A cross section of the public, especially human rights activists have reacted sharply against the 57th Independence Speech of President Muhammadu Buhari with some describing it as dishonest while others see it as an attempt to intimidate and silence some sections of the country.
Sofri Peterside, another Niger Delta activist said the federal government was only patronising the region so as to continue oil and gas exploration and exploitation.
“What is important in case of the Niger Delta is that it sustains the Nigerian economy and so everything is done to placate the people or to create the impression that government is interested in addressing the nagging problems of under development, the nagging problems of poverty, what I call the stranglehold of poverty on the people”.
On her part, Ann-Kio Briggs in her reaction sees the President claim that government was discussing with the Niger Delta as dishonest pointing that discussions held with some Niger Delta individuals in government at some points at Aso Rock could not pass for discussion with the people of the region.
She said negotiations with the Niger Delta people would involve all the ethnic nationalities in the region and not just a few persons.
“She said; “to say that there are people the federal government is discussing with, there are over 30 ethnic nationalities and when you have just one or two people that are from Rivers State in a group talking with the Vice President or the President sometime in the villa that, my brothers, my people do not amount to dialoguing with the Niger Delta. Our agitation is not a community agitation. Who is going to determine what is genuine”, she queried.
Also speaking Biobelle Aremie, a public affairs analyst frowned at what he termed the use of fear factor by the President against ethnic agitators in the country.
According to him as wide as the President’s speech was, the issue of restructuring, the issue of marginalization, the issue of self-determination was not actually touched. Reference to the civil was trying to create fear in the heart of the people when you say ‘those who did not see the war should ask those who saw it’ as it means that if you know what it was you won’t ask for your rights, you won’t ask for justice. Now you get peace when there is no justice”.
Meanwhile the chairman of a Non-governmental organization Developmental Needs and Research Services, Chikwem Wisdom Dike expressed hopes that Nigeria would overcome her challenges.
He said it was a pity that 57 years after Independence, the country was still grappling with some foundational challenges that bedevilling right from the beginning saying that the present generation has the responsibility of reshaping Nigeria.
Dike stated in a radio programme monitored in Port Harcourt; “now it is really unfortunate that 57 years after we are still saddled with the same problems that our founding fathers were trying to address. So it’s a sad story”.
“But all hope is not lost, every region of the world, every country of the world is given the opportunity to define its future and that is where I anchor my hope, in spite of my fears. That this country is trying to lose its territory to all kinds of ideologies, all kinds of things. We still have the opportunity to reclaim, reclaim our nation”, he added.