By Chief Anthony George-Ikoli SAN
Respectfully, the much trumpeted Willink’s Commission Report was the beginning of all our(Ijaw people) problems. I have never seen or better still, I am yet to read of a document so deifed by the very people, whose future was truncated at the point of conception by that very same document.
Respectfully, the” Ijaw holocaust “was decreed into existence by that very satanic report. It bears restating that the reason for the Commission in the first place, was to look at the palpable and expressed fears of the minorities; that is, beyond the well known , and customary colonial duplicity, it (the commission) was organized, set up for and possibly to make a case for the creation of a region or recommend some other acceptable political arrangement for the minorities, in a newly “federating nation”, but it concluded against the specific findings of its own interlocutors:( yes, the minorities are right to be anxious and apprehensive) but the case for a separate and distinct region was unmaintainable.
It therefore recommended all those impotent prerogative writs; infractions against which are to be litigated in the very judicial institutions of the predatory state.
Ijaws should curse the day that report was turned in to the colonial authorities and yet, we hold it out , refer to it; swear by it, every time and everywhere as if it were some liberating or ennobling Magna Carta or “Bill of Rights “that was not implemented.
Indeed, that pernicious report, whilst accepting the uniqueness of our terrain; denied our humanity and tragically, our right to exist as a distinct people in a distinct and separate regionalized setting or environment as the other areas then regionalized, was extirpated. It embodied hopes betrayed, a future aborted and a past annihilated .
Contrasted with all other constitutional documents since then, especially the subsequent constitutive protocols, that is, the several constitutions from the 1960 Independence Ordinance to the 1999 constitution, the “lying“ document is the Willinks Report.
Save the naked power grab; the accumulation and continuing willful accretion since then, by the Centre, and which were occasioned by the bewildering events of 1966, i respectfully submit that there is nothing essentially or intrinsically wrong with the constitutions we have been governed by.
Respectfully, the issues have and will always remain those of a state, without statesmen ; a nation without nationalists; democracy without democrats and definitively politicians, without politics.
Ijaws are emblematic of the confusion that reigneth . We celebrate our uniqueness, we clamour for a distinct and distinctive homeland. We seek unity and desire unification, yet are avidly promoting Balkanization; Mingi-se; Toru- ebe; Bayelsa and only God knows what other monstrous “ethnic or geopolitical Frankenstein “would be conjured up again in plenitude by the “forked tongued” Kainkain inebriated proselytizers of the Ijaw nation. What a Babel. !!!
“We the people”, as a precursor phraseology or opening stanza to the many constitutions have as a phrenology been consecrated a lie simply because the constitutions could not so begin, considering that, their contours and innards were not shaped and consecrated by the people, after a plebiscite by the people.
I have my issues with that obsession by the people, but it is that defamatory Willinks report that is the central focus of my animus now.
Stripped of all embellishments, what the report simply said and the cause it advanced was that the minorities were not sufficiently human as to be entitled to a region or separate political identity on their own.
I have read of the admonition by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo that the British handed the minorities over to the majorities, and consequently, without more, the majorities are therefore under no obligation of any sort whatsoever, to relate with us or treat us ( the minorities) as human beings; so our grouse should be with them (the British) and not the Nigerian state.
Respectfully, this is the basis and foundation of all the anti-human treatment of the minorities; expropriation and appropriation of our lands, waters, territories and resources. Only non-humans are treated the way we have and continue to be treated by the post-colonial entity, which is itself, successor to the colonials, who themselves had to first dehumanize the people’s of their colonies in other to be able to rape them.
Respectfully, agitations for independence from the colonialists and now agitations for resource control are just agitations to be moved from the subhuman specie or category and genus into which the predators have classified us, into the human specie genus by all agitators. This is as old as time itself and usually unstoppable, when it’s time is ripe, like the Nigerian state is suddenly now being rudely awakened to .
There is some sound logic to the Obasanjo thesis; so let’s seek a nullification of the dehumanizing prescriptivists classification of that Willinks report.
Our battle cry therefore should be : I AM IJAW; Therefore I AM.
I AM HUMAN and therefore entitled to my piece and corner of this earth ; in all its wholesomeness.
Willinks Report; namasobiri!!
Chief George-Ikoli is a former Attorney General, first Senior Advocate of Nigeria, and a former governorship aspirant in Bayelsa State.