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N’Delta monarchs meet FG, give terms for peace

Okechukwu Nnodim, Abuja

Traditional rulers and stakeholders from the Niger Delta coastal states on Thursday met the Federal Government and read out terms that would build confidence as well as restore peace in the region.

According to them, this was followed the ceasefire pronouncement by the Niger Delta Avengers and many other militant groups in the region on August 21, 2016.

In a joint text that was signed by the monarchs and read at the headquarters of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation in Abuja by the Bolowei of Gbaramatu Kingdom, Chief Wellington Okirika, the traditional rulers listed out six items which the Federal Government should do in order to build confidence and stop the destruction of the country’s oil assets by militants in the region.

They said, “Having acceded to the call for a ceasefire by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, on August 4, 2016, the buck has therefore now been passed to the table of the Federal Government as driven by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources – a representative of the Federal Government.

“For the purposes of building confidence in the system, we wish to state here that as a matter of urgency the Federal Government should appoint/constitute a Federal Government dialogue team; release the 10 innocent schoolchildren arrested by the Nigerian Army on the 28th of May, 2016 in Oporoza and others in detention on trumped up charges.

“Return the Golden Sword, being the symbol of authority in the Gbaramatu traditional institution; return the three traditional council speed boats in custody of the Nigerian Army; cessation of hostilities perpetrated by the military in the Niger Delta region; and equally important, the Federal Government should make a categorical statement about the opening of the Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State for academic activities in the 2016/2017 session.”

The traditional rulers observed that Thursday’s meeting with the Federal Government was unique because the past couple of months had been marred by protracted Niger Delta crisis in which a plethora of armed youths in the region vented anger on critical national assets.

They noted that on the August 4, 2016, Kachikwu commenced a consultative meeting with the Niger Delta delegation, led by His Royal Majesty, King Alfred Diette-Spiff, Amayanabo of Twon Brass and others, adding that the petroleum minister requested the delegation to secure a 60-day ceasefire from the agitators.

This, according to the traditional rulers, was aimed at enabling the Federal Government to tackle the issues raised by the armed agitators in the creeks of the Niger Delta.

Responding to the demands of the traditional rulers, Kachikwu thanked the monarchs for coming to the headquarters of the NNPC and the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources to meet with government officials on how to find a lasting solution to the problems in the Niger Delta region.

He, however, stated that it was sad to note that despite the ceasefire agreement, some militants still went ahead to blow up oil installations in Nembe Creek.

The minister said, “The ceasefire announcement by the NDA is very key. But what is more important is that when we say we will have a ceasefire, that ceasefire first and foremost must hold. I was reminded that on Monday, which is a day after the announcement, we had an attack on Nembe Creek and we lost another 150,000 barrels and some gas in the Agip facilities.

“So, there are still some splinter elements who despite the ceasefire, continued to attack the efficacy of that ceasefire. And it is the inability to stay steadfast on what had been resolved that usually brings in what you call the military intervention, because the reality is that no matter what we say, there is a limit to which the Federal Government will sit back and just see its assets being attacked while oil production continues to go down.”

Kachikwu also stated that huge amount of funds had been deposited in the Niger Delta in the past decade, but wondered why the region had not been developed.

He said, “In the course of all these analysis over the last few months, if you look at the amount of money that has been put into the Niger Delta over the last 10 years, it is over $40bn. This has come from derivation, oil companies’ investments, etc, and it is over $40bn. But as I go to the creeks, I see no single infrastructure that you can point to and say this is the result of this investment.”


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