We mourn this season as illustrious sons and daughters of the Ijaw nation and the Niger Delta because one of our giant stars that illuminated Ijaw destiny, Pastor power Ziakede Aginighan has suddenly danced to the world beyond. Though we grieve in tears and long drained vowels rendered in soundless sorrowful songs, we celebrate him as an iconic figure that lived in Ijawland.
Ijaw is a land in the Niger Delta that has for long been identified as an invisible space, a hard ground, a marginal space, a silent gulf, a subalternised ring, a muted galaxy, a land made hard by the tyranny of geography and the terrorism of hydra headed terror. This invisible space is where PZ Aginighan was born January 9, 1959 at Ezebri in Bomadi Local Government Area of Delta State. It is the universe where he schooled at Local Authority Primary School, Oge-Eze (1965–1970), Saint Vincent’s College, Okwagbe (1971–1972) and Government College, Bomadi (1973 – 1975), it is the space where he proceeded to then College of Science and Technology which is now known as University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt in 1977 where he bagged the Higher National Diploma in Accountancy in 1981. He also held the Bachelor of Science in Accountancy as well as a Master’s in Business Administration from the same University.
Ijaw land in Delta state is the marginal gulf where he became a foremost Ijaw activist, philanthropist and a role model. It is the same location that brought him up as an orator, a public sector finance manager and acting Executive Director, Finance & Administration of NDDC. He grew up in this space and became Director-General of the Ijaw Youths Action League (1980-1983, Secretary Delta Ijaw Consultative Committee headed by the Late Chief F.H.E. Brisibe, AIG rtd OFR, and moderator of the AII-Ijaw National Convention held at Patani on the 23rd November, 1991 presided over by Chief F.H.E. Brisibe, OFR with Chief Dr. Harold Dappa Biriye and Chief George Albert Weikezi in attendance. He was appointed Secretary of the Ijaw National Coordinating Committee(INCC) led by Professor C.A. Dime- which incubated the Ijaw National Congress (INC) which he served as the pioneer Secretary.
THE MARGINAL/INVISIBLE SPACE
To be in the margin is to be part of the whole but outside the main body. It is a geographical site one stays in and even protects because it is an ancestral home which provides the capacity for resistance. The Niger Delta Invisible space is where PZ was born, a place where terror is deified and promoted radically to a mind-boggling crescendo. As Ijaw Nigerians living in the Niger Delta the discrimination against his land is a daily reminder of marginality. As a true nationalist of Ijaw extraction, his burden was to find voice for the people. PZ understood the marginal space as a place of oppression and resistance crucial for oppressed, exploited, colonized people. Besides, the marginal space or the invisible space generates radical perspective from which to see, to create and to envision another world crucial to life. To give visibility or voice to the invisible space implies backing up the occupants of that space to perceive themselves not as mere objects of their social conditions but as narrators of their own stories. Power Ziakede Aginighan is inspired by the possibility of change in the future, in Ijawland, a change that will open up spaces in our struggle to cross the borders of poverty, desolation and reinforce our sense of self and our solidarity. PZ conceives of marginality as both a site of deprivation and radical possibility, a space of resistance and location for the production of counter-hegemonic discourse. His understanding of resistance in a marginal gulf can best be framed by some popular lyrics of Bob Marley when he said ‘We refuse to be what you want us to be, we are what we are, and that’s the way it’s going to be.’ That space of refusal, where one can say no to the colonizer, no to the oppressor, is located in the margins. An invisible society is a dislocated society, an unbalanced society, a society in which majority or some of its citizens are denied freedom and protection.
WHAT MADE IJAWLAND AN INVISIBLE/ MARGINAL SPACE?
An invisible space is synonymous with a marginal space. It is a physical space of existence but it is declared unseen and unrecognized by the dominant centre. It is a space that has no voice enjoys no agency treated as the subordinated order. Ethnocentric politics, politics of balkanization of the Ijaw nation, kidnapping of the economic power of the Ijaw nation through constitutional power, decrees, laws, rules and policies have rendered Ijaw space marginal and invisible in Nigeria. The clamour for justice is interpreted as violation of law and rape of national interest and the result is destruction of lives and property. This is a trend that is passed on from the ancient to the modern era of liberation struggle in the Niger delta. Ijaw ethnic nationality has struggled for proper placement in the Nigerian nation-state for a long time now. The same factors that led to the destruction of Ijaw kingdoms in the Niger Delta by the Royal Niger Company in collaboration with the British government during the pre-colonial and colonial epochs have surfaced deathlessly even in post-colonial Nigeria.
