The Ijaw nation has elected renowned academic scholar, Professor Banjamin Ogele Okaba as its President in the just concluded Ijaw National Congress, INC.
The election which was held on Friday, April 30, was conducted in an open and transparent system, with stakeholders voting online to elect their leaders into various capacities.
After years of political interference in the process, this year’s edition was largely transparent, and has now set the bar for other regions and even the nation at large to emulate.
The Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, was also magnanimous for not interfering in the process as most of his predecessors had done in the past.
Also, Prof. Okaba on his emergence, takes over the leadership of the Ijaw nation at a time when the world is battling with the ravaging impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, vis-à-vis Nigeria’s battle with insecurity and political instability.
Earlier on Thursday, Governor Diri in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Alabrah, had decried the absence of a distinct voice for the Ijaw ethnic nationality on issues currently affecting the country.
According to the governor, reviving the INC was long overdue, as he called on his kinsmen to close ranks.
Diri who gave the charge to delegates and members at the opening of two-day INC 2021 Convention at the Ijaw House in Yenagoa, further expressed optimism that with the convergence of critical stakeholders from across the country, the INC would rise again for the Ijaw nation to have a strong and indivisible voice.
“We actually have no option but to come together to continue to forge a common front for advancement of the aims and objectives of the INC in order that the Ijaw nation may not be caught napping or find itself wrong-footed in these very turbulent times in the history of our country.
“Perhaps at no other time in the history of our dear ethnic nationality has our unity been more required than now. We have a lot to do pursuant to the aims and objectives of the INC as set out in Article 7 of its Amended Constitution 2019.
“It is my expectation that our continued loyalty and love for the Ijaw nation would moderate the actions of everyone at this convention.
“It is of utmost importance that we choose the best for the respective offices, so we can rest assured that we have competent, courageous and incorruptible leaders, who would stand to the defence of the Ijaw nation and the principles of fairness, justice and equity any day,” he said.
He further lauded the electronic voting initiative adopted by the INC Election Planning Committee, asserting that he had been an advocate of e-voting while in the National Assembly.
Other elected leaders are: Vice President 1-Tamuno O. Tamuno; Vice President 2 – Alabo Nengi JamesVice; President 3 – High Chief F.J Williams; General Secretary – Engr. Ebipamowei Wodu; Asst. General Secretary – Hon. Samson Uropa; Treasurer – High Chief Brown Philip; Financial Secretary – Mr. Kennedy Odiowei; National Publicity Secretary – Mr. Ezonebi Oyakemeagbegha.
Others National Organising Secretary – Mr Onengiofori Fenibo; National Legal Adviser – Barrister Bomo Tons Fetepgi; National Women Affairs Secretary – Mrs Alali Danagogo; National Welfare Secretary – Mrs Peremo Isenah Opiah; and National Auditor – Mr Abisagbo Tamara Emi.