Leaders of the Niger Delta have insisted on restructuring of Nigeria, as the only way forward to an enduring peace and security of life and property in the region and the country.
They made the declaration in separate interviews with newsmen, yesterday, on the sidelines of a meeting between Niger Delta leaders and the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Prof Charles Quaker Dokubo, at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Although they commended the Federal Government for the amnesty programme, they said it is not a solution to the ‘injustice’ meted to the region.
First gilitary governor of Rivers State, King Alfred Diete Spiff decried the degree of environmental degradation of the Niger Delta region as a result of gas flaring and other oil exploration activities. He regretted that lots of money are collected as penalty from the international oil companies (IOCs) for the damage to the oil host communities, but such monies are used to develop other areas while the impacted communities are neglected.
Rights activist, Anko Briggs, described the amnesty programme as “a palliative measure aimed at deceiving our people. I’m on record that amnesty programme is neither an answer nor solution to Niger Delta issues. The Niger Delta is not a crisis, it is an issue. We’re demanding justice and equity. We’re demanding resource ownership from time immemorial and we’ll continue to demand the control if our resources. We’re told it would run out in five to 10 years time, so, why not allow us utilise it for the remainder of the period.”
Earlier, Prof Dokubo said yesterday’s meeting was aimed at deepening the peace and security in the region as well as critically consider issues affecting them. He assured that Ondo State would be included in the programme after proper data of those who should benefit from the programme has been conducted by the federal government and the budget increased to accommodate the beneficiaries from the State.
“Amnesty is a vehicle for everyone in Niger Delta. Since I assumed office, I’ve listened to over 500 protesting groups on the way forward. I’m here to correct the mistakes of the past. After disarmament, we are in the process of re-integration of the ex-militants. To empower people, you must train them and reintegrate them into the society. We must emphasise the need for quality. If we don’t follow the amnesty programme with wisdom, it will kill us.”