The Ijaw people of the Niger Delta has been advised to return to fishing as a way to reduce over dependence on oil.
This advice came from former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godsday Orubebe.
Orubebe said there was a need for the people of the South-South to devise a strategy that would make them to be less dependent on oil resources in order to move the region forward.
He made this suggestion in his presentation at a seminar organised by the Ijaw Professionals Association in Lagos, on Saturday.
Delivering a paper entitled, “The place of the Ijaw in Nigeria: A call for strategic action,” Orubebe said it had become imperative for the region to look inward by diversifying its economy in order to make the oil producing communities less reliant on oil, noting that “oil has been a problem for our people.”
Orubebe noted that the people of the region were industrious before the discovery of oil.
He said that the discovery of oil distracted the Ijaw nation from its traditional economy and consequently left the people in poverty.
He said, “Because of oil we have abandoned what God has given us in our environment. Ijaw people naturally are fishermen. But we abandoned what God has given to us and we focused on oil which we don’t have absolute control of. And that is our dilemma. That is what has trapped us.”
The former minister also lamented the years of neglect of the region by successive governments.
He said, “Despite being one of the largest producers of oil in this country, the Ijaw have suffered marginalisation and infrastructural neglect. More than 90 per cent of the communities have yet to be connected with network of roads. Linkage to the national grid for electricity is still a dream.”