Convene national dialogue or we move for freedom, Clark tells Buhari

Convene national dialogue or we move for freedom, Clark tells Buhari
Muhammadu Buhari

Elder statesman and Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark, has issued a three-month ultimatum to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd) to address the pressing issues of the country through a national dialogue.

In a communique issued at the end of a South-South zonal conference comprising representatives of ethnic groups in order on Friday in Rivers State, the group urged Buhari to convene a national dialogue to chart a new course for the country.

The conference which has critical stakeholders and representatives of ethnic nationalities in the region was organized by the Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development in partnership with Agape Birthrights Development Initiative.

Clark was represented at the event by Chief Obiuwevbi Ominimini who read his address, career diplomat and Nigeria's former Ambassador to Czechoslovakia, Dr. Godknows Igali and the National Chairman of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, Senator Emmanuel Ebok-Essien were present at the event.

While restating the urgent need for restructuring and devolution of more powers to the states, they said oppressive and repressive tendencies against the Niger Delta region and its people would no longer be tolerated and urged the apex government to stop selling out their resources to the Chinese and others.

The stakeholders cutting across the nine states of the region said at the expiration of the three months deadline, the Niger Delta people will commence the process that will guarantee their freedom and progress.

The communique which was read by prominent Niger Delta activist and President of Agape birthrights development Initiative, Ms. Ann Kio-Brigss states, "We the people of the Niger Delta hereby give the Government of Nigeria a three months window, within which to cordially address our concerns towards re-federalizing the polity, by convening a national dialogue of the representatives of the ethnic groups in Nigeria to chart a new course for the country.

"At the expiration of this three months window, we the people of the Niger Delta will commence the process that will guarantee our freedom and progress.

"Our people should mobilize all human resources to see that fiscal federalism and devolution of powers are includes in the constitution. There should be internal justice amongst us- charity begins at home.

"We the people of the Niger Delta hereby reaffirm their commonality, unity and oneness despite our multi-ethnic diversities.

"The Niger Delta people who are the breadwinners of Nigeria, demand to be heard and fairly, treated with equity by the oppressive Nigerian State, and by extension, the insensitive Nigerian political class, as the only basis for peaceful co-existence.

"We the people of the Niger Delta demand restructuring, with the states as the federating units and devolution of more powers to the states

"We the ethnic nationalities of the south-south, affirm the right of peoples to self-determination and to fully control their resource to stop and put an end to further deprivation and despoliation of their environment which they have suffered in the last 60 years.

"The people of the Niger Delta will take all lawful measures to develop an agenda for freedom and liberation and development of the region.

"The Niger Delta ethnic nationalities hereby demand that the Governors of the South-South immediately set up security outfits in their respective states and network with each other the region to protect our territories against terrorists, criminals, land grabbers and other criminals who often operate as bandits and kidnappers.

"Niger Deltans demand that the Governors of the South-South region immediately set up community-based defence forces in all Local Government Areas of the South-South.

"The ethnic nationalities of the Niger Delta demand the Federal Government of Nigeria to immediately discontinue the selective appointments, posting and deployment of mainly non-middle-belt and Southern Nigerian security officials to the Niger Delta to oppression of our people.

"The Niger Delta demands equal representation, control and headship of all relevant security and military organizations in the country. The Niger Delta demands and expresses the desire for a provision in the Nigerian constitution for the exercise of the inalienable right to self-determination through a referendum in line with international laws

"The Niger Delta demands total ownership rights to lands, natural resources, seas and waters by communities wherever such are located in the region.

"The Niger Delta has resolved to put an end to all oppressive and repressive tendencies by the Nigerian State against our region and warns that we shall no longer tolerate same from other nationalities.

"The Niger Delta people demand immediate environmental remediation and clean-up of Niger-Delta has been deliberately devastated by crude oil exploration and exploitation. The Niger Delta Governors should as a matter of extreme urgency take the issue of Food Security to prevent the starvation of our people in the event of any food blockade.

"The Niger Delta Governors are to ensure the protection of the flora/fauna and take interest in general environmental protection, including endowments above or beneath the soil for sustainable development.

"The Niger Delta people demand that the federal government desists from selling out our resources to the Chinese or Sukuk promoting countries, to secure any project.

"The Niger Delta People demand their enjoyment of the right to own and bear arms for selfdefence as law-abiding citizens. The selective grant of firearms licences is hereby condemned and denounced. This is necessary considering the present state of insecurity in Nigeria.

"The people of Niger Delta demand the establishment of State Police in their respective states. The people of Niger Delta demand the establishment of an Environmental Tribunal specifically aligned with Oil Industry standards on pollution and to carry out Environmental Audit and cleanup of the entire affected areas of the region.

"The Niger Delta demands equal representation, control and headship of all relevant security and military organizations in the country. The Niger Delta demands and expresses the desire for a provision in the Nigerian constitution for the exercise of the inalienable right to self-determination through a referendum in line with international laws

"The Niger Delta demands total ownership rights to lands, natural resources, seas and waters by communities wherever such are located in the region.

"The Niger Delta has resolved to put an end to all oppressive and repressive tendencies by the Nigerian State against our region and warns that we shall no longer tolerate same from other nationalities.

"The Niger Delta people demand immediate environmental remediation and clean-up of Niger-Delta which has been deliberately devastated by crude oil exploration and

exploitation. The Niger Delta people demand that the federal government desists from selling out our resources to the Chinese or Sukuk promoting countries, to secure any project.

"The Niger Delta People demand their enjoyment of the right to own and bear arms for self-defence as law-abiding citizens. The selective grant of firearms licences is hereby condemned and denounced. This is necessary considering the present state of insecurity in

Nigeria. The people of Niger Delta demand the establishment of State Police in their respective states.

"The Niger Delta people demand that the Governors of the South-South States, apart from Bayelsa State must take immediate steps to give legislative backing to the 2021 Asaba declaration on the issue of abolition of Open Grazing in the Niger-Delta region.

"All the ethnic nationalities of the South-South regions are in support of total restructuring of the Nigerian federation to ensure 100 per cent equity and justice.

"The people of Niger Delta demand the accountability from its leaders at all levels in terms of administering the resources and that restructuring should not only be about federal but states too because a state that hasn't managed or accounted for the 13 percent derivation when given 87 percent may do worse, so we need to rise to accountability and transparency," among others.

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