WITH confidence, Eric Omare stated, “I am the legitimate President of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) worldwide elected in accordance with the Constitution of the IYC at Burutu, Delta State on the 1st day of March 2017. Any other person that is parading himself as President is just acting out of impunity, which must stop.”
I was elected in Burutu convention
On how he came to the office, he said, “I emerged as President of IYC through an election conducted at Burutu in accordance with the IYC constitution and established electoral practice and procedure of the IYC.”
“ Under the IYC constitution and the established practice, the three zones: eastern, central and western zones and the two chapters: Lagos and Abuja are expected to hold congresses and nominate two persons each for the zones and one per chapter three months before the expiration of the tenure of an outgoing national executive council of the IYC.
“This is for the purpose of forming the IYC National Electoral Committee with the President of IYC having the power to appoint the Chairman of the Election Committee (Eleco). This has been put to practice severally, including Dr. Chris Ekiyor, who appointed Hon. Kingsley Kuku as Eleco chairman during his term as IYC President and Miabiye Kuromiema, who appointed Jerry Oba as Eleco Chairman while he was IYC President.
“Therefore, at an executive council meeting held in Warri, Delta State sometime in November, 2016 and presided over by the then President, Udengs Eradiri, a decision was taken for the transition processes to start in line with the IYC constitution. In furtherance, the then president, Mr. Eradiri gave N300, 000 to each zone and N200, 000 per chapter to hold congresses to nominate Eleco members,” he asserted. .
Omare disclosed, “The eastern zone, Lagos and Abuja chapters promptly called and had their congresses wherein the nominees for the electoral committee were nominated. The western zone had their congresses at Bomadi on 30/11/2016, but the nomination of members of Eleco from the western zone was frustrated by the then chairman of western zone from Edo state.”
“The congress ended abruptly with a promise by the then western zone chairman to call for another congress to nominate Eleco members within seven days, which was never done. In the case of the central zone, the zonal chair out rightly refused to call for congress to nominate Eleco members from the central zone. All these antics happened in the central and western zones because these zonal chairs were instructed by their leaders not to allow the then President, Udengs Eradiri transit successfully.
“Some of these leaders behind the refusal to hold congress and nominate Eleco members for central and western zones were the ones who later met at Patani and took a decision to conduct a parallel election.
“This was a very abnormal situation because in pressure groups such as the IYC, what I am used to is a situation where an outgoing president would want to sit tight and refuse to transit. But in the case of Mr. Eradiri, he was desperately wanting to transit, but some forces within the IYC were resolved to frustrate him from transiting successfully. According to them, they wanted to disgrace him out of office,” he said.
His words, “In this state and the time allowed for the remaining two zones to call congresses to nominate Eleco members having expired, the available option was to call for a national convention of the IYC. It was also the demand of the western zonal congress and different stakeholders, including a stakeholders’ meeting at Chief Tom Ateke Tom’s residence in January, 2017.”
Parallel conventions in Okrika
“A national convention was therefore called at Ibaka town hall, Okrika, Rivers State on the 16th day of February, 2017 and presided over by the then President, Mr. Eradiri, wherein the convention, as the highest decision making body of the IYC, nominated the electoral committee members for central and western zone,. It cleared them and inaugurated the electoral committee to conduct election within the tenure of the Udengs- led national executive committee of the IYC.
“Consequently, the electoral committee inaugurated by the then president, Udengs Eradiri with Mr. Osacr Izu as chairman, conducted elections on the 1st day of March, 2017 at Burutu, headquarters of Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State at a gathering of more than 5000 Ijaw youths. I emerged and sworn-in as President of IYC together with other 10 national executive council members under the supervision of security agents and the outgoing president as is the tradition of the organization,” he added.
Omare stated, “Let me also make the point clearly that as at the 5th day of March, 2017, when some former leaders and stakeholders of IYC went to Okrika, Rivers to purportedly hold a convention and set up an electoral committee to conduct election on the 9thof April, 2017, the tenure of the Udengs- led executive had long expired.”
