N’Delta dialogue: Civil society groups insist on restructuring, resource control

•Warn Clark, others

CIVIL society groups under the aegis of Pan Niger Delta Civil Societies Group, on Saturday, canvassed for restructuring of the country, resource control and regional autonomy as the way out of the Niger Delta debacle.

The group is made of Niger Delta Security Watch Organisation (NDSWON); Ijaw Human Rights Monitors; Ijaw People’s Development Initiative (IPDI) and the Foundation for Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Crusade (FHRACC).

The group, in a joint statement signed by the various leaders in Warri, Delta State, expressed disappointment at the position arrived at during a parley by Pan Niger Delta dialogue team led by Chief Edwin Clark with the United States Undersecretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Homeland Rights, Dr Sarah Sewall, at the residence of Clark in Asokoro, Abuja.

It noted that if decision at the meeting  would be the position of the leaders at the Tuesday dialogue with President Muhammadu Buhari, “the imbroglio and age-long injustice” against the Niger Delta people would persist.

“The issues canvassed at the parley seem to be a prelude to what our leaders will be presenting to the Federal Government at forthcoming dialogue convened by President Buhari.

“If that be the case, then we are totally disappointed in the position of our leaders. It appears to us that the Niger Delta dialogue team did not appraise the concerns of the region.

“What Niger Delta people want is restructuring of the country which will usher in political autonomy and resource ownership to the components states,” the group said.

It noted that the provision of infrastructure should not be in the front burner as it was government’s responsibility, saying that emphasis should be on restructuring and resource control.

“It is the responsibility of sensible government to provide infrastructure for its citizenry in any part of the country.

“The twin issues of oil governance and restructuring of this defective country ought to be our priority. Any elder or leader having the intention to  present to the president at the meeting total provision of infrastructure is not speaking the mind of the region,” it added.

The civil societies group called on leaders from the region who would not be able to articulate the issues that would guarantee total liberation of the region to back out of the dialogue team.

“Anything short of our long term demands will be tantamount to failure on the part of Chief Edwin Clark-led team.

“It will be unforgivable if, like in the past, this opportunity is seen as a platform to negotiate personal gains.

“The focus must be on total liberation and not on issues that cannot address our age-long yearnings and aspirations,” it said.