The report of the Joshua Fumudoh-led committee on the succession crisis rocking the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide has divided Ijaw elders.
Prominent Ijaw leaders, who were angry with the report, rose from their meeting in Warri, Delta State, yesterday, to condemn the document, which chose IYC leaders elected in Okirika, Rivers State, ahead of the Eric Omare council elected in Burutu, Delta State.
Following the report of the committee, which was set up to resolve the crisis in IYC by Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State, Mr. Pereotubo Oweilaemi-led faction was inaugurated at the Abuja residence of E.K Clark in the presence of Dickson.
Some of the Ijaw leaders present at the inauguration of the Oweilaemi faction were Justice Francis Tabai, Ambassador Godknows Igali, Bodrick Bozimo, Chief Francis Doupkola, Chief T.K Okorotie and Dr. Felix Tuodolo.
But Western Ijaw leaders in a letter after their Warrri meeting distanced themselves from the position of Clark, Dickson and members of the committee.
The leaders, who faulted the committee’s are Hendrick Opukeme, Ken Orubebe, Chief Bright Abilo, Amb. Dibi Yinkore, Goddey Smith, aka King of the Forest; Chief Friday Egbegbe, Don Ben, Dr. Ferdinand Oshonwoh and Ari S. Ari.
The leaders opposed to the Fumudoh committee said they stood on the Burutu IYC convention that produced Omare as the council’s president since it was conducted by the past leadership in accord with the IYC constitution.
They maintained that following the zoning of the presidency to the west, they had before the Burutu convention adopted Omare as their consensus candidate, a decision that was earlier endorsed by Dickson.
They said: “Prior to the expiration of the Udengs Eradiri Presidency and in an attempt to produce a competent and qualified President from the West to lead the IYC for the next three years, the Western leadership adopted Eric Omare as a consensus candidate before the Burutu Convention took place.
“Consultations took place between the Governor of Bayelsa State and representative of leaders of the West on the preparation for the Burutu convention which eventually produced Eric Omare as the President of IYC.
“The point to note is that the BurutuConvention was within the legal time allowed by the IYC Constitution as a condition precedent to the emergence of a new exco. It is only the Eradiri led exco that is constitutionally empowered to set up Eleco and hold convention”.
The leaders said it was an aberration for some elders to hold another convention under the guise of unity outside the timeframe of the constitution.
Referring to the sponsors of the second convention as interlopers and promoters of division, the elders said their action was a recipe for anarchy.
“In the larger Nigerian society it would have been an aberration if after Jonathan had conducted an election, then the league of past Presidents would congregate and set up a parallel eleco to elect another President.
“The action of some past IYC Presidents is pervasive oppressive and calls for anarchy. To make things worse the decision of the elders was jaundiced and smarks of an hurriedly passed judgment.
“We can see the voice of Esau and the hand Jacob and drawing from the facts on ground it is the Eric Omare led exco that has legitimacy embedded in it,” they said.
The elders in their letter which was copied to all Ijaw stakeholders and security agencies insisted that the Okirika convention held outside the tenure of the dissolved Udengs Eradiri leadership was a rebellion of the old order against the new breed.
According to them former IYC leaders, who were at loggerheads with Eradiri, took it upon themselves to stage their convention without adequate consultation with the Western Zonal leadership.
“Thus, the Okrika Convention was purely the creation of East and Central element of Ijaw Youth Elders who acted for themselves and their Zones.
“The Okirika convention is a constitutional anomaly. There is no foundation for their action. The outcome of this ill-conceived convention should be discountenanced and jettisoned”, they said.
They lamented that despite the opposition against the Fumudoh-led committee’s report, Clark, who should have acted as a father, hurriedly inaugurated Oweilaemi as a factional IYC president.
The elders in their letter said: “Even when delegation led by Hendrick Opukeme appealed to Chief Clark to put on hold the inauguration, he refused. If Chief E.K Clark, as father of the Ijaw nation cannot resolve conflict within two factions of the IYC, then who will?
“We collectively condemned in its totality, the Chief J.B Fumudoh Committee which produced a dubious, premeditated and biased report purported to be a reflection of the Ijaw people.
“This is to say the least unbecoming of men of their age brackets who are supposed to be unbiased and neutral in the resolution of impasse. That, such assemblage of elders’ could conduct themselves with outright illegality is to say the least unfortunate and regrettable.
“The report of the Chief J.B. Fumudoh Committee is rejected as it was premeditated. It does not in anyway, reflect the true position of the generality of the Ijaw nation, in particular, the Western Zone.
“We reject Oweilaemi Pereotubo as the IYC president and that his inauguration was done in bad faith and cannot be accepted by the western zone leadership.
“We condemn in strong terms and reject without hesitation and disassociate ourselves individually and collectively with Chief E.K. Clark on this subject matter as he does not act for the Ijaw nation but for himself.
“The Chairman of the Committee Chief J.B. Fumudoh failed to compel Udengs Eradiri to accept his candidate, one Enebraye as Secretary General at the Burutu convention and bears so may grouse against UdengsEradiri. Therefore, he transferred aggression to Eric Omare.
“Eric Omare is our legally recognised and generally acceptable President of the IYC. In the alternative, we demand that a fresh election between the two factions be conducted and whoever emerges is the peoples’ choice.
They added: “The issue at stake borders more on the West than the East and Central Zones but the committee inaugurated by the Bayelsa State Governor was dominated by the central and Eastern Ijaws whereas the West had only two members.”
“The committee was composed as follows: Chief J. B. Fumudoh and F. J. Williams (West), Chief Nimi Adoke, Prof. Nimi Briggs, Arc. Etteh and Prof. Fubara (East), Amb. Godknows Igali, Austin Dressman and Mrs. Rafi Suoware (Central).
“This lopsided committee has only succeeded in imposing an unpopular and unacceptable leadership on the youths of Ijaw Nation, and the West in particular.
“In this connection, we not only condemn the report of the Committee for identifying with a factional leadership, but Chief E. K. Clark also fell to the antics of fifth columnists who deliberately blackmailed Eric Omare as to the source of funding of his election.
“The Governor of Bayelsa State, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson, had good intentions in setting up the committee to resolve the IYC dispute and he deserve our commendation.
“However, the Governor’s noble intentions were hijacked through a conspiracy between Chief Fumudoh, Amb. Igali and Deputy Governor Kingsley Otuaro for their personal and selfish reasons in imposing a factional and unpopular leadership on the Ijaw nation.
“We send a strong message to the security agencies that in case of any confrontation between the two factions of the IYC, they should hold these persons responsible for causing avoidable conflict in Ijaw nation”.