In all these phases of the struggle, Ijaw towns are destroyed along with their vocal voices of liberation in one form or the other. From the slave trade era through the age of legitimate trade leading to colonialism and post-colonialism, the Niger Delta Ijaws have been struggling for liberation. These stages have produced four period set of liberation fighters. From 1895 when King Koko took up arms against the oppressive Royal Niger Company of the British to this era of the struggle; the Ijaws of the Niger Delta have put in 124 years of liberation struggle. The first period of struggle lasted for 45years (1895-1940) the period from Dappa Biriye 1940 to Isaac Boro revolution of 1966 took 26 years. From the Boro revolutionary epoch of 1966 to the era of the Ijaw youth’s declaration of freedom at Kaiama up to this time (2018), the struggle has recorded another 52years. In a country united vigorously by disunity and disunited delicately by unity, a country tyrannised by, lopsided beauty and judgement by titanic and acidic corruption and corrupted pathologically by tyranny, it is difficult for the supply centre to protect and please its subaltern parts. These segregated parts bleed for the survival of the nation. The same country the Ijaws and their Niger delta neighbours defend with their economic wealth pulls the trigger that pulls down their well-being. PZ is compellingly persuaded that the oppression of the Ijaw nation and the Niger Delta is institutionalized or normalized It includes the invalidation of natural rights, denial, or the non-recognition of the broad humanness of the Niger Delta people.
NIGER DELTA AND POLITICS OF DECOLONIZATION IN POST-COLONIAL NIGERIA
We all know how Nigeria fell under British colonial rule and how the Nigerian nationalists spoke with one voice to attain political and economic independence for Nigeria. As good students, observers and interpreters of history we are also aware of the failure of multiculturalism in Nigeria sequel to the breaking of the thermodynamic principles of conservation, freedom and balance, principles essential for the attainment of a true nation. The subordination and subalternisation of minority ethnic groups in Nigeria and the consequent exploitation of their god given wealth without corresponding development have accounted for perceived colonization and the struggle to decolonize. This is a case of popular oppression, because it is no longer clandestine. In most African countries the conflict has always been between internal colonization and the struggle for decolonization by ethnic or regional parts of a country. PZ Aginighan is an activist of this second wave of independence or self-determination which I term decolonization of ethnic nations and regions from domestic colonialism. The problem with Nigeria is not the country but its people especially the rulers and leaders across tribe and geography. They need restructuring in morality and political will. Anybody can leave peacefully and progressively in this country if the leaders understand that Nigeria belongs to all.
FINDING VOICE AND CONSTRUCTING PEEZEDISM
PZ has increasingly sought to challenge some of the dominant ideas about the Niger Delta, particularly hegemonic ideas that expose epistemic and physical violence. This is because it has a radical strength that supplies an example of Pan Ijaw mandate. He exposes how the world of the region is represented from the dominant perspective. Thus his construction of Peezedism provided a rhetorical structure and thematic centrality to justify the fight against the subjugation of the marginal space. Indeed, his argument illustrate that the Niger Delta and its people have been controlled, subjected, dispossessed and exploited through dominant systems of national hegemonic thoughts and constitutional machinations. Peezedism as an ideological construct is grounded on the enactment of relationship of enlightenment; popular knowledge production and empowerment through information dissemination. Peezedism as action packed movement and ideology is rooted in decolonization of the Ijaw land, the Niger Delta, the human mind and the well-being of the people. It is a composite political nomenclature that captures the methods and manners, the activities, directions and currents of the Niger Delta people that gravitates towards revolutionary struggles. Peezedism identifies the invention of philosophies and seasons of human conduct as major obstacles to progress in Post-colonial Nigeria. Consequently it searched for what can change the Ijaw narrative.
