Why Niger Delta Leaders Are Against Buhari’s Stakeholder Consultative Forum

The Chief Edwin Clark-led Pan Niger Delta Coastal States Stakeholders Consultative Forum on Saturday rejected the Federal Government’s proposed two-day summit in the region. The group vowed not to attend the event.

The leaders also called on the government of the United States to prevail on President Muhammadu Buhari to abide by his earlier agreement to hold dialogue with militants in the region.

Clark, who was represented by a former Police Affairs Minister, Alaowei Bozimo, said this when a three-man delegation from the US visited the elders and stakeholders at Effurun, Delta State.

This is the second time officials from the US are visiting the Clark dialogue team which also enjoys the support of some militant groups.

It was a closed-door meeting and journalists were barred from attending it.

The US officials, who were acting with the support of the Federal Government, were told to prevail on the President to ensure a genuine dialogue in the face of the renewed militancy in the region.

A militant group in the region, Niger Delta Avengers, on Friday blew up a crude oil exporting line in Bonny, Rivers State, to protest what they described as government’s delayed tactics in holding talks with the people of the region.

However, Bozimo told journalists after the meeting, “It is timely that the US has come again on a fact-finding mission. We just told them that we want a dialogue and not the summit that Federal Government intended to convene.

“It is equally a wise decision of the government to have suspended that inappropriate summit going by the reports we have received. We believe that the answer is not a summit. The answer is dialogue. The way forward is not the jamborees or endless summits.

“A very incongruous gathering of nearly 500 persons with government officials talking to themselves at Abuja, which would have been the experience with the summit, could not have addressed the key issues. That is why we are objected to the summit. Dialogue and not the monologue they were trying to put up can resolve the crises in the region.’’.

He also that leaders in the region trusted the US fact-finding team to deliver their position to its government.

Bozimo said, ‘‘They have come to see things for themselves. And we believe they will take the feedback to their government who will then be in a position to advise the Federal Government in order to solve the current situation in the Niger Delta.’’

Some of the leaders who attended the meeting included Prof. Gordini Darah, Chief Isaac Jemide, Prof. Luck Akaruese, Dr. Sylvester Piniki, Chief (Mrs.) Margaret Unukegbon and Gen. Don Idada Ikpemwen (retd.) among others.

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