Gov. Douye Diri of Bayelsa has urged Ijaw youth leaders to prioritise Ijaw interests, unity and peace to enhance accelerated growth and development of the ethnic group.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Diri, made the call when he received the recently inaugurated executive of Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) at his country home, Sampou in Bayelsa.
Diri urged the new IYC leadership to place service to Ijawland above any personal consideration, adding that the ethnic group was looking up to them.
He also advised the IYC to imbibe the spirit of forgiveness, patience and tolerance for them to go far, saying they are dealing with a bracket of people who are volatile.
While explaining the need for the group to remain politically neutral, he urged them to speak up against violence in the forthcoming governorship election in the state.
The Bayelsa governor said by receiving them, he had given legitimacy to the Lokpobiri-led IYC and pledged to support the executive to enable it succeed.
“Let me on behalf of the government of Bayelsa State congratulate you. For those who lost and are here, I also congratulate you.
”I told you from the beginning that I am a father to all of you and as such I would not support anybody.
“First of all, you have to put Ijaw nation before your personal interest. If you put your interest first, you will not succeed. Live up to your oath and do not be the master,” he said.
He urged them to be the servant in humility, respect and honour.
”We must change our mindset as Ijaw people to learn how to depend on ourselves and be enterprising.
“Election has been a problem in Ijawland. Some people are threatening to kill in the Nov. 11 governorship election but I know as youths you would not allow it.
”We should all join hands to make the election violence-free. I will not spill blood to remain in office.
“The struggle continues to get other homogeneous Ijaw states. So we must keep the fire burning and work hand in gloves with the INC in order to leave worthy legacies.
“We will work with you and we hope and pray that the Ijaw nation grows.” Diri said
Jonathan Lolponiri, the new president of the IYC Jonathan Lokpobiri said the youth organisation was grateful to Diri, for giving the Ijaw National Congress (INC) and the IYC a new lease of life.
Lokpobiri recalled how both bodies battled with internal wranglings before the governor assumed office and intervened to bring peace and unity within them.
He also appreciated the governor for his role in ensuring the election that produced the current executive was peaceful and credible.
While noting that Diri’s neutrality allowed the will of the people to prevail, Lokpobiri also expressed gratitude to leaders of the Ijaw nation for their contributions to the success of the election.
The IYC President appealed for land to build a national secretariat for the group as well as financial support while assuring that his executive will not let Ijaw nation down.
He lamented that the Ijaws, who were a minority in five other Niger Delta states apart from Bayelsa, were being marginalised and ill-treated and appealed to the governor to use his office to intervene.
In his remarks, the Commissioner for Ijaw National Affairs, Mr. Patrick Erasmus, lauded Diri for stabilising the INC and IYC and expressed optimism that the IYC new executive will live up to expectation. (NAN)