The narrative and nomenclature of Peezedism which reinforces the political message of the Ijaw people emerged through the instrumentality of the philosophy of Perspectivialism which offer us the knowledge of knowing the dominant views of the oppressors who rationalize to serve their interest, PZ came to fully understand the subjugating ideological and theoretical positions of the dominant other against his homestead. Peezedism is a none violent philosophical conception which energised and oxygenated Ijaw nationalism in Nigeria. its strength is the enlightenment of the masses of Ijaw nation denied humanity by generations of subalternisation; slavery and domestic colonialism and the building up a national consciousness among the Ijaw peoples in Nigeria. It celebrates a post-colonial dream of what men and women of Ijaw stock could do on their own to move Ijaw nation forward. Peezedism draped in the colours of modern nationalism is a form of meta-nationalism formed through intellectual, political and ideological activism to crack the thick walls of colonialism after colonialism. Serving under the Ijaw Youth Action League PZ served in elective capacity as Director-General and campaigned for the merger of western Ijaw with their brothers and sisters in Rivers state. This put him in detention at Bomadi and Burutu with others like Datuowei Felix, Asu Beks and HB Buku.
THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF PZ AGINIGHAN TO THE IJAW NATION AND THE NIGER DELTA.
In the foot of the 1980s Power Ziakede Aginighan, popularly known as the Odudu of the Niger Delta, embarked on an enlightenment project across Ijawland. His subject was simply merciless exploitation of Ijaw nation by the conspiracy of multinational oil companies and the federal government of Nigeria and the need for Ijaw people to rise to demand for economic justice.
To bring about Ijaw unity and cultural advancement he played a pivotal role in the formation of Ijaw National Congress. Elder, Power Ziakede Aginighan having learnt from the troubles and travails that rock the marginal space of his birth became one of the very few young Ijaw intellectuals who considered very strongly the idea of Ijaw self-determination in Nigeria. Animated by the vision of a self-determining Ijaw territory within a democratic, multiethnic, Nigeria, he struggled to give character and direction to Ijaw struggle. His methods and manners deepened the intellectual dimension of the struggle, created a vibrant speaking space and enriched the Ijaw liberation history. It unified Ijaw nation, and gave the subaltern Ijaw in Nigeria voice and agency.
To crack down the age long Ijaw problem of criminal balkanization in Nigeria he was at the forefront in the creation of more states for the Ijaw nation. A commitment which resulted in the creation of Bayelsa state and more local government areas for Ijaws Balkanized into many states in the Southern fringe of Nigeria. He was one of those who after Isaac Jasper Adaka Boro saw and felt the tragedy of generations in Ijaw land and instigated the rise of Ijaw nationalism. As a scholar he rejected the pessimism of the intellect and held fast to the optimism of the will. Aginighan’s struggle in the Niger Delta is predicated on the historical experience of Ijaw humiliation, economic exploitation, political oppression, and cultural domination under Nigerian endo-colonial colonialism. At the heart of his freedom struggle was the question of the liberation of the Ijaw man.
He was one of the maverick critical voices that led to the establishment of OMPADEC AND NDDC.
As am ambassador of peace in the Niger Delta and Nigeria, he initiated the move and brought to an end the seven years of aggressions between the Ijaw and the Itsekiri of Warri. He was also instrumental in originating the peace process that led to the end of the gory conflict between Ogodobri in Bomadi Local Government Area of Delta State and Ekeremor in Ekeremor Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
PZ was instrumental in the completion of some major NDDC projects in the Niger Delta particularly roads when he was at the helms o affairs.
In national matters that concern Ijaw and Niger Delta interest, PZ was not silent. He gave voice to the establishment and commencement of academic session of the Nigerian Maritime University at Okerenkoko, Gbaramatu. His love for Ijaw nation is neither defeated by the collapse of Ijaw freedom foundations nor rendered weak by the powers that be.
CHARACTERIZING PZ AGINIGHAN
PZ Aginighan was a champion of subaltern speakability, a giant and hard pillar which held the Ijaw house. He was an uncommon Patriarch, a great leader, a fine nationalist and a vociferous voice of the Ijaw ethnic nationality who rejected the predatory agenda. He was a man full of energy and love of his ethnicity, a man endowed with inner peace and inner light, a quintessential leader. As an educated freedom fighter who occupied the central space of Ijaw self-expression as a founder and knight of the Ijaw National Congress, he was a distinct and distinguished Ijaw voice accredited with all the respect in the world, he was a lover and finder of liberty. He was a mortal genius who used superior arguments steeped in great philosophical rationalizations to persuade aggrieved people to see and accept the reasons for peace. Logic and ethics were his most prized weapons of persuasion deployed to broker peace. His brilliant ideas and ways which grew from his powerful imaginations will continue to dominate. Life is a thick forest. We humans only clear a pathway to find a direction. The direction is a product of our own effort and philosophy.
