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Niger Delta agitators warn presidential candidates on restructuring

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Eric Omare

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Presidential candidates without a vision to restructure Nigeria have been warned not to campaign in the Niger Delta.“Any presidential candidate in the 2019 election that does not believe in and would not restructure Nigeria after the 2019 elections should not come to the Niger Delta region to campaign for votes,” said youth leaders from the region.

According to them, “For Nigeria to make progress, there must be holistic political, economic and social restructuring of the country. We, the Niger Delta youths, demand complete resource control by the federating units of the country and payment of tax to the central government in a restructured Nigeria.”

They made the declaration in a joint statement yesterday, following a visit to Bori, Rivers State, to show solidarity with Ogoni people on the 23rd anniversary of the hanging of environmental activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa, and others by the Abacha regime.The youth leaders are: Eric Omare, President, Ijaw Youth Council; Matthew Dighi, President, National Youth of the Ogoni People; Weyinmi Agbateyinro, President, Itsekiri National Youth Council; Imoh Okoko, President, Ibibio Youth Council; Ovie Umuakpo, President, Isoko National Youth Assembly; Asuquo Okpo, Oron Youth Movement; Comrade Festus Oviesiri, President, Urhobo Youth Council; and Oton Akpan, Akwa Ibom Ethnic Nationality Youth Forum.

They rejected the “current militarised federalism which has rendered the states of the Niger Delta region amorphous: a cash-cow, useful only for the production of resources needed for the sustenance of the nation and the development of other regions, yet not good enough for the development of itself.”The youths demanded that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government fulfill its promises to the region, especially the cleaning up of Ogoni land. “In this respect, we strongly suggest that money should be taken from the oil block royalty to start the cleanup. In the alternative, there should be the setting aside of 50 cent per barrel from oil produced in Nigeria to cleanup Ogoni land and other parts of the Niger Delta.”

The Federal Government should also “implement the existing presidential directive to relocate the headquarters of multinational oil companies to the Niger Delta. We note that this was one of the promises made to the people as part of efforts at restoring peace to the region in the wake of renewed hostilities in 2016.”They furthermore rejected “deliberate policies of government that have rendered seaports in the region moribund, namely Warri Port, Onne, Calabar, Sapele, Koko, Burutu.”

Similarly, a coalition of Niger Delta agitators blamed several oil firms for poverty among citizens in Akwa Ibom State’s oil-bearing communities. They particularly identified Effiat coastal communities of Mbo; Amadaka in Eastern Obolo; and Ibeno and Esit Eket council area as some of the worst hit.The activists made the complaint in a joint statement signed by General John Duku (Niger Delta Watchdogs and Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators), General Ekpo Ekpo (Niger Delta Volunteers), and General Simply Benjamin (Bakassi Strike Force).

They “vowed to do everything possible to ensure the total liberation of Akwa Ibom people by any means necessary until total justice is achieved for the vulnerable and downtrodden people. “We shall immediately commence mobilisation of all the key actors in this struggle, including all the militant groups to Akwa Ibom State to surmount these evil companies from the state. We shall ensure total shutdown of all flow-stations. All the oil vessels would be attacked. Finally, we promise that very soon we shall release the video of our findings for the whole world to see the level of injustice and marginalisation these multinational oil companies have caused their host communities.”

A coalition of civil society groups and non-governmental organisations meanwhile warned politicians against making unrealistic promises to score cheap popularity ahead of next year’s election. Tagged Atiku-Obi Presidential Movement, its coordinator, Niki Omoleye, in a statement yesterday, said the current economic hardship facing Nigerians stemmed from failure by the ruling All Progressives Congress to keep the promises it made in the buildup to the 2015 polls.

But an Ekiti State-based cleric and founder of Christ Apostolic Church, Adamimogo Outreach, Prophet Sam Olu Alo, was cautious about Nigerians’ expectations on the elections.At a programme in Erio-Ekiti at the weekend, he told worshippers: “God said Nigeria’s presidential election will not produce the messiah that will put an end to the troubles and challenges facing the country, but it will be a significant step to a positive re-organisation and improvement to come.”

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