Chief Edwin Clark-led Pan-Niger Delta Coastal States Stakeholders’ Consultative Forum has kicked against the forthcoming Niger Delta Stakeholders’ Summit scheduled for September 26 to 27, 2016, at the NAF Conference Centre, Abuja.
A statement signed by Chief Clark and 28 others on Friday, said the summit being organized by the office of the Vice President was contrary to “the expectations of all right-thinking persons worldwide.”
They said, “The issues confronting the Niger Delta does not require an academic exercise to proffer solutions to the Niger Delta issues but rather, a credible dialogue process between the Federal Government, the oil companies and the accredited and authorized representatives of the region.
They reaffirmed their 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 through a summit.
The forum also claimed that the summit is being organized to downplay the factor of serious dialogue between the critical stakeholders who have the mandate and authority to negotiate with the Federal Government.
They said the oil production had increased to 1.7mbpd due to the cessation of hostilities on national assets by the armed agitators of the Niger Delta, stressing that if the peace process is further deepened, with proper negotiation, the possibility of reaching peak national oil production targets is very realistic.
The leaders said the development should serve as an impetus to commence the negotiation process, rather than engaging in frivolities and trivialities, stating that the Federal Government should not unnecessarily take steps that could lead to a relapse to insurgency by its inaction.
The group claimed that President Muhammadu Buhari, 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, had not responded to the demands of the people of the Niger Delta for a credible and proper dialogue process.
Continuing, “We note with happiness that the tegion has been relatively quiet and stable, following the ceasefire brokered by the leaders of the Region with the expectation that the Federal Government will urgently interface and 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. 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.”
The forum appealed to all the armed agitators to continue with the cessation of hostilities and remain calm and peaceful in the face of obvious provocation, saying, “as a people we are still committed to the vision of a peaceful, prosperous, united and restructured Nigeria where no one is oppressed.”
Other signatories to the statement, include 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 Ogar, Chief Ominimini Obiuwevbi and Chief Idu Amadhe.
Early in the week, retired Brig.-Gen. Paul Boroh, Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, expressed hope that FG’s talks with the Niger Delta Dialogue Contact Group (NDDCG) and the Pan Niger Delta Group (PNDG) being led by King Diete-Spiff, the Amayanabo of Twon, Brass, and Chief Edwin Clark, would yield results.