Niger Delta Leaders meet Buhari, Demand Oil Blocs

by on November 2, 2016

President Muhammadu Bu­hari on Tuesday hosted Niger Delta stakeholders at the Aso Rock Villa, listened to their 16-point demand and promised to study them and co­operate with the leaders in end­ing the environmental and eco­nomic sabotage in the region.

However, leaders of the var­ious militant groups which have been blowing up oil infrastruc­ture in the area were absent at the meeting, which was put to­gether by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu.

The demands of the stake­holders, which was presented to the President by King Alfred Diette-Spiff, included that Ni­ger Delta indigenes be allotted lucrative oil blocs by the President to grant them inclusive par­ticipation in the oil industry.

The others are sustenance and proper funding of the Pres­idential Amnesty Programme; cessation of the military opera­tions against the communities; addressing pending law and justice issues as some aggrieved groups and individuals are yet to be resolved and resettlement of internally displaced persons in the region.

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There are also expansion of the Ogoni clean-up and envi­ronmental remediation to other parts of the region; a resolution of the controversial Maritime University; provision of key re­gional critical infrastructure; se­curity surveillance and protec­tion of oil and gas infrastructure; relocation of administrative and operational headquarters of IOCs to the Niger Delta.

The leaders also asked for the provision of adequate pow­er supply; restructuring and bet­ter funding of the Niger Del­ta Development Commission (NDDC); strengthening the Ni­ger Delta Ministry; proper reset­tlement of displaced Bakassi in­digenes; economic development and economic empowerment; and implementation of fiscal federalism for the country.

Kachikwu, who addressed the press after the closed-door parley with the President, explained that the militants’ lead­ers were not invited because Buhari wanted to first hear from the elders – who came on the platform of the Pan Niger Delta Forum.

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He described the meeting, at which the International Oil Companies (IOCs) were also absent, as being a frank conver­sation, the beginning of a pro­cess during which there were exchange of enough thoughts with which stakeholders can go back and begin the further process of negotiation.

Kachikwu said “the Presi­dent was very happy the meet­ing took place. He was very quick to point out that he did not want a quick solution- he needed to go to the roots of why this problem has persist­ed through all the various gov­ernments”.

One of the prominent stakeholders, Chief Edwin Clark, told journalists that they had the blessing of the militant groups, including the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) to rep­resent their interests, which is why the elders formed a Cen­tral Working Committee with Spiff and Obong Victor Attah, a former governor of Akwa Ibom State, as co-chairmen.

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He reiterated that Buhari, who did not read his own pre­pared text but spoke straight from the heart, was happy with the meeting and that he prom­ised to study the list of demands carefully and provide detailed responses as he would not want hasty quick-win fixes that would not be durable.

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