[INTERVIEW] Bozimo, Ex-Police Affairs minister narrates encounter with Isaac Boro as Ijaw nation celebrates the late freedom fighter
“The struggle of the Ijaw man can never be in vain, we have gone too far, we have achieved too much for anybody to push us aside, it’s not possible anymore, that is my wish, my hope and prayer.”
Bozimo, Ex-Police Affairs minister narrates encounter with Isaac Boro as Ijaw nation celebrates the late freedom fighter
…Says Boro was extremely quiet as a student of Hussey college
It is a time-honoured agreement among well meaning Niger Deltans at both home and abroad that no individual or media organization can tell the Ijaw story or accurately report environmental, political, social, cultural and of course developmental events in the entire Niger Delta region, South- South Geo-Political Zone, Nigeria, better than GbaramatuVoice.
In keeping with this hallmark of its corporate existence, GbaramatuVoice, on Tuesday, May 16, 2023, had an exhaustive interview with prominent Ijaw leader and former Minister of Police Affairs, Alaowei Broderick Bozimo at his residence in Warri, Delta state.
The interview formed part of activities lined up by the media organization for the celebration of this year’s celebration of Adaka Isaac Jasper Boro Day, Foremost Ijaw activist, who selflessly lived between 1938-1968 and emptied his life for the emancipation of Ijaw nation and Niger Delta region by extension.
The GbaramatuVoice now serves you with the details of the encounter. You cannot afford to miss it as it is both entertaining and knowledge-filled.
GbaramatuVoice: What exactly is Boro’s day all about?
Bozimo: I think it is extremely significant, Boro’s Day is a milestone to the development of the Ijaws struggle, and I want to recall that in 1957, I was a student in Urhobo College, and Boro was a student of Hussey college, and we go to the stadium, this same Warri stadium, as we come out of the Hussey college hostel where Boro was very near where we use to go for athletics in the Warri stadium, the important thing is that I knew Boro was a young Ijaw man from the East, but we didn’t interact at such because he was extremely quiet, extremely quiet, so when I heard about the revolution I said yes, still waters quickly runs deep.
He was a young man, he wouldn’t know he had it in him. So, for me it was or it is a pleasure to have known him personally in that seventy, myself the Ekiyos, the late Ekiyos of Patani, we were all students in Warri those days, so it is a pride that we knew Boro, and even more importantly as you know the Ijaw struggle truly started in Warri.
GbaramatuVoice: What led to the struggle, what were the things that made him pick up the struggle?
Bozimo: You see in those days everybody of my age group suffered discrimination, not only Ijaws. as you know, other nationalities suffered but the Ijaws in particular when we walk around warri, as I said of earlier as students with Boro, Hussey college, Urhobo College, when we walk around in Warri there was discrimination against Ijaw people, I don’t know why, we were young but we took it in our strives, at one time in Warri they used to call me Ijaw, Ijaw look am, it was terrible as if we were lepers. I think that is where the seed was sown. You know if you are being oppressed that way you begin to wonder why are they doing this to me, I think that’s where he started truly as a young man, and of course when Boro as a young man eventually joined the police, you know I was Minister of police at that time, at that time I was in the UK I hardly come back to Nigeria, but joined the police in a chaos again they were cadet inspectors, and all that.
Some of us were asked to join the police again. my father told me that his friend, his lifelong friend, Chief Amadunu Graceful whose son later become the Assistant Inspector General of police, were all supposed to join the police, I said no way. So I took off to the United Kingdom and eventually, you know whatever you are running away from, like Jonah somehow, you will come back to the circle, so despite the fact that I run off and all that, when I settled in Warri, the struggle continues.
GbaramatuVoice: What has happened within the timeline till date?
Bozimo: Well as we all know an idea whose time and chance cannot be resisted. This whole Boro thing was there, and of course you know after a while, when he saw the discrimination, very impatient young man, but as I told you when we were in school very quiet, fair, handsome youngish body smile, but you wouldn’t know he would explode the way he did, and when he exploded it was justified and he couldn’t contain it.
So, It is the love for the Ijaw nation, you know some of us are laid back. Some of us are diplomatic, but not everybody will be diplomatic like me. Some are radicals. We had enough, enough is enough. That is the manifestation of some of the Boro ideas and the wonderful young man became a hero of Ijaw nation. Of course, after us because we were eventually, you know, “okosotu” which in Ijaw means the same age bracket.
