I write today to put an end to this protracted, avoidable debate about the meaning of “Niger Delta Region”. First, it is an indisputable fact that the ascription has a political undertone; however, it refers to a region within the Eastern Region that actually exists. This assertion may not be in line with popular cum misguided opinion about the ascription. This piece seeks to exculpate my ardent readers from the cesspit of ignorance and implicit divisive postulations.
Niger Delta is a region within another wider region where you find littoral towns – places surrounded by water. We cannot define this region without, first, defining delta. A delta is a series of tributaries of a river caused by deposition activities. You find a delta anywhere you find interruption in the flow of a river. Every delta has pebbles, alluvium, sand, stones etc. These are the deposits that infringe on the free flow of the river which terminus is the delta.
Niger Delta is the delta found at the southern terminus of River Niger. The ascription refers to states found around this delta. The real Niger Delta states are Rivers State, Akwa Ibom State, Cross River State, Bayelsa State, and Delta State. Some of us don’t see Edo State as a true Niger Delta state, but political balkanization of the ascription has made states like Abia, Imo, Ondo et al members on the specious basis of having oil. As an Ijaw intellectual, I join several others to frown at this twist in acceptation.
The real meaning of Niger Delta does not detract from the ancestral relationship between the states therein and the hinterland. We are one people, but to deny us of our true identity in a bid to unite us will boomerang. I am the real proponent of “Igboness Across Tribal Boundaries”, but that is my personal philosophical bent. That theory of mine does not truly reflect the wish of the Ijaw, Ibibio, Effik etc. It is actually my own intellectual way of uniting us. It takes serious consultations vide dialogue to unite the various peoples in our region.
The incidence of some callow Igbo youths writing the history of other tribes on social media must be condemned in its entirety. There is a particular group which followers do this a lot. We must learn to respect one another. Those who refer to “Niger Delta” as “so-called” should read and learn. One huge mistake Ojukwu made was to think that the likes of Sen. (Dr.) Obi Wali, Dr. Kenule Beeson Saro-Wiwa, and Chief Harold Dappa-Biriye all of whose ideology was at par with his, did not matter. Those who call others slaves based on ideological difference are the ones delaying our unity. Niger Delta exists, but what our common enemies have done is to change its true meaning. Only the truth will set us free. True freedom starts with tribal identity and mutual respect.
I write as the spokesperson of Ijaw Professionals and Young Entrepreneurs Association (IPYEA). The Ijaw people must reclaim their identity first before working in unison with their wider region. God bless the Ijaw. God bless the Eastern Region.
Russell Idatoru Sunju Bluejack