Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Dialogue Way Out Of Niger Delta Crises- Ex-Deputy Gov

Dialogue Way Out Of Niger Delta Crises- Ex-Deputy Gov

Worried by the resumption of bombings of oil pipelines by militants in the Niger Delta, former Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Dr. Chris Ekpenyong, has warned against using strong-arms tactic to quell the problem.

Militants’ groups in the region have resorted to blowing up oil and gas infrastructure in the region since former President Goodluck Jonathan lost the 2015 Presidential poll in
a protest that has cut oil output from 2.2 million barrel per day to a staggering 1.5 million.

The agitators, who are demanding for greater share of resources from the zone, have warned oil companies operating in the region to leave or be killed in a renewed campaign to draw Federal Government’s attention to series of environmental disasters plaguing the region.

But Ekpenyong, though described the agitation as legitimate, has faulted the militants approach, warning that: “there is no amount of militancy that will help the Niger Delta.”

Speaking in an interview in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, the former Deputy Governor traced the history of arms struggle in the region to the 60s when the late Adaka Boro was at the forefront, noting that such confrontational postures only worked antithetically to undermine the development of the Niger Delta.

While urging the militants to sheathe their swords, Ekpenyong advised President Muhammadu Buhari to convoke a parley where genuine stakeholders of the region will interface with the Federal Government team to resolve the problem.

He noted that as the Buhari-led administration has set the tone towards the implementation of UNEP report on Ogoni clean up, it was unnecessary for the militants to further degrade by polluting farmlands and waters that would add to the problems of the long-suffering people of Niger Delta.
He charged the Federal Government to work towards addressing the genuine concerns of minorities in the polity, recalling that the Willink Constitution of 1958 had provided for the minorities to be given a sense of belonging in the Federation.

“Niger Delta should be given a fair share of what it is producing”, Ekpenyong stressed, lamenting that the management of oil resources in region must be equitably distributed and Niger Deltans allowed greater participation for greater benefits to the region.

Besides, Ekpeneyong, who has joined the growing calls for the restructuring of the Federation, advocated for each States to have greater control of their resources, noting that the Federal Government’s overbearing influence on components States was partly responsible for the ongoing geopolitical wars in the country.

According to him, dousing the current tension in the region through genuine dialogue would detract the President from his pre-election promises to Nigerians and also force public opinion against him -if he wishes to re-contest in 2019.
He charged the Federal Government to work towards a new paradigm shift by diversifying the economy from oil to agriculture and solid minerals, pointing that such change in focus would reduce attraction from oil, while creating jobs and wealth for the people in other sectors of the economy.

Source: The Nation News

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