Mkpoikana Udoma 05 October 2016, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt – Stakeholders in the Niger Delta region have called for true federalism in which resource control, equity and justice would prevail, if the Federal Government is to resolve issues triggering agitations and crisis in the country.
Elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, in an interview, also urged dialogue as a means of resolving the crises in the Niger Delta. “We don’t need war, there is need for us to dialogue,” Clark said.
He noted that in 2008 and 2009 when the Federal Government tried to use force and intimidation to solve militancy in the region, crude oil production dropped to 700,000 barrels per day, from two million barrels per day, stressing that this led to the granting of amnesty to the militants.
With the resurgence of militancy earlier in the year, he said, oil production dropped to one million barrels per day, adding that this had gone up to 1.7 million barrels per day following intervention by his group to negotiate on behalf of the militants.
Clark maintained that if the Federal Government adopted the dialogue option, production would return to about 2 million barrels a day before the end of the year.
Stakeholders,who spoke in Port Harcourt during the recent 2016 United Nations International Day of Peace, with the theme, “The Sustainable Development Goals, Building Blocks For Peace”, also urged dialogue in the resolution of the Niger Delta issue.
Chairman of the Rivers State Traditional Rulers Council, King Dandeson Jaja, expressed the need for the Federal Government to “address properly the issue of resource control, if Nigeria really wants to be in peace”.
King Jaja, who is the Amayanabo of Opobo Kingdom, said only equity and justice could bring about peace and understanding, adding that “the only way to achieve sustainable peace among the ethnic groups and people in Nigeria is to practise true federalism.”
He also called on the Federal Government to embrace peace and dialogue to resolve the issue of vandalism and sabotage of critical assets by militants in the region while appealing to the agitators in Niger Delta and other parts of the country to be patient with the Federal Government and desist from using violence as means of resolving issues.
Peace and development cannot be sustained in the midst of violence and crisis, he added.
Also advocating resource control, a university teacher, Prof. Kimse Okoko, said justice and equity was the only basis for peace in any society.
Okoko also called for all-inclusive Nigeria, where all citizens, irrespective of their tribe and religious inclinations, would have a stake.
He said “the militarisation of Niger Delta would not solve any problem,” adding that “there can be no peace in Nigeria, if the issue of injustice is not addressed properly by the Federal Government.”
Earlier in his address, the World Peace President, Amb. Per Stafsen from Denmark, said peace could only be achieved easily if governments all over the world respect the demands of their people and come out with policies and programmes that will better the lot of the people.
According to him, “if peace is not present in whatever we are doing, violence will occupy the act and intent of people’s hearts.”
He called on governments in Nigeria to prioritise the needs of the people, and make them the centre piece of governance, if Nigeria must achieve sustainable peace, stability and development.