Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo state has been called out by the Arogbo Ijaw Patriots (AIP).
The group accused the state government of forcing Ijaws to recite Oduduwa anthem during the conduct of a promotion examination for senior civil servants.
A statement by the Coordinator and Secretary, Fidelis Soriwei and Bibisa Kekemeke noted that Akeredolu’s order was a flagrant violation of the rights of the Ijaw ethnic minority.
Akeredolu, via a memo signed by the Permanent Secretary, Ondo State Teaching Service Commission, Tolu Adeyemi, made it compulsory for the anthem to be sung in all secondary schools.
AIP said the development was absurd and disturbing, insisting that the Ijaws speak their own language in consonance with their distinct ethnicity and would like to keep that identity.
They want Akeredolu to “respect the rights of the marginalized Arogbo Ijaws to a dignified existence in Ondo as provided for by the constitution”.
The organization said the state comprises two ethnicities – the Yoruba occupying 17 Local Government Areas and the Ijaws who occupy 1 LGA.
AIP lamented that Ondo State Civil Service “took further steps in the abuse of the law to ask people including Arogbo Ijaws to sing the anthem in a promotion interview at the Governor’s Office Civil Service Matters”.
The statement advised Akeredolu to “display the expected consciousness on the need for fairness to note the fact that Ondo State is not like the homogenous South-West State where every citizen is Yoruba”.
Stressing that the Ijaws are not opposed to agitations of whatever form, the group condemned “the brazen unfair, irresponsible expansionist attempt to make them assimilated Yoruba people”.
AIP said the Ijaw territory which became part of Ondo State in 1976 is not a vassal territory and should not be treated as such.
They urged the Ijaw National Congress, the Attorney General of the Federation, and Nigerians to prevail on Akeredolu to stop “his disdainful treatment of the Ijaw minority”.