FORMER Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd) has said that the Ijaw nation has never supported the disintegration of Nigeria, rather they have deployed both their intellectual wealth and resources to contribute to the unity and oneness of the country.
This Gowon said while commissioning the Ijaw National Academy in Kaiama, Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
He said that while in office, Ijaw people that were in his government fought for a united Nigeria, saying “We ensured that we kept the country together, not minding issues and agitations that could have separated us (Nigeria).”
The Former Head of State, who congratulated the Governor Seriake Dickson led government, said education was the most potent weapon for the growth and development of a state; adding that investing in education, epitomized by the world class facility in the Ijaw National Academy would give the Ijaw people greater recognition now and in the future.
Said he “Though your area (Ijaw territory) is largely riverine, but you (Governor Dickson) have overcome your terrain by building this academy for your people.
“I congratulate you for what you are doing in this area and all Ijaw people should continue to support this great idea that would reposition the state in the near future. I also thank you for inviting me to commission the academy,” Gowon submitted.
He charged the students to reciprocate government investment in the building the world class Ijaw National Academy by defending it with their blood because it is their heritage, even as he urged them not to destroy the facilities but use it judiciously.
Gowon averred that like other national academies, particularly the one built by Late Alhaji Tafawa Balewa and others in the west and east, the government should open admission to Ijaws in Ondo, Edo, Rivers, Cross Rivers and Delta, as well as other Nigerians for them to appraise the accelerated development in Ijaw land.
Also, foremost Ijaw Leader, Chief Edwin Clark lauded General Gowon for granting his request to build more schools in Ijaw land aside the Bomandi Grammar School, which was the only school in 1968, even as he pointed that it culminated to the Midwest Institute of Technology and later metamorphosed to University of Benin, where he served as the first pro-chancellor for five years.