But now, we’ve handed over to this younger people, Tompolo and all the other young people. So the struggle continues but I want to say something very important. When the Boro revolution was going on, you know a lot of people saved their skins. I wasn’t here, I don’t know whether I was here. I would have joined the struggle, but I doubt it because by my nature I’m a bit laid back.
I am not that social person, the struggle has gone intellectual and it’s digital, in those days we were writing letters, but now we are going digital. So I want to congratulate you, the Gbaramatuvoice, when you started, you remember I said ‘Ahh, this young man get courage o, to build up studio and all this, play play play e don do am, so you see , you are a huge success, young men, young ladies, so I congratulate you’, so as I said, let the struggle continue to the next level.
GbaramatuVoice: Did Boro’s struggle create a roadmap for the creation of INC and IYC for the present day Ijaw struggle?
Bozimo: Of course he did, you know before my generation, it was the older generation that I talked about like E.K Clark and Brisibe, and the great man from Patani, I have forgotten his name, but he is a great Patani for the formation of the INC which is an offshoot of the Boro ideology. In that formation, we all travelled to Lagos, and by that time, you know, the younger people were all travelling together in the formation of INC, so we went to Lagos and eventually, we started the meetings.
I remember we drove to Lagos from Warri here, Chief Brisibe, myself and E.K Clark, I was the younger person running around for them and we went there and INC idea concretized in this man’s home in Apapa, he’s late now and after that meeting there, it was there Fumudo was selected to be the pioneer president he passionately loved the Ijaw Nation, that is the criterion by which all of us supported Fumudo.
Fumudo would do anything for the Ijaw Nation and in the process he even lost his younger brother, so he eventually went to Patani and he was reinstalled as President of INC, before now was the interim one Professor Dime, who is still at the University of the Niger Delta.
So the Ijaw struggle started seriously with Boro eventually other components started coming up, INC, IYC and all of that. So now I am so happy that Ijaw presence is everywhere. Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Ondo, we are most prominent across, it doesn’t matter whether Bayelsa is the Israel of the Ijaw nation, it doesn’t matter.
The energy of the struggle started in Delta, that is why you see people like Tompolo making waves, again another young man who’s passionate about the Ijaw Nation, we know all of them, you must love the Ijaw nation. You must risk all before you can come out the way Adaka Boro, Tompolo came up.
If you are not ready to sacrifice like Christians, if you are not ready to sacrifice and follow Christ passionately, you can’t go anywhere, just like Adeboye, they keep saying it, if you want to succeed in Christianity, you must give it all effort and this is what they did and this is why some of us will continue to be grateful to Boro, to Tompolo, to Asari Dokubo, these young people, all of them are the young people who are driving the process now.
Talking about that, someone sent me a text and said that there’s one old man at 50, who calls himself IYC that we elders should talk to him that he shouldn’t do that, I was amused, if a man is 50 and he has said he wants to fight for Ijaw as a youth, shouldn’t we clap for him, if your constitution says you shouldn’t vote for him, you refer to that provision in the constitution and stop him, but if he is young at heart, you know some people are young at heart. So this is the thing, you younger people should encourage yourselves, encourage even older people to guide Ijaw process because you never know who will do the magic for us.
GbaramatuVoice: What is the journey so far?
Bozimo: I’m excited about the journey so far, I am confident that the struggle is leading in the right direction and as you know some of us started this struggle when we were young, in Warri here, still in secondary school, when they see Ijaw they will abuse us and we will go and wait for you and box with you. And till now I am happy, you people have taken it over.
The journey is going well, as I said before, we must be united, that is the key, we have arrived at a very comfortable point but unity is strength, in this struggle we must be united, we must be fair amongst ourselves, are you fair to other Niger Deltans who have generally accepted our leadership in the struggle, we must be fair, without fairness and justice, we can’t go very far, justice for ourselves, fairness for ourselves, fairness for our neighbours and also invariably fairness for Nigerian state because the Nigerian state by now should realise that the Ijaw nation, we don’t toil with them, you must handle Ijaw carefully. If you don’t handle Ijaw carefully, the Adaka Boro 12 Day Revolution will be a child’s play because now our eyes don open o.
