Niger Delta leaders and stakeholders on Tuesday met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja, making a 16-point demand that could guarantee lasting peace in the fragile region.
In attendance at the meeting were key leaders, Governors, past governors, youth leaders and members of the civil society.
Led by a former Federal Commissioner, Edwin Clark and King Alfred Diette-Spiff, the leaders presented 16-point demand including consideration of their people for oil blocs allocation.
The demands are described as “quick wins can be achieved and can restore hope and confidence in a region that has grown skeptical of dialogue and engagements that have hardly produced tangible results.”
1. The presidential amnesty Programme
2. Law and Justice issues: In view of the security situation in the Niger Delta, a number of pending law and justice issues regarding some aggrieved groups and individuals are yet to be resolved. It is important to address these issues urgently as a step towards lasting peace.
3. The effect of increased military presence in the Niger Delta
4. Plight of internally displaced persons
5. Ogoni clean-up and environmental remediation
6. The Maritime University Issue
7. Key regional critical infrastructure
8. Security surveillance and protection of oil and gas infrastructure
9. Relocation of Administrative and Operational Headquarters of IOCs
10. Power supply
11. Economic development and empowerment
12. Inclusive participation in oil industry and ownership of oil blocs
13. Restructuring and funding of the NDDC
14. Restructuring the Niger Delta Ministry
15. The Bakassi Question
16. Fiscal federalism
Responding, President Buhari assured the stakeholders that the demands wouldbe studied with a view to ending economic sabotage and environmental degradation in the region.
After the two hours meeting, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, who brokered the peace meeting spoke with State House correspondents.
His words, “”The reality is that as of today and this morning, we are at 2.1 million barrels production. That’s substantial. That would not have happened without efforts that went behind through the royal fathers and leaders, through the militant leaders.
“A lot of behind-the-scene engagements had taken place and will continue to take place.
“If you look at 7 big wins that we set up last week, part of the expectations by 2017 is to target a zero shut as a result of result of militancy. What that means is that it is going to be an ongoing engagement. It will never finish.
Kachikwu spoke further, “They also did ask for a review of the amnesty programm which they think was was not going on well. They asked for a proper funding of the Niger delta ministry which they believe should be the seating point for development in the area.
“And they did ask for some level of support for the IDPs. This individuals who were in the Niger delta area who have been moved out from the corridors because of the militancy that was going out there.
“Of course, they did ask for business opportunities for the people in the region especially the award of oil blocks to indigenes and surveillance contracts”.
Also speaking, Mr. Edwin Clark had this to say, ” “It was largely a courtesy call to bring to the front burner the issues of the Niger Delta and the concerns. And we spent time hearing from the Niger Delta Leaders in terms of their areas of concern and what they believe the federal government should to bring down pressure and stress in the area and to bring down militancy to the barest minimum if not eliminated.
“It was fairly good, fairly civilized dialogue between all the parties. I did make a speech in terms of what the federal government direction should be. The President gave his ideas in terms of what his thought processes were. I think it is a frank conversation. It is the beginning of a process.
“We had over a hundred representatives. So, it was a very well attended function. Opinions given were very honest, very frank to the point. But I think at the end of the day, we exchanged enough thought processes to go back to the drawing board to begin a process of work”.
He also said that they had the blessing of various Militant Groups to represent their interest.
“One thing that gladdens our minds today when the Minister was addressing the audience, he mentioned that the issue of maritime university has been settled. We now have it, first goodwill from the government and we have a duty to react,” he added.