Some prominent Niger Deltans have expressed their reservations about the Summit called by the Federal Government on the Niger Delta.
The Summit is scheduled to hold on September 26 and 27 in Abuja.
But the prominent Niger Deltas said inasmuch as the idea behind the Summit was good, it should not be without the input of the critical stakeholders who better understand the issues at stake.
In a statement signed by Chief Edwin Clark, Timi Alaibe and Uranta Uranta among many others on behalf of Pan-Niger Delta Coastal States Stakeholders’ Consultative Forum, the prominent Niger Deltans said:
The attention of the Leadership of the Pan-Niger Delta Coastal States Stakeholders’ Consultative Forum has been drawn to the circulation of Invitation Letters to some Niger Delta indigenes and others to a Niger Delta Stakeholders’ Summit slated for the 26th – 27th September, 2016, at the NAF Conference Centre, Abuja. Whilst we do not begrudge the right of any authority or persons to convene any talk shop, we feel concerned that serious issue of the Niger Delta should not be trivialized into some academic exercise.
We also hold the view that the holding of such Summit at this time is clearly contrary to the expectations of all right-thinking persons worldwide.
The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Federal Government, for over six weeks, since cessation of hostilities as a result of the intervention by the Traditional Rulers, Elders and Leaders of the Niger Delta, have not deemed it fit to respond to the demands of the peoples of the Niger Delta for a credible and proper dialogue process.
We note with happiness that the Region has been relatively quiet and stable following the cease fire brokered by the leaders of the Regionwith the expectation that the Federal Government will urgently interfaceand commence negotiation with accredited representatives of the Niger Delta Region.
Rather than doing the needful, the Region has however, been over militarized of its creeks and other spaces, which have resulted in claims of rapes, brutalisation, incidental deaths and undue harassments suffered by our innocent sons and daughters during this period of the ceasefire. Internally displaced people are now littered all over the place. However, a significant achievement of the cease fire is the increase in the quantum of oil production of 1.7 mbpd, according to the Hon. Minister of States, Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu.
We wish to state that almost a month has elapsed since militant groups in the region agreed to a 60-Day cessation of hostilities without the Federal Government constituting a negotiation team. Rather, the Office of the Vice President is organizing a Summit of stakeholders purportedly for the Niger Delta. It is our considered opinion that for the Federal Government to contemplate a Summit of this nature, rather than proper dialogue and negotiations with leaders of the region is to trivialize the gravity of the issues and opt for a cosmetic approach.
Any reasonable person looking at the title and composition of attendees, officials, subjects and speeches at this so-called Summit, will discern that it is possible to replace the term Niger Delta with any other area of the country and it will not look odd. There is no Niger-Deltan of any level of representation there. Worse still, the Speakers at the Summit are mainly government officials, who should at best of times be listening to the people, instead of talking down to the people. In such a gathering, there are definitely no spaces for any meaningful discussions.
The point to note is that the Niger Delta crisis predates the present administration. In all the previous administrations, we never engaged in futile and cosmetic academic exercise as this Summit, to proffer solutions to the Niger Delta agitations. It would be recalled that in 2008, a Conference of this nature was proposed and which was to be chaired by Prof Ibrahim Gambari of the United Nations.
Leaders and stakeholders of the Region rejected the conference due to the fact that there had been series of Reports of such Conferences, Summits and Technical Committees on the Niger Delta not implemented by the Federal Government. This was what led to the setting up of a 45-man Technical Committee, under the chairmanship of Barrister Ledum Mitee, to collate and align all the various Reports on the Niger Delta. But after the death of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, that exercise never saw the light of day.
We wish to state in unambiguous terms that the issues confronting the Niger Delta do not require an academic exercise of this nature, masquerading as a Summit to proffer solutions to the Niger Delta issues. Rather, a credible dialogue process between the Federal Government, the oil companies and the accredited and authorized representatives of the region.
In consideration of the above, we wish to state as follows;
• That we reaffirm our collective resolve to only engage the Federal Government through a credible dialogue process with accredited representatives of the Niger Delta Region to proffer long lasting solutions to the protracted Niger Delta insurgency and not a Summit of this type.
• That the said Summit is organized to down play the factor of serious dialogue between the critical stakeholders who have the mandate and authority to negotiate with the Federal Government.
• That due to the cessation of hostilities on our national assets by the armed agitators of the Niger Delta, oil production has increased to 1.7mbpd and if the peace process is further deepened, with proper negotiation, the possibility of reachingpeak national oil production targets, is very realistic. Therefore, this should serve as an impetus to commence the negotiation process, rather than engaging in frivolities and trivialities. We are of the opinion that the FederalGovernment should not unnecessarily take steps that could lead to a relapse to insurgency by its inaction.
• That the same Federal Government that feigns ignorance of whom to interface with is seen actively orchestrating false flag operations and sponsoring diverse bodies with the intent of dividing the Region’s already unified fronts and justifying a continuation of the balkanization of the Region to facilitate uncontrolled access to its resources.
• That the indigenes of the Niger Delta who are invited to the said Summit are free to exercise their democratic rights to association.
However, such attendees, do not represent the Pan-Niger Delta States Stakeholders’ Forum and are not authorized or mandated to speak or represent same.
• That the Niger Delta calls on the UN Secretary General, Ban Kii Moon, the United States President Barrack Obama, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Theresa May, the Russian President Vladimir Putin, the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and all African countries, to get Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to see himself as President of all Nigeria, to give peace a sincere chance in order to expedite the escape of all Nigerians from the obvious economic hardship that has befallen Nigeria since the resurgence of armed agitations within the Niger Delta.
• We also appeal to all the armed agitators to continue with the cessation of hostilities and to remain calm and peaceful, even in the face of obvious provocation.
As a people we are, still, committed to the vision of a peaceful, prosperous, united and restructured Nigeria where no one is oppressed.
Chief (Dr.) Edwin K. Clark
Sen. Roland Owie
Air Cdr. Idongisit Nkanga
Chief Isaac Jemide
Dr. Monday Okonny
Barr. Ledum Mitee
Sen. Bassey Ewa Henshaw
Chief Francis Doukpola
Alaowei Broderich Bozimo
Prof. Lucky Akaruese
Mr. O’Mac Emakpore
High Chief Johnson Opone
Chief Timi Alaibe
Prof. G. G. Darah
Hon. Chief T. K. O. Okorotie
Dr. Efiong Edunam
P. Z. Aginighan
Prince Maikpobi Okareme
Chief Douglas Naingba
Chief Simeon Efenudu
Dr. Emmanuel Akpanobong
Gen. Idadada Ikponmwen, Rtd.
Mrs. Marie Ebikake
Mr. Tony Uranta
Nella Ewa, SAN
Col. Paul Ogbebor, Rtd.
Chief Sir Ominimini Obiuwevbi, Ph.D
Chief Idu Amadhe