Ijaw leader reminds FG to have agreed dialogue with Niger Delta militants before its ‘too late’
National leader of the Ijaw people, Chief Edwin Clark, On Thursday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to expedite action in facilitating the planned ‘dialogue’ with the people of the Niger Delta, as militants were running out of patience with the government.
Clark, who stated this in his country home, Kiagbodo in Delta State, while receiving the newly sworn in executives of Izon-Ebe Oil and Gas Producing Communities Association (IOGPCA), as well as leaders of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), warned the current administration to act fast in the interest of peace.
It is getting late for President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Government on the issue of dialogue with the aggrieved Niger Delta agitators who have stopped the bombing of pipelines and other facilities.
If the dialogue fails to commence as soon as possible, the boys may feel betrayed and go back to the creeks and resume hostilities
Clark who also commended President Buhari for acknowledging that dialogue was the solution to the attacks on oil assets in the region, said he believed the planned dialogue would address some of the region’s problems.
“When Mr. President gave his New Year message, he paid particular attention to peace in the Niger Delta. He said he was prepared to dialogue with Niger Delta people.
And he used the word, ‘I am persuading’, the second time he was using that word. So, we congratulate him for the first time of agreeing that dialogue is the answer.
“So we are ready, but no impression should be given that they are still looking for people to negotiate with, because on the 1st November, last year, we met with him, we were about a hundred; traditional leaders, opinion leaders, youths, women, we all met at Aso Rock.
“We were, therefore, very happy when he decided that no armed conflict.
November to January is a long time. We have been waiting and we were surprised that one of his media aides came to the television to say they are still looking for credible people to negotiate with. That’s a grave insult to us.”
While describing as a great insult comments credited to the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, that groups in the region were not united,
I saw the president’s media man claiming that we are not one and not united, and that the Federal Government was still looking for people to negotiate with.That was a great insult to us. “On July 30, 2016, I summoned a meeting of all Ijaw leaders and traditional rulers to my house in Warri and the Deputy Governor of Delta State was in attendance.After that first meeting, I decided to call for another one with paid adverts in national dailies, since it was not only the Ijaws that have oil and gas.
Clark added that at that meeting, which was held at the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI), Effurun, with over 500 delegates in attendance, the Ijaw leaders advised the agitators to lay down their arms and stop the destruction and vandalism of oil and gas facilities.
He disclosed that after the meeting, the “boys in the creeks” quickly responded and mandated him to negotiate on their behalf, stating that on November 1, 2016, he led a delegation comprising traditional rulers, leaders, women and youth leaders from the Niger Delta to the Presidential Villa, Abuja, where they presented to the Federal Government a 16-point demand for dialogue and negotiations. He also condemned the violence in Southern Kaduna, calling on the federal government to show more interest.