By Mike Odiegwu/PunchNOTABLE Ijaw leaders met behind closed doors in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State on the security situation in the country and the safety of President Goodluck Jonathan.
Jonathan, who comes from Bayelsa, is Ijaw.
Our correspondent learnt that the meeting, which took place at the Government House on Friday, was reportedly convened by Governor Seriake Dickson.
It was attended by former Chairman of the defunct Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission, Chief Albert Horsfall; former Governor of the old Rivers State, Alfred Diete -Spiff; and former Bayelsa Governor Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha.
Others were former Minister of Aviation, Alabo Graham-Douglas; former President of Ijaw National Congress, Chief Joshua Fumudoh; and a Niger Delta activist, Ankio Briggs.
But former Federal Commissioner for Information, Chief Edwin Clark, famously called the Ijaw Nation Leader, was absent from the meeting, which lasted over six hours.
Our correspondent learnt that the security challenges facing the country, protection of Jonathan’s interests and that of the Ijaw ethnic group, development of Niger Delta, constitution amendment and the development of Bayelsa topped the agenda of the meeting.
A source, who attended the meeting, told our correspondent on Sunday that the elders were disturbed by the wave of violence in the country, especially in the North.
The source, who pleaded anonymity, said the the Ijaw leaders were afraid that Jonathan’s life might be in danger.
They were also worried that most of the security chiefs appointed by the President, including the National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, are not from the region.
The source said, “We are worried about the physical and political security of our President, who is our kinsman. His security is very important. He has to be protected so that he can deliver on his electoral promises. We are also aware that most of the security chiefs are not from our region and we are appealing to them to redouble their efforts in protecting our President.
“We are aware of the many obstacles in the way of his administration to portray him as being weak and incapable of managing the affairs of the country. We also condemn the condition given to him by Boko Haram to convert to Islam. It is unconstitutional because the constitution does not allow a state religion.”
Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, confirmed that the leaders met. He said the meeting was convened “to discuss critical issues considered crucial to the development of the Ijaw nation within the context of the Nigerian state”.
But Diete-Spiff said Dickson convened the meeting to unveil his restoration agenda to the elders and sought their advice on issues affecting the state and the country.
He said, “Actually, the governor briefed us on his stewardship. Basically on how to improve the transport system of the state, develop some seaports and make sure that some of the things penciled down are done, which are the refineries and LNG for Brass and Seaport in Agge.”