The meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and the Niger Delta leaders will hold on Tuesday (today) in Abuja.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, had on Monday, described the meeting as contentious due to the controversies it generated among Niger Delta leaders.
Kachikwu, however, said that despite the increased controversy, negotiations would continue until the unrest and militancy in the oil-rich region were adequately resolved.
He had on Thursday announced that the leaders from Niger Delta would meet with the President this week Tuesday to discuss issues affecting the region.
Kachikwu, who spoke about the controversies surrounding the meeting during a gas conference in Abuja on Monday, said, “We are having our first meeting (tomorrow), which is already becoming very contentious. We would be surprised if it wasn’t. We were encouraged to continue to engage, despite these misunderstandings. I am personally committed to ensuring a very robust engagement with every stakeholder in the region to ensure the sense of inclusion.”
He said the threat to the nation’s gas supply from militants and insurgency in the Niger Delta were critical and thought-provoking, stressing that the government was trying to address the situation and others through negotiations with various stakeholders in the Niger Delta.
The Punch had exclusively reported that there were sharp divisions among leaders of ethnic nationalities of the Niger Delta over the choice of representatives of the region for the scheduled meeting with President Buhari on Tuesday.
Similarly, it was revealed on Monday that elders, leaders and stakeholders of the region reportedly rejected the Federal Government’s move to launch a $10bn (N4tn) infrastructural rebirth investment programme in the area.
It was also learnt on Monday that leaders of the region were still consulting in order to have a common front in their meeting with the President on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, investigations by our correspondent have revealed that the leaders of the Niger Delta have resolved their differences over the delegates list for the meeting.
The group led by Chief Edward Clark reportedly took a decision to harmonise the three different lists that came from different leaders of the region.
A source privy to the meeting confided in our correspondent that it was agreed that a new list comprising prominent elders and activists who had worked for peace in the region should be drawn up for the discussion with the President.
The source said, “All the ethnic groups in the Niger Delta would be represented in the meeting. For stance, Prof. Gabriel Darah, and Prof. Amos Utuamah would lead the Urhobos; the Olu of Warri nominated people including Chief Isaac Jemide for the Itsekiri; a former Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Mr. Olisah Imegwu, will represent Ndokwa; and the President General of Isoko Development Union, Gen. Iduh Amadhe, will represent the Isoko people.”