John ODHE, Yenagoa
There seems to be a glimmer of hope for the Ijaw National Congress (INC), the highest decision making body of the ljaw Nation which has been in shreds for years due to power tussle.
Fresh indications have emerged that the INC may be getting set for fresh polls for its executives to resume the running of its affairs having been without leadership for many years.
This was revealed at the just concluded Conference of Ijaw Traditional Rulers and Elders Forum (CITRE) meeting held in Yenagoa, capital of Bayelsa state during the week.
Our correspondent who monitored the meeting reports that monarchs and elders of Ijaw land from and beyond the South-South and the Niger Delta states were at the meeting.
Speaking to journalists shortly after a closed door meeting at the Bayelsa state Traditional Rulers Council secretariat, the state’s Commissioner for Ijaw National Affairs, Elder Patrick Erasmus hinted that amongst matters deliberated on were the report of the Justice Francis Tabai (rtd) INC reconciliatory committee.
The commissioner averred that other issues looked at were the possibilities of conducting fresh elections to usher in new executives for the INC as well as the resolve by conflicting interests at withdrawing suits bothering on the congress instituted in various courts of law.
Erasmus noted that after an exhaustive deliberation on matters affecting the progress and development of the Ijaw people, the CITRE inaugurated an electoral umpire for the conduct of polls, just as he reiterated the resolve of the Ijaw monarchs and elders to continue toeing the part of harmony for the accelerated development of the ethnic nationality.
Although no specific date has been fixed there were strong indications that soon the new electoral committee would publish a time table and inform the various zones of the INC based on its old zoning formula on the date of the polls.
He noted that Professors, Fubara Dagogo, from the Eastern zone of the INC and the Vice Chancellor of the Niger Delta University, Samuel Edoumiekumor amongst others were appointed as electoral umpire for the conduct of a free, fair and credible polls.
It would be recalled that the pan-Ijaw body in 2019 was enmeshed in electoral imbroglio, resulting in an inconclusive election and subsequent legal tussles which has rendered it dysfunctional for some time now.
Many accusing fingers were pointed at the direction of the former restoration government of Seriake Dickson as the alleged author of the violence that was unleashed on respected ljaw elders who converged on ljaw House in Yenagoa to conduct lNC elections.
It was gathered then that elections had been peacefully concluded and results were being collated in an election that held late into the night when armed thugs, some of whom were wearing Bayelsa state Vigilante vests, suddenly switched off security lights at the ljaw house, invaded the hall and carted away all the electoral materials while ljaw elders scampered for safety.
It was glaring that the results that were being announced were not in favour of the preferred candidates of those in government hence the orchestration to scuttle the process.
This is the reason why many eyes are on governor Diri as to whether he would give free hands to the pan ljaw highest body to conduct an independently free and fair election.
Every governor of Bayelsa, which is the only homogeneous ljaw state across the Niger Delta states and beyond where ljaws are minorities, is known to have enormous influence on ljaw affairs in terms of financial support and otherwise.
Pundits are keenly watching to see the role governor Diri, who is a former official of the lNC, would play in the proposed conduct of the ljaw national congress election.