The Delta State Forum of Ijaw Elders under the auspices of Izon Okosu-Oku (Izon Council of Elders), on Tuesday rejected the choice of a former Information Minister, Chief Edwin Clark, to lead the Niger Delta Peace Negotiation team with the Federal Government on behalf of the Niger Delta militants.
It also slammed Clark for his silent posture during the administration of the former President Goodluck Jonathan towards the development of the region, saying that the Ijaw leader ‘’cannot’’ be trusted.
A statement issued by the Chairman, Izon Okosu-Oku (Izon Council of Elders), Chief Bare Etolor, on behalf of Ijaw elders, said those fronting as the current peace ambassadors failed to understand that the development of the region was a continuous one.The group said it was against Clark’s choice because he could not be trusted.
It maintained that military approach would not resolve the renewed hostilities in the region. It therefore called on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately withdraw his troops, as they would rather escalate the crisis.
The statement urged President Buhari to see himself as the President of all Nigerians and appealed to him to avoid actions that would further heat up the polity, especially now that the militants had agreed to a ceasefire.
It said, “The militants should have known that the inclusion of the ex-Minister of Information in the matter may stop, delay or bring negative results to the Niger Delta region.
“President Buhari’s strong principles, integrity and courage cannot allow him to meet with any group led by Chief Clark, who claims to be the father of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.
“Those elders in the region who are struggling to represent the militants for negotiation with the Federal Government are laughable. Sadly, they did not remember that the Niger Delta development is a continuous task that must be done by every government, including former President Jonathan’s tenure.”
It urged the militant groups to nominate new leaders with no political inclination as well as foreigners and human rights groups to negotiate on their behalf.
The Ijaw elders further alleged that Clark was silent on the development of the region throughout the six years of former President Jonathan.
“He cannot suddenly wake up less than 18 months into the new regime to convince President Buhari to start immediate development of the region,” they added.