The Biafra Map has 25 Provinces (States). Out of the above, Igbos have 13 Provinces/States which are: Agbor, Asaba, Aba, Owerri, Umuahia, Orlu, Enugu, Oji River, Awka, Onitsha, Nnewi, Okigwe and Abakiliki.
Ijaws who are the fourth largest ethnic group in Nigeria beside Hausa-Fulanis, Yoruba and Igbos have only two Provinces/States which are: Yenagoa and Degema.
In the above Biafra Map, Efik/Ogoja and Ibibio who are in the present Cross River and Akwa Ibom States have 6 Provinces/States which are: Ikot Ekpene, Uyo, Eket, Ogoja, Calabar and Annang.
Urhobos have: Ughelli Province/State.
Then we now have Port Harcourt Province/ State which has Ijaws, Ikwerres, Ogonis, Etches and others.
Finally, in the Biafra Map we have Warri Province/State which has Itsekiris, Ijaws and Urhobos.
From the above Map, Ijaws are not even the second largest ethnic group in the purported Biafra Republic, rather we are behind Efik, Ogoja, Ibibio and even Urhobos.
This Map was drawn up by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB not just to spite and ridicule Ijaw people, but to tell us that we are not what we think, we are.
Unfortunately, in recent years we have heard so many distorted stories and histories which are all meant to make Ijaws to see Hausa-Fulanis as our enemies. Some of us who are historians have been called slaves of the Sokoto Caliphate and other unprintable names simply because we try to right history.
I always resound the fact that for a people to Know where they are going to, they first of all need to know where they are coming from.
Ijaws are not the annexure of any ethnic group. Ijaws have never been conquered by any ethnic group in Nigeria and can never be conquered.
Ijaws are the first people that had encounter with the European adventurers, explorers, merchants, Imperialists and later colonialists. When these Europeans arrived Ijaw territory, we already had very organised and well structured Leadership. We had our home grown democracy. We lived in City-States where true Traditional Democracy was practiced. We had the Executive, Judiciary and the Legislature whose duties were performed by our Kings, Paramount Rulers, Compound Chiefs, the General Assembly in our Town cum Village Squares and the able bodied Men who played the roles of Police/Law Enforcement Agents. We also had the Warriors in War Canoe Houses.
It is on good record that Ijaws were equal Trade Partners with the Europeans.
Ijaws had many hitherto independent nations and counties, same way we had many trading Posts. For instance, the biggest Seaport was at Burutu Town by which time, Lagos was unknown or should I say has not come to limelight.
What we have today as Nigeria is an amalgamation of Nations, Emirates, Empires, Kingdoms and Clans.
Ijaw Kings and Chiefs signed Trade Treaties with the British Crown/Monarch Her Britainnic Majesty, the Queen of England as Nations. Such treaties and agreements were bilateral in nature. It wasn’t the case of master and servant or slave but agreements between equal partners.
Ijaw people went to the Igbo hinterlands to buy slaves which they in turn sold to the European slave merchants. The slave boy: Jow-jow who later became the famous King Jaja of Opobo is one of such slaves.
It is quite sad that Ijaws overtime have been turned into victims. Some internal elements also played key roles in the subjugation and decimation of Ijaw people. For example the paternal father of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe is from Agbere Community in present day Sagbama Local Government Area but he was brought up by his Igbo foster father and his Igbo mother.
Unfortunately, Nnamdi Azikiwe was one of the leaders who deprived Ijaws from having Province or State at inception.
Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was one of the leaders who received and welcomed Sir Henry Willink and his team to Nigeria after the Constitution of the Henry Willink Commission of Enquiry. While they took the fact finding team around the country, they portrayed Ijaws as very hostile, violent, unfriendly people who do not deserve a Political Entity of their own especially considering the fact that the abundant natural resources that were used to run the then Eastern region is from the Ijaw and other minority areas.
They sold the above dummy to the British under the guise of protecting British economic interest in Nigeria, but the truth is that, it was in furtherance of the annexure and annexation agenda of the Igbos to take over our territories.
But despite the above and other manipulations, the Commission couldn’t deny the fact that Ijaws are the fourth largest ethnic group in Nigeria. The American Embassy in Nigeria in it’s 2012 Report, reaffirmed the Ijaw ethnic group as the fourth largest ethnic group in Nigeria.
Yoruba and Igbo Leaders vehemently opposed the creation of a seperate Political Entity for Ijaw people, the same way, they opposed the representation of Ijaw nation and other minorities during the London Conferences and the pre-independence Conference. But for the support of Hausa-Fulanis and the Middle Belt leaders, our people wouldn’t have been represented by High Chief Harold Dappa-Biriye and Chief Eyo who was later removed as the Chairman of Eastern Region Council of Chiefs.
Your true brother is not just your biological brother or neighbour but the person that mean well for you.
Ijaws should be wise not to be carried away.
Igbos, Yorubas and Hausa/Fulanis from the inception of this contraception called ‘Nigeria’ have been locked in Supremacy Battle, the quest for control, after they united to fight against the British colonial Masters.
Who coined the sickening, divisive and destructive concept of ‘WAZOBIA’?
How can someone talk about only 3 ethnic groups in a country that has over 250 distinct ethnic nations?
Which of these tribes would have made the kind of immeasurable and invaluable sacrifices Ijaw people are making?
The Ijaw nation has Shouldered the economic burden of Nigeria since 1956 when crude oil and gas was discovered at Oloibiri-Otabagi in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, yet there are no commensurate rewards for these sacrifices.
All Ijaws were presented and portrayed as criminals and violent people, the same way some sections of this country are presently presenting the Hausa-Fulanis.
I have lived in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja where most of my neighbours and people here are Hausa-Fulanis, Yoruba, Igbo, Tiv, Gbagi, Idoma, Nupe and others. And I can boldly say, that Hausa-Fulanis are more friendly, sincere and helpful as against the way and manner they are portrayed as evil people in order to just their vilification and demonization.
In concluding this piece, I want to say that this purported Biafra Map is not only vexatious and provocative, it is the greatest insult to the sensibilities of our Ijawness.
Ijaws are not Biafrans and we can never be Biafrans. Nnamdi Kanu and his cohorts should stop reminding Ijaw people especially those who were in the old Eastern region about the past that evokes anger and bitterness which has never encouraged peaceful and harmonious relationship.
~~~ Most Senior Comrade Wisdom Oniekpar Ikuli
Mirror and Conscience of Society.
- Former National Director of Mobilization & Chairman, Action Committee of Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide
- Former Acting President
Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide
- National President
Niger Delta Nonviolence Agitators Forum (NDNAF).