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Published On: Sat, Aug 27th, 2016

Niger Delta Crisis: Ibe Kachikwu meets Clark, Other Stakeholders in Warri

Ibe Kachikwu

Ibe Kachikwu

LAGOS AUGST 27TH (URHOBOTODAY)-President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday dispatched the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachikwu to Warri,Delta State to meet with Niger Delta Stakeholders on how to resolve the fresh wave of militancy in the region.
At the meeting were Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark, former Minister of Police Affairs, Alaowei Broderick Bozimo, former Delta state deputy governor, Professor Amos Utuama, Chef Christopher Obiuwevbi, Chief Favour Izuokumor, spokesman of the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC), Eric Omare and several traditional rulers, youths leaders and women from various ethnic groups in the region.
Kachikwu who had on Thrsday met with another group of Ijaw leaders including traditional rulers said that President Buhari was determined to get the issues involved in the agitation in the Niger Delta resolved through dialogue rather than the use of military force.
He thus charged the stakeholders to prevail on their youths to drop their arms, buy into the peaceful approach and stop robbing the region of potential development opportunities.
“The President has been very emphatic that the only solution to this problem is dialogue and he keeps saying to me to tell the leaders to call their young boys to order,” he said.
“I have said it from day one that we must work for the final solution. My belief is that the final solution doesn’t lie in militancy. It requires a well articulated position of how to find solutions.
“If we do not have peace, we can’t address these issues and it is important that we organize those who can help us in the process and am extremely 100% committed to looking at these and the need to make amends.
“I’m committed to finding peace and opportunities in these areas but if most of these coastal states can’t be developed like what we see in Dubai, then we have failed because we have the resources and everything going for us.
“It is important that we work collectively and all those who have taken to militancy must collapse all of that, come back to the table and let us speak with a voice and seek solutions.
“The Niger Delta needs more than ceasefire, what is needed is perpetual peace.”
Chief Clark had earlier in the day met with a delegation of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) in Warri.
Both sides agreed to work together.
He denounced Thursday’s visit by some Ijaw traditional rulers to Kachikwu as a selfish venture which had no blessing of true leaders of the Niger Delta.
Chief Clark,at yesterday’s parley, received the representative of MEND’s Aaron Team 2, Mr. Timipa Jenkins Okponipre, who bore a letter requesting collaboration with the Chief Clark-led regional stakeholders’ forum, which was assembled at a recent gathering in Warri.
Okponipre, who is also the Secretary of the Aaron’s Team 2,read out the terms on which MEND wished the new alliance to run.
According to him, the alliance will be led by Chief Clark, with six other members, who would be persons of impeccable integrity.
He said:”MEND hereby restates that it shall work with and recognize Chief Edwin Ckark as the leader of a pan Niger Delta team to engage in dialogue with the federal government and multi- national oil companies upon the following terms and conditions:
*All the ongoing Niger Delta dialogue and peace initiatives in the region shall be carefully coordinated and warehoused under a single umbrella body to be known as the Niger Delta Peace and Development Group.
*Only the Niger Delta Peace and Development Group shall be recognized and competent to speak, negotiate and dialogue on behalf of the Niger Delta region by all stakeholders including the federal government, the international community, multinational oil companies etc.
*The group shall comprise six eminent Nigerians of impeccable character and integrity from the Niger Delta as defined by the Niger Delta Development Commission Act.
*That Chief Clark shall be the leader of the group. MEND, in support of the group, would nominate a Secretary that would work with Clark. MEND’s nominee shall be Timipa Jenkins Okponipre. MEND also nominates Messrs Ledum Mitee and Ibanga Isine to serve as members of the group.
*That one of the remaining two slots to be reserved for women and that upon these terms, MEND would disband the Odien Ajumogobia led Aaron Team 2?, the letter read.
Responding to the proposal from MEND, Chief Clark, said the regional body earlier put together by stakeholders from across the region would be willing to work with the Aaron’s Team 2, adding that the terms of the alliance, as suggested by MEND would be considered and reviewed by stakeholders.
“As I said earlier, when you have many children and some of them are working at cross purposes, the happier you would be if they decide to come together for a common objective of purpose.
“I have received your letter in the true spirit and have accepted you to be with us, we would work with you, we would recognise you and you would be part of us.
“The various terms you mentioned would be looked into. We are in democracy and I do not operate alone, we would deliberate on them and meet with you again”, he said.
Meanwhile, the Ijaw national leader, speaking to the leaders of the region from various places, in his house, emphasized the need for the entire region to stand together and pursue same goals for all the people.
He pledged that the Ijaw would not betray other groups.
Chief Clark said he called yesterday’s emergency stakeholders’ meeting of the various groups to disabuse their minds about Thursday’s visit to Dr Kachikwu, by some Ijaw chiefs who gave conditions to achieve peace in the region.
His words:”The purpose of this meeting is to tell you that I did not send them o, they went on their own. This is not an Ijaw matter, we must all stand together. Whenever we will go to Abuja, we shall go as a united region, all the groups of the Niger Delta would be represented.
“The purpose for this meeting is to assure you that this forum is still intact and solid and to let you know that Ijaw people are not treacherous, we stand where we agreed.”

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