists are clutching onto RESTRUCTURING, we must be wise to see beyond the mist. Their fear for BIAFRA is enough to make us embrace our brothers in the East. Take a critical look at those against the agitation and see that they are the ones behind our problems. Yes, the bad elders and corrupt politicians are the ones against Biafra. Some of them have said we should work for the birth of Niger Delta, even though they are aware that Biafra Republic will be a conglomerate of NATIONS BASED ON ETHNICITY. Yes, when I spoke with Mazi Nnamdi Kanu in Afaraukwu, Umuahia, he told me that every ethnic group in Biafra will be POLITICALLY and ECONOMICALLY AUTONOMOUS. Is that not what we all want, my dear compatriots? Why are they lying to us that we can achieve a Niger Delta Republic in even 100 years? And why do we always take the bait? Restructuring will never be total. Take note that all the commissions, since 1946 (Phillipson, Binns, Raisman, Okigbo, Hick, Dina, Aboyade etc) were failed attempts to restructure Nigeria. As a matter of fact, our bid to make President Obasanjo's 1999 Review Committee increase our revenue allocation percentage was denied and in its stead, the same administration obtained a landmark Supreme Court judgement in 2002 that dispossessed us of proceeds from the continental shelf. Politics just keeps sapping us dry.
My fellow Niger Deltans, let us escape with the East. We are brothers. Let us forgive each other for past mistakes. Let us sit together and non-violently change our sister regions for good. The truth is, even in the South-South there is division. The upland-riverine dichotomy exists between our Ikwerre and Ijaw brothers in Rivers State. We need to overcome all the intra- and and inter-regional barriers. Let us drop our ego and overborne malice and unite with our eastern brothers. We should note that the National Coordinator of IPOB is from Ijaw, Kalabari to be precise. I pray we harmonize our differences and escape together. The politicians don't have our interest at heart. They have failed us. Let us critically reexamine the clamour for Niger Delta Republic and see that if we let our eastern brothers and sisters go, we will never be free, for we are the FATTENED COW that SUCKLES the North. Do you think they will ever let us go? Ask yourselves why they are the ones reminding us how "badly" we were treated by our eastern brothers. Can't we see that they want us to stay? Do you know why our governors are fighting against BIAFRA? It is because it will terminate their reign.
Dear beloved, today, there is huge military presence in Rivers State, the same that was not handy while the beheading in Ogoni, Ahoada, and ONELGA held sway. Do you know why? Do you know why the same military that terrorized Rivers State during the elections is now friends with the government? You should know that we have the most desperate and selfish politicians in Niger Delta. They are ready to do anything to remain in power. Dear brothers and sisters, the time to escape is now. Mazi Nnamdi Kanu has paid the price. We have lost Saro Wiwa, Obi Wali, Adaka Boro, and even King Jaja of Opobo. Are we willing to lose more eggheads just because we want our own? Let us work with the East this time. We cannot do the same thing the same way and expect a different result. The unity of South-South and South-East is of paramount importance now. Revolution without violence is our right.
May we all sleep in Nigeria and wake up in Biafra very soon. Bari, Chukwuokikeabiama, Tamuno, Oghene, Abasi, Tamara refer to the Almighty God that watches over our sister regions. Where there is no disparity in culture and religion, there should be UNITY. God bless you all. I remain
Yours truly,
Russell Idatoru Bluejack
Rivers Team Leader, IPOB

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