Tension in Bayelsa as Ijaw National Congress elects new executives on Saturday

There is rising tension among the over 150 delegates from all clans and chapters over alleged imposition of candidates and manipulation of the electoral process adopted by the electoral committee headed by Rear Adimral W. G. Yanga,(Rtd) to elect new executives on Saturday that will pilot the affairs of the Ijaw National Congress, INC, the apex Ijaw ethnic socio-political group.

The election, which has divided the aspirants along the line of government candidates and those not anointed by the Bayelsa state governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson, is already generating bad blood among the ijaw elders.

Already,the Bayelsa State Governor has mobilised support for a former Police Affairs Minister, Alaowei Broderick Bozimo, to emerge as President of the Ijaw National Congress (INC) in the forthcoming convention of the body.

The governor, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media Relations, Mr. Fidelis Soriwei, advocated for a rancour-free, fair INC convention on June 29. The governor spoke during a meeting with leaders of the Western Zone including INC presidential hopeful, Bozimo, in Warri, Delta state.

Dickson said it was important to have an arrowhead, with name, reputation, capacity and understanding of the issues and challenges facing the Ijaws of the Niger Delta, as INC President, especially with current realities in the nation.

Our correspondent gathered that in view of the anticipated implosion within the ranks of Ijaw Elders and the threat of the formation of a parallel Ijaw National Congress (INC), the Rear Admiral W,G,Yanga (Rtd) forced all aspirants to sign a controversial form to pledge and sign a declaration against possible violence and protest against the outcome of the poll.

It was gathered on Friday that the controversial signing of a declaration form was another threat by the state government against those plotting to move against the alleged imposition of candidates.

A Vice presidential aspirant and the state chairman of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), Chief Nengi James, in a letter to the Chairman of the Electoral Committee, through his lawyers, E.G.Aderigha (Tamara Chambers),explained that with his status as a UN-Polac Peace Ambassador, he is not a man of violence,

“it is the instruction of our client that your exalted committee should well ensure and assure the nation that you abide by the rules and regulations and give every aspirant a level playing ground and to ensure that the election is conducted in a free and fair atmosphere that will be rancor free.

“Despite being a man of peace and a respected Chief, our client vehemently stands against plot or attempt to impose any candidate on the Ijaw people or adopt any candidate at the election. It should be noted where there is a violation of democratic norms or should there be any attempt to intimidate, harass or impose any candidate in disregard of democratic principles, we shall not hesitate to use every means available to us within the confines of the law to protect the rights of our clients.”

The chairman of INC Electoral Committee, Rear Adimral W. G. Yanga, retd, said all is now set for the elections scheduled to hold on Saturday at the Ijaw House in Yenagoa, adding that thirty one candidates are jostling for various positions.

Yanga said: “At this instant, every material and personnel for the election have been put in place and are ready to prosecute the election to a successful conclusion, the sensitive and non-sensitive materials are already prepared, waiting for the D-Day”.

“The election is for delegates only , and the list of delegates, as composed by the various clans, chapters and diaspora that make up the INC has been handed over to us by the steering committee, so non delegates are not expected at the venue of accreditation and the election respectively. Before the voting proper, candidates for key positions like the President, Vice President, Secretary, and Publicity Secretary will present manifestoes”.

“We are not aware of some complainants that attended some of our activities, but hereby restate categorically that all our activities have so far been executed as per plan except where expediency dictated an adjustment.”

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