GbaramatuVoice: Are Ijaws really benefitting from their struggles?
Bozimo: I think yes and no, if we are not united and little things, we criticize ourselves as if it’s only corrupt people that we have. Corruption is worldwide, corruption is widespread in Nigeria, so you must love yourself and be fair, so part of the problem, from my experience, is that we do not love ourselves too much, efficiently, let me say so.
In other part of this country where some officials and people may be corrupt, you do not jump on the roof top and begin to abuse everybody, I think that syndrome is fierce in Ijaw nation, in the Niger Delta, but in some part of this country as you know, you can hardly hear of anybody being corrupt, anybody being persecuted, so that’s part of the problem and I think luckily your generations will remedy some of these things because we must be united. But as I said be fair and just, with that, nothing can stop the Ijaw nation because at times, I ask myself, perhaps it’s because am involved in Ijaw nation that’s why I am able to articulate my ideas and even walk around.
Perhaps if I wasn’t involved in Ijaw nation, let it be like most of my colleagues are all dead therefore we must be focused, we must be true to the struggle, true to our consciences and we should do right and ‘Izon ye bo’, let’s put it that way, the forces, cultural Izon ye, forces are there but all of us, realization, we cannot mix oil and water, if you are a christian you may be focused on Christ on the cross, if you are a traditionalist, you look at that too, but it takes all source, just like the rainbow to make this Ijaw nation great.
When I say no discrimination, I mean doing this not because you are a Christian or doing this because you are a traditional ruler or Egbesu.
So we the Ijaw nation, as we move forward in rediscovering ourselves, and re-establishing the Ijaw nation, spread across the Southern borders of Nigeria as we are, let us love each other, let us be united, and propel Ijaw forward, because nobody will blow your trumpet for you, you will blow your trumpet but in blowing the trumpet, don’t blow the trumpet so high that the wind wey go come go come blind another person, that’s all.
GbaramatuVoice: What are the achievements and challenges?
Bozimo: There were stages and phases of the struggle, you know it goes layers by layers and when it got to Adaka Boro, all this diplomacy, “he tire” let’s take the bull by the horn, that if Nigeria is doing their war, we sef go do our own war, that’s how the struggle and we know the revolution shook the country. That is past. then as you said, the IYC, INC , the whole processes is developing and boiling , but if you notice, gradually things are changing, conferences and meetings can now be done on smart phones, you can do all kinds of things, let us be dynamic, so that the struggle, the days we have achieved are not lost and wasted.
Like you are doing now, we are sitting here, watching with your cameras and all that, congratulating you people, in those days, we were not being dynamic like that, we will wait for other people to start it, but look at us now, here we are, GbaramatuVoice, this that, Maritime University, we are not waiting for anybody, we are moving and that must be the spirit, but in moving, love yourselves, be fair, be just and do the right thing.
And nobody can stop this Ijaw train that is moving except we the Ijaws, only we can stop the train.
Like we all know, they’re very many, some of them are not necessarily material, some of them are spiritual, the material ones you can of course point to Bayelsa state, when you have your children who are rested, the father will tend to pacify them, so we got Bayelsa, we were beginning to have governors, though we have always had governors, Ada George at that time, then they began to push us aside, they realized that if we keep pushing this people aside trouble go come, now we have Fubara, Rivers governor-elect and of course in Bayelsa we have our people there, Ijaw man must be governor.
And as I keep saying, I know, even not in my life but it will be in my lifetime, we are going to have an Ijaw man as governor in Delta state, it will happen in Jesus name.
GbaramatuVoice: What’s the way forward?
Bozimo: We must have a beginning before the way forward, so the beginning that we are talking about guarantees the way forward, it may take some time but I don’t think it will be very long.
The Ijaw nation is beginning to discover, rediscover itself and then the pride of the Ijaw nation, that’s one thing the Ijaw people don’t joke with, our honor, Izon truth, don’t play with it, we are beginning to discover ourselves.
The struggle of the Ijaw man can never be in vain, we have gone too far, we have achieved too much for anybody to push us aside, it’s not possible anymore, that is my wish, my hope and prayer.
Thank you very much.