Judex Okoro, Calabar
Stakeholders in the Niger Delta region have deplored the rising insecurity in the zone, saying it is the great threat to socio-economic development in the country.
The gathering, which attracted eminent personalities and senior citizens and with the theme “Insecurity in the South-South States: Issues, Actors, Solutions,” was organised by Niger Delta Dialogue Secretariat in partnership with the European Union and AA Peace Works.
The dialogue examined a preliminary report presented by leading researchers from the region who were commissioned to examine the factors that fuel insecurity in the region on a state by state basis.
Speaking during the dialogue, the convener of the NDD and former Nigeria’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, Nkoyo Toyo, lamented the scourge of insecurity in the region stressing that it is a major threat to the region.
She said over the years security in the region has deteriorated and the region has become increasingly unsafe.
She said: “Insecurity is identified as the biggest threat to the region. Our region is very unsafe even for those who live in it. This made us engage independent researchers who went across the region, took notes and try to unravel the causes of insecurity in the region.
“They are also to provide a clear empirical evidence and the basis of conflicts in the region and try to understand what are the factors behind insecurity in a state by state basis”, she said.
She said the dialogue is their contribution to solving a growing problem and the initiative is just the beginning of many other efforts to bring peace to the region.
Also speaking, Hon. Eteng Jonas Williams, the Speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly commended the initiative behind the dialogue saying it is apt.
He said as the parliament’s contributions to the bringing peace in the region in general and Cross River in particular, the assembly will strengthen the laws.
“I will say for a long time I feel refreshed with this dialogue; the topic is apt and the solutions rendered fantastic.
“This is one of the most intellectual approach to the issue of insecurity in the country and practical issues were being discussed and frankly.
“As an Assembly, we are going to sit down again and gather all the information here, look at our laws and improve on them”, he said.
On his part, the paramount ruler of Bakassi, Etinyin Etim Okon Edet said the traditional institutions have a crucial role to play in improving the security of the country.
He said “From time immemorial, traditional institutions had been on ground. The legislature, executive and judicial arm of government were all embedded in one person and we had peace in our various communities.
“We have a serious role to play in this regard and go back to our native way of curbing insecurity.
“We commend the NDD for this wonderful project and pledge our absolute support”, he said.
In his contribution Senator Bassey Ewa Henshaw the state Chairman of PANDEF commended the NDD for intervening in the security mess in the region.
He said businesses have taken a plunge in the region, particularly in Cross River State, and expressed optimism that the dialogue will go a long way reversing the ugly trend.
Also contributing, Ken Robinson, the National Publicity Secretary of Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, said without security there will be no development.
He said PANDEF is glad to be part of the dialogue and will support the initiative to ensure that lasting peace returns to the region.