The Ijaw National Youth Congress (IYC) has warned presidential aide, Garba Shehu, not to reignite another intercommunal war between Ijaw and Itsekiri of Delta State through his unfactual and unguided utterances about their population on a television station.
IYC, in a statement, signed by IYC President, Worldwide, Pereotubo Oweilaemi, carpeted Garba for giving wrong facts on the population of Ijaw and Itsekiri in the state.
Garba had stated on a live television on December 31 that the Itsekiri boasted of more population than the Ijaws, a submission the IYC debunked as untrue and provocatively capable of causing another acrimony.
“The attention of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide has been drawn to a rather annoying and provocative umbrage by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu.
“The said media aide to the President who was featured in Channels TV today on December 31, 2017, has erroneously said without any basis or foundation that the Itsekiri ethnic group is bigger than the Ijaw ethnic group in Delta State.
“While it is not our concern to probe what informed Garba’s argument, our concern is the baseless misrepresentation of facts ostensibly to incite the Ijaws to harm against itsekiri
“There is no iota of truth whatsoever in 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 datas within his domain other than to talk like a novice in government.
“The Ijaw nation as the 4th largest ethnic group in Nigeria has a population of 14 million people which constitutes 10 per cent of the Nigerian population.
“The Ijaws are even more populous than the Fulani ethnic group who constitutes nine per cent of the country’s population.
“In Delta State, the Ijaws have three homogeneous local government , 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,” the statement read in part.
For the sake of peace in the region, the IYC called on Mr Garba to retract his statement about the Ijaw and Itsekiri population in Delta State with immediate effect.
If he wants to learn, the group warned him not to use Delta State or any part of the Niger Delta region for his internship course, adding that he should steer clear of Delta State for the sake the existing peaceful coexistence.