The Ijaw Youth Council worldwide has hailed the move by President Muhammadu Buhari to personally meet with governors, elders and other stakeholders from the Niger Delta as part of his efforts to seek lasting peace in the region.
The oil-rich Niger Delta has in recent months witnessed the resurgence of militancy occasioned by the bombing of oil and gas installations.
The activities of one of the militant groups known as the Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, has seen oil production in the country now hovering around 1.8million barrels per day from 2.5mbp.
President of the IYC, Udengs Eradiri, who commended the president for heeding the council’s advice to use dialogue in resolving the crisis in the region, did not say when the meeting might take place.
He said: “We want to commend the President because I heard from the grapevine, from one of our foremost governors and leader of Ijaw land this morning (yesterday) when he said they had been invited by the President for an engagement with respect to the Niger Delta crises.
“So, I want to commend the President for hearing our cries and for taking the right approach because there is no other approach than what the President has decided to do.
“Mr. President is a very meticulous man who keeps a lot of things to his chest and Nigerian and people who are always around take advantage of his silence and misinterpret the body language of Mr. President in various ways.
“That body language that has been misinterpreted has created a lot of confusion that has further worsened the situation in Niger Delta.
“Therefore we thank God Mr. President will be coming out boldly to address the issues and body language will no longer be misrepresented.
“We want to thank the president for that bold step and look forward to the right leaders going to sit down with the President to properly articulate the position of Niger Delta”.
He, however, said Ijaw would continue to advocate for true federalism and restructuring as the permanent solutions to issues affecting different parts of the country.
According to Eradiri, restructuring would solve the problems of Fulani herdsmen, constant attacks on pipelines, agitation for Biafria and other matters arising from the lopsidedness of the Nigerian state.
He said: “We are of the opinion that Nigeria needs to be restructured so that we can solve problems of tomato price, dollar prices, insecurity, herdsmen crises and insecurity in the middle belt, armed robbery cases and others.
“The only solution to Nigeria’s problems not just Niger Delta problem is that we restructure this country to the point where people sit down and agree that we should go forward as a nation.
“It is only in that spirit that we will solve Avengers’ (Niger Delta Avengers) problems once and for all.
“We want a holistic approach to the problem so that tomorrow an avenger will not arise or a destroyer will not arise or another pseudo group will not come and be destabilising the region.
“We have said this because the same issue the Willink’s Commission talked about was the same issue Isaac Boro came out to declare the Niger Delta Republic and eventually fought for Nigeria and died for it; the same issue Ken Saro-Wiwa was killed for.
“It is the same issue that led to the formation of IYC to non-violently address issues of underdevelopment and marginalisation in the Nigeria state and the same issues that led to MEND and the same issue that led to avengers.
“So, if we want to move forward its only common sense that we address those issues and we think that those issues are holistically embedded in a restructured Nigeria”.