Militants demand referendum, want president to visit region
President Muhammadu Buhari has offered to personally meet with governors, elders and other stakeholders from the Niger Delta as part of his efforts to seek peace in the region following renewed sabotage of oil and gas pipelines by militants.
The President of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC),UdensEradiri, said yesterday that the presidency had contacted elders and stakeholders to inform them of Buhari’s intention to talk peace.
Eradiri did not say when the meeting might take place but stated stakeholders would meet shortly on the crisis and the way forward.
Oil production in the country now hovers around 1.8million barrels per day from 2.5mpd on account of the attacks.
Eradiri spoke24 hours after the President pleaded with the militants to cease hostilities “in the name of God ?Almighty.”
Buhari told APC leaders at a breaking fast dinner on Friday the activities of the militants were hampering Nigeria’s development.
“No insurance company will want to insure installations that will end up being blown up and no banks will want to finance such installations,” he said.
“Those of you who have friends among the leadership or even the militants themselves should plead with them in the name of God ?Almighty to take it easy.”
Eradiri yesterday commended President Buhari for heeding the advice of the IYC to use dialogue in resolving crisis in the region.
His words: “We want to commend the President because I heard from the grapevine, from one of our foremost governors and leader of Ijaw land this morning (yesterday) when he said they had been invited by the President for an engagement with respect to the Niger Delta crises.
“So, I want to commend the President for hearing our cries and for taking the right approach because there is no other approach than what the President has decided to do.
“Mr. President is a very meticulous man who keeps a lot of things to his chest and Nigerian and people who are always around take advantage of his silence and misinterpret the body language of Mr. President in various ways.
“That body language that has been misinterpreted has created a lot of confusion that has further worsened the situation in Niger Delta.
“Therefore we thank God Mr. President will be coming out boldly to address the issues and body language will no longer be misrepresented.
“We want to thank the president for that bold step and look forward to the right leaders going to sit down with the President to properly articulate the position of Niger Delta”.
But he said the Ijaw would continue to advocate for true federalism and restructuring as the permanent solutions to issues affecting different parts of the country.
Eradiri maintained that restructuring would solve the problems of Fulani herdsmen, constant attacks on pipelines, agitation for Biafria and other matters arising from the lopsidedness of the Nigerian state.
He said: “We are of the opinion that Nigeria needs to be restructured so that we can solve problems of tomato price, dollar prices, insecurity, herdsmen crisesand insecurity in the middle belt, armed robbery cases and others.
“The only solution to Nigeria’s problems not just Niger Delta problem is that we restructure this country to the point where people sit down and agree that we should go forward as a nation.
“It is only in that spirit that we will solve Avengers’ (Niger Delta Avengers) problems once and for all.
“We want a holistic approach to the problem so that tomorrow an avenger will not arise or a destroyer will not arise or another pseudo group will not come and be destabilising the region.
“We have said this because the same issue the Willink’s Commission talked about was the same issue Isaac Boro came out to declare the Niger Delta Republic and eventually fought for Nigeria and died for it; the same issue Ken SaroWiwa was killed for.
“It is the same issue that led to the formation of IYC to non-violently address issues of underdevelopment and marginalisation in the Nigeria state and the same issues that led to MEND and the same issue that led to avengers.
“So, if we want to move forward its only common sense that we address those issues and we think that those issues are holistically embedded in a restructured Nigeria.”