From Tony John, Port Harcourt and Tony Osauzo, Benin
The Ijaw National Congress (INC) said President Muhammadu Buhari’s meeting with elders and leaders from the region scheduled for today may not resolve the Niger Delta problems.
President of INC, Alatubo Charles Harry, stated this yesterday, when he appeared on a radio programme in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, in reaction to the Federal Government’s plan to bring N10 billion-infrastructure fund to the region.
He said tasked the Federal Government to implement reports of several commissions on the development of the region
Harry said while Ijaw people believed in Buhari’s meeting with the people, who came under the aegis of Pan Niger Delta Elders’ Forum (PANDEF), it would not produce the required results, as constituted bodies in the region were not carried along.
“We’re waiting to see something more solid, something more concrete. We have heard too much talks and seen less action. An ad hoc solution will always have ad hoc answer. The permanent bodies in the Niger Delta are the constituted ethnic nationality groups like MOSOP, INC and others. We believe we have confident that they should go and discuss, if they so choose,” he said.
On the Federal Government’s plan to use force in addressing Niger Delta crisis, he said: “We don’t believe that the Federal Government is sincere with what it is doing; because, only two days ago, the Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, came up to say a new force is to be put together.
“We stand to wonder if they are really sincere about what they are saying. How can you say, on Tuesday, say you would have discussion with elders and traditional rulers from the zone, and at the same, you are putting up a force that is going to tackle the issues militarily? There is inconsistency in terms of what they are doing.”
But in what looked like agenda setting ahead of the meeting, Comrade Paul Bebenimibo has advised the Federal government to urgently kick-off the Maritime University at Okerenkoko and the private sector driven $16 billion EPZ project. He said the moves would guarantee a conducive atmosphere for dialogue.
The activist who urged the Federal Government to make effort to identify the true stakeholders in the region, said a meeting without the former militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo (aka) Tompolo, may not achieve the desired results.
However, he described the meeting as a good omen “because we earlier thought that this government has abandoned the issues of the Niger Delta.
“We are happy that our leaders are talking with the Federal Government but the truth is that from the information from the grassroots, the Federal Government should also identify true stakeholders like High Chief Government Ekpemupolo. Government should identify such people to work with because he understands the terrain.”
, he has the capacity to check militancy and above all, his humanitarian gesture has brought him closer to the people.
“The hostility in the Niger Delta is an effect, and not a causative factor. We do not think dialogue and negotiations are the issues. The issues are insincerity of purpose to implement. The issues in Niger Delta have been over-documented. There is nothing new to talk.
“So, if they want to stop it (hostility), just go ahead and implement the reports; give the people a sense of belonging. What is causing this problem is the same dislocation that the people feel. We need a situation where people can have self-determination. It is not even about breaking away,” Harry declared.