Citing amongst others, Osun state, which recently provoked a row with the federal government over a similar move, Bayelsa state, President Goodluck Jonathan’s home state, announced on Wednesday it was rolling out its flag, coat of arms and an anthem.
The customized insignia are to be released once the law establishing them is signed by the governor, Seriake Dickson.
Mr. Dickson said the decision was taken to forge a common identity for the Ijaws with the state reputed as their homeland, and assured it was nothing different from what was obtained in the other nine states that have towed a similar path.
“In line with the vision of the founding fathers of our dearly beloved state and given this administration’s stand on Ijaw mobilization, Ijaw integration and the need to promote Ijaw fundamental interest, which clearly is not subordinate to any other interests, the government of Bayelsa State has given its approval to have a state-owned emblem to mark and strengthen our sense of identity as a state,” Mr. Dickson said in a statement signed by his Press Secretary, Daniel Iworiso-Markson.
The decision was taken at Monday’s State Executive Council meeting, the statement adds.
The move brings to 10, the number of states with known state paraphernalia with the rest being Lagos, Oyo, Osun, Ondo, Ogun, Ekiti, Kwara, Cross River and Rivers States.
But more than any other state, it was a similar declaration by the Osun state government, led by the Action Congress of Nigeria’s Rauf Aregbesola that triggered a collision between the state and the federal government in April.
Mr. Aregbesola introduced a new anthem, coat of arm, new school uniform and other emblems which the governor maintained were to promote the state culture.
Federal officials viewed the move as “secessionist” and reportedly had Mr. Aregbesola closely monitored by the Department of State Security and other security agencies. He was also accused of having links with Islamic militants outside the country.
The allegations were fiercely rejected by the ACN and Mr. Aregbesola, who accused the federal security units of “overzealousness”.
Justifying its decision to behave like Osun and the other states, the Bayelsa state governor said the emblems are to brand the state, and are cardinal to the development effort of the oil-rich state.
“This decision also underscores government’s belief that this state, like any other state, is where the Ijaws, the fourth largest ethnic nationality, has as its home. Bayelsa is home to all Ijaws both at home and abroad,” the statement said.
“The emblem therefore will help serve as a unifying force and rallying point for all our people. It says a lot about the preservation of our culture, our essential values as a people and as a race.”