Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide has stated that the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Mr. Garba Shehu is inciting crisis in Delta State following a statement credited to him that the Itsekiri ethnic group is larger than the Ijaw.
The group in a statement by its president, Pereotubo Oweilaemi, while condemning the statement, noted that the remark was similar to the comment which sparked the Warri crisis under the Sani Abacha junta, adding that such was what Shehu was throwing up with his recent utterances.
Oweilaemi, who maintained that the provocative statement by the SSA which he made during an interview on Channels TV on Sunday that the Itsekiri group is larger than the Ijaw is a, was “baseless misrepresentation of facts ostensibly” to incite the Ijaws against the Itsekiri.
The statement read in part: “There is no iota of truth whatsoever in Garba Shehu’s wrong placement of facts and figures in the Delta State population. As a public figure, he should be guided by the available and undisputed official data within his domain other than to talk like a novice in government.
“Going by the 2006 census figures or the available voting data, the Ijaw ethnic group is the second largest ethnic group in Delta State. The Ijaw nation as the 4th largest ethnic group in Nigeria has a population of fourteen million people which constitutes 10% of the Nigerian population. The Ijaws are even more populous than the Fulani ethnic group who constitutes 9% of the Country’s population.
“In Delta State, the Ijaws have three homogeneous local government areas that are densely populated, while they are in majority in two other local government areas they shared with the Itsekiri ethnic group. The Ijaws are in six local government areas, while the Itsekiris are just in three local government areas which they shared two with Ijaw people and the other one with Urhobo and Ijaw. “How on earth do people who are just in three local government areas and who do not have any single homogeneous local government area become more populated than people who are in six local government areas with three homogeneous local government areas?
“Garba Shehu should know that it was this same callous and incisive decision of the Abacha Government that caused the bloody Warri crisis. His statement on the Channels TV about the Ijaw and Itsekiri population has a dangerous implication to the relative peace we are enjoying. Such unguided utterances by a public figure like Garba Shehu may spark off another ethnic crisis in the Niger Delta.
“For the sake of peace in the region, we call on him to retract his statement about the Ijaw and Itsekiri population in Delta State with immediate effect. If he wants to learn, he should not use Delta State or any part of the Niger Delta region for his internship course. We warn him to stay clear of Delta State for the sake of our peaceful coexistence”