26 September 2016, Port Harcourt – There was a mixed signal, yesterday, in the Niger Delta region, to the resumption of hostilities by the Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, rejection of the Federal Government’s Niger Delta Summit by the Pan-Niger-Delta Coastal States Consultative Forum, led by Chief Edwin Clark and President Muhammadu Buhari’s seemingly undecided disposition to tangible dialogue/negotiation with stakeholders.
The Obong of Calabar, Edidem Abasi Ekpo Otu V, Senator representing Delta Central Senatorial district, Delta State in the National Assembly, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, and governorship aspirant of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the last governorship election in the state, Olorogu O’tega Emerhor, condemned the return to violence.
Some of the leaders took Buhari to the cleaners over his body language and most recent comment overseas that treasury looters were sponsoring militants, warning that he was exacerbating, rather than resolve the crisis.
Environmental harm Omo-Agege said, “It is very unfortunate. The resumption of hostilities by our brothers is short-sighted and counterproductive. The environmental harm occasioned by the bombings under-develops the region. It is only when he (Buhari) fails that we can take the government to task. I know the President wants genuine dialogue and means well for our people. They should allow peace to reign and give the President a chance to develop the Niger Delta.”
Obong of Calabar, Ekpo Otu V on his part, said, “Nobody can rescue Nigeria in one day. Everybody should play a part in the development of the country and destruction of oil installations will further aggravate the economic situation in the country and as such, the militants in the Niger Delta should put pay to destruction of oil facilities and installations.
“Politicians in the country only think and work for their interest without taking others into consideration. Some people see the government of Buhari as having no focus, but that is those who have been benefiting from the way the country was run in the past. To the serious minds, Buhari seems to have a direction and should be given the chance to redress a lot of things that have gone wrong bin the country.”
Olorogun Emerhor, stated: “It is unfortunate they are again resorting to violence. Violence cannot solve our Niger Delta problems. Government is still desirous of peace and has not abandoned dialogue. Two days ago (Saturday), there was a summit convened by Rotimi Amaechi, all to address this issue. I call for patience and cooperation from all stakeholders.”
Okon, other A’Ibom leaders back Clark, others
Akwa Ibom State leaders threw their weight towards the rejection of the planned two-day summit by Niger Delta leaders, describing the approach adopted towards solving the problems in the region as unfair and unacceptable.
A former military administrator in Akwa Ibom, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (retd) said: “I may not have all the facts about this said summit, but I am aware of this 60 days window that the militants gave and said there is a ceasefire. And what I heard as of that time was that they would like to dialogue so that we can go into the issues that are really at stake.
“And I know there was a time they said they would put together a team of Federal Government officials that will dialogue with representatives of these militants and stakeholders within the region so that we can really get into what the issue is and all that. The problem is that we have been having summits and conferences without achieving anything from the reports. It is not an academic exercise that will be able to solve this matter. I believe they will want to sit down and tell Nigerians why they are doing what they are doing. I think it is a very simple thing; we are now looking for the development in Nigeria. Of course we cannot develop if there is no peace. So whatever we can do to bring peace and you realise that you cannot have peace without justice. So let us get into the nitty-gritty of what is going on; talk to them.”
Similarly Senator Anietie Okon, who expressed regret over what he described as clear insensitive and lopsided policies of the current administration, said such a summit would have been another talk-shop.
Dismissing the summit, Okon said, “I do not think they know what they want to do and we are not going to be part of it. What we want is dialogue. Dialogue will be a situation where clearly critical issues are addressed rather than the so called summit that has no direction. It would have just been another talk-shop.”
National President South -South Solidarity Forum, SSSF, Dr. Bassey Umoh said, “The Federal Government is confused. If it thinks it can solve the problems of the Niger Delta people through a summit and without involving the agitators or their representatives, it will fail because that will be meaningless.”
Ball in the court of FG – Chief Mrs. Asuni, a.k.a Mama Niger Delta
Activist, Mrs. Judith Asuni, said: “The recent statements by the Niger Delta Dialogue Contact Group and the Pan-Niger Delta Coastal States Consultative Forum show that there are many articulate, informed people in the Niger Delta who are capable of organizing a dialogue with government. More than a month has passed since the declaration of ceasefire by the Niger Delta Avengers”.
“Yet the government has not initiated any serious dialogue with the people of the region. We have requested repeatedly for the Federal Government to identify a specific team to discuss the fundamental issues and to evolve solutions with, not for the people of the Niger Delta. We are waiting for positive and serious action by government,” she said.