“The IYC has a constitution and by the IYC constitution, the tenure of the national executive council is for three years. In the case of the Udengs- led executive, the tenure was pronounced upon in two judgements; the Honourable Justice Ogola and the Honourable Justice Umukoro in suits Nos. YHC/79/2015: Udengs Eradiri & Ors v. Preye Agama & others and SHC/11/2016: Elvis Donkemezuo & others v. Udengs Eradirito to the effect that the tenure ends on the 2nd of March, 2017 and a new leadership was expected to take over by that date.
Therefore, at the time the Okrika parallel convention took place, the tenure of the Udengs- led executive had expired; hence aggrieved members of the Udengs executive had no power whatsoever to call for a parallel convention.
“Also, the only role of elders which comprises of former leaders under the IYC constitution is to advise and not to carry out any executive powers. It is elementary knowledge that if you are holding a tenured office, the moment your tenure expires, you have no power whatsoever to act in that position or capacity especially in this case when a new election had already taken place and new leadership has emerged.
Fumudoh committee misled Clark, other Ijaw leaders
“If you are aggrieved by the outcome, the option available is to take steps to set it aside and not to conduct a parallel election as in this case. This is where the report of the Chief Joshua Fumudoh- led Reconciliation Committee becomes ridiculous. It was one of the nine wonders of the world for the Fumudoh committee to rule that an election conducted by former leaders was valid, whereas the one conducted by the sitting leadership at the time in Burutu was not invalid.
“I can only accept such a decision if Chief Fumudoh, former President of INC can still carry out any valid action now as INC President or Amb. Igali, who acted as Secretary to the Elders Committee carry out any valid action now in his former position as federal Permanent Secretary.
“I have given these examples to demonstrate the ridiculous nature of the report of the Fumudoh- led Elders Reconciliation Committee. These facts were never made available to people like Chief E. K. Clark, Prof. Dime and other leaders, who were misled to endorse the Fumudoh committee’s report without having been properly briefed.
“A lot of the leaders have since known the fact and have denounced that committee’s decision. Also from the information at my disposal, the Fumudoh committee’s initial report was for another election to be conducted in the interest of peace and unity of the IYC, though not fair enough to us having been validly elected. But this initial report was manipulated by some members of the committee on getting to Abuja,” he asserted.
I’ve tremendous support
Omare maintained, “ I enjoy tremendous support across Ijaw nation and different class of Ijaw people and my activities since my emergence as President are celebrated and appreciated by Ijaw people. Even those that went to do a parallel election at Okrika, if you ask them they would tell you that I am their preferred president, but only felt that they were disrespected by the former president, Mr. Eradiri.”
“The fact that leaders like T. K. Ogoriba have decided to go into the arena of conflict do not make him a better leader and stakeholders than the likes of Bello Oboko, who once acted as President of IYC, Hendricks Opukeme and others, who have decided to play leadership role. I enjoy tremendous support among the high and low in Ijaw nation, but a lot of them would not come out and take a public position because that would create the impression that the Ijaw nation is at war with itself over IYC leadership.
“This is why the position of some leaders like T. K. Ogoriba and a few others who have taken a factional position is condemnable. As leaders, they ought to play stabilizing role and not to factionalize the organization in the name of fighting Mr. Eradiri. Some of these persons, who instigated the factionalization of the IYC are the same persons causing the friction in PANDEF because of their personal interest,” he asserted.
No legal obstacle to my election
On legal impediment before his election, he said, “At the time my election was done at Burutu on 1/3/2017, there was no pending case against the conduct of the election. However, after my election and swearing-in, some persons led by Ebi Waribigha, who purportedly emerged as Chairman of a factional Election Committee, on 5/3/201, at Okrika went to the Yenagoa Division of the Bayelsa State High Court to restrain me from parading myself as president of the IYC. They did not pursue this matter, hence it was struck out, instead, they went ahead to conduct another factional election at Okrika on 9/4/2017. “