Ovie Okpare, Warri
Prominent leaders of the Niger Delta region including Chief Edwin Clark, on Thursday faulted President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration for what they described as the attempt to humiliate the family of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
They also described as worrisome the seeming silence of Buhari on the frequent “harassment” of the former President’s family members by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The leaders’ position was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of a meeting organised by the Pan Niger Delta Forum at the residence of Clark in Kiagbodo, Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State.
The communiqué was signed by Clark and the Acting Chairman of PANDEF’s Central Working Committee, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (retd.), on Thursday.
The Niger Delta leaders also condemned the serial killings in Southern Kaduna, Kaduna State and called on the Federal Government to take proactive steps to forestall further killings in the area.
They condemned the wanton killings and destruction of property in the area, stressing that if the situation was not urgently addressed by the Federal Government, it was capable of snowballing into an inter-religious crisis in the region.
The communiqué read, “PANDEF expresses concerns at the orchestrated assault on the family of former President Goodluck Jonathan with the obvious intention to humiliate him and find the silence of President Muhammadu Buhari worrisome.
“The Forum condemns the wanton destruction of lives and properties in Southern Kaduna and calls on the Federal Government to urgently ensure the safety of lives in the area.”
The forum also condemned a recent statement credited to the Special Adviser on Media to the President, Femi Adesina, insinuating that the Presidency was still searching for credible representatives for the region.
While it called on the Federal Government to immediately constitute its dialogue team for the speedy resolution of the region’s crisis, PANDEF charged the Federal Government to urgently release over N1tn owed the Niger Delta Development Commission for the speedy development of the region.
It added, “The Forum takes very strong exception to the statement credited to the Special Adviser on Media to the President, Mr. Femi Adesina, that the President was still in search of credible leaders of the Niger Delta with whom to negotiate with. This is an assault on the sensibilities and integrity of the people of the Niger Delta.
“The forum reiterates its earlier position on the urgent need for the restructuring of the Nigerian federation along the lines of fiscal federalism as the only sustainable solution to the Nigerian crisis.”
Clark had, in his welcome remark, said the militants were becoming impatient with the manner the Federal Government was handling the issue.
It noted that the government should come clear if it was not ready to negotiate with the people of the region.