Coming on the heels of a blistering interview Governor Seriake Dickson granted journalists in Abuja at the weekend, the Federal Government has summoned the courage to visit the Niger Delta after a scheduled visit last week was cancelled in the wake of an attack by the militant Niger Delta Avengers in the area.
Dickson had said that the government was insincere and passive to the ongoing unbearable challenges in the area, urging it to reciprocate the sustained toil of the leaders to bring peace to the troubled region
According to him: “If you are talking about raising billions of naira for the implementation of our national budget and the fact that the state governments’ revenue is also predicated on oil revenue, then we must be concerned about the source of that money.
“It is an issue everybody should be concerned about, and we in the Niger Delta, especially me and my colleagues, are collectively working to address the matter… But unfortunately, as Pa Clark said, not much is happening from the federal government’s side. All we ask is for the federal government agencies to be more sensitive and show more commitment and be more proactive.”
But in a swift reaction the Federal Government said it would pay a visit to the area this week, starting today. Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo is leading the government team said to start with a visit to Delta state and later, Balyesa and Rivers.
My Laolu Akande, Senior Special Assistant to Osinbajo on medial and publicity said in the statement that the visit is in demonstration of the government’s commitment to restoring enduring peace in the troubled oil-rich region.
He said “The Buhari presidency is fully committed to having an effective dialogue and positive engagement that will end the crisis in the oil-producing areas, and believes that these visits would further boost the confidence necessary for the attainment of peace and prosperity in the areas and the Nigerian nation in general.”
Even so, the militants are seizing the opportunity of the VP led delegation visit to recap their demands. In separate demands made and signed by the Ijaw Youths Council, IYC and Urhobo Youth Leaders Association, UYLA, the groups made four specific demands. These include unconditional release of detained militants by the Military, support for the Chief Edwin Clark led Pan-Niger Delta Forum as negotiator on behalf of the Niger Delta people, the restructuring of the Presidential Amnesty Programme and the award of the contract of guarding the oil and gas installations to the youths from the region. Mr Eric Omare and Mr Francis Arhiyo and Mr Vincent Oyibode signed for the IYC and UYLA respectively.