Published On: Wed, Nov 6th, 2013

Atiku, Niger Delta Bishops Parley on State of the Nation

Alhaji Atiku Abubakar

LAGOS NOVEMVER 6TH (URHOBOTODAY)-The state of Nigeria as a nation took the centre stage yesterday in Abuja when the former vice president, Atiku Abubakar and 11 Bishops from the Niger Delta states met to discuss the current insecurity and political crisis in the country.
The meeting took place at the Yar’Adua Centre where Atiku hosted the Niger Delta Bishops led by Jones Erue, with other Bishops like: Julius Ediwe, Bob Manuel, Abhulemen Josiah, Konel Offiong, Innocent Chiedozie, Alex Okubo, Felix Ezebunwo, Charles Okoh , Peter Abingon and Archbishop Eddy Ogbonda.
The meeting lasted over two hours.
Speaking with journalist after the meeting, the former vice president, said: “the meeting is just about the country generally. There is need for unity, peace and stability in the country. Are you telling me that you are not aware that we have security challenges in the northeast and other parts of the country?”.
Asked how the meeting with the Niger Delta Bishops will help solve the crisis, Atiku said, “What is happening in the country requires the contribution of everybody including religious bodies. Government alone cannot do it, what is happening in the country requires (the support of) everyone”.
On the crisis within the PDP and particularly, the disruption of the meeting of the meeting of the seven governors of the party, otherwise known as the G7 governors by the police on Sunday, the former vice-president said, “ I am opposed to what the Government and Police have done by the disruption of the meeting of the governors. There is fundamental freedom of association in the Nigerian constitution. This is a democratic dispensation. It is totally wrong and I don’t support the government using the police to harass and victimize any one that is opposed to it.
He repeated his opposition to the planned national conference, stating that it would clash with the 2015 campaigns and moreover, he said, “this government does not have the ability and capability to manage both the national conference and the 2015 electioneering campaigns together”.
Also, the leader of the Niger Delta Bishops, Erue confirmed that the meeting with Atiku was on how to ensure peace in the troubled zones of the country. He said that the clergy men in the Niger Delta are embarking on a peace shuttle to contribute how to ensure peace in Nigeria.
According to Erue, “ It is just dialogue, peace dialogue. We are doing consultation. We felt that everybody seems to be failing in the Nigerian project and the unity of this project and sustainable peace and coexistence. We are touched by the insecurity and impunity and the way the nation is going.
“It all started like a joke and it is becoming an excursion into irreversible doom and we the bishops and clerics can no longer fold our hands to see our nation go down the drain. So we felt we should go on to consult stakeholders on how we can bring them to a proper dialogue and achieve sustainable peace and keep the Nigerian project going”, Erue said.
When asked whether they are reaching out to the government, he said, “We are reaching out to everybody. If we don’t reach out to the government then it is going to be biased. We are here on the principle of truth and we are prepared to tell anybody you are wrong and that there should be concessions between both parties. We are midwifing peace”.
When specifically asked whether the meeting discussed the Rivers State crisis as a first point of reference, Erue refused to respond positively to the question, insisting that the meeting discussed the crisis in the country.

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