Aginighan came to life, saw life and conquered it as the Ecclesiastical or Latin phrase vini, vidi, visi, means, a phrase popularly attributed to Julius Caesar in a letter to the Roman Senate in 46 BC. He was passionate about making a difference a man widely loved and who widely loved, a man endowed with polygonal beauty, wisdom, eloquence and functional articulation. His one word of criticism burns the heart of the goblin. He had the highest quality of leadership: intellectual energy and personal attributes, he was righteous, truthful, resolute, enthusiastic and disciplined, not breaking promises and showing gratitude to those who helped him. His intellectual qualities are: desire to learn, to listen to others, grasping, understanding thoroughly and reflecting on knowledge, rejecting false views and adhering to the true ones. P Z was gallant, gritty and agile. Eloquently bold and endowed with a sharp intellectual fabric and moral fibre that governed his world. He was sweet in speech and rational contemplation, frank and kindhearted, an effective speaker and a well-informed super-mortal who made decisions that kept Ijaw safe and kicking.
A WORD FOR IJAW NATION
Odudu’s death is a deplorable end to an era of Ijaw nationalism in Nigeria. Ijaw nation has been losing its great freedom fighters that fought the dragons and draculas that we may survive. From the time of the Royal Niger Company we could count, Jaja of Opobo, Frederick Koko of Nembe, Perekule of Bonny, Agia and Ondukus of Ayakoromo, Taiyan of Oborotu, Bekederemo of Kiagbodo, Ngbile Mein Kingdom and modern heroes like Isaac Boro, Harris Ozeke, Prince DME Odondri, Pa George Weikezi, Comrade Anthony Ngurube, Dappa Jenewari Biriye, AIG. Hausa Brisibe, Chris Ghomorai, Nelson Azibolanari Oronto Douglas, DSP Alamieyeseigha and now Pastor PZ Aginighan. There are others who are living who need Ijaw protection.
History is one thing that guides a people to the making of choices. History gives us strength, wisdom and light to clear a path for our destiny and destination. Let us speak with one voice for what is good and in one accord, speak against what is bad. Ijaws should defend their Ijawness with one voice. Let us pursue and receive our freedom with one voice. Let us condemn what is evil that murders Ijaw growth. Let every Ijaw man think and act in honour of peace. The biggest of Ijaw problems in Nigeria is criminal balkanization. True federalism without dismantling the political electric fence of balkanization will make no meaning to Ijaw growth. Resource control without state creation for the Ijaw people is useless. Balkanization gives our political and economic powers to majority and minority ethnic nations at the state and local government levels. Ijaw does not need division, it does not need leaders who refuse to lead even when they lead, it does not need people who have powers but chose to defend the oppressor. It does not need freedom foundations that will not promote the beauty and security of Ijaw nation. All we need is a simple and incorruptible agenda of growth. Only one voice will make the way for us. Kudos to the few surviving titanic voices of freedom.
When the sun dies at the point it shines with legendary brightness. The rhythms of life face the bleeding scourge. Tears are painful drops of water created from the tempest within us that emerge through the invisible openings of our body. When the pond dries up fishes mourn. When the hero goes to sleep finally sorrow befalls the land. When the light of illumination ceases, darkness takes over the land. A land without heroes is land without a defender, a land where the weakest breeze blows to cause harm. Pastor Power Ziakede Aginighan the Ogobiri born political activist was distinct and distinguished defender of the Ijaw nation. Today, we feel and face the reality that PZ is no more to be seen physically. The hero the Ijaws Called the Odudu of Niger Delta: The orator I called Cicero. A forceful, open minded, accommodating and large hearted ringer of the freedom bell. P.Z. as you depart from us to a higher plain of cosmic beauty and power remember to defend your land, the land of your ancestors that still BLEEDS.