The Federal Government has been advised to be cautious of those parading themselves as Niger Delta stakeholders pressuring it to dialogue with them and those stoking the insurgency in the region.
The Warri Study Group (WSG), an Itsekiri think-tank, in a position paper made available to the media in Warri yesterday, also urged the government to treat the rising insurgency as criminality, adding that the problem facing the region is purely of bad management of resources.
The advice came against the backdrop of the deployment of heavy military hardware and personnel to Warri and other towns in the Niger Delta region last weekend.
The paper, signed by the group’s chairman, Edward Ekpoko, and secretary, Tony Ede, which largely reacted to the Chief Edwin Clark-convened regional stakeholders’ meeting in Effurun, Delta State, alleged that those coming out now as leaders of the region, seeking dialogue to end the festering crisis, were the people who initiated the idea to set the region on fire, using the insurgents.
It, however, discredited the conference as not, in any way, representative of the six coastal Niger Delta states it claimed to have drawn participants from, noting that more than 80% of those present were Ijaw. The visit to the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, by some traditional rulers from the region, was strictly an Ijaw affair, WSG said.
The paper, which lamented the damage done to the economy by the activities of insurgents and the insecurity it has gradually foisted on the region, expressed surprise that the Clark-led conference failed to denounce the main insurgent group, the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) for bringing the situation about.
‘’It is an open fact that some of these elders and traditional rulers are acting the script of the militants and have only recruited and/or assembled some few innocent ones and/or those willing to be bought outside their ethnic nationalities to give it a semblance of a Niger Delta struggle for better life, conditions and infrastructure.
‘’We have sadly observed that the communiqué issued at the end of the stakeholders meeting by the so-called six Niger Delta coastal states, which was neither read nor generally agreed on at the meeting, raises more questions than answers, namely: It was signed by only Chief E. K. Clark and Prof. G. G. Darah – both of Delta State out of the so-called six Niger Delta coastal states.
‘’We condemn the activities of the Niger Delta Avengers and other militant groups in the Niger Delta. We call on the Federal Government to bring all perpetrators of the criminal activities to justice.
‘’Federal Government must separate acts of criminality from genuine efforts to develop the region. The problem of the Niger Delta is more of management of the resources allocated than anything else. Evidence abound. Inspite of the trillions of naira that have been provided to the Niger Delta Intervention agencies and ministries over the years, there is nothing on ground to show for it.
‘’Both the consultative meeting of the stakeholders of the six Niger Delta coastal states held on 19 August, 2016 and the Niger Delta monarchs group that met with the Minister of Petroleum Resources are all Ijaw-driven and not pan-Niger Delta. The rest of the Niger Delta, which is made up of the Ibibio, Edo, Urhobo, Ikwerre, Ogoni, Efik, Isoko, Ndokwa, Itsekiri, etc, should not be made to learn and discover that problem solving in the Region can only be through violence and aggression. Violence and aggression should be discouraged by every means.
‘’We encourage the Federal Government and the various states to indeed dialogue for a lasting solution to the Niger Delta problems, but with the right stakeholders, not those that are seeing the struggle as a money-making venture’’